RENT AND COMPENSATION

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Petronius Walker
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A self-funded tenant took up a six month fixed term tenancy on 21 April, for which rent guarantee insurance is in place. In response to legitimate concerns at the start, I made a written offer of compensation equivalent to one month's rent, payable at the rate of 50 per month until such time as the tenancy ended or the total amount was reached, whichever was the earlier. The offer was accepted in writing. Subsequently, no rent arrived because the letting agency had completed a standing order incorrectly. The tenant has said he will pay one month's rent but (partly because he's upset about the agent's inefficiency) he will not pay the second month's rent. Instead, he is holding that as the compensation. I had substantial costs at the start of the tenancy, which is why my offer included monthly instalments. If the tenant pays as indicated, his arrears will be just one month's worth IF I credit the compensation as rent.

Am I within my rights (or is it moral/sensible) to refuse to credit the withheld (compensation) funds as the missing rent? Would the Small Claims Court laugh me away, given that the final outcome is the same?

I am worried because if I credit it and he then misses a further month, in law his arrears will be just one month and I cannot start proceedings. If I don't credit the compensation, I have a head start because he'll be a month in arrears already.

Grateful for your advice because I want to protect my interests, but I don't want to be a prat, either. I know I'm emotional but the courts aren't. I need some measured advice and you're the ones to offer it.

Paul


23/06/2011 00:00

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