Tenancy Agreement Break Clauses

What are break clauses in Tenancy Agreements?

A break clause is a clause in a tenancy agreement that provides both tenant and landlord the opportunity to terminate the tenancy agreement early during the fixed-term (e.g. a 12 month contract gets terminated after 6 months). Essentially, either party can “break” the tenancy before the fixed end date, as long as the correct procedures are followed.

However, it’s important to note, even if the tenancy does include a break clause, the Housing Act 1988 prevents the court from awarding possession to a landlord until six months into the tenancy has passed from the beginning of the agreement, unless the landlord is using one of the seventeen statutory grounds for possession, in which case the landlord has rights to evict the tenant and should serve a Section 8 Notice. So, break clauses typically stipulate that they can only be enforced 6 months into the fixed term of a tenancy, no earlier!

Here is an example of a break clause (please do NOT use it without seeking legal advice):

7.9 Tenancy Break Clause
7.9.1 In the event that the Tenant shall desire to terminate the tenancy hereby created at or at any time after the end of the first six months thereof he shall give the Landlord not less than one months previous notice in writing of such desire and shall up to the time of such determination pay the rent and observe and perform the agreements and obligations on the tenants part.

7.9.2 If the Landlord shall desire to terminate the tenancy hereby created at or at any time after the end of the first six months thereof he shall give the Tenant not less than two months previous notice in writing of such desire then immediately upon the expiration of such notice the tenancy hereby created shall cease and be void.

Serving notice to break the tenancy

The landlord is required to provide at least two months notice to the tenant if they wish to enforce the break clause by serving a Section 21 Notice. So for example, if the tenancy starts on 1st of January, the landlord should serve notice by 1st May (i.e. tenant should have received notice by then), which means the tenant should vacate on July 1st (6 months from when the tenancy began).

If the tenant wants to enforce the break clause, they must also give 2 months notice to the landlord by serving a written notice, known as a tenancy surrender notice. It’s also worth noting that if the tenancy wishes to end the tenancy on or after the fixed term, they only need to provide one months’ notice- that is their statutory right.

Why the break clause is used

Break clauses really are about flexibility for both tenant and landlord. They provide landlords/tenants the opportunity to break a tenancy if personal circumstances change. This could include scenarios such as relocating for work related purposes, changes financial circumstances, or even because the relationship between the tenant and landlord turned sour.

The reason I don’t use break clauses

I personally don’t use break clauses in my tenancy agreements, the reason being is that they don’t seem convincingly reliable (from what I’ve read and been told), which makes them kind of scary to me. Let me explain…

Assuming the landlord is relying on the break clause by serving their tenant with a notice- if the tenant refuses to vacate and remains in the property, the landlord will need to issue court proceedings so they can get a order possession from the Judge. The Judge will then look at the break clause to see if it is valid. If the Judge is not happy with the clause the landlord will not get possession.

Why wouldn’t the clause be valid? The break clause is one of those clauses that can be drafted and interpreted in many ways (apparently). If the clause is clearly drafted and equally fair to both parties, the landlord will have a better chance of getting possession. However, if the clause is poorly drafted and deemed unfair (e.g. if it is in the favour of the landlord), it is very unlikely that it will be enforceable.

To be fully enforceable in law, break clauses need careful drafting with a high degree of legal expertise – these agreements should be drafted by a solicitor or barrister, or obtained from a known reliable published source. But ultimately, every clause in a tenancy agreement needs to be deemed as “fair”

The preferred alternative to a break clause

Personally, I’d rather just issue my tenant with a 6 month tenancy agreement (that’s the minimum term allowed). That way, if the tenant or landlord wishes to end the tenancy, they can do without relying on a break clause. But also, and perhaps more crucially, if the tenant refuses to vacate after a valid possession notice (Section 21) is served by the landlord, the Judge should grant possession immediately, no questions ask, because the tenancy’s fixed term would have.

In the event that after the 6 months both parties are happy to continue the tenancy, then the tenancy can either roll onto a Periodic Tenancy or a new tenancy agreement can be issued.

Issuing a 6 month tenancy just seems much safer and reliable because there’s little margin for error in comparison.

Mutually terminating the tenancy early

If at any point during the fixed term both landlord and tenant agree to mutually terminate the tenancy (for whatever reason), whether there’s a break clause or not, the normal procedure is for the tenant to vacate all his/her possessions and hand back the keys.

In the event that the tenant wants to surrender the tenancy without the landlords agreement, the tenant will be contractually obliged to pay rent for the entire length of the fixed term. Similarly, if the landlord wants the tenant to vacate early while the tenant has no interest, the landlord cannot reposes the property early without grounds for eviction.

Here’s a blog post which covers many of the legal methods of terminating a tenancy.

Do you use break clauses?

Do you use a break clause in your tenancy? If so, I’d be interested to see what it says. Would you mind copy/pasting it? Also, has anyone ever enforced the break clause?

140 Comments- Join The Conversation...

Showing 90 - 140 comments (out of 140)
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Diane Bull 22nd January, 2017 @ 02:06

Thank you David for your time in replying to me.
i have started to communicate with the tenants but as it was getting a little heated. I have now stopped and will not reply to them until Monday.
Stupidly, the clause in my tenancy agreement is ambiguous. It does not state that it has to be on rent day. But as every other notice does, I am standing by that.
I am also standing by, that they need to give me the notice in writing with both their signatures, an email does not suffice.
They are coming back with ... my cousin works in the industry etc.. and we dont need to do that...

I have let them pay their top up rent late, I changed their payment days to four weekly from calendar monthly due to them being on benefits, and a few other things besides that went against the tenancy agreement.
They are now using the tenancy agreement against me!!
I think that is why I am so "miffed" with them.

BTW. I hadnt seen this forum before, Ive sat here for hours reading the posts. Some landlords, have been taken for such rides. Some tenants too.
Very interesting.

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David 22nd January, 2017 @ 09:16

Hey @Diane

Yep this is a great site, organically grown with the humour of Flossy and the input of many real world Landlords and Tenants.

Now Diane you will know by now that I speak my mind and sometimes it seems I lack that filter because things need to be said. It is not personal, you see a site like this helps people learn from the mistakes of others and hopefully avoid them.

So Diane WTF is wrong with you!

Let it go!

I know you are disappointed that your tenant is leaving but let me break it to you; they are leaving no matter what you do. Punishing them, insisting on things in writing, arguing, it is just a waste of your time and energy.

You say that you have been reading the experiences of others on this site, well one thing you can learn is that if you piss off a tenant they can retaliate. They can increase your voids, not let you in to show new tenants, change the locks, report you to local authority for mistakes you may have made, hell they can cost you thousands if you did not comply fully with the law on deposit protection. These are just the nice things they can do, there are many things they can do that will damage your investment that will not show for now or may cost you money because you have to fix them, Anything from water leaks to a short on the boiler, some will even trash a place.

Now you might be thinking "Those bastards try that and I will sue their arses", well good luck with that.

So take a deep breath, hold it, little bit more and release.

Repeat the above 10 times

If you have been communicating via email forget that and forget trying to LORD it over tbem, let them go, make it easy for them even and be at peace with the world.

Ring them up and say "Sorry about the emails, I thought I would call you as we lose a lot of intonation in emails. Look I have reconsidered and decided I am not going to hold you to notice in writing etc. The fact is you were great tenants and I am sorry to lose you. So let's agree to just work out your departure in an amicable way as possible."

They are NOT using the tenancy agreement against you; they are using a perfectly valid clause that you put in there.

So learn from that, drop the break clause in your next tenancy agreement.

You are not doing them favours taking their payments four weekly, you are doing yourself a favour, they expressed a problem which may make them go in arrears because of the way they are paid and worked with you to find a solution. Some shitheads simply do not pay, then when the money is there in their account they go buy a mobile phone and wham, arrears become acceptable and they grow.

Now you might think you can put any shit you like in a tenancy agreement and it is LAW, well sorry to break it to you but WRONG! You might download an agreement you might even have a lawyer construct one, but there is guidance on this from the Office of Fair Trading on unfair contract terms in tenancy agreement, this document is practically a bible in legal circles because Judges do not want to bring their personal bias to their Court. Also they recognise that there is an inherent power imbalance between Landlord and Tenant at the point of signing an agreement because they are desperate to have a home. Truth is most people will sign almost anything.

Have a read of it.

http://bit.ly/356terms

Now let me get this clear

You have by your own admission an ambiguous statement and you think that just because other clauses are not ambiguous you can ASS-U-ME it applies, well good luck with that!

Let me put this clearly for you

IT DOES NOT STATE IT HAS TO BE ON A RENT DAY

What is STUPID is you thinking you can enforce a term condition that does not exist.

Now you need to get out of this mindset that you are doing them favours or that you can Lord it over them.

Let it go

Let it go

Let it go

This page may help

http://www.propertyinvestmentproject.co.uk/blog/your-tenant-wants-leave-early/

Call them today as advised above, wish them well and the positive karma will wash back over you in due course.

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Diane Bull 22nd January, 2017 @ 16:54

OMG. I feel like Elsa... "let it go"

I just dont like being walked over.

I will let it go.

But they will not get their deposit back early. Or any other concessions, like .. ooh dont worry about that bit of damage!!!!

Thank you once again for your time and comments. Although I havent liked them..xxxx

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David 22nd January, 2017 @ 18:28

No Worries @Diane

The Truth Hurts but Don't shoot the messenger

It could have been SO much worse.

These tenants have done nothing wrong at all, but you still want "payback".

I just hope your deposit was done properly within 30 days and with Prescribed Information within 30 days.

Obviously, if they damaged anything they would face a deduction via the deposit company who will have a method of handling that.

However, fair wear and tear applies and you need an inventory signed by both parties to make that stand, otherwise it is your word against theirs.

On the bright side, once they go you can increase the rent and find new tenants who will be with you for four year. They will always pay the rent on time and you will finally be a happy bunny.

Honestly, if you saw some of the stories on this site, tenants who owed £7k, £5k in legal fees to evice, left the place trashed, then put in a complaint because their junk was put in a skip.

Be happy you had a decent tenant who paid their rent and exercised a legally valid clause in a contract you supplied.

I do tell it how it is and there is nothing personal, I am sure you are a delightful person, really!!

I totally relate to you doing someone a favour and it not being appreciated but that is life. People walk all over you if you are a carpet, still I would not want to change my good nature because of someone else.

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Diane Bull 22nd January, 2017 @ 18:57

Been there, done that, with nightmare tenant. Cost me thousands.

I dont like to ask up to market value for my properties as i think the rents are too bloody high.

And, as for the deposit, it was registered with the DPS in time, but in their insured scheme and im not sure if i sent the correct paperwork to the tenant. This will probably be the next conversation i have.

I try so hard to get things right and there is always something ive missed.

Never mind!

Thanks once again for your help and im sure ill be back with more queries..xxxx

Diane AKA Elsa

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K J Butler 23rd January, 2017 @ 15:27

I have been diagnosed and I now have to give up work temporarily. Our lease is up on 5 Feb 2017. On 1 January we told the landlord we could no longer afford the apartmnt given our change in circumstances. All rent and bills are up to date and have always been paid regularly. We have had to put a small deposit down on a much smaller place and have told the Landlord that the deposit of 750 he can keep even though we are moving out on 26th January (he is currently advertising the apartment from 27th January). We have said that we will pay January's invoices as we always have done.

He is now threatening all sorts and I am due to go into hospital on Wednesday and dont want to leave my partner facing all of this drama as well as everything else he has to contend with. Any advice please?

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David 23rd January, 2017 @ 18:33

@KJ Butler

I am very sorry to hear of your diagnosis and I wish you all the best.

So of course, there are two sides to this, the Tenant and the Landlord

The first is that you have a legally binding contract; it may or may not have a break clause.

It is when you breach the terms of that contract that the fun starts.

The Landlord will think that he can hold you responsible for the whole of the contract, however, he is wrong.

In common law people who which to make a claim against another party have to mitigate their losses. This means that Landlord having been given reasonable notice has to try and get a new tenant in as soon as possible.

There is Government Guidance on Tenancy Agreements produced by the Office Of Fair Trading, it is practically a bible as far as Judges are concerned and parts of it are enforced by Trading Standards.

The guidance says that the Landlord may charge you for ACTUAL losses he sustains but he must do all he can to mitigate the losses. So he can’t go using services that are more expensive just because he expects you to pay.

So if he advertises the property on OpenRent and the property is cleaned to a state where he can move someone in on Feb 1st, then you would be held liable for

1. Cost of Open Rent
2. Cost of cleaning if you left it in a bad way but not if you left if OK
3. The 5 days of rent.

He can't charge you for his time but he can charge you for his expenses such as petrol to get to the property if he goes more than usual.

Remember he can't hold you responsible for charges he would have incurred anyway at the end of the tenancy, such a check out, deep cleaning that he does anyway, decorating that he does anyway.

His tenancy agreement may be full of shit saying you have to do this that and the other, but again the OFT guidance defines unfair contract terms.

There are often several clauses that may affect a situation like this, the Guidance can be downloaded here, http://bit.ly/356terms

As time is short I have written a response for you to send him below.

Now there is no reason to give him your whole deposit, but it should be left with the company he placed it with under deposit protection legislation (he should have given you details of who has it within 30 days of you moving in).

I do not know what you mean by January's invoices, surely your only bill to him is the rent. You must inform the Energy & Water companies that you are leaving on 26th and give them a reading (take a photo as evidence). Same applies to Council Tax.

The WITHOUT PREJUDUCE means they can't use this letter in Court against you although if your lawyer says it is OK you can admit it yourself.

If you have any questions please post back here

=======================
"
WITHOUT PREJUDICE

Dear Mr Landlord

I was disappointed and most peturbed to receive you continual threats regarding our early departure from your property.

We have explained to you that our circumstances have changed dramatically after receiving a medical diagnosis; I really would have expected you to be more understanding.

If we had been less responsible tenants we might have gone into arrears, waited for you to evict us and the Council would have advised us to wait until the very last minute with bailiffs at the door before they housed us.

As it is I have taken advice and I would like to remind you that regardless of what the tenancy agreement says, it is governed by UK Law, specifically common law and unfair contract terms law.

To this end you have a duty to mitigate any losses that you wish to hold us responsible for. This means you must do everything in your power to re-let the property as soon as possible. For your interest, we have heard that openrent.co.uk are a very good online agency that may facilitate your re-letting the property.

As discussed, any shortfall may be claimed against the deposit but if such a claim is exhorbitant we will dispute it.

The Office of Fair Trading Guidance on unfair contract terms in tenancy agreements will be relied upon should you wish to proceed with your threats http://bit.ly/356terms

I want to assure you of our intention to be as cooperative as possible to enable you to get the property re-let as soon as possible but please also bear in mind that this is an incredibly stressful time for us and I am being admitted to Hospital on Monday.

We really want to keep things amicable and would be grateful if you would now work with us to reach a mutually satisfactory conclusion to this matter.

Yours sincerely

KJ Tenant"

=======================

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David 23rd January, 2017 @ 18:38

Just looking at your post again, it says your "lease is up" on Feb 7th 2017 and you are leaving on 26th Jan. So it is just a matter of a few days.

What are all these threats. the deposit would have covered it and he would have had to get a new tenant anyway, so he is going to have very little he can hold you responsible for. Basically, 12 days rent tops, the deposit probably had 4 to 6 weeks of rent, so you have a lot coming back to you.

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Zoe 1st February, 2017 @ 00:31

I have a 3 year lease on my current flat. In september we were told that the landlord was looking to sell the property so there have been people coming in to view the house. We foresee that the property will be sold soon. Both the landlord and us are entitled to a 2 month break clause. however, when the break clause comes into action, it will be a very inconvenient time as we will all be in the middle of exams and we want to move out in july (which will not give us a long enough duration to find a new property)– is there any legal way to extend the notice period? Or is this all just a matter of me having to negotiate with the landlord to hope that they will extend the notice period?

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Zoe 1st February, 2017 @ 00:31

Also, point to note, I have already been in my place for a year and a half.

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David 1st February, 2017 @ 11:32

@Zoe

It is going to depend on the detail of the tenancy agreement regarding break clauses.

You can ask the Landlord if he will consider your request, I very much doubt he will wait 5 months.

You do not actually have to allow viewings, you can be difficult and say it needs to be done at a mutually convenient time, then just refuse every proposed time.

You are entitled to change the locks and your only legal obligation for entry is for gas safety or an emergency leak but you only have to let a bona fide contractor in, not the landlord.

It may be worth checking your deposit was protected within 30 days in an approved scheme and that you received the precribed information within 30 days. If not you can sue the Landlord for up to 3x the deposit but better to use it as a negotiation.

Now he may give you 2 months notice in writing but it is not worth the paper it is written on legally, to evict you he has to issue you with a Section 21 notice, if he has not protected the deposit at all then you can with till the 2 months of the Section 21 are almost up and at that point tell him the Section 21 notice is not legally compliant. To delay things you do not have to say why but wait for him to ask why, then procrastinate saying I can't give you legal advice. BE WARNED if he has protected the deposit he can show the Court that and the S21 will be legal.

If you have not received any deposit protection info you can check the websites of MyDeposit, TDS and DPS enter the month of start of tenancy, your surname and the postcode of the property. Even if it has been protected he has to give you a deposit protection certificate AND the Prescribed Information (some combine this into a 4 page doc).

My advice would be to try and leave sooner, rather than later, start looking now and ask your landlord to release you early with no penalty.

He will get a better price with vacant possession so should be willing to consider it.

If you want to copy the details of the tenancy terms here with regard to the break clause I can be more specific.

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Cameron Holloman 5th March, 2017 @ 18:50

My landlord and I have a fixed lease agreement that was renewed in 10/2016 to extend to 9/2018. Toward the end of 2016, my landlord told me he wanted to sell the property but we agreed that he would only sell to an INVENSTOR and would continue with our current terms and conditions with the same rate ($950/month) till 9/2018.

A few days ago he contacted me and said he found a buyer, however, is not an investor and will be moving into the property 8/201 (13 months early to our signed agreement). The original agreement from when we first moved into the property in 2014 wasn't well written and did NOT include the termination clause should he sell the property he can break the contract early. The new agreement signed in 10/2016 does not either. However, I can't find my original agreement from 2014 which he claims the clause was included.

My question is, since we signed a new agreement on 10/2016, does that overwrite the old contract making it not valid?

He's asking me to provide the signed copy as he DOES NOT have the signed copy either. I really think he's trying to see if I have the original copy because if I don't, he can then add the clause and back date the original agreement. Then, will allow him to sell the property by breaking the agreement without having to honor our agreement time till 9/2018. Does the new agreement that DOES NOT include the clause overwrite the old one and make it no longer valid? This will save me a fight if so...

I'd love to have someone help me out as I am planning on getting married a month after he's requiring me to move out early (9/2017). It's hard enough to plan a wedding... now we have to plan a wedding and find a new place to stay/move out/move in.

PLEASE HELP!

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David 6th March, 2017 @ 00:03

@Cameron

I hope that is not your actual surname there, this IS a landlords forum and your might be about, a message to The Landlord to ask he truncate or even change your name might be an idea.

Also can you please confirm you are in the UK as you are using terminology and currency that suggests you are in US or down under.

I am assuming the $950/month was a typo and that you are in England?

I will continue assuming you are in UK.

"My question is, since we signed a new agreement on 10/2016, does that overwrite the old contract making it not valid?"

If you signed a completely new agreement rather than an extension of the previous agreement then the new agreement stands, but unless you have the agreement he could deny it ever existed.

You yourself use the word renewal, so you need to be clear, was it a completely new contract or just a few pages?

He might even fake a copy of an extension, but if you are in the UK he does not have to as without a legal agreement the tenancy becomes a Statutory Periodic and the terms of the previous contact apply, save dates, which are Landlord must give you 2 months notice and you have to give them 1 month's notice.

If you want to have rights you need paper, but there is another way, bluff and negotiate.

Look, he is going to get you out eventually, so why not say to him "I have taken professional advice and informed that our agreement stands and I am within my rights to resist any attempt to evict me and seek costs if things become protracted.

However, I totally get you want me to move out as does your prospective buyer, so if you are prepared to compensate me for my costs and inconvenience, plus provide me with a stellar reference then I am prepared to start looking for a place now."

Out of pocket expenses may mean he pays for professional removals, any admin fees from an agent, (although I would use Openrent if I were you). Plus a lump sum of anything between £1800 and £7200. The buyer may want to make a contribution to rush things along.

Now if you ARE in the UK and because your landlord and yourself (with respect) seem a little sloppy on the paperwork, then I must ask if the deposit was protected in an authorised scheme?

Even if it was protected in the begining, there is statutory paperwork that has to be issued subject to when the tenancy originally started.

IF you are in the UK and this has been screwed up then there could be a further sanction of up to 3x the deposit to negotiate over.

As I said it depends whether you are in UK?

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Tasha 12th April, 2017 @ 14:39

Can I be offer a two year contract with a years break clause? I have heard of 12 with a 6 month break but not a year?

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David 12th April, 2017 @ 15:14

@Tasha

You can be offered anything the Landlord is prepared to agree to, however, some would prefer to start with a 6m break clause just to make sure you are not a nightmare tenant.

You could offer to sign up for 3 years with a break every 6 months, but any break clause must be for both parties, i.e. either of you could terminate on those dates. If you did not leave the Landlord would then be forced to serve you with a section 21 notice which gives you 2 months further notice. Some would give you the section 21 two months before the 6 month break clause which they can only do after 4 full months have expired.

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Andreas 3rd May, 2017 @ 11:30

We have an AST agreement of an initial term of 12 months and now we are on the 8th month. There is a clause in section 2 saying briefly that the tenants can break the tenancy agreement with two months prior notice after the break clause ends. The same clause for the landlord exists in section 3. For both cases there is no reference on the length of the break clause. Also the term break clause or its length are not defined anywhere else in the tenancy agreement. Can the LL or the tenants use either of the two points to break the tenancy agreement?
Thanks in advance

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David 4th May, 2017 @ 18:07

@Andreas

If there is no break clause then the contract runs to term, sometimes the break clause is included in the Term section.

A break clause does not usually "end", usually there is a contract for say 12 months with an option to terminate early (break) at say 6 months. Some will say that you can give 2 months notice after 8 months regardless of whether there is a break clause.

If you are the tenant you can give your landlord a months notice saying that you will cover his legitimate expenses to replace you.

OFT356 is the Office of Fair Trading Guidance on Tenancy Agreements, it says (in line with common law) that a party suffering loss that they wish to hold others responsible for must mitigate that loss. So they could not just leave the property empty, they need to take all reasonable steps to find a new tenant as soon as possible.

You could call your landlord, explain you have a family emergency or whatever and would like to end the contract early, offer to get a new tenant for them or to line up some (use openrent, Gumtree etc), under no circumstances should you sublet, it would open you up to all kinds of risk.

If you wish to redact a copy of your lease and put it online I can have a look at it but sometimes it is just a case that they wanted 12 months and so deleted the break clause without deleting the reference to it.

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Andreas 5th May, 2017 @ 11:38

Thanks David.

This is the exact paragraph:
2.75 If the Tenant shall desire to determine the tenancy hereby created at, or at any time after the end of the break clause, they shall give the Landlord not less than two months prior notice in writing of such desire and shall up to the time of such determination pay the rent and observe and perform the agreements and obligations on the Tenant's part herein before reserved and contained, then immediately on the expiration of such notice, the present tenancy and everything herein contained shall cease and be void, but without prejudice to the rights and remedies of either party against the other in respect of any antecedent claim or breach of obligation.

Regarding finding new tenants is not applicable in this situation as the landlord will refurbish the flat as soon as we leave (this was made known to us 1.5 month after signing the contract).

Please note that we know a case where the tenants (who are very good friends of us) broke their tenancy agreement using the exact AST agreement template from the exact same letting agency i.e. they used clause 2.75 mentioned above. There was no definition or length of a break clause but the tenants exercised clause 2.75 and broke the agreement. It was for the exact same letting agency but in that case neither the agent nor the landlord supported that it was not legal. Also those tenants where not asked to reimburse the Landlord in respect of any sums which the Landlord was liable to pay to the Agent for introducing the Tenant. Clause 2.24 which was found in their agreement says that tenants have the obligation:
"In the event that the tenancy is terminated prior to the end of the term otherwise than by the lawful exercise of a break clause, to reimburse the Landlord (pro-rata by reference to the unexpired proportion of the term) in respect of any sums which the Landlord has paid or is liable to pay to the Agent for introducing the Tenant"

It was clear that they broke the tenancy agreement using a two month notice and not by mutual surrender between the Landlord and the tenant. Also since they were not asked to pay for the agency fees (3-4 months) this can be interpreted that they used the lawful exercise of a break clause to break it.

For our case both parties say that it is illegal.

Maybe the letting agency has not interpreted that point properly but I don't understand why they accepted the notice in one case and not in the other. Contra proferentem will be against the letting agency who drafted the AST agreement or us tennants?

Based on these further details what is your opinion? Thanks a lot for your time and information you provide.

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David 5th May, 2017 @ 12:47

So what you are saying is that they let someone else off the hook with an identical contract but with you they are sticking to their guns.

I am not sure that Contra Proferentem will apply because it is not so much that the meaning of text is constructed is ambiguous but that the item referred to does not exist.

In such cases the preferred meaning would be the one that works against the interests of the party who constructed the contract, so that would be the Landlord or their Agent. However there would need to be specific and distinct interpretations even if not be immediately obvious.

If there was a clause that said something that gave rise to ambiguity, for example if there was a clause that referred to an initial period of 6 months or a minimum period of 8 months or something that could be construed to mean "break" for example "Early Exit" or "Early Termination".

You might be able to rely on emails or a verbal contract if you were told that there would be a 6 month break clause.

It seems to me that a clause has been edited a few times and this was probably the original term

"If the Tenant shall desire to determine the tenancy hereby created at the end of the first six months to expire on 1st MARCH 2017 and shall give to the Landlord not less than TWO MONTHS previous notice in writing of such desire and shall up to the time of such determination pay the rent and observe and perform the agreements and obligations on the Tenant’s part herein before reserved and contained then immediately on the expiration of such notice the present tenancy and everything herein contained shall cease and be void but without prejudice to the rights and remedies of either party against the other in respect of any antecedent claim or breach of obligation."

Some bright spark decided to take out specificity or make it reliant on "break" clause stated elsewhere but then deleted the said clause.

Sadly I do not think that their mistake by itself gives rise to ambiguity, which is why I am asking you about other terms, I would need to see the whole contract or trust that you have read it till you are blue in the face and found nothing that could be interpreted to mean "break".

It might be that the previous episode really pissed off the Landlord and he told the agent to be firmer.

The reality is that you are not going to take them to Court, the legal fees of someone capable of making a credible argument are way above your benefit.

So what are the alternatives, you stop paying rent and he then has to sue you for money, chances are he will not for the same reason, you then allow him to take deposit by letting DPS, TDS, or MyDeposits know he can have it. He will have his rent for the period you occupied the property and is unlikely to come after you or provide you with a reference. He will (or should) give agent a kick up the arse and perhaps fire them.

If you had some leverage, if your deposit has not been protected within 30 days, if you had not been served with PI within 30 days, then you might be able to negotiate with them by saying you scratch my back and I will scratch yours.

You could offer to paint the flat to save them the cost, a quick splash of £12 magnolia contract paint from Homebase.

I hope this helps.

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Simon Pambin 5th May, 2017 @ 13:03

Have you spoken to your landlord directly or is this all via the agent? Your contract is with the landlord. Agents sometimes seem to forget that. Sometimes they also seem to forget that they're supposed to do what's in the landlord's best interests, not their own. It may turn out that your landlord would welcome the opportunity to start the refurbishment a couple of months sooner, whereas the agent just wants to maximize his commission.

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Andreas 5th May, 2017 @ 13:26

Thanks David and Simon for the interest.

@ David
Yes I have read it and found nothing that means break. Maybe I will give it another try but I think I will end up finding nothing again

@Simon
We have spoken to the landlord and the agency (directly). But of course both of them insist that we cannot break it as there is no break clause.

What might be against them is the fact that our friends who used the exact same tenancy agreement to break it last year forwarded to us an email conversation between the agency, the landlord and them. In one of those emails there is clear reference by one guy from the agency saying that you can use the break clause with two months notice. These are the exact words used by him.
"The earliest you can use the break-clause would be 4th August so you would pay rent up to that point"

How can we proceed? Let the Landlord know about this or let both of the parties know? Currently we are trying to find a mid solution. We already said that the landlord can bring the refurbishment forward as the flat will be in the market sooner. Going to the court will take long and will be costly (although I feel we can win the case)

Thanks a lot guys

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David 5th May, 2017 @ 19:40

@Andreas

Simon is absolutely right, deal only with the Landlord, Agents are mostly useless, the Landlord will make the decision.

You can write to the Landlord with a copy, say you wish to keep things amicable and would like him to reconsider the matter.

If he declines then your options are in my previous post.

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MdeB 10th May, 2017 @ 11:57

I came to this article hoping to get some information on the fairness of some break clauses (example later) and whether they had been tested in court (as the author of the piece also hoped), but there has been no feedback from landlords on success or failure in court with a break clause.

The break clause that caught my attention was of the form:

"The Term: 12 months from and including .

Landlord Break Clause: The landlord may terminate this agreement by giving at least 2 months notice, such notice not to expire before .

Tenant Break Clause: The Tenant may terminate this agreement by giving at least 2 months notice, such notice not to expire before ."

Please do not comment on any ambiguities there may be in these clauses, as they are not relevant to my question.

OFT356 only seems to have the following to say on 'unfairness', and that is in a subsection entitled 'misleading termination clauses':

"3.65 Landlords sometimes choose to use a 'break' clause allowing them to bring
the agreement to an end on service of two months' notice. We would object
to such a term if it was not balanced by a similar provision allowing the
tenant to give notice in the same way."

The above does not fall foul of OFT356.

However, the above break clause appears to have the effect of turning what purports to be a 12-month tenancy into a 6-month tenancy BUT with the disadvantage to the tenant that they have to give 2 months' notice whereas if the tenancy had been for 6 months and became Statutory Periodic, then the tenant would have a shorter notice period.
Therefore the break clause appears (to me) to be unfair.

Can anyone comment on the fairness in this context, and has anyone any knowledge of such a clause being challenged in court?

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MdeB 10th May, 2017 @ 12:08

@David

You stated in an post 46 that a S21 notice is required for a landlord to exercise a break clause

However, it is my understanding that a S21 notice cannot be used in the initial term of a tenancy.

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MdeB 10th May, 2017 @ 12:12

@112

The post did not display as I wrote it (I used 'less than' and 'greater than' symbols as brackets, and the text between them seems to have been stripped). Reposting using square brackets:

The break clause that caught my attention was of the form:

The Term: 12 months from and including [date].

Landlord Break Clause: The landlord may terminate this agreement by giving at least 2 months notice, such notice not to expire before [date 6 months after start].

Tenant Break Clause: The Tenant may terminate this agreement by giving at least 2 months notice, such notice not to expire before [date 6 months after start].

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David 10th May, 2017 @ 18:37

@MdeB

Re post 46, OK there are two things here, the contract between the Landlord and the Tenant and The Housing Act.

So your contract cannot go against common law, i.e. any act.

So your contract says you have a 6 month break clause, you email the tenant 4 months in and say "I'm selling up so I need to exercise my break clause, sorry it did not last longer, leave the place in good nick and I will give you a glowing reference."

The tenant emails back "Ok MdeB, it has been fun but I will find somewhere else"

The two months pass and the tenant does NOT move out, the contract is terminated by the break clause BUT a statutory periodic tenancy was created because they did not leave. Now the Landlord has to give S21 notice with 2 months notice and all the provisos etc blah blah blah.

So the savvy Landlord thinks "I am not going to fall for that again, I am going to give them the S21 2 months before the expiry, in fact I will give it on day 1" Well that is what they WERE doing until the Dereg Act said they have to give 2 months notice and it can't be served until 4 months in (note the cock up here, the tenancy now has to last 6 months and 1 day). Therefore, as I advised previously, the S21 CAN be used in the initial term BUT it must not EXPIRE before the end of six months. Basically no tenant has more than 6 months assured tenancy and even then only the first six months, after that 2 months (via S21).

Now to your phrases, they are fine with OFT356, they both give the same obligation.

It is not unfair that two parties agree to terms specified in a contract that may differ from common law. Common law says a tenant only has to give a month's notice to leave a SPT while the Landlord has to give 2 months and comply with S21 prerequisites (deposit protection, Prescribed Information, EPC, Gas Cert, How to Rent, Blood Group confirmation, HIV Test and clean shaved balls)

With the contract, both parties agree that it is a 12 month contract but either may terminate at 6 months, giving notice to expire after the six months (so after month 4).

So it is not unfair at all, break it down...

The Tenant may terminate this agreement by giving at least 2 months notice,

such notice not to EXPIRE before [date 6 months after start].

So it has to end 6 months after the start.

Let me warn you of one thing, DO NOT CHANGE tenancy agreements that have been produced by a Solicitor. They are constructed carefully, in accordance with and around common law.

I know of a Landlady who did not like the break clause so she added two more, they basically said that if there were arrears at any time the landlord could give 3 days notice and they said a charge of £25 a day would be payable, so if rent were say 4 days late, a fee of £100 would be payable (in their dreams).

The 3 days would breach S21 notice requirements and the £25 a day would breach OFT356 guidance which says the Landlord may only charge Actual costs, so 4% about 2% base rate, so £500 rent x 6% = £30 (per annum) /365 * 4 days =0.33p rounded up.

Landlords can invent any term they like but it can be challenged as an unfair contract term, such a term could void the whole contract if the tenancy agreement does not have protection for that.

So if you want a tenancy agreement, try this one, for £5 you can't complain!!

http://www.propertyinvestmentproject.co.uk/landlord-shop/documents-contracts/tenancy-agreement-forms/

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Michael 10th May, 2017 @ 22:47

@David

1. You seem to say the "Common Law" is Acts of Parliament.
It is not; it is law that is derived from ancient usage and judicial decision.

2. You say in the example clauses I provided "So it has to end 6 months after the start.".
That is not the case; it can be ended at any time after 6 months.

3. Regarding S21: A S21 cannot be used to obtain possession before the end of the fixed term. This is what I had trouble with.
Having researched more, I think the position is "exercising the break clause redefines the fixed term to end on expiry of notice period" and that then allows a valid S21 to be served.
Is that correct?

4, Re Deregulation Act "(note the cock up here, the tenancy now has to last 6 months and 1 day)."
Yes.
I was following the progress of the Bill and made representations to my MP and some Lords on this point (including that service after 16:00 on a Friday is treated as service on the following Monday, so really we needed "cannot be served in first 3 months of tenancy").
One Lord raised this in debate and was assured by the Minister that this would be the case. Just shows that even the guy responsible for the Bill did not understand what he was doing.

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Michael 10th May, 2017 @ 22:51

Ooops. Missed a "not"

Should read "assured by the Minister that this would NOT be the case"

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David 11th May, 2017 @ 10:08

@Michael (formerly MdeB)

1. Don't be obtuse, to all intents and purposes for housing we are only concerned with acts. I am not wasting my time on debating this, next you will have me comparing Latin!

2. Again obtuse but also WRONG; what matters is the "not to EXPIRE before" the law is designed to give tenants a minimum tenancy and a minimum notice. You tried to suggest that it was not fair to tenants, I demonstrated it is in fact fair.

You seem to be struggling with this so I will explain again; S21 MINIMUM notice is 2 months, it cannot be served for 4 months, 2+4=6. Easier that quadratic equations, even a five year old gets it. So earliest is 6 months.

Now you are going on about any time AFTER six months. If you want to be anally OCD I can tell you THAT YOU ARE WRONG! Under the Dereg act it has to be used within 4 months. So it can't be held like an axe over the head of a tenant. Now I know you have trouble with the maths so I will lay it out; S21 MINIMUM notice is 2 months, must be used within 4 months from the date being served, 2+4=6, you see it is the same maths. But for the benefit of others let me lay it out with different variables

Tenant signs a 2 year tenancy on 2017-01-01 , with a break clause saying it may be terminated after no less than 8 months by either party giving at least 2 months notice.

Landlord serves S21 with expiry date 3 month notice on 2017-09-01 so MAY proceed to actual claim for possession (if tenant does not leave) on 2017-12-01, the landlord has until 2018-04-01 to start actual claim for possession.

3. I am not going to get into the definition or validity of break clauses per se in contracts, there is enough case law summation on that. It is very simple, it is a contract, it talks about TERMINATION and lists the conditions that can terminate a contract (subject to common law).

The contract has a TERM, it is FIXED but can be BROKEN with a BREAK clause, got it??

BREAK CLAUSES designed to allow each party to shorten the TERM and TERMINATE the contract, (subject to common law). So the fixed term has now been shortened within the contract and therefore a S21 can be used.

Look to understand Law think of computer programming, DO WHILE, IF THEN ELSE, nest those a few times and there you have it.

4. No I disagree, we do not need to sacrifice a month of tenants rights, all they had to do was to say that when the 21 notice and the Minimum term exceed the tenancy end date then the tenancy end date shall be extended by the appropriate number of days. This is necessary because 2 months notice can vary between 59 and 61 days, the 4 month period can vary between 120 and 123 days, the 6 months minimum period can vary between 181 and 184. So the easiest way to have handled it would be to extend the end date in statute to avoid confusion. Alternatively they can change all the housing law reference to deal in weeks because they are fixed at 7 days. So..

Minimum term - 27 weeks
S21 Notice - 9 weeks
4 Month period - 18 week

It would define things more literally and after 5 years people would get used to it.

Personally I think it is just easier to extend the end date to the appropriate few days:

If((TenancyEndDate<(FourMonthNoticePeriod+S21TwoMonthNoticePeriod),TenancyEndDate=S21ServeDate+FourMonthNoticePeriod,TenancyEndDate=TenancyEndDate+0)

or just a fixed 4 days, hell let's call it a week. Any surplus rent being deductible from deposit.

I would rather not get into a lengthy debate about the rights and the wrongs of each section of law in this place, because the idea here is to help Landlords and Tenants. Suffice to say I have said for a long time that the law in this area is a dogs dinner, some of that will be improved after Oct 2018 when the Dereg act applies to ALL tenancies.

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Jeet 13th May, 2017 @ 22:50

Hi

My tenancy started on 1st of July 2016 and ends on 30th June 2017.

Below is the break clause in my agreement

''It has been agreed by all Parties to this Agreement that after the expiration of 6 months from the date hereof either party
may serve upon the other 1 months notice in writing from a rent due date to terminate this agreement.''

I have sent out a notice for one month to the landlord to vacate the flat on 11th May saying I will vacate on 10th June (i.e one months)

Will I be in any problem ?

If yes how should I handle it ,the agent has all my deposit.

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David 14th May, 2017 @ 05:12

@Jeet

The only problem I can envisage is

"from a rent due date"

If they want to be strict they can say that you should have given notice on the 1st of the month if that is when rent is due. However, under OFT356 guidance clauses need to be equal so I would need to see what it says the Landlord has to do to give notice.

It is a clause designed to extend the notice by up to a month. So to comply you should have given notice on May 1st 2017, but they might not hold you to it. You should have received an email back from the agent confirming acceptance that you will be leaving.

You say your deposit is with the agent, but it should be protected with one of the three deposit holding organisations (DPS, TDS or MyDeposits), you should have received a letter and SMS WITHIN 30 days, from the Deposit Company telling you where the deposit is protected and the reference number. Otherwise the Landlord can be sanctioned for up to 3x the deposit.

Agents often use TDS as the deposit company, but it could be any of them, the deposit needs to be protected until you leave.

At the same time you can expect that there will be a final inspection and inventory of the property before you leave. It is in your interest to video every part of the property to show what an excellent condition you left it in.

This is especially true of anything that may be considered damage, hopefully you took a video of it when you moved in.

If there is any damage the Landlord or their Agent can seek a deduction from your deposit, you can dispute this and the Deposit Company can be the arbiter in such cases OR you can take them to Court (or them you). It is important to note that for some of these you agree to their decision being final, so do not agree if you do not feel you will get a good hearing.

For example if there was a leak in the plumbing that damaged a carpet in month 1 of a tenancy, but the Landlord tries to say you are responsible for the damage to the carpet, you would dispute that. At the same time if you had a party and spilled some wine on the carpet you would be expected to pay for it to be professionally cleaned.

It is always in your interest to leave the property in a better condition than you found it, but you are not liable for redecoration unless you have made it worse than "fair wear and tear".

I hope this helps.

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Amy 7th June, 2017 @ 16:13

@David

you seem to have a real handle on this, so I was wondering if I could ask your advice.

I am a tenant, we have an AST, which has the following break clause:

"This Tenancy Agreement is subject to two months written notice to be served by Landlord is requires possession of the property or Tenant received on or before the rent due date, not before the first ten months (i.e. 12th May 2017) in order to terminate the agreement."

We sent our notice letter on 1st June, which was received on 2nd June. In our notice we offered 5th August as our termination date (i.e. over 2 months' notice).

The letting agent is now saying that the notice letter is only valid from the rent due date and therefore our termination date would be 11th August.

Even though in an earlier email they accepted our "2 months' notice of 2nd June".

What do we do?

My other half is having to move back to Belfast, and the main bone of contention is that we have asked to have an early check out (in effect pay the 2 months rent but check out after 1 month), which they agreed to.

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David 7th June, 2017 @ 22:13

@Amy

As I read that you have either only quoted the obligation of the Landlord to give you notice or there is a typo where it says "to be served by Landlord is requires possession".

Can you please check it is verbatim?

It looks really badly constructed because it is ambiguous, when a legal term in ambiguous it can be interpreted in different ways.

First off, it is not a break clause, if this is a 12 month contract and you can't give notice before 10 months then they are just asking for 2 months notice but the contract will end at the end of 12 months anyway. So check the TERM.

It is not enforceable to require you to give 2 months notice on a contract that will end anyway. It will end if it is not renewed, even if you stay in the property and do not renew the contract ends and a new statutory periodic tenancy is created, the notice for which is 1 month under common law (The Housing Act).

Now let me carry on in case it was a 2 year contract.

They should have said either party may terminate this agreement after 10 months from commencement by giving 2 months clear notice on a rent anniversary date.

If it is saying that the Landlord can give you notice at any time but you have to give it on a specific date, that is not valid as it is not equal.

Now let's look at the ambiguity:

"This Tenancy Agreement is subject to two months written notice to be served by Landlord is requires possession of the property or Tenant received on or before the rent due date, not before the first ten months (i.e. 12th May 2017) in order to terminate the agreement."

ANY day is before a rent due date, for the following month, so if your rent was due on 12 May and you gave notice on 2nd June 2017, then you are meeting the contract term, the 2nd June is before a rent due date and it is after the first ten months.

Under OFT356 and unfair contract terms legislation, any right afforded to the Landlord has to be equally available to the tenant.

So if the Landlord is allowed to give you 2 months notice then you are entitled to give them 2 months notice.

Note when it says " on or before the rent due date, not before the first ten months (i.e. 12th May 2017)

If there is no stipulation anywhere in your contract that the notice has to be given on a specific date or anniversary (for Landlord or Tenant) then as long as the notice is given after 12th May then that will suffice.

If there is a different (more onerous) stipulation for tenant than landlord, it is void as they need to be equal.

BTW you can just break the contract with one month and they can only charge you for their actual void costs, they have to mitigate those costs (get a tenant ASAP).

I would make an effort to speak to the Landlord directly, say you were trying to be fair, but this agent is taking the piss so you have a mind to just leave, not let them have any more rent and let them have the deposit and pay any actual costs they incurred after mitigating their costs.

Say that you need to leave, you want an early checkout day and they are free to rent it from that date and you are OK with tenants being shown around immediately. Deal with the boss, agents are just useless pieces of turd on your shoe and they smell as bad too. They are clearly trying to get double money, may not have even told the landlord.

While you are at it, you might want to make sure your deposit was protected at either the DPS, TDS or MyDeposits, WITHIN 30 DAYS, that you were also given the Prescribed Information WITHIN 30 DAYS, also an energy performance certificate, the Governments how to rent booklet and a Gas Safety Certificate. If the first two did not get done in 30 days you may be entitled to between 1x and 3x the deposit as a sanction against the Landlord. The latter obligations only prevent them evicting you but you can still report them to the local council housing dept. Gas Safety is particularly frowned upon and in some areas they could be banned.

If there is no term in the tenancy agreement that says you have to give it on a certain date and that the landlord also has to give it on a certain date you simply write to the agent with a copy sent to the Landlord (it is the law that their name and address are in your tenancy agreement).

Something along the lines of

Dear Mr Plonker

I am writing to your recent assertion that we have to give you notice on a specific date, I have checked our tenancy agreement, we have taken advice and we have met the terms of the agreement, we gave you notice before a rent due date and after 10 months of occupancy.

Optional if it is a 12 month contract

[furthermore, we have a 12 month contract which will expire on July 12th 2017 anyway, regardless of whether we give you notice or not. So we are actually doing you a favour, now please stop messing us around and confirm the early exit inventory and checkout. You are free to show tenants will immediate effect but with at least 24 hours notice and subject to a time being mutually convenien.

We have taken a video of the flat which is in the same or better condition than when we rented it, we will want a signature to that effect.

Your sincerely

Amy and hubby tenant

can find no trace of such a term, merely that it has to be given on a rent anniversary

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Amy 8th June, 2017 @ 08:35

@David

Thank you so much for coming back to me, apologies I missed key information in the last post.

Please allow me to clear up some points:

Term: 24 months, with a 12 month break clause, 2 months' notice

Break Clause: You are correct that was a typo on my part and should be "if requires", the rest is verbatim from the contract. This is the only mention of a break clause in the whole contract and the exact terms that the letting agent has tried to use against us a total of 3 times now.

Deposit: This was not protected within the 30 days and we have not received any information. We chased twice and I believe it was protected 45 days after we moved in, 52 days after we paid it, but I have no information regarding the actual number and searches on deposit scheme websites is coming up inconclusive.

New information: We have not fully agreed the check out date, we have asked for the 8th July repeatedly and they are insisting on 2nd July, they have also advertised the property as available from 5th July.

Am I within my rights to say no to them letting it out while we are still paying rent, i.e. to 5th August?

Also, would it be reasonable to suggest we come to a mutual agreement to early surrender of the property which they could then rent out as soon as they wanted?

I am so confused with all of this and with everything else going on, I genuinely feel conned.

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David 8th June, 2017 @ 12:27

Hi @Amy

Still a badly constructed term but here it is as I understand you are saying it:

"This Tenancy Agreement is subject to two months written notice to be served by Landlord if requires possession of the property or Tenant received on or before the rent due date, not before the first ten months (i.e. 12th May 2017) in order to terminate the agreement."

My suggestions before still apply, the terms of the agreement have been met, the term does not stipulate a specific day, it simply says "on or before a rent due date", every day is before the next rent due date. The other term has been met.

The failure to protect the deposit puts you in a VERY strong position, you can take the Landlord to Court any time in the next 3 to 6 years for failure to protect your deposit.

You need to get rid of this agent and contact the Landlord directly as specified above except that you now are in a much stronger position because of the agent's failure to protect the deposit in the specified time.

the 52 days is what matters, you can check online with each of the three deposit companies, you will need the following tenancy information:

Deposit Amount:
Tenancy Postcode:
Tenant Surname:
Tenancy Start Date:

http://bit.ly/chkdep1 for TDS, scroll down, click "search by using tenancy agreement Information"

http://bit.ly/chkdep2 for DPS

http://bit.ly/chkdep3 for MyDeposits

Now if you do not find it on any it is worth a phone call to each in case the name was spelt wrongly, I know some unscrupulous agents and Landlords have protected the deposit in a variation of the tenants name and used their own sim and email. One was exposed in court and got max fine but all costs.

You could ring the agent for the reference number but speak to the organ grinder (Landlord) not the monkey!

Now you need to decide what you actually WANT?

You can ENJOY the property right up to the end of your tenancy, so currently that is looking like July 12th 2017 as long as you pay your rent to this date.

As there is a dispute with the agent about notice you can withhold rent to put yourself in a stronger position.

You do not even have to let them carry out viewings, you can change locks, reject every offered date as not being convenient, tell them you are vacating on July 12th 2017 and will agree to inspection on 11th July or even 12th or 13th.

As I said, decide what you WANT, you are in strongest position because you can instigate a claim for 3x the deposit, they can claim mitigation but likely will settle at 1.5x to 2x deposit because it will save them on legal fees. They did not protect it in time and they have never given you the details so you are likely to get at least 2x the deposit as sanction plus your costs if they do not settle. If it were me I would go for the 2x as a minimum because agent is being a PIA.

You do not have to accept a low ball offer, the agent broke the law but the Landlord is 100% liable, he can then sue agent depending on type of service he has, if full service or if specified agent would protect, they sue for negligence. I have "persuaded" agents to cough up the dough with a simple solicitors letter threating legal action, needless to say the agent was then fired.

Decide what you want, you are entitled to quiet enjoyment of the property till Aug 2nd, they can only come in for urgent gas safety, with 24 hours notice and you can decline them and anyone who cannot prove they are Gas Safe engineer.

Reject term as above, but do it to the Landlord using example letter below modified as you see fit

Decide what you want, leave date, inspection date, whether you want to keep paying rent or hold it as a lien on money owed.

Decide how nice you are going to be and whether you are going to let them do inspections.

Example letter is below, I have used your previously specified notice date which is valid and correct. To be honest they are not in a position to argue this now.

I would expect them to come back with an excuse and offer to settle at a low ball amount, offer of a positive reference and you providing access for viewings.

You only have to agree to what you feel comfortable with, e.g. viewings on Wednesday evenings between 7pm and 9pm from July 2nd onwards and on Sundays between 3pm and 7pm, EACH and EVERY appointment to be agreed by you at least 48 hours in advance with NO EXCEPTIONS and only one person at a time to be shown around and you must always be present. The latter is to stop thieves.

You can be firm and go for the 3x deposit as it WILL save them legal fees, you are almost assured of 2x deposit because there has been a double failure and the Court will be annoyed if you offered to settle and they did not take it, thus wasting Courts time.

They have some mitigation in that it was agent but no defence, they would have to be first time rented property out to claim best result (1x deposit) so they will be mad to decline 2x deposit, but asking for 3x makes them work for it and people only appreciate what they work to achieve.

========

Dear Mr Landlord

As you may be aware I am currently in dispute with your Agent Plonker Properties Ltd, the issue is over their/your assertion that we have to give you notice on a specific date, I have checked our tenancy agreement; we have taken advice and we have met the terms of the agreement, we gave you notice before a rent due date and after 10 months of occupancy.

Our 2 months notice was given on 2nd June 2017, which is before rent due date and after May 12th, so it is valid and we will be giving up the property August 2nd 2017. [However, we are open to discussing the possibility of an early surrender around July for a credit on the rent.]

In the first instance, I must ask you to write to me to confirm your acceptance of our notice, otherwise I will be forced to consider us IN DISPUTE and withhold any further rent until the matter has been decided by the County Court.

Mr Landlord, I must also inform you that I have discovered that you were obliged to protect my deposit in an approved scheme within 30 days of taking said deposit and also within 30 days to have issued us with the legally prescribed information (PI). To date you and your Agent has failed to provide us with the PI or even a deposit reference, I have made exhaustive search of the 3 deposit protection sites and can find no record of a deposit.

As a result of this, as my Landlord YOU are liable for a Sanction of 3x the deposit under provisions of the Housing Act and The Housing (Tenancy Deposits) (Prescribed Information) Order 2007. The Sanction is payable to me, you may pay me the sum of 3x the deposit within 14 days as settlement thus avoiding legal and Court costs or I will be forced to take legal action to claim it, please consider this a LETTER BEFORE ACTION, if we do not agree settlement within 21 days of the date of this letter, Court action may be started without further notice.

To be honest I had hoped we could end our tenancy on a more amicable basis but I am fed up with being messed around.

I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience and no later than 7 days from the date of this letter.

Your sincerely

Amy and hubby tenant

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Amy 8th June, 2017 @ 13:06

@David

Thank you so much for your detailed response. I feel so much better now.

We have sent a letter to the landlord and copied in the letting agent. However, we are still being hounded to accommodate viewings, with as little as 2 hours notice. I have said no and refer them back to the letter.

Hopefully this matter will get resolved soon. I hate feeling so anxious about it all.

Many thanks

Amy

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David 8th June, 2017 @ 13:21

@Amy

Do NOT deal with the agent, except to tell them that you will no longer be accepting requests for viewings until your dispute has been resolved and until they are mutually agreeable.

For £5 on ebay you can but a new cylinder for your lock, it is a ten minute job to swap them out (put them back when you leave).

There is absolutely no need for anxiety, you just have to take control.

I hope your letter was along the lines of what I wrote above, you need to play hardball, it is the only way they will respect you.

You have seen what happens when you are nice, they treat you as a doormat.

It does not matter what BS they say, under common law you are entitled to "quiet enjoyment of the property" for the duration of your tenancy. Having people in and out is not quiet enjoyment, it does not matter what terms they put in their contract, they cannot override common law. This right goes back through the ages and is backed by case law.

Besides you are in such a strong position, they would be nuts to upset you.

Do let us know what they say and we can tell you what to agree or not to agree to.

Your Landlord may be nice or they may be nasty, the agent sounds incompetent and just trying to secure their business with the Landlord by finding another tenant ASAP. If I were the Landlord I would kick them to the kerb, but I say that about all agents. Truth is they are finished, business model is changing, get with it or get out of it.

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Amy 28th June, 2017 @ 14:02

@David

Hi David, hope you are well. We sent the Letter Before Action as you suggested, and instead of a formal response, we have had an email from the letting agent saying:

"I spoke to landlord he apologies for this delay due to health parents issues and being very new landlord first time he register deposit prevent him to him as quickly as he would have like to do" - verbatim.

What are my options now?

Thanks,

Amy

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Amy 28th June, 2017 @ 14:36

@David

The landlord is also refusing to accept our letters sent by recorded delivery and through the letting agent insisted that we deal with him instead.

They have also re-advertised the property as available 9th July instead of 6th August and I am feeling completely conned.

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David 28th June, 2017 @ 21:34

@Amy

They have tried to give some excuse but your agent has admitted that the Landlord is culpable, that is great.

I did say not to contact them, I suspect they told the Landlord not to sign or he saw your name on the back.

I personally would never want to deal with an agent who had tried to stitch me up, so I would write to the Landlord again, this time you do not send it recorded delivery, but you get a "certificate of posting" from the post office. Send it twice from two different post offices, one in a white a4 envelope with no writing suggesting who it is from and one in a brown a4 envelope again with no clues on outside.

Your position now is to give the Landlord one more chance to deal with you, I can help you with the papers if you want to file this yourself or refer you to a solicitor who specialises in this area of Law. You will see from my previous posts to Landlord and Tenant alike that the best way to resolve this matter is to settle, but if they will not engage with you then you have to be prepared to see it through, you will get back any Court fees and I can tell you how to file it so that you get your legal fees back too. There is no defence a Judge MUST award between 1x and 3x the deposit plus the return of the deposit, considering that you have attempted to settle and that they are not engaging you then a Judge will most likely award you 2x to 3x the deposit because not only have they not protected the deposit within 30 days of taking your money but to date they have failed to fulfil the other obligations including the Prescribed Information.

So for now, You send the same letter as before with a covering letter saying

===============

"Dear Mr Landlord

I am very disappointed that you have refused to sign for my previous letter sent by recorded delivery, so I have enclosed my previous LETTER BEFORE ACTION again. A copy of this letter was sent to your agent but neither they nor you have addressed the matters therein.

I do not want to deal with your lettings agent because I feel that there may be a conflict of interest.

I had hoped to settle this matter amicably but your refusal to sign for my previous letter and your agent's refusal to properly manage our departure leave me no choice but to give you final notice of my intended legal action.

Your agent has admitted your culpability in this matter, which is indisputable anyway because the deposit was not protected in accordance with the Housing Act 2004 and even now I have NOT been provided with the Prescribed Information in accordance with the The Housing (Tenancy Deposits) (Prescribed Information) Order 2007.

You have clearly had my letter as your agent has replied briefly to admit your liability.

This matter will not go away and I am advised that I can bring a claim for up to 6 years, I strongly suggest you seek LEGAL advice from a solicitor. If you had expected or hoped your agent was liable under your service contract with them then that is also a matter you may want to discuss with a solicitor but it does not negate from your legal liability in this matter under the above legislation.

I am happy to deal with your solicitor if you would rather not deal with me directly, but I must ask that you or your solicitor contact me before Monday 3rd of July 2017 or I will be filing my claim against you in the County Court without further notice. My telephone number is 079 0000 0000

As you have previously refused to sign for letters, I must advise you that if you ignore the Court papers a judgement will be obtained with or without your presence and it will be enforced for the due amount including Court and legal costs.

I have noticed that your agent has changed the availability of the flat in advertisements to July 9th 2017, I have previously advised you and the agent that the property will NOT be available until August 6th 2017.

I must inform you as I have your agent that because of this unprofessional and unacceptable behaviour, I will no longer be accepting requests for viewings until your dispute has been resolved and until they are mutually agreeable.

Once you or your solicitor has engaged me regarding our dispute, we will consider accepting viewings only under the following conditions:

1. At least 72 hours notice must be given in all instances

2. Viewings will need to be arranged for Wednesday evenings between 7pm and 9pm or Sundays between 3pm and 5pm, all viewings must be booked with 72 hours notice.

3. At the time of booking we require the full names of any people who will be entering our home.

4. Only one person may view the property at a time, they must be accompanied by the agent and it is the agent that must ring our bell, we will not deal with some stranger in our home.

5. No single viewing may take longer than 10 minutes, your agent is able to carry on any discussion outside.

I must advise you that we have now made a temporary change of the locks due to the behaviour of your agent as we reserve our right to quiet enjoyment of the property for the duration of our tenancy.

I look forward to hearing from you presently.

Your sincerely.

Amy and hubby tenant

================

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Caryn 26th July, 2017 @ 18:53

Hi,

We have a AST agreement that started on 17 Feb 2017 and is for a 12 month fixed term, with no mention of a break clause. I heard that by law, you are able to break your AST agreement after 6 months, even if not stated in the agreement - is this correct?

Our contract states the following:

Strictly by the Landlord's or his Agent's prior consent and subject to certain conditions that may include the Landlord's reasonable costs associated with the re-letting of the Property, the Tenant may be allowed to surrender the Tenancy Agreement before it could otherwise lawfully be ended.

One of the main reasons for wanting to leave the property is maintenance has not been carried out since we moved in, even though it was agreed upon by the Landlord. We have sent numerous emails and had meetings with the Agent, but still certain things have not been done.

Could this issues help us end our Tenancy Agreement early? We have been told we can end it, but will be responsible for the rent until a new tenant moves in, plus approx. £650 in fees. The property is not in the same state it was in when we signed the lease (cupboards have been removed and not replaced by Landlord) and the front porch door is rotten and the lock has been removed - it was agreed that this door would be replaced before we moved in, and 5 months later nothing has been done.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

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David 26th July, 2017 @ 19:46

Hi Caryn

No the MINIMUM term is 6 months but if there is no break clause then the 12 months stands UNLESS there is a breach of contract.

I am sure your contract has Landlord's obligations listed regarding maintenance. If S/he is in breach of these then they may give you grounds to sue Landlord for consequential loss, of course you will not do it but, it is part of negotiation.

Not only do you have an option in contract for only "reasonable" charges but Office of Fair Trading guidance says they can only charge you for their actual costs. Now an agent will hike this up because they see it as a moneygrab opportunity being the leeches they are.

I would approach Landlord directly and say you want out or you will sue them for breach of contract, for now report their failure to your local council housing dept. If they are a repeat offender they may get banned.

The simplest way to resolve this is to get tenants from Gumtree, check them yourself and say to Landlord that you have someone prepared to take over the tenancy or sign a new one.

Something else that may give you leverage is if your Landlord or his agent failed to protect the deposit and inform you in the prescribed way, within 30 days of taking your deposit.

It had to be protected with one of the three authorised deposit protection companies, these links will take you to each

http://bit.ly/chkdep1

http://bit.ly/chkdep2

http://bit.ly/chkdep2

You just put the deposit amount and date the tenancy started along with postcode

If they did not protect it then you have huge leverage as they can be fined 3x the deposit plus be forced to give you deposit back.

If it is protected and they will not co-operate report back here.

I really would not suggest that you sublet it without the Landlord's permission. Always best to come to an amicable solution.

If they did try to take your deposit you could raise a dispute with deposit company that charges are not reasonable.

The lesson here is NOT to sign anything you are not prepared to live with no matter what. I appreciate that you expected maintenance to be carried out but you can bring a case in small claims Court for your actual consequential losses.

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Sasha 29th July, 2017 @ 21:41

Hi,

I wish I'd come across this website earlier in my tenancy, my problem is very similar to Caryn.

we've started our tenancy on the 18th of January, that's when we signed the contracts anyway, didn't receive the keys until 2 days later and that's with us pushing them, works we're not completed before our move date, even though landlord had 8 weeks to do so from the date we reserved the property which by the way was advertised on rightmove as "available now".

The first 3 months were constant calls and emails with the agency as apparently the landlord spent £20000 refurbishing the property which from our viewings only needed walls painted and carpet changing, there was some plastering involved still don't believe it would've added to the much.

We'd been promised an inventory on moving date which was not provided, however with past experience, first thing I did when we walked in was to check if appliances we're working, and Only 2 out of 5 were, amongst other issues, seem that they couldn't include actual important things in this very lengthy and costly refurbishment!

It took them 6 weeks to get a shower replaced as the electric shower wasn't working when we moved to the property even though I had asked them for that on the viewing as I knew it wouldn't have costed a lot and builders were going to be around anyway, some appliances have been removed after start of tenancy and hot replaced, not even space left for us to replace it ourselves as the hob fitting did not comply to health and safety, let me point out that this was only mentioned to us after contacting them time and time again to have it replaced due to it not being working properly, again we had our only appliance to replace it with, just needed it to be fitted by professionals. the list of problems is endless, but we'd been nothing more than understandable and tried to liaise with both the landlord and agency, at this point I'm not sure who's being more honest as both seem to have different solutions.

Whilst trying to sort the issue with the cooker I was called to their offices for a meeting at which point I was told by the agents that the "landlord is sick of all the issues you can move out if you're not happy" I've recorded the conversation, because I was already used to a different BS every time we verbally communicated. I told them that the only issues in the property were the fact that they did not made sure that the appliances were all in good working and safe order before we moved in (they had 8 weeks to do so) and it was taking them too long to sort, (I'm not talking about toasters here), before that we were even told that if we kept complaining too much, the landlord was going to increase the rent by a very high price, and that's exactly what's happened...

We've not been informed officially yet, my housemate bumped into one of the agents and he told her that he was going to call her, as the landlord is proposing to increase the rent by £400 that's a 30% increase, (or we can move out) because they can't afford their mortgage and they did not plan for the "extra work" after we moved. They plan to enforce it from the 1st of October, as per "break clause on the contract. (I'm sure the reasons won't be included in the letter)

1- I understand the landlord can increase rent at beginning of new term, what's the legal or per contract term "reasonable"?

2- Our contract was signed on the 18/01, how can they enforce it on the 1st.

3- Most importantly, there's no break clause, I've gone trough the contract over and over again, this is the closest I came to a break clause;

BREAK CLAUSE CONDITIONS PLEASE NOTE: (AGENCY NAME) will NOT accept a TWO MONTH NOTICE- AFTER THE BREAK CLAUSE DATE. tenants whom wish to serve a TWO MONTHS notice with intentions to vacate later than the break clause point will be liable to i) an early termination fee of the following;... ii) liable to continue paying rent Until a) substitute tenant is found, either by the -tenant in site - themselves and/or agency subject to references...

Let me point out that we've been trying very hard to liaise with the agency as it's convenient property for our current situation and it would be very inconvenient to move, besides if there is such a clause it would be even more inconvenient to move out on the "legal "due date of 17/1 as we will be overseas.

After all the issues were sorted we never disturbed them again and it's been almost 3 months ago, having said that we've not been given written notice yet, so I'm 99% sure it's not yet valid.

Amongst other things I feel like either this agency or the landlord is bullying us, as we've never asked for concessions if anything we've been the ones doing all the sacrifices, however we cannot be worrying about what the next sacrifice will be as they seem to keep making rules of their own that does not really comply with the law.

Having read their reviews after we moved, they've been fined by the council twice in the past so it might help.

I'm also very worried about our deposit, I can see them trying to get it from every single thing as it was clear after, that a lot of things were not done properly by the builders and it's starting to show, of course we cannot report it as we may be "threaten" with "move out if you're not happy".

I don't have a problem standing up to them and fighting, however, this will mean that at the end of the 12 month term we'll most likely be served with a notice which will not be very good for the other housemates, plus we did not plan on being here for 1 year only considering the extorting fees we paid.

I'm sorry it's very long, and please don't think it's luxury accommodation because of the amount "spent" on the refurbishment, it's simply a good size old property were we can all just about squeeze in, okay location.

Thank you for your help in in advance

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David 30th July, 2017 @ 04:45

@Sasha

It looks like they have deleted part of the contract that had a break clause but left in a separate term that referred to it.

Look where it says what the TERM is, there may be conditions there, for example it may say that the agreement runs until 11.1.2018 unless terminated after the minimum term (6 months) in writing on 11.7.2017 and in such cases at least 2 month’s notice must be given on or before 11.05.2017. (this is just an example, they may not include actual dates, the minimum is 6 months but they may have any number of months above 6).

To be honest your Agents sound like a shoddy outfit, they are probably disorganised so why chase them, wait for them to do whatever, let them make mistakes and miss key dates.

Just to clarify, you have an Assured Shorthold Tenancy but you are just 1 or 2 of a number of tenants? Are you lead tenant?

Can you confirm that you all have one agreement and are tenants within that agreement and that the agreement is an Assured Shorthold Tenancy?

The first thing to be aware of is that you can't be evicted UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES without 2 months written notice on the proper forms and certainly not while you are abroad. If the AST ends and you remain in the property a new Statutory Periodic Agreement (SPT) is created by law, it has the same terms as previous except that the landlord may issue section 21 giving 2 months’ notice thereafter, however, there are lots of prerequisites to being able to issue such a notice.

You should check the deposit was protected within 30 days and that you (assuming you were lead tenant) were advised of where it is protected.

You can check here

http://bit.ly/chkdep1
http://bit.ly/chkdep2
http://bit.ly/chkdep3

Just leave surname blank and get the dates, amount and postcode right

They can't take money from deposit without agreement and whichever of three companies above has the deposit, there is a procedure for disputing deductions.

Rent cannot be increased verbally; a written notice must be given.

Rent can only be increased within the fixed term if the terms allow for it and even then under certain conditions.

If you stay in the property and sign a new agreement that has an increase in rent then you are agreeing to the increased rent. It can't be increased in October unless the agreements says so and even then the terms of the agreement need to be legal and should follow guidance or may be deemed an unfair contract term.

If you stay in property in January 2018 and an SPT is created you can refer any increase thereafter for a rent review, the details of which along with other relevant information is listed here:

https://england.shelter.org.uk/housing_advice/private_renting/rent_increases

It is a pain in the Armpit getting new tenants and I suspect that if things have settled down they do not want to get new ones. However, the agent may want to sign a new agreement because they can get a fee for creating it.

It sounds to me like you would prefer to remain and under an SPT, which means you just remain in property. When a change is proposed discuss it with the Landlord directly, their details should be on tenancy agreement and can be requested at any time if a proxy address is used. A £3 search at Land Registry will confirm owner of property and may list their address.

It sounds like there is a set date in the contract when a break may be issued and only on that date, remember one thing, any term has to be equal. So if they say you can't break until 9 months into the contract and only then if you give notice at 7 months in, then their terms must be the same.

If such a term existed they can't use it as a gun to your head to increase the rent.

To be clear in a fixed term contract the rent cannot be increased unless it says it can be increased and even if it did there are limitations or they risk being an unfair contract term.

If they had a break clause for October and even if they exercised it, they would need to issue a S21 on 18th Aug 2017 or before. This is why I am saying do not contact agent as it may remind them, having said that there are probably prerequisites they have missed.

If no S21 notice was given you would just remain in the property and an SPT would be created thus SPT law would apply and a rent review would be an option.

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Sasha 30th July, 2017 @ 06:48

Thanks @David

To answer your questions, yes it's an AST "for the term of 12 months", there's 3 of us, I'm the lead tenant.

I've told my friend to ignore them as it's their duty to put it in writing to us, and it must be done on the correct dates (even if such a break existed) or they'll miss it.

She was so worried of being given notice to vacate the property so she contacted them on the same date and asked for it to be in written! (I'm fuming about that)

And yes I know most sensible and good landlords are aware of the time it takes to find and get new tenants, but I don't think this people realise that, they are under the impression they will find "better" tenants, to be honest I have a feeling of bad Karma to them when we leave the property, because there are a lot of issues we are overlooking.

We were given a deposit protection certificate

Bellow are the special conditions in the contract, again there is no break clause date or even mentioned.

"SPECIAL CONDITIONS

PLEASE NOTE: It is agreed that the tenant will give no less than 2 months in writing to the landlord/agent of his intention to renew the or terminate the tenancy at the expiry date. Please notice must be served on exactly the same date as the commencement date i.e start date 15th of june notice must be served on 15th of whichever month the 2 month notice is served on.

If the tenant leaves without giving 2 months notice to the agent or landlord then tenants loose their deposit.

The inventory has been carried out and agreed by both the tenant and agent/landlord. If the property is not given to the standards of the aforementioned signed inventory the agent is within it's rights to make the relevant deductions.

It is agreed that the landlord or agent will give no less than two months complete rental months notice as per housing act 1988 (amend 1996) in writing to the tenant of his intention to renew or terminate at the expiry date.

Tenancy agreement must be renewed 2 months prior to the end of the tenancy. It's tenant's responsibility to renew the contract on time. Please pay the renewal fees as per tariff charges.

Should the tenant extend their tenancy beyond their initial term, it is agreed that the rent will be subject to a reasonable increase on annual basis."

In my past rentals, I would receive a letter form the agencies exactly 2 months before renewal.

Also he told my housemate that "it's the law in England, every house contract has a 6 month break clause."

I told her that's not true, in my previous rental I was only given a break clause after 3 years in the property.

But I'm really annoyed now, as I'm afraid her lack of knowledge with regards to the law will spoil things for the rest of us, having said that, although we would like to remain in the property, I don't want to constantly be "harassed" by the agents.

And the one time I contacted the landlord directly as per his own advise "if the agents don't find a solution give me a call", he just forwarded the message to them and never replied to us, so now I feel he's no different than them.

We would agree to a reasonable rent increase on beginning of new term which from my understanding will be 18/01/18. And that's what I'm planning on replying to them when we receive the letter.

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David 30th July, 2017 @ 08:57

@Sasha

I can understand how you feel, there is a lot of bullshit going on here.

Listen, just because some Landlord or in this case a stupid agent writes some nonsense in a tenancy agreement, it does not mean it is legal. Generally speaking there is the Law, case law and Guidance.

For Judges when in doubt they tend to rely on Guidance, this used to be produced by the Office of Fair Trading but has been devolved to local Trading Standards. The last guidance was the one below, it is from 2006 and Judges use it, especially on unfair contract terms. You can download it here:

http://bit.ly/oftguide

I have seen Landlords face a £20k legal bill because of a long running battle over the terms. They had a rude awakening when the Judge declared their terms unfair contract terms.

For a start any term that conflicts with common law is automatically void, for example if an agreement said you have to give 3 months notice if the tenancy became a SPT it would be void because law on SPT's means you have to give 1 month and landlord 2 month's notice.

To take anything from the deposit the DPS, TDS or MyDeposits would have to approve it, but even for them ONLY if you agree to them doing arbitration, you can insist it is decided by a Court which means Landlord may be exposed to legal fees. You are not liable for wear and tear or decoration.

All of this shit because an Agent writes some dumb contract.

A few years ago I had an agent say that the tenant had to pay for his lost profits! Can you imagine! As it was they did not protect deposit or serve the prescribed information. I worked with Landlord who was a very intimidating individual and that agent repaid deposit and 2x sanctions out of their own pocket because the Landlord made it very clear via his own solicitor that he was holding agent liable for all consequential loss as a result of their negligence.

It seems to me that you would be better off developing a relationship with the Landlord directly in a few months time. Let them know of reviews and say that you wish to stay in property under SPT but they should fire agent who is a bully.

As for inventory, there is a thing called wear and tear, deductions cannot be made for that, in fact the agent can't deduct anything, it is the Landlord who can PROPOSE deductions but they have to be approved by the deposit holder or Court if you choose.

You do NOT have to renew or extend, you can go SPT, it is cheaper for Landlord and you because the money grabbing agent does not get to charge you both for the privilege.

It seems to be that the agent is the antagonist here and you should let the Landlord know that.

It is complete bullshit that "it's the law in England, every house contract has a 6 month break clause." All tenancies must have a MINIMUM term of six months. If you sign an agreement for 3 years and there is no break clause you have security for 3 years. You can both agree to break the agreement at any time, the guidance says Landlord can only charge you for ACTUAL costs.

Same applies to late rent, you see these "scare" terms that say a penalty of £25 a day will be due for every day late, the reality is that they are entitled to charge a loss of interest of around 20p! Now if their mortgage company charged them for missing a payment as a result of non payment they could pass that on, but it is all subject to a Judge deciding if it fair.

The most important thing is that you DO NOT PAY any rent increase, if you pay it you are deemed to have accepted it and the Rent Tribunal may decline to intervene.

Rents have to be at market rates, that is subjective but you can use the LHA rate for your area, it is set at the 30th percentile of rents in your area.

Your flatmate clearly has some anxiety issues. The reality is that in this country you do not have security except in that first 6 months.

You need to SPEAK to the landlord not email them, if you do not have their number email them from a new email address you create online and ask them for their phone number as you need to discuss something of importance to them.

They are probably paying between 10% and maybe even 20% for this agent, plus any fees they make up. So if you can persuade them that as lead tenant you will take responsibility for organising repairs etc then they may be open to that. A friend of mine had an agent, they live in Malaysia, the tenants had a list of stuff not done, the agent flew back to London, fired the agent and the lead tenant gets everything done. They had one of 4 tenants leave and interviewed replacement themselves, dealt with deposit and made sure all was done legally. He loves that tenant, he sees the value and rent has not been increased for 3 years, he has no plans to increase it either. They even video the property and put them on YouTube for him to see.

I think that most letting agents are going to go out of business, we are already seeing much of what they do being replaced by online agents. They are so incompetent generally, never treat the property as if it were their own, hike up repair costs (often giving themselves a commission at both ends). Yet on the important things they screw up.

You do not have to accept any rent increase till January, considering what you have said I do not think you have a lot of security and I would either plan to leave in January because there are much better landlords out there, avoid dealing with agents, look at OpenRent and online agents, start looking in October, you will avoid all those fake fees.

Letting fees to tenants are going to be banned which is something I have felt for years should be the case. Agents charge both ends for the same work and they just make up fees in moves that are worthy of RyanAir!

Landlords will not take such shit and they can claim their costs back against their tax, so it makes sense.

So your choices are to remain in the property dealing with the Landlord, to sign another agreement at whatever rent they say or to leave in January.

Even their own agreement says they can only increase rent annually and just because it says they can does not mean they will or should.

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Sasha 30th July, 2017 @ 09:43

Thanks @David

I've tried to liaise with the landlord and have been clear from the moment we realise how useless the agency was.

One of the other issue, when we moved, the windows had been painted shut, and I'm talking about several coats of paint, they needed a chisel to open them.

The agent decided to have a company quote on having the windows replaced by a double glazed ones, I believe at that point the landlord was not very impressed as I said it's a good side house. The landlord then showed up one day with his own builder to have he start working on getting them opened, this was 2 weeks after we moved. Had there been a fire on the lower floors, we'd probably not had a chance to escape.

When the landlord showed up, I showed him all the other problems and he told me that he wasn't aware, and I should write to the agency (WTF I've just told you that they ignored that, you can surely have your builder look at the issues and authorise any repairs) I also made clear to him that we'd never asked to have the windows replaced, it was the agents idea, the one other time I spoke to him with regards to the same old issues that hadn't been sorted, again I stressed to him that the agents were being very irresponsible and I wasn't sure if the information was being passed to him correctly so I just wanted to inform him correctly. Again he just contacted the agency and never came back to me.

I've been told by his builder that the landlord has several houses around, I feel like he would rather an agent dealing with them as he cannot be bother to deal with the likes of us directly, he's just coming across as an arrogant and greedy C**t if I'm being honest. At the same time the agents tell me that any repairs have to be approved by the landlord.

I'd also contacted the landlord when I saw some discrepancies on the contract and he said I've got no problem with that, it must be the agency requirements speak to them. I was thinking WTF, it's your house! The agency cannot give us a contract contrary to what you expect.

I have started to look for houses, even before this, I had a feeling they might not renew the contract as they believe they can find better tenants, good luck to them I say! I will leave the house but I will make every single complain in the books to the council, trading standards and every other agency involved, it's not fair that this agency is still allowed to trade, and mislead their costumers, I would not want anyone else to go through the problems that we've been.

Thank you very much for your advice.

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Bernadette Vinarao 3rd October, 2017 @ 13:59

Hello,

I need advise. We have signed a Shorthold Tenancy Agreement for 12 mos (date = 14-Jan-2017) but there is a break clause which states that "Providing the property is tenanted for a minimum period of six months then at any time after the 13th July 2017 either party shall have the right to terminate this agreement by the Landlord serving not less than two months’ advance written notice and the Tenant serving not less than one month’s advance written notice."

We have tendered our notice 2 mos in advance in September that we will terminate the tenancy on the 10th Month, but the Landlord came back saying we are to pay for the whole 12 mos.

Can you help confirm if our understanding is correct that we are not legally binded to pay for the remaining rent provided we complied with the what is stipulated in the break clause and notice period? Thank you so much!

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David 3rd October, 2017 @ 18:20

@Bernadette Vinarao

Without seeing the full agreement I cannot absolutely guarantee but yes, usually you are right, that is a break clause and it terminates the contract as long as the conditions have been met (which they seem to have been).

Even if there was not such a clause they would not be entitled to make you pay the full term, but at worst their actual additional costs, this would not include agent fees which they would pay anyway a few months later.

Now would be a good time to make sure that your deposit was protected in an approved scheme and that you were give the prescribed information IN FULL relating to that deposit within 30 days by the Landlord (not just the deposit company notification). If they screwed this up you could be entitled to between 1x and 3x the deposit.

If the deposit HAS been protected you must contact the deposit holding company and log into the portal, you do not pay another penny in rent, you leave as planned and you ask the deposit company to pay you your deposit back, the Landlord will have an opportunity to dispute in which case you simply show the break clause to them and a copy of your notice having complied with the terms of notice by giving your notice.

There is an outside chance that the Landlord will say he is not happy for the deposit company to act as arbiter in this matter in which case you issue a letter before action, then take the Landlord to Court for breach of contract and you claim your costs and court fee back from them. The Court will take a dim view of them not returning the deposit via the scheme and wasting the Courts time.

You need to make sure that the property in the same condition that it was when you moved in, I hope you took video but if not take it now in case there are any allegations of damage. Video the whole property as a walk through and then again close up.

I would fire off an email to your landlord along these lines:

"Dear Landlord

I was somewhat surprised to receive your communication asserting that we were obliged to pay you for the full 12 months of the tenancy.

I refer you to section X.X of our contract which is a BREAK clause, we exercised the break clause in accordance with the terms of the agreement which effectively terminates the contract (it's purpose in contract law).

We will vehemently dispute your assertion of our liability in this matter and will seek the return of our deposit via the deposit company, we also reserve our rights to take legal action for the recovery of our deposit if not forthcoming and will seek our legal and other costs in this matter.

I would be grateful if you would kindly confirm that you were mistaken so that we may depart on amicable terms.

Yours sincerely

BV "

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Dianne 16th October, 2017 @ 10:34

Can I ask a simple question. Firstly my friend has been renting privately for 2 years her tenancy is up 1st January 2018. Her landlord has just told her they are going to sell the property which is ok. My question is ....as she has to look for alternative rented property, if she was to find one and could move in straight away would she still be liable for rent until 1st January. As finding suitable property is hard and if she finds one now they won't hold it till her other tenancy ends.

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David 16th October, 2017 @ 21:41

@Dianne

It depends on whether her tenancy includes a break clause.

There is usually a section in the tenancy agreement called Term, it will say that the term is 2 years from Jan 2016 to Jan 2018.

There may be a clause near there that says that the agreement may be terminated under certain conditions, for example after a period of 1 year by either party giving 2 months notice. Each clause is bespoke although they are overridden by common law.

So she needs to have a scan of the tenancy agreement and see if there is such a clause, some have a heading of Break Clause others just have it embedded.

If there is no break clause she can still give notice, withhold her rent and give the Deposit holder (assuming it was legally protected) permission to give the Landlord the deposit but she would open herself up to breach of contract. As the property is for sale so no reasonable chance of the Landlord letting to another tenant (as minimum term is 6 months for an AST) she would be liable for the shortfall. As I have explained in other replies it may be more hassle than they can be bothered to chase.

Always worth checking the deposit was protected within 30 days and that she was provided with the prescribed information also within 30 days of deposit being taken.

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