Question from Steve updated on 30th March 2012:
Our expert Juliet Robinson responded:
There are two issues here. Firstly, your tenants appear to have rent arrears owing to you. It is a pity that your monitoring of the rent didn’t warn you of the defaults when they happened. It’s a lot more stress on all concerned when you’re trying to resolve such issues when a tenancy has ended. You say that the rent was paid by an overseas employer. Was that part of the tenancy agreement? Was the employer a signatory to the agreement? I shall assume it wasn’t, and that the payments were from the employer purely as a matter of convenience. Rent is payable by a tenant for the whole tenancy, and if there is a shortfall, the arrears are owed to the landlord. Under section 40 of the Residential Tenancies Act a tenant must pay the rent as and when it is due and payable under the tenancy agreement. Tenants cannot simply withhold rent because they think they should be entitled to do so. I suggest that you prepare a full rent statement showing all rents due and all payments received. It will reveal the precise amount owed. You may then decide to make an application to the Tenancy Tribunal for the amount owed. The second issue is a tenant’s possible claim for damage to their belongings, and for the property not being “up to scratch”. These claims will have to be a separate or counter-claim in an application by the tenants to the Tenancy Tribunal. It simply isn’t enough to say that the rent is withheld as a set-off against these claims. Each issue will be decided by the Tribunal on its own merits.
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