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I am being sued - I think
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So to follow up on the total shit show of a tenancy earlier in the summer. the tenants sent claim forms through county courts to my inlaws.

Now - on the one hand I have never lived there so arguably I am told I need to take legal advice on whether i have been "served"

BUT on the other hand I have seen it and can not simply ignore that it is there as if I pretended it never happened i could have a judgement issued against me which would cause much bigger issues.

So I am going to take legal advice Monday but I have a question about writing my defense.

the key facts are:

  1. Tenant signed a 90 day tenancy with no break clause permitted without agreement of landlord - me
  2. Day tenant moved in they realised they did not need it
  3. I said (will never do anything this idiotic again) IF i can find a replacement for the period that you were renting it and it does not cost me any money do you want me to find someone else? I was explicitly clear that at the end of 90 days I should not be worse off by 1 pound for the period that they had rented it
  4. they said yes
  5. I employed an agent to findsomeone
  6. they found a new tenant
  7. the 90 day tenant had to sign a document stating that they surrendered the lease - there were no clauses on it other than that the property would be handed back in the state it was let in
  8. we then told the tenant that they would get the balance of their 90 days back less our costs of finding a tenant
  9. they said that was unacceptable
  10. I said I told you that I would not lose a penny for that period
  11. they said I should reconsider and eat the cost as it was a cost I would bear anyway
  12. I said the property had been let for 5 years whilst I lived overseas and I had never paid a fee. were it not for the fact that they asked to move out on the day I was moving countries again I would have found the tenant myself
  13. A period of silence
  14. Claim form arrived

So I have a signed tenancy with no break clause
I have a surrender document where they gave up their rights to the property with no conditions listed
I have my correspondance to them stating that I was crystal clear that finding another tenant should not cost me a penny and that had I known that they thought I would eat the costs I would never have agreed to it in the first place. It would make no sense for me to have agreed to do so when I could have kept ALL their money


So I am now feeling unsettled. they are causing me to seek legal advice


Could I not only defend the claim as is, but now counter claim for the costs involved in obtaining legal advice?


thoughts?


in terms of writing this out. I obviously want to be crystal clear. I assume it should be short sentences, concise, factual, dates, times, values and I should include copies of lease, surrender document and email correspondence?
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Re: I am being sued - I think [Andrewmc] [ In reply to ]
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I certainly would not respond without legal advice and I should think your lawyer will want to respond on your behalf. You should certainly not return money until you know how much legal costs you'll incur, and I would have your lawyer state to the other party that any legal costs will be deducted in addition to the finders fee for the replacement tennants.

Assuming your paperwork is tight on them agreeing to pay any fees associated with finding a replacement tennant, you should be fine.
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Re: I am being sued - I think [Andrewmc] [ In reply to ]
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how do attorney fees get reimbursed where you live? IN US it is typically hard to get attorneys' fees reimbursed. My understanding of some system is that the winner always has fees reimbursed. that would drive my decision on this on whether or not you hire an attorney.
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Re: I am being sued - I think [Andrewmc] [ In reply to ]
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You haven't been served.
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Re: I am being sued - I think [Andrewmc] [ In reply to ]
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Seems the finders fee is what the issue is. Your out of pocket costs for finding a new tenant.

I'm confused on your timing/moving, but are you saying you would not have had to pay any costs on this once these short term tenants lease expired in 90 days? None?

How much are these out of pocket finders fees? Speaking only of the incremental additional costs that you would not have had to spend anyway once their 90 day lease was up to find new tenants at that time.

Can't believe it would be that much $$, at least enough to have to hire a lawyer over and go to court over.

I understand your perspective and point of view on it. But at some point, I'd have to be realistic with myself and think it's not worth the effort vs the amount of $$ you all are in disagreement over. I'd imagine once you bring a lawyer into it, that incremental $$ would quickly disappear from your perspective anyway.

.
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Re: I am being sued - I think [Andrewmc] [ In reply to ]
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Not legal advice... and a bit hard to follow... but a couple comments.

Just because you know about a lawsuit doesn't mean anything. They have to physically serve you (generally true) but if you file anything consider yourself served. You will have waived the requirement for service.

As to attorneys' fees, what does the agreement say? In general fees only recoverable by statute or contract. But even if in the contract, you cannot sue for just those fees. Those are considered "costs" which are recoverable after you win or lose....
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Re: I am being sued - I think [Endo] [ In reply to ]
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So update.

The tenancy was 10k for 90 days

The tenancy had no possibility of being broken without my consent

The cost of finding a new tenant was 3.6k

I spoke to a number of solicitors today.

The most extensive advice I got from one who generously talked it through for 30 mins was for the amounts involved instructing someone makes no sense (i thought that initially), that i could defend myself (its small claims being less than 10k), that he could not see how they could explain or justify that i would have willingly agreed to pay money out of my own pocket to extricate them from a tenancy just to help them out when it is clear that the tenancy could not be broken without my agreement.

He agreed that whilst I have not been served, i can't ignore it as it could result in a judgement that sticks for 6 years and can not be removed from my credit file.
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Re: I am being sued - I think [Andrewmc] [ In reply to ]
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Really sorry to hear this
You have them bang to rights - but it will still cause you get distress and anxiety I am sure. Conflict is never fun, no matter how idiotic

Is this UK small claims?
If so I agree with you; do it yourself
From memory you can only claim the amount in question; lawyer fees and other stuff (emotional distress!) don't count
The courts dont want to deal with this petty nonsense; so its in your interests to show that you did everything you could to reach an amicable solution beforehand.
The annoying thing is that they have no downside and only upside (£3600 they dont deserve). Whereas you have no real upside; the best you can hope for is to get parity vs if they honoured the tenancy

You did a good deed and got shafted for it - and will likely never do again. And thus future tenants may suffer because of these pricks.
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Re: I am being sued - I think [bespoke] [ In reply to ]
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You are correct. No costs.

I have gone from enraged to resigned since I received it.

They could win. For them to do so someone would have to agree that; my wife and I agreed to terminate a contract that we did not need to and accepted to incur additional costs we did not need to to help these people out

We have offered mediation. At this point I just want shot of it.
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Re: I am being sued - I think [Andrewmc] [ In reply to ]
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We have offered mediation.
You mean settlement negotiation that you likely have to pay something for, and where the mediator will attempt to convince you to split the baby (that is what mediators do).

This sounds to me like a case where if you walk into trial and tell your story to the judge, you have high likelihood of paying nothing.

Or just let them sit for a while and make a lowball settlement offer and see what they counter with.
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Re: I am being sued - I think [H-] [ In reply to ]
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So the solicitor suggested it

He said that courts look favourably on us requesting it as i suspect they will decline it and he said it give us the moral high ground

He said a part of a mediators job is to make the parties recognise the strength/ weakness of their case.

I am a) happy to go to mediation and turn whatever they ask for down b) then happy to go to court

The solicitor said that he thought a mediator might make it clearer to them they have no case
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Re: I am being sued - I think [Andrewmc] [ In reply to ]
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Just throwing some thoughts your way-


If the tenant stayed 90 days, they could move- right?

Would you have had to incur costs to find a new tenant after this 90 days? If so, I think you should let them walk. I would.... and I’m a landlord too.
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Re: I am being sued - I think [jharris] [ In reply to ]
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If they stayed 90 days I would have found new tenants myself as i do usually. The only reason I could not was we were moving to France the next day. It was not a cost I would have had to bear.
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