Termination of Tenancy Agreements and Refusal of the Landlord to Repay Rent Which Was Deposited in Advance

2016-07-09 i Hyresavtal
FRÅGA
Dear Sir/Madam,I have a case with "faktura" that could not be paid on time. My case is that i have booked a house for the whole week 25. The owner of the house told me i need to pay a deposit of 3150 and the rest of the money (which was 12720) has to be paid on the 22nd of April. The deposit has been paid on time, while the rest of the money hasn't due to missing the deadline above. I contacted the owner which sent me the faktura, and she claims that she has sent me reminders about the payment but she has actually never sent me any reminder. Also, she refuses to discuss further and just wants to keep the 3150 without any issues and says that someone else now has booked the same week so now it was unbooked for us. It is not even week 25 yet! I am puzzled as i am not sure what the law for this case is! If the person in question has the right to keep the deposit even if she hasn't tried to contact me in any form, written or telephone, though she claims she has. I have proof she hasn't. I have the proof on a email conversation where attached i have the faktura in question. Nevertheless, in the faktura it says: "Vid avbokning 8 veckor innan ankomst betalas anmälningsavg. tillbaka , minus admin. kostnad 250 SEK." Can you please help me on how do i proceed, do i have any legal rights on this, or it is according to that she keeps the whole deposit considering the situation above?Many thanks and sincerely
SVAR

Dear asker,

Thank you for sending your question to Lawline.

As I understand it from your question, you have concluded an agreement with a Swedish party in which said party allows you to rent a house during week 25. This agreement requires you to pay a total sum of 15 870 SEK as rent, of which 3 150 SEK must be deposited at an earlier date than the rest.

In the following, I will explain the relevant Swedish law and give you some concrete recommendations on what measures you might consider taking. My explanation will start with some quick notes on Swedish Private International Law, since those rules might be relevant to you if you have some form of connection with another country. Thereafter, I shall explain the relevant substantive law. I conclude with a quick summary of what I have said.

I have inserted links to the relevant Swedish statutory texts in case you want to read more and are able to find someone who can translate them for you.

Swedish Private International Law

In Sweden, the question of what country’s law regulates a contractual relationship with international connections is solved by the so-called Rome I Regulation (Regulation (EC) No 593/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 June 2008 on the law applicable to contractual obligations), see its article 1. In accordance with article 4.1 c or d of the Rome I Regulation, the relevant law for your contract should probably be Swedish law, since your contract is about renting immovable property. Please be aware of the fact that I assume that you are renting immovable property.

The Termination of Your Contract

The law which applies to agreements in which someone rents a house is primarily found in the 12th chapter of the Swedish Land Code. This follows from the 1 § in said chapter. As the law in the Land Code’s 12th chapter is intended to protect the weaker party in a rental agreement (i.e. the tenant), much of it takes precedence over contractual clauses which are less favourable to the tenant.

As I understand it, the house owner has terminated your contract due to your failure to pay the rent on time. The relevant clause is the first item in the bulleted list in the 42 § of the 12th chapter of the Swedish Land Code, which can be roughly translated as the following (I have omitted an exception which is irrelevant for your case):

”The tenancy is forfeit and the landlord entitled to terminate the contract prematurely,

1. if the tenant, when regarding a residential apartment, delays in paying the rent for more than one week after the due date […]”

Note: a ”residential apartment” does not have to be an apartment. The term refers to any house or part of a house which is rented out to be used as a dwelling.

This unfortunately means that the landlord is within her rights to terminate your contract prematurely, regardless of the fact that the reminders did not reach you; the key circumstance in the quoted section above is the date that the payment is due, i.e. 22 April. There is a way for you as the tenant to avoid a termination due to late payment, but that would require you to correct your mistake before the landlord terminates the contract.

The Refusal of the House Owner to Repay the Deposit

If the tenancy is terminated due to forfeiture then the landlord is entitled to claim damages, according to the sixth and last paragraph of the 42 § of the 12th chapter of the Swedish Land Code. These damages could amount to the potential rents that the landlord lost due to the termination of your contract, or less. This could be the reason why the house owner refuses to repay the deposit of 3 150 SEK.

Alternatively, your contract might state that the deposit is forfeited if the contract is terminated due to your delay in paying the primary sum, which could be a valid contractual clause insofar as it is in your favour. I doubt that the clause included in the invoice ("faktura" in Swedish) is relevant here, as it only seems to regulate cancellations—not terminations.

Regardless of which scenario applies to your case, you have—primarily—three different options in order to settle your dispute with the house owner. The first is to attempt to reach a settlement out of court with the house owner. The second is to attempt to reach a settlement with the help of the relevant regional ”Hyresnämnd” (rent tribunal) as a mediator. The third is to go to court. If you need help in e.g. sending an application to the Hyresnämnd or initiating and carrying out proceedings in court, then I suggest that you contact one of the specialists that Lawline collaborates with. You may do so HERE. Do note, however, that the linked page is in Swedish.

Summary

Your landlord likely terminated your contract due to late payment. Her refusal to repay the deposit might be either be based on your contract or that she regards it as payment for damages which she has a right to claim. Your main options in disputing the action of the house owner are to attempt to reach a settlement out of court, use the Hyresnämnd (rent tribunal) as a mediator, or go to court.

I hope that this was a satisfactory answer to your question!

If you need further help with Swedish Law on tenancy agreements, then you may contact us by telephone 08-533 300 04 (mondays to wednesdays 10:00–16:00) or by e-mail at info@lawline.se.

Yours sincerely,

Simon Göransson
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