SMF - Just Installed!

Student share - September

Started by Hippogriff, February 02, 2024, 02:40:41 PM

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Hippogriff

Two foreign students viewed my apartment the other night and loved it so much they wanted to take it right then - well, not for now - but for 1 Sep 2024 - which is OK by me.

I had asked them about their current accommodation, and it turns out they're both - separately - in some kind of student facility (not halls of residence, but one of these fully serviced boxes that are all the rage, or something). I was told they're both there until the September coming.

Today they asked me whether they could get their holding deposit back - not from me, but from their current Landlord / Agent / Organisation... and I was confused. I learned more. It seems that they'd panicked a while back and, in haste, paid some kind of deposit (£200) to continue their time where they are from Sep 2024 to Sep 2025. I admitted I had no idea whether the money was refundable... and I said that I doubted it would be.

It turns out they asked for this earlier today - and were immediately told it's not possible and they would have to pay for the entire year - Sep 2024 to Sep 2025, shortly after that they were threatened with debt collectors (for something that doesn't even exist) and were told "we can just take the money anyway as you used a credit card to pay us the £200"?

This was all just relayed to me. Normally, I'd just think it's too much bother for me and I'd look the other way. But, maybe I'm getting soft or maybe the immediate flat-out rejection response from the Landlord side just got my back-up in as how it feels like it's simply designed to scare people with no knowledge of renting into staying on (even though they, now, don't want to).

Also, they seem keen to work with me - and live in my place - it's not like they're looking for an excuse to walk away here.

I'm aware of a Landlord's duty / obligation to mitigate any losses... but I don't perceive any loss at all here - it's early February now and the period of rent being discussed is from Sep 2024 onwards. These serviced boxes don't have individual costs attributed to letting them, like traditional Landlords do - the students come to them! And surely they can re-let the place(s) in the time available... and all the students here have paid is a £200 deposit to hold it... I'd expect it should be possible to write to the Landlord and tell them you don't want to rent from Sep 2024 now, sacrifice that money paid and just simply move on.

I could definitely understand if the decision was made in August 2024. It would then be pretty urgent and very annoying - but my experience is that folk can often drop-out... it's all part of the game... people change their minds - you don't then try to land them with the bill for the entire year (and you can bet it'd not be left empty, right?) unless you're well dodgy.

This is a live situation and I can clarify things if needed.

I, currently, feel like advising:

1) write to them telling them that you'll not be taking the property from Sep 2024
2) accept that the £200 you have each paid is gone
3) ignore any further correspondence from the Landlord side
4) cancel your credit card (or talk to the credit card company) if you think there's a real risk

But I'm already too involved, clearly.

jpkeates

Good of you.

I'd guess the £200 is a holding deposit, and it has to be returned because the landlord and tenant won't enter into a tenancy agreement within 15 days of it being received.

It has to be that because that's about the only fee a landlord or agent can charge, unless it's an admin fee for changing the existing tenancy (in which case it sounds too high).

And if they don't, if they paid by credit card, they should simply dispute the charge with the credit card company and ask for a "chargeback" or, failing that a Section 75 claim. The credit card company will simply reverse the credit card payment.

Hippogriff

One is telling me nothing was signed.

One is saying something was signed; but no copy, of whatever it was, was given (so neither of us have any what it was).

I do worry about the one that says something was signed.

I think their ideal - and I can appreciate this - is that any attempted payment in the future is stopped before it happens. Their credit card provider will be a foreign one (Chinese) so I don't know if credit card rules are global in nature. But I can see why they just want to be assured that no attempt to take money can succeed... rather than having to worry about a claim.

When the £200 was paid (separately), they each tell me they willingly handed over all the required details needed for the other party to do the payment without them actually doing anything... kind of like the "cardholder not present" you sometimes see on receipts, I assume.

jpkeates

If the company in England was able to take the payment it must be an international merchant card service, usually Visa, Mastercard, Diners club or Amex. And the UK law will apply (not that will help in practice if the customer service department is in China).

I don't know any way of pre-emptively blocking a card payment from one merchant in advance (other than cancelling the card), and that doesn't always work.

HandyMan

Quote from: Hippogriff on February 02, 2024, 02:40:41 PMNormally, I'd just think it's too much bother for me and I'd look the other way. But, maybe I'm getting soft or maybe the immediate flat-out rejection response from the Landlord side just got my back-up

I tip my hat to you Hippogriff for wanting to assist them. Well done.

I hate to see people being taken advantage of. I hope with your help, that this will resolved with their current landlord and that they will get their deposit back.

They'll be eternally grateful to you and therefore should make ideal tenants.

heavykarma

My first response was the same as yours, feeling I should get involved. A few days ago I had a conversation with a friend,  retired from a successful business, and he said that looking back, the more he had done to help employees and colleagues the more he had been shafted by said folk. My experience has been the same sadly. 

I don't think these students should expect their deposit back. It certainly does not sound right or fair  however that the landlords could take the rest from their credit card. They must have pretty good grasp of English by now, and there will be help and advice from the  university welfare dept. and the bank they are using over here.
 
I would wonder though if the reason the landlord is being so tough is down to that document they have signed?

If you do take up arms,I am sure you are too savvy to think it will guarantee  that they will be great tenants. "No good turn goes unpunished", but then again "Virtue is it's own reward". You takes your pick.If you help them I hope they will respect that.     

Hippogriff

Their grasp of English is not pretty good. A conversation can be had, but it's challenging, especially if talking about rental matters.

They have accepted that the deposit(?) they - separately - paid is lost. I coached them such. I did that because I can sense the Landlord side has just issued a run-of-the-mill almost-automatic response to someone uneducated in these matters who's expressed their view that they don't want to take up the future rental... and I don't want them to dig their heels in further. I'd like them to accept they've got some money and then move on to the next student, if so then all will be good.

The Tenants are still worried about the claim that the payments can just be 'taken' in the future. I would be too. It's quiet right now, but I'll likely speak to them further this weekend and learn if anything further has happened.

To be unequivocal - if it was August 2024 right now then I'd be on the Landlord's side - you can't go messing people around with little notice, but I really don't see a problem with letting a purpose-built student unit in half a year, so with the advance warning given and the threatening response from the other side I'm on the side of the Tenants here. My apartment would easily go too - it always does, so it's not like I'm only self-interested.

heavykarma

I get it, I really do. It does not sound fair. I have  just become so wary about being seen as a Mummy figure by tenants, "It aint me babe,No No No it aint me babe". Good for you though.

Hippogriff

Briefest update is this... apparently parents have been spoken to (by the Tenants) and they're apparently unconcerned about it and have said to just go ahead with the wanted move.

So that seems to override any other concerns that may, or may not, have been real.

heavykarma

Sounds like money is no object?  I was a bit crabby yesterday. I have worn my heart on my sleeve all my life, now I am in danger of going too far the other way!  I am sure all will go well.  Is this in a Sheffield block that was in the Times recently, become uber cool, different plaster design in each flat (Oops!  Apartment)  It does sound like a vibrant city, top of the polls for student satisfaction.   

Hippogriff

It's not in the Park Hill blocks (if that's what you meant?), no. It's in the tallest building a bit further into the centre. Service Charge is a killer!

Typically, money is no object. I mean, they were obviously enquiring about their £200, and that was surprising to me... so it obviously matters on some level, or to some people, maybe the parents just don't see any risk from the threats. Unless anything further happens, it looks like it's ended and they'll pay up front and move into my place in due course.

Of course, something 'further' could happen... but I have come across as "helpful" so far. More Tenants successfully duped.

Hippogriff

To finish this off completely... a short email from each Tenant to the outfit(s) where they'd separately booked from September onwards, has now resulted in them both being 'freed' from any obligation for paying rent later (which was an easy complete turnaround). The holding deposits are gone, but I suspect that's not really minded.

heavykarma

That is good to hear- All' s well that ends well.