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Stuart J
Stuart J, Solicitor
Category: UK Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 22624
Experience:  PGD Law. 20 years legal profession, 6 as partner in High Street practice
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My husband I have rented out an annexe to tenants for at least

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My husband I have rented out an annexe to tenants for at least 15 years. The last tenant' s boyfriend came to visit and his dog (which was supposed to be on a leash if outside the annexe), broke loose went on a wild spree and tore the leg off my cat that was basking in the sun in my garden. The vet's bill came to £350 and the cat died anyway. I presented the tenant and boyfriend with the bill three times they denied any responsibility and they refused to pay and did not even apologise. The tenant dug in my files with the Council and found I did not have plannning permission to rent (since applied for)something I was genuinely not aware of, the annexe conversion having been instigated by my husband in 1988 From that day I have been harrassed and hounded with vitriolic letters and called a deliberate 'fraud'. Eventually I put the whole thing to my solicitor. The tenant who still had a perfectly legal rental contract for 6 months, suddenly moved out lock stock and barrel without paying for the three months of contract left and not even a month's notice and no payment for the water bill.I have had letters of vile abuse, of threats to take me to court, letters wanting all the rent back for the past 18 months, etc. My solicitor (£2000 later) has told her repeatedly that my lack of planning permission and her perfectly legal rental are two different matters. She refuses to accept this. After three week's of peace and thinking all was ok again I received another letter of abuse reiterating once more that I am a deliberate 'fraud', she wants her moving - £200 and agency fees £444 paid by me (her moving about 7 miles away was executed by her boyfriend with a car it cost her nothing. I do not know what the 'agency fees' are not having been presented with any bill. If I do not pay her she will take me to court and will also want to dig out all my previous tenancies to be looked at. I would like to add that all my tenants have always paid their own Council Tax on the annexe, we have submitted all rental payments every year on our tax returns and always paid income tax on them to the Inland Revenue. Nothing was ever hidden from the planners or Council or tax people. It is now affecting my health as I am battling on my own, my husband having died after a gruelling time, from cancer a few months ago . I am now seriously afraid of her and her boyfriend's harrassment and do not know which way to turn. I am not letting the annexe till the permission comes through, but the rent is part of my pension so to speak and lack of it brings me hardship - upshot- is the renting of the place a totally separate legal matter from the lack of permission to rent out or not? I believe so, so does my solicitor.

Thank you for your question and welcome to Just Answer. My name is XXXXX XXXXX I will try to help with this.

In order to give you an answer tailored to your circumstances, I will just need to ask you some preliminary questions so that I can consider your position from all angles.

Are the police involved?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

No (unfortunately as it turns out!)

I have been asked
to look at this for you.

If you have been
renting the property out for 15 years, and it is out of time for enforcement by
the council in any event. You could apply for a certificate of lawful use which
simply formalises the fact that you have done it for more than 10 years which
is the enforcement period for change of use.

You are entitled to
payment for the vets bill and the cost of the cat and I would give them seven
days to pay up failing which I would issue small claims court proceedings
against them which you can do quite easily here

the proceedings
actually are issued against the dog owner.

If there is an
issue over whether the dog is dangerous or not, and refer the matter to the

I agree completely
with your solicitor that the fact that there is no planning permission is immaterial.
I would not be paying her anything and if she owes you any rent, I would be
adding any rent to my claim for the dog/cat incident.

I would also not be
wasting time on solicitors letters. She would get one letter and then court
proceedings. I cannot see why you will have wasted £2000. I think 50 quid and
then court proceedings would be enough. Please bear in mind that you will not
get your solicitor's costs back in the Small Claims Court even if you win so I
would be inclined to do it myself.

I would tell her to
get stuffed with regard to the fees that she is claiming and if she is minded
to, let her counterclaim. Ultimately, the judge will decide whether she is
entitled to that or not.

Forget her
threatening to take you to court, I would be the one taking her! Remember, the
more correspondence she sends you and the more correspondence that your
solicitor deals with, the bigger your legal bill that you are not going to

If you are being
harassed, then referred the harassment to the police with a view to getting her
warned under the protection from harassment act. The police can tell her to
either issue proceedings against you or stop writing. If she continues to write
to you, the police can prosecute her under the Protection from Harassment Act.
Some police forces will really take this on board and others not quite so much
so. I think it would be a good time to use the "vulnerable lone female, feeling
frightened and intimidated" tack.

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Stuart J, Solicitor
Category: UK Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 22624
Experience: PGD Law. 20 years legal profession, 6 as partner in High Street practice
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