Former Landlord blackmailing us- what to do?

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Former Landlord blackmailing us- what to do?

Postby _commonsmum_ » Fri May 13, 2022 7:53 pm

Thank you all for the help. The police are involved and I’ve hired a solicitor. I appreciate so much all of the kind comments
Last edited by _commonsmum_ on Mon May 23, 2022 7:15 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Former Landlord blackmailing us- what to do?

Postby ronangel » Sat May 14, 2022 5:27 am

Record any conversation with him ask how much and for what, and contact the police,or via a solicitor. ASAP
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Re: Former Landlord blackmailing us- what to do?

Postby ellesmum » Mon May 16, 2022 6:46 am

Does your landlord have your deposit in a legally required scheme? If there is a dispute, he is only allowed to hold onto a justifiable amount & the remainder must be returned to you within (I believe) 10 days. If you still believe the withheld amount is unreasonable, you can then ask the deposit holding company to intervene & adjudicate. I suspect they will find in your favour, &, especially when presented with any evidence of threats, it may be very detrimental for your landlord as what you are describing sounds like wear & tear that he ought to be shouldering.
On the other hand, if he DOESN'T have your deposit in a deposit protection scheme, he is breaking the law & could be in a huge amount of trouble & will have to compensate you (IIRC he has to repay 3x your deposit).
It might be worth contacting Shelter for advice.
Don't have any telephone correspondence with him, insist on having all communication via email so you have a paper trail. If you have written proof of his threats & blackmail, I would also consider reporting to the police, especially if the threats are towards your children & could potentially put them in danger.
I am so sorry you are going through this. Landlord sounds like a nasty piece of work.
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Re: Former Landlord blackmailing us- what to do?

Postby GilesBuild » Mon May 16, 2022 7:50 am

Ellesmum is spot on. Landlord’s are legally required to lodge a tenants deposit within a regulated deposit protection scheme. Either party can then refer any dispute over the deposit to the nominated deposit protection scheme who will make a final decision which is binding on both parties.

Any landlord failing to lodge the deposit with a regulated deposit protection scheme at the start of the tenancy is liable for a fine - from memory this can be up to 3 x the deposit sum which is payable to the tenant. The law around this is very clear.

You should send a simple email to the landlord saying you want to resolve this matter without further delay so please could he provide the contact details for the regulated deposit scheme who are holding the deposit. I highly doubt he’s complied by the sound of his actions so far. You should also say that you will also instruct lawyers if he shares any personal information provided by you in support your original tenancy application.

Good luck. Hopefully he will back off when he realises the potential cost to him. Worked for a colleague of mine recently!
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Re: Former Landlord blackmailing us- what to do?

Postby MrBalham99 » Mon May 16, 2022 9:19 am

_commonsmum_ wrote:
Fri May 13, 2022 7:53 pm

Our former landlord and us were in the middle of a small dispute over cleaning and decorating of our formally rented house.

The landlord threatened to charge us for his time if we did not use his preferred professional decorating services and professional cleaners. When we advised that this specific charge and any other charges would be disputed, he threatened to use very sensitive and personal information about myself and my children and my ex spouse (which was given in our tenancy referencing checks) in order to get me to comply with his wishes.
I understand this is a major breach of GDPR, the storage and care of private information, and frankly it’s blackmail.

He sent a follow up email demanding a specific amount of money to make it all stop.

As I’m not from this country I’m not entirely sure what my rights are or who to contact in this instance.

While I am aware that many of us have our personal feelings about Landlord and tendency disputes I can only hope that people will provide helpful replies here. The situation has caused pretty severe emotional distress for me and I’m only seeking help.
Hello. There are a lot of red flags here and from what you've said, the landlord is possibly in breach in a number of ways.

1) does he hold your deposit in a recognised scheme? If not, and your tenancy started after 2007, he is potentially liable to you for 3x the deposit

2)  he is threatening blackmail

3) without seeing your tenancy agreement, he can probably only ask you to use specific decorators or contractors if this was a condition of the tenancy. Otherwise there can be legitimate discussions about you make good any damage beyond wear and tear but this should be conducted through the deposit scheme.

Your solution is to 1) ask which scheme he put your deposit in 2) depending on the answer, agree the remedy through that 3) go to a police station or Citizens Advice Bureau and have the threats put on file.
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Re: Former Landlord blackmailing us- what to do?

Postby Platypus » Mon May 16, 2022 10:34 am

There are three issues here. 

The first, as has been said, is that the deposit must be lodged in a recognised scheme. If it isn't, then the landlord owes the tenant a very large compensatory payment. 

The second is that fair wear and tear to a property is reasonable, and unless you have caused preventable harm (so your children haven't scrawled on the walls in felt tip, for example) the landlord has a allowance in terms of taxable income to cover redecoration and it's not the tenant responsibility unless, as has been said, there is a contract term making it so. Same with professional cleaning - you have to leave the property in the state in which you took it, but unless the contract specifies, how you achieve that is down to you. Take LOTS of photos, when leaving, to prove the state of the rental.

Finally, if someone is threatening to release sensitive information about you more widely, to force you to pay them money, then that sounds like blackmail, which is indeed a criminal offence. If you have his threats in writing, in emails, that's something I would consider taking to the police. Be aware that the police are not always great at grasping when something is criminal, if it's around a tenancy, and prone to saying 'that's a civil matter'. If it's blackmail, it's not. Someone threatening to release sensitive personal information more widely, to make you pay them money, is a criminal.

I'm afraid it also sounds as if he feels you are a foreigner, won't know your rights, and can be harassed into giving him money. I would call the free helpline offered by Shelter, who are a charity specifically and solely set up to support tenants in these situations. They can offer support and advice, for free, that reflects up-to-date law. Sadly, there is nothing you can tell them that is going to be novel. Bad landlords have a playbook, it seems. 

I'm so sorry you are in this position, and dealing with this person. 
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