Tuesday, 6 January 2015

an update and some news....

So, a little update for you all. If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook you may have already seen me post about the fact that 2015 has not gotten off to the best start for me unfortunately. I ended 2014 on such a high - moving in to my new studio, planning exciting new ventures to run from this amazing space... and then on New Year's Eve it all went wrong. I'm sharing this here because I want to keep everyone who has been so kind and supportive in the loop, and to share my experiences so that hopefully they may help someone else to not end up in the same situation.

Whilst decorating and moving in to my studio last week I bumped into another tenant from the same floor, who was in the process of moving out. We got chatting and I casually asked why they were moving out (just making conversation really.) They seemed extremely shocked that I would ask such a question, and asked if I knew what was happening to the building. They then went on to explain that the whole industrial estate, including our building, was being demolished to make way for redevelopment. My heart dropped into my stomach. At no point did my landlord ever mention this to me. I moved in with the intention of building my business, using the space to run workshops and classes hopefully for years to come, and to really carve a space out for myself. Suddenly, none of this was going to be possible.

Not only had I already paid a month's rent, plus another month as a security deposit, I'd also paid to decorate the space, and bought furniture. Myself and my family and boyfriend had given up our time off over Christmas to move in and get everything ready, and now we were being told the building was being knocked down. I immediately tried to contact my landlord to find out more information, and to ask why he hadn't told me any of this when I moved in, but he refused to answer my calls, text messages or emails, and still hasn't (it has been six days now!) My New Year's Eve should have been spent celebrating, getting excited for the year ahead, and instead it was spent crying on the sofa, eating a giant toblerone. (okay, the toblerone part probably would have happened either way but, y'know.)

When I moved in to the property, I was sent a 'licence to occupy' agreement which I never actually signed (because I was only sent it via email, and was never actually asked to sign it by anyone!) The agreement committed me to twelve months, but states that the landlord can ask me to leave at any point, by serving me with one month;s notice, without giving any reason. I thought that perhaps the fact that I hadn't signed the agreement would make it void, and I'd simply be able to move out after a month. Unfortunately, after looking into it, this doesn't seem to be the case. By paying him and moving in to the premises, my actions have in effect agreed to the terms, so it seems as though I am legally bound to occupy the space and pay rent each month.

From speaking to current tenants and former tenants in my building (as my landlord is still refusing to give me any information whatsoever) it seems as though we will all have to be moved off the site by end of March this year. However it could be later than this, and there have been mentions of not needing to leave until as late as July or August. This means I will be paying £900 a month rent for a space I cannot use. While I could go there each day and work (although this would cost me more money and time in travel expenses as I currently live on the other side of London, so I'd rather continue to work from home) I would still be unable to organise workshops and classes as planned, as I have no idea when the building will be demolished. It does not seem sensible, or financially viable, to invest more money in a venture that I may only be able to run for a month or two.

I am currently seeking legal advice on the matter, but due to the nature and the terms of the agreement, it seems that I am (to put it politely) up the creek without a paddle. Most agreements of this nature (particularly when they are a 'license' rather than a 'lease') are very, very heavily weighted in the favour of the landlord, to the point where you as a tenant have almost no legal rights. It feels so unfair that someone can let you commit to a twelve month agreement knowing full well that he cannot provide you with a premises for the full twelve months.

It would seem that my landlord, by all accounts, is a complete douchebag. He is keeping a lot of people in the dark about the whole situation, but sadly is well within his rights legally to do so. So currently I am in limbo - the majority of my belongings are still in the new studio. I've brought back home the bare essentials needed for running the business day to day, so that at least we can still process orders. I'm unable to plan anything for the future right now, as I have literally no idea what my situation will be. The hardest part for me has been the realisation that the dream which I thought was going to become a reality in 2015, may actually now have to be put on hold indefinitely. I feel crushed. My heart is not in this right now. I'm supposed to be working on plans for workshops and classes, designing new products, finalising my Valentine's Day collection. Instead I am calling lawyers and solicitors.

My advice to anyone looking at moving their business into a property owned by someone else - get a solicitor or someone with a legal background to read through your agreement before you give the landlord a single penny. Ask questions, as many questions as possible. Don't be afraid to ask for the agreement to be amended if it doesn't suit your needs and, if they refuse, walk away. Talk to other tenants and get an idea of what your landlord is like and how he treats them. There are some awful people out there, who do not care what they do to you, or how their actions affect you. Don't be a victim, be proactive, and know your legal rights. I wish I had known this before I gave them my money, but now I just want to make sure no-one else gets stung like I have.

23 comments:

  1. Oh my word I am so sorry to hear this Zoe! I really hope you can get it sorted soon. We are all behind you and will support you in any way we can. Big hugs x

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  2. Oh my goodness. That is awful. I'm so sorry to hear that this year has got off to such a terrible start. I wish I had something of use to suggest but I'm afraid I know nothing at all of the legalities of these situations. But I really hope things turn around for you soon xxxxxx

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  3. This is so crappy. I really hope it works out for you.
    In the meantime, keep doing what you do! ♥

    Kimberley x

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  4. Oh my goodness :( This is vile behaviour. I really hope this crook gets what's coming to him! Keep your chin up - you will battle through this xx

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  5. Zoe! This is awful. My friend Ashley just told me about your new blog post (we are both customers of yours and frequently read your blog) and I am really sorry to hear such bad news. What a horribly deceptive person your landlord must be! Don't let him get you down, you will get an even better studio somewhere else and I will come to your workshops when you hold some!

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  6. Oh man Zoe, I'm so sorry and SO angry for you too - what a DBag indeed - URGH!!

    Could you throw a couple of rough around the edges workshops anyway? You have the space and you've decorated, you might as well do something in them over the next two months - and people would come I know that - wouldn't that be the best F U to the landlord really - making it work for you in some way?

    I'm sorry I can't help you more love xx

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  7. Oh Zoe this is awful! But, while you still have the space, you can still organise workshops? You'll have a months notice when it does happen, so don't let this miserable landlord ruin your plans! You can still make a start, while keeping an eye out for a more suitable property? Thinking of you X

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  8. Oh no, that's not good! I'm glad you're consulting a solicitor because it smacks of misrepresentation and at the very least a whole heap of karmic retribution is due in his direction!

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  9. I know your solicitors will be on it but if the redevelopment is being done by a separate company that agreement may prohibit further licenses to occupy being put in place. Making your agreement a violation of that contract. Either way, keep your chin up. I think you have to come up with a short term plan. And don't lose hope for your long term goals

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  10. O Zoe, this is really crappy! But don't let your landlord get you down and squash your dreams! Like others have said, can plan some workshops in the short term? you have the space so you might as well use it. I believe things always work out in the end, so try and keep smiling. Sending lots of hugs and hope to catch up soon xx

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  11. oh no, that is just awful! i hope it isn't all as bad as it seems and that you somehow can make the best out of this situation:-) x

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  12. What a disgraceful thing to do....he is absolutely in the wrong and because he cannot provide you the premises he no longer obligates by his own tenancy agreement. What a bastard.....I can't stand people like this. I'm so sorry this has happened to you. Don't put your dreams on hold permanently, give it a few months and then I'm sure you will be able to get those amazing ideas and plans in process. Don't let someone like him make you feel depressed or cry. Let the solicitors and lawyers do their job and I bet they will get it sorted for you in no time.

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  13. Oh my good god, that is so terrible. I'm so sorry you're having to start your year dealing with this :( What a nasty, nasty man. I really hope the solicitors can sort this out for you. It seems utterly ridiculous and unfair that he could be allowed to do this and get away with it. What a con artist. Keep that lovely chin up, Zoe. There are so many people who are right behind you xoxo

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  14. Wow. That is so incredibly awful. I'm so so so sorry you had to go thru such a hideous thing, especially at Christmas! Your landlord, as you say, is clearly a complete and utter douche. I really hope your solicitor can help you in some way and you can move on from this as quickly as possible. xx

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  15. This is such terrible news. I hope it works out in your favor! :( <3

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  16. I'm so sorry to hear what you are going through Zoe. This is just awful. I really hope you find a resolution that works in your favour soon. I don't know what else to say but that hopefully there will be something amazing waiting for you

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  17. I can't tell you how sad I am that this has happened to you. We were all so excited with you, it felt like we were doing it too. That landlord will get what's coming to him. I hope the solicitors help you get at least some of your money back so that you can move forward this venture. We're all behind you and wish you all the success. p.s. I need some Toblerone too x

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  18. I am so angry, but you know you have a whole community here if you need any support such as... harrassing this douche bag ?! :) I'm thinking rotten eggs xxx

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  19. I'm so sorry to hear this news! However, you've got solicitors on the case, and a lot of the time, scaring douchey landlords with threats of court or other legal action can work well. I've just been through a horrible few months with my ex landlord, and when we finally got to adjudication he completely gave up. A lot of them will see what they can get away with, because they're utter crooks - but when people get in their way they're actually massive babies about it all. I really hope this is the case for you, and you manage to get it all sorted out. Best of luck xx

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  20. This is awful!! I'm so sorry you've had such a rough ride. I'm baffled as to how what the landlord is doing is legal, although I have no idea how he sleeps at night. Thanks for sharing your story. Getting a studio space is a distant dream for me but it's so helpful to know these crazy truths. Really hope something mad happens to spin the situation back around! x

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  21. Bloomin' ek! He may have well just bank robbed you! I can usderstand how you must be feeling, you must be so, so gutted that your plans have to stop. I'm sure all will sort itself out in the coming weeks. Fingers crossed you will be able to cancel the agreement! Best wishes to you Zoe! :)

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  22. This is really frustrating and annoying - my heart goes out to you, especially when you thought you would be there years not months.

    But I don't understand why you can't use the space? They wont just barge in and say, "out you get, we're going to demolition the building now." There is no reason why you can't set up classes and run as normal as possible. You will be given a month's notice, at least, to move out.. so why not make the best of a bad situation? Sure, you will have to move premises at some point.. but you might have to do that anywhere that you move into.

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