Am I liable for 7 years of back rent?

Question from andy updated on 3rd February 2009:

I was renting a place off a guy and after a few years he said I didn't have to pay rent because I was working for him on the farm. I have now moved out after about ten years living there and done all the bond return forms and stuff. 5 months later he's trying to say that I have to pay him heaps of money for unpaid rent about 7 years worth after he had told me and my wife we didn't have to pay any. What can I do about this?

Our expert Jeff Montgomery responded:

If you and your previous landlord agreed in writing to vary your tenancy agreement, I suggest you provide your ex-landlord with a copy of this. If this was a verbal agreement, I suggest you put down in writing what the verbal agreement covered, and provide this to your ex-landlord. Such an agreement would appear to be supported by the fact that no rent was paid for seven years and that the bond was signed off at the end of the tenancy. If your ex-landlord still believes there is unpaid rent, he could apply to the Tenancy Tribunal. To discuss your situation further, you can contact the Department of Building and Housing on 0800 TENANCY (0800 836 262).

The Department of Building and Housing provides information and guidance on building law and compliance, services including weathertight homes, and advice for tenants and landlords.

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