If Your Tenant Wants To Leave Early…

Bye bye

Unbelievably common situation. What should you do?

Nothing, let it happen. Roll with it. Hell, offer to help them pack if you’re the jovial Christian type.

Just don’t sweat it.

Legally, tenants are obligated to remain your tenants and liable for the full rent up until the end-date specified in the tenancy agreement contract. Unless of course, the tenancy is legally terminated.

But what happens if they want out early and you’re not feeling agreeable? In most cases I don’t recognise any reason to force tenants to honour the agreement, because the end result will probably be a shit storm. It’s like trapping a dog in the corner, it will either piss on your carpets or chew your nuts off.

Being a landlord is stressful enough, don’t actively make it harder for yourself. There’s often no need to be an uppity douche by unnecessarily using your position of authority. Some times you just need to be reasonable and understand that shit happens and circumstances change for everyone.

Why you should allow your tenants to vacate early

  • It really isn’t a tragic situation, despite the fact your body is telling you otherwise by hyperventilating and forcing you to blow into a brown paper bag. I’ve seen landlords go nuts over the issue. But seriously, what issue? Calm the hell down.

    All you need to do is find new tenants that actually want to stay in your property. Take the situation for what it is. The time and effort of replacing tenants is something you would have had to endure eventually anyways. It’s part of being a landlord.

    I think many landlords often get consumed by the “power struggle”, they get off on being able to say “no”

    It’s embarrassing.

  • As said, circumstances change for everyone. Your tenants have a reason for needing to vacate, why would you want to be a preventative? To be honest, you shouldn’t even concern yourself with why, just accept circumstances have changed and they want out. So many people get caught up on the why’s when it really doesn’t matter.
  • This situation can actually be a blessing in disguise because it can form the most cost-effective and efficient way of replacing tenants, so it would be careless not to take advantage.

    The tenants are going to leave eventually, whether you permit them to surrender the tenancy on this occasion or not.

    When a tenant gives notice and vacates there’s usually a void period in-between tenancies, because it’s often difficult for landlords to find replacements while the property is occupied. Tenants can make it extremely difficult.

    However, if you allow the tenant to vacate early, you can do so on the basis that they allow flexible entry for viewings. This kind of compromise can save money by reducing the void time down to a minimum.

    Most tenants won’t just move out in one day. When they want to end the tenancy early they usually give at least one months notice, which is more than enough time for even the most foolish of landlords to handle their business.

  • Hypothetically speaking, let’s imagine for one second that you’re an unconscionable bastard that forced your tenants to honour the agreement. Now, how do you think it will impact your relationship going forward? It will inevitably reduce it to shit.

    Everything will simply be more difficult, especially communication. Let’s not forget, rightly or wrongly so, tenants can make life very difficult for landlords, more so than landlords can make for tenants. Unless you’re a raging masochist, there is no reason to consciously put yourself through that ordeal. Just let them go.

  • Would you trust someone in your property that you’ve effectively entrapped? Nope. They now have incentive to use your carpets as toilet paper and smear unsavory bodily fluids over your door handles simply out of spite.
  • Assuming your tenants do vacate without your consent, your one option is to take legal action- suing for loss of rent and any other traumatic expenses you had to subsequently swallow in the process. However, bearing in mind the amount of energy you’ll exert trying to recoup the money, you probably would have been better off working with the tenant and coming to an agreement. It’s definitely the easier and often cheaper option.
  • If the tenant in question has been long-serving and loyal, perhaps do it for the sake of showing some God damn appreciation, if nothing else.

    I can’t imagine any reasonable human would actually prevent tenants from vacating early in this situation, that’s why I was almost reluctant to list it as a point. But you know, some people…

The end date is just a psychological deterrent

I know what many of you will be thinking: “What’s the point in having a tenancy agreement if you’re not going to enforce the rules, you dumb asshole?”

Yeah, I get it. However, this is just ONE clause. I’m not disregarding every clause in the tenancy agreement. If, for example, my simpleton tenant pierced a hole in the wall with his erectile penis during a fit of drunken frolics, you can bet your bottom dollar on the fact that I would use whatever relevant clause(s) in the contract to force the adolescent donkey to cover the costs for repairing the damage. There’s no questioning that.

But I do see the end-date as more of a “psychological deterrent” for tenants, as opposed to a practical clause that’s enforceable and punishable if defied. What I mean by that is, tenants usually respect/honour the end date and don’t contemplate challenging it because they’ve signed the contract, so they work around it if they’re thinking about vacating in the future. However, if they do challenge it (which most don’t), there’s little practical sense for a landlord to take matters further by using the clause as a preventative.

I believe ALL landlords should take the end-date clause in the same light. A psychological deterrent, and nothing more.

Compromising/Compensation

Now, if your tenant does happen to give you the dreaded signal that they want out, the best solution is to compromise (as always).

Whenever it’s happened to me, I tell them it’s fine under the following conditions:

  • Viewings: they allow for viewings.
  • New tenants: they have to continue paying rent until new tenants are found and moved in (this usually doesn’t take long, worse case scenario is 2 weeks).
  • Presentable: they need to try and keep the property neat and tidy during viewings (assuming they haven’t vacated).
  • Marketing fees: they cover the cost for finding the new tenants. I use online letting agents, so the fee is around £50, so it’s not much. Most tenants are relatively surprised (and relieved) when I tell them how cheap it is.

I think the conditions are fair, especially since they’re the one’s breaking the terms of the contract. I’ve never had a tenant raise concern or their fists over them. Of course, it’s all relative and your circumstances might be different, so some of the conditions I mentioned may not be applicable, while others might. The point is, be compromising and fair so neither party loses out. Limit the damage.

I know some landlords insist on a lump-sum fee to terminate the tenancy. I don’t think that’s necessary, just as long as my costs are covered, I’m cool. I’m not looking to take advantage of the situation by swindling money out of my tenants for a profit. I’m not a letting agent.

So over to you. Has it happened to you before? If so, how did you deal with it? Do you let tenants vacate early if they want to?

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52 Comments- Join The Conversation...

Showing 2 - 52 comments (out of 52)
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Riptide 2nd October, 2014 @ 00:11

Totally agree life's too short.

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rob 2nd October, 2014 @ 06:40

Ive found forcing a tenant to stay just results n them buggering off anyway, and you've got a period of time where your property is empty without your knowledge- not good for security, and its lost rent you won't be aware of until next time its due. Also in uk, you should really apply abandonment notices etc for another period of time- more lost money.

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Ruby K 2nd October, 2014 @ 07:17

I completely agree, if they want to go let them be gone!
I've just had the same issue, soon as i received one the month notice, I started hunting for new tenants! And now have found far better ones.. They have one week left which goes a week over the usual rent period. Does this mean I can take this weeks rent out of their deposit?

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Helen 2nd October, 2014 @ 07:34

Tenants wanting to leave early happens more often than you might think. As agents we try to persuade landlords to do exactly what The Landlord suggests, for all the same reasons. Our experience is that if we don't agree, the tenants will disappear anyway, leaving no forwarding address, so little chance of getting any money anyway. Our 'best' example was a couple who insisted on a 3 year contract, then wanted out after 3 months!
The only time we insist that the contract is honored is when a couple breaks up and one leaves and the other stays, while still in the first six months of an AST. They seem to think the one that leaves is no longer liable for rent. Wrong! It is common to find that the remaining tenant can't pay all the rent, but the landlord can't realistically evict until the end of the 6 months. Legally the tenant that leaves must make it clear that they are not renewing the tenancy at the end of the 6 months, then we either start a new tenancy with the remaining tenant (if they are paying the rent) or we issue a Section 21 to evict both tenants.

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Rach 2nd October, 2014 @ 08:51

This is one of my biggest gripes in my job, mostly because it takes up so much of my time and stresses the Landlord out as he has to go through the change of Tenants rigmarole sooner than expected. I get it, sometimes things change and Tenants can't stay but because Landlords pay agency fees which can't be refund before the minimum term (otherwise we would go out of business) not to mention the inconvenience for them. We help Landlord's come to an amicable solution with their Tenants which normally involves reimbursing them the fees and make it clear they will be liable for the rent up until new tenants are found and the fees thereafter. Most Tenants are either fine with this or when they find out the cost of leaving find themselves able to stay... but you get others who think they should just be allowed to leave. As if you would call up your mobile phone contract and try cancel without any consequences...

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Nige 2nd October, 2014 @ 09:06

Think most landlords would be glad of the communication from the tenant. I have had the reverse and they leave without informing you and that causes all sorts of legal twaddle to get the property back.I do as is suggested in the post. Let em go and keep channels of communication open.One word of warning though. If they are on benefits then ensure that your contracts contain a clause allowing you to discuss matters with departments as often a tenant leaving can transfer the benefit to a new house whilst retaining your property ie renting 2 houses at same time. First you find out is when benefit payment is not received which can be 4 weeks later.

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The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 2nd October, 2014 @ 09:15

@andrewa & @Rob
Agreed!

@Ruby
You could use the deposit, but I would just ask them to pay an extra week, which I can't imagine they'd have a problem with since they are staying an extra week.

The reason I would prefer them to pay is because they could dispute the extra week (for whatever reason) and then it could get complicated. Also, it's better to keep the deposit unused so you have more cover in case repairs are required.

@Helen
Ha 3 years to 3 months. That's quote a drastic turn in events.

But yeah, I agree, I think most tenants would just leave anyways, which makes it much more difficult for the landlord/agent!

@Rach
I actually totally get and sympathsise with that dilemma from the agent's perspective, in the sense you need to cover your costs for replacing the tenant. If someone isn't willing to play ball, it can make the situation a nightmare.

Ironically, you'd think people would think it's more difficult to break a tenancy agreement than a mobile contract.

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The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 2nd October, 2014 @ 09:18

@Nige
Good point. Definitely appreciate that the tenant is being open about the situation. I imagine many tenants do just pick up and leave.

Ahh, nice tip about tenants receiving benefits!

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David 2nd October, 2014 @ 13:17

Nige is right on the money here, whether it is tenant or landlord the key to avoiding disputes is having a good line of communications open.

Being approachable makes all the different.

@Landlord good approach and will make the world a more peaceful happy place.

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Nige 2nd October, 2014 @ 13:46

One of my conditions of tenancy is that should benefits be received either at start of tenancy or during tenancy then the tenant 'hereby gives permission for the landlord to discuss any benefit claim with the benefit department'
Tenants do not have to declare that they are on any benefit and can run the tenancy as per contract and I need never know what they are getting.However many do either get into difficulties or don't understand the system or are just plain stupid and hope that it will right itself.
Having a good reputation as a landlord and a good communication system with benefits means that recently I got benefits increased for one tenant who was falling into arrears and in the past the department has refused to transfer the benefit to a new property as I was open and the tenant being not so honest. Having that clause does not mean that I can poke into their affairs whatsoever but it does mean that I know how to advise a tenant if needs be. Particularly important in the number of bedroom situations and as this is one of the reasons tenants HAVE to move house ..maybe early..there are avenues of approach to buffer the transition period.

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David 2nd October, 2014 @ 22:35

@Nige

That would be considered by the Office of Fair Trading as an unfair contract term. It would be a breach of so many other laws too.

You can't just stick in any old contract term you see fit and if you do you leave yourself WIDE OPEN to get sued later.

The OFT already recognise that a tenant is in a weak position when signing a tenancy agreement.

No contract term may take away a persons rights under common law, that term would take away the right to privacy under Data Protection legislation and the Human Rights act. It is extremely unlikely that a Council would provide the information as they have a duty of care of privacy. If a tenant found out that you had a term like that they could sue your arse off.

Anyone can fall off the ladder and end up on benefits, by not knowing you are actually in a better position for insurance purposes.

If a tenant falls into arrears by more than 6 weeks you "might" be able to get the rent paid direct, but you have to show evidence and the first thing they do is write to the tenant and say they have this allegation, they do that before confirming to you that the person is on benefits.

The tenant could then show they have paid etc.

Generally rent is not considered overdue until 14 days have passed and if they pay something, even £1 it can reset that.

With respect, tenants do not need you to advise them, the Council will tell them what they are entitled to. E.g. that they will only pay LHA allowance for property in the area or that because they have two boys they will only be paid for one bedroom even though they occupy two.

LHA allowances are paid at the 30th percentile or basically at the 30% level between the minimum and maximum rents in the local area. So you could be renting a 4 bed house for £1500 a month but if the 30th percentile is £1000 that is all they can claim, then if they are over occupying according to the rules, e.g. if the Council rules mean two kids could share a room (boys and girls under puberty are deemed OK to share). So they then pay the LHA rate for a 3 bed place, which might be £750. I quote these numbers because they are round numbers but the reality is that it depends where you live, LHA rates for Wandsworth are £1789.19 for a four bed house but Rightmove has a huge number of properties at £3000+. So for 3 bed because they say 4 rooms not needed they reduce the LHA allowance to £1520.78 but that is not the only issue. If a family was on benefits in London on a rent at £1789.19 they would be forced to leave because the other benefits might take them over the maximum benefits anyone can get. So they are effectively thrown on the scrap heap.

Their kids are pull out of school, they are moved to some dross area where there are no jobs and they are finished. It does not matter that they paid in huge amounts of tax and NI. Behind every eviction there is a history.

I knew a guy who was raking in £200k in banking, lost his home when property crashed as he had a mortgage with negative equity (bad timing), so he rented. He did not claim benefits for 3 years but ran up debt till he had no choice. He paid thousands into the system but got sweet FA out, everyone gets the same. Then fell into arrears, but the recession meant he could not get work, he then had a heart attack but managed to keep rent paid as he had a disabled child so they survived on his son's DLA.

His biggest mistake was not claiming benefits straight away, the debt he ran up before meant they got chased by debt collectors as credit card companies sold the debt. At this point his Mrs was told by a local support group that she would be better off to dump him as she would get more benefits without him, she did that and he ended up owing the landlord nearly 10k after Court eviction under Section 8.

His wife was OK, she got more money so good advice if you think that breaking up families is good for this country, he took his own life last December.

I know that Landlords deal with some real scumbags but nobody could predict that tenancy would go so bad.

It made me laugh seeing Cameron trying to win votes by saying he will hurt the disadvantaged more as if they are on some gravy train. Truth is nobody can survive on benefits unless they live in the north, have several kids or are disabled. Just like the National Lottery "it could be YOU" next. The idea that they will achieve £30bn of cuts in an economy with growth stifled by interest rate increases that we know are coming, is a joke.

65% of Social Security budget is on the elderly, NHS is ring fenced, Defence is cut to the bone already, Police stations and Fire stations are closing. So where is the money coming from, Osbourne already missed all but one of the 30 targets he gave the OBR. He has a temporary top down recovery mostly fueled by property sales in London, that bubble will burst as soon as interest rates increase. The reason most people do not feel the recovery is that it is a false recovery, as for the jobless being down, that is just because they have been kicked off JSA.

What has this got to do with Landlords, well if the economy is messed up, so is your investment. The current system is broken and with interest rate increases coming, Now would be a good time to get out, before the shite hits the fan.

I am not saying it would be better under labour but it would be more honest.

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Tinny 3rd October, 2014 @ 14:40

The story about the banker sounds awful. My heart goes to his family. OFT doesn't exist any more. It has been absorbed by Trading Standards. I think you are right about many things but I feel that I would rather have a clause in a contract that says the landlord can negotiate with the housing department than being evicted. After all it was there when I signed the contract. When I rented briefly I insisted that agencies show me contracts before viewings and refused to go with ones that had stupid things in theirs. One had that I am responsible for TV license despite the fact that I may not own a TV. They lost a customer. Everyone should read what they sign.

As for the benefits...I have seen plenty of people supplement their benefits with cash in hand jobs where I used to live. The ones that can't do that are the likes of your banker, disabled and elderly. I disagree that things would be better under Labour. For years they were spending like mad and we are in this situation partly because if them. They let several NHS trusts get onto debt and due to this they are now closed. No government is perfect and no matter who comes to power, there is no running away from the fact that we are in debt and there will be consequences as there are due to the fact that we procreate like mad and simply cannot provide enough resources to accommodate this on welfare. Immigration didn't help.
I think the sad truth is that people generally live beyond their means thinking that what they have today can and will be sustained forever. Sometimes it is not, we live in uncertain times and it is not like the good old days where you had a job for life. If people realised that, they would prepare for bad times in good times but they often don't, with dire consequences. My husband has a chronic illness that at present causes him no problems. We are aware this could change and always live in a way that I can cover the cost of living should he need to take time off and vice versa.
Sadly, where there is one breadwinner, this is hard and I agree, government taxes the middle man the most and takes away from them the most. It is crap.

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Nige 3rd October, 2014 @ 15:55

I can put anything into a contract that I would like. As Tinny says if you don't like it then don't sign it. In a perfect world there would be no tenancy agreement and it would all be done with a handshake and I would be secure that rent would be paid, the property would be handed back (as the shelter website says ''in as good as or better condition than first rented) and I would carry out all my landlords obligations. Sadly rules are designed to protect us from the idiots who don't want to abide by them.
We all went through the same education system from 5-16 and some of us took advantage of this free system and some 'clever' ones didn't. I invested in myself with training at quite a high cost in time and money to achieve a qualification. (no not student loan) I have not used that qualification for 25 years but it did kick off my life. Many I see have safety nets which I have never had. For example if you are a house owner nobody rushes in to pay your mortgage if you lose your job. Its tough luck...sell the house. Then you will probably have to much in the bank to get benefits. I have had tenants on DHSS actually boast that they wagged school.
On the other hand I for one have made money out of the benefit system by renting to this type of person so I cannot complain. But this brings me back to the fact that I don't have to rent to anyone on DHSS and if I am going to I want some safeguard that they are not going to sit at home watching their new TV whilst texting whilst I hope that I will get my rent because they can't be bothered to reply to a letter from DHSS.
As Tinny says I would rather have a safeguard that my landlord would help me get over a crisis (after all landlords have seen all sorts of problems before) than be left floundering and facing eviction because of a small administrative hiccup.

Back on subject . Its better to let a tenant go when they are talking to you than have the secretive move out in the middle of the night and you are left with not knowing for another month and the house being smashed up by local hooligans. I actually had this almost happen. By pure luck I passed the house and all the windows were swinging open. Yep they had skipped out 4 days earlier disabling the alarm system and getting the furniture out in the middle of the night via the windows.

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emma6 4th October, 2014 @ 10:35

I agree with Nige. You can put anything you like in a contract. No one is holding a gun to their heads. If they don't want to sign, they don't have to. One of my current ones has a clause about putting the bins out on time and a fine if the wrong stuff in the wrong bin causes the Council to refuse to empty it.

As regards leaving, I generally let them, but they remain liable for the rent until someone else MOVES IN, not signs, not agrees, MOVES IN.

Sometimes, the tenants even find replacements for themselves (there's an upside to students!), which makes my life a lot easier, as all I have to do is reference them.

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Nige 4th October, 2014 @ 10:56

Thanks Emma,
Yep every contract I have whether mobile phones onwards has a raft of penalties and subclauses built in. Housing seems to be the one where tenants have the ''rights'' and feel they can do what they want knowing that they are protected and it will cause endless cr*p and legal costs to rectify to status quo.

I had the best example.
Tenant on council bond. One day I get phonecall for boiler not working from a lady. Boiler fixed and I get a thank you followed by ''I look forward to taking on the tenancy'' WTF. It appears that my tenant skipped and gave my house to his ex wife !!! DUH? The legal implications of this regarding rights about who should be in the house, who was receiving benefits (partial) , who held the deposit now etc plus a technical squatter were incredible.
Fortunately having a good relationship with the council they helped sort out and eventually with more paperwork than would fill a wheely bin it was sorted. Very little cooperation from ex tenant who could not be traced although we feel that somewhere there was collusion between x wife and x tenant. Fortunately the current tenant is as good as gold..fingers crossed.

As said rules are made for those who DON'T obey them and we have to dance through hoops to comply with things that technically don't involve good landlords.

Going back to benefits . If the landlord is paid directly and the tenant is on the fiddle it is the person who gets the payment i.e. the landlord, who has to pay it back. This has happened to me !! Not only did I not get rent the tenant sat in the house whilst I had to jump through hoops to get them out with no hope of financial redress.

One day I will write the book. It will include instances such as the tenant who put a fan heater so close to their settee that it melted. My fault of course. Or the gas engineer called out to the heating not working only to be told that the radiators were all hot but not giving off heat !!!

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The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 4th October, 2014 @ 11:20

I'd be careful about saying "You can put anything you like in a contract."

While you can put anything you like in a contract, that doesn't make the clauses enforceable.

Tenants cannot lose their statutory rights, no matter what they sign and agree to. For example, I can say that the tenant must give me 8 months notice before they vacate. But if the tenant disputed that, the Judge would rule in their favour, as they only need to give 1 months notice (from one month before the end date). That's their statutory right.

Also, if a Judge deems a clause as "unfair" (which they often do), it won't be enforced, despite the fact the tenant agreed to it.

The law generally rule in the tenant's favour in these situations, because they're seen as more vulnerable.

Unfortunately, most tenant's don't realise what their statutory rights are, so it works in the landlord's favour, and I think many landlords have got away with their own clauses because of that. A lot of the makeshift clauses landlords stuff into tenancy agreements aren't legally enforceable.

Either way, tenant's really should read the contracts more carefully.

My main point is, i'd be wary of just adding "anything" to a contract without making sure it's enforceable.

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emma6 4th October, 2014 @ 11:34

The bins clause is enforceable because (a) i know they've read it because they asked a question about it (b) they asked that question before they signed (c) they then signed.

A previous tenant did put the wrong thing in the wrong bin, and the Council refused to collect, which caused a (to me, at least) surprising amount of distress to the other residents of the building. That essentially constitutes a nuisance to the neighbours and is a breach of the lease anyway.

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The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 4th October, 2014 @ 11:38

Hi Emma,

Unfortunately, none of your points make the clause enforceable (I'm not saying it's un/enforceable). It doesn't really matter if they read it, asked a question about it and agreed to it.

If any clause conflicts with their statutory rights, it's automatically unenforceable. And if a Judge deems your clause as unfair, it won't be enforced.

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emma6 4th October, 2014 @ 11:41

Which statutory right do you think I have breached by asking them to dispose of their waste properly?

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The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 4th October, 2014 @ 11:43

Essentially, I could put clauses in my tenancy agreement which says, "I don't have to provide EPC's, Gas Safety certificates or secure the deposit"

The tenant could agree to all that and sign the contract.

Would the landlord get away with that (even though the tenant read it and agreed)? Nope. Landlord is still breaking the law.

"The tenancy agreement can give both you and your landlord more than your statutory rights, but cannot give you less than your statutory rights. If a term in the tenancy agreement gives either you or your landlord less than your statutory rights, that term cannot be enforced."

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The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 4th October, 2014 @ 11:44

I wasn't really talking about your bin scenario specifically.

I was disputing the fact that you can put anything in a contract and expect it to be enforceable because it's been read and signed.

(sorry, I wrote comment #21 before reading your comment #20!)

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emma6 4th October, 2014 @ 11:59

As I understand it, a tenant's statutory rights consist of:

- having a written tenancy document to sign before the tenancy starts including rent payable, responsibility for repairs and the tenancy term.
- protection of the deposit
- inventory and schedule of condition at start and end
- protection from rent increases during the tenancy term
- landlord repairs to structure and fixtures and fittings, unless caused by the tenant
- a copy of the gas safety certificate
- some protection from eviction. ie not having to leave straightaway just because the landlord says so. The landlord must get a court order.

Under tenant's responsibilities I found this:
Check your contract for any extra responsibilities such as who has to maintain the garden or communal areas.

I'm pretty sure this will cover bins. I'm not worried. And anyway, provided they don't put things in the wrong bins, the issue will never arise. That's the whole point.

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The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 4th October, 2014 @ 12:09

They're some of the things, but it's a lot more in depth than that. The housing act is pretty elaborate (and confusing/grey): http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2004/34/contents

To be honest, I'm not sure if your clause is or isn't enforceable. In my opinion, I believe getting the tenants to dispose of garbage properly is perfectly fine. Contracts are usually full of clauses regarding the upkeep of the property in regards to keeping it in good, clean condition.

However, I wouldn't be totally surprised if a Judge would rule in the tenant's favour when it came to enforcing the penalty fees. Enforcing financial penalties is another issue.

But you're right, I wouldn't worry either. It's such a small issue, and I personally don't think your clause is unreasonable from a landlord's point of view! I'd love to fine the crap out of filthy tenants. I'd be a lot richer, that's for sure :\

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Nige 4th October, 2014 @ 16:43

I can honestly say that with many of the proposed legislation in the pipeline I am glad that I am of an age when I can eventually get out of renting.
Sadly I have some of the best and longest standing tenants I have ever had.
I give some examples where in the context of this thread a landlord can easily start to lose money.
A landlord has no rights as to utility supplies. Yet a tenant can swop the credit meter for a card one which can easily cost £100 and half a day waiting to have changed.
Once the property goes empty then in our area full council tax is payable until sold or rented. Particularly galling if the property needs work caused by a tenant.
Water companies can charge landlords if they fail to inform them and I have seen unpaid bills between £2500 and £5000 !!!
And licencing of HMOs is in and it will eventually come in for all properties.
Its becoming more and more complicated to deal with all the paperwork involved and I am sure that the story isn't finished yet.

Am I complaining...nope.. I have made a reasonable living out of it.

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Tinny 4th October, 2014 @ 16:53

Nige I agree that legislations are now so complex. I think the government feels they are protecting the tenants but if the landlord wants to be a bastard, they will still manage to screw their tennant. But if he/she isn't, they will just be put off renting to tenants that are not perfect, I.e. those on low income or benefits. And I feel I would be the same if I was letting my property.

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Nige 4th October, 2014 @ 17:26

@Tinny
Which is exactly what is happening in our area. DHSS payments are set at a level. £595 for a 3 bed here. Tenants are no longer allowed to rent a property £25 a month more than this. In some ways quite rightly as its mine and your taxes ultimately and I know of far to many who won't work or they will lose benefits. So the easy option is to jack the rent up over the figure of £620 to say £650 thus excluding them. DHSS tenants are less accountable in a court. If they haven't paid rent or caused damage you may as well write it off to experience. Even evicting costs and the court may give judgement but just try getting it enforced.
In our area there is a bid system. i.e. a landlord offers a house to the council and people bid to get the house.(not bidding in money by the way) Therefore only perfect tenants (DHSS or otherwise) will get it. I saw one house with 321 bids on it !!
I do know some of my tenants are stuck with me. Even small arrears exclude them from the council waiting lists. They have tried to move or get a council house but nobody will touch them despite them using every trick in the book to get one. (by the way its no skin off my nose whether they stay or go and I do keep my rents within the ranges allowed) I even ''evicted'' one tenant at their request and changed the disposal of a property to theirs because they wanted to swing a council house. Judge knew what game they were playing as well !!
They got their wish. One grotty emergency accommodation house. Additional cost to me??? £500 plus damage repairs.
I know of several ex landlords who are sitting with empty properties despite a penalty one and a half times council tax because of bad experiences with tenants.

Example ?
Working guy blamed landlord because he got fined for no car road tax. When landlord asked why it was his fault the tenant replied ''because I paid you my money in rent '' !!! The next time he saw the tenant the tenant blamed him for not having his child vaccinated. When asked why the tenant replied ''because my car isn't taxed '' !!! The next time the landlord checked his place and the washing machine door was broken off. When asked why the tenant replied '' I needed my clothes out of the machine and my electric card had run out'' !!
Oh the book is beckoning !!

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andrewa 4th October, 2014 @ 18:24

@ Nige
What age are you (not rude just interested to see when the years discourage you from carrying on:)
Plus why not dispose of the properties in order of quality of tenant I.E. wait for the nice ones to leave by themselves before selling.

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Nige 4th October, 2014 @ 20:21

@Andrewa

I intended to retire at 55 but being a property owner is the worst profession to be in when you have a cheating wife !!!
Then I had a rogue agent..my fault really but the rents were coming in. I found that he was allowing tenants leeway with the rent and using the deposits he held to sub them. (allowed in those days) So that mess had to be sorted out and what a mess it was and I took on full management myself.
Then after divorce had been settled and monies agreed the recession hit hard and disposal was just not an option. Those that had to be disposed of were sold at the low market rate to my daughter and I took over management so the portfolio remained in the family. Since then she has increased her portfolio and we are currently renovating a property that had been set fire to. I think that this one will not go out to rental as she has seen what tenants do so it will be sold. In all I lost three properties through divorce funding, 2 luckily sold to my daughter who benefitted by the recession. As I approached 65 I decided to sell one but it took one year...yes one year to evict tenants (properly) and then renovate and market the property. Then a stupid girl made an offer (obviously with no intention of buying) and took it to the last moment before dropping out at which time the new mortgage restrictions came in.
Oh such a sob story !!! Not really but at 65 I am still doing all my own repairs and grafting.
I would agree with you regarding selling the ones with the least reliable tenants first. That is not the way it works though.
Most landlords do not have an exit plan.
Basically you must sell the property with the greatest gain regarding CGT in the worst income year.You have to play with figures and CGT allowances whilst in my case upgrading remaining properties. For example new DG and doors have been installed which is allowed under repairs and energy efficiency against income....and so on it goes.
CGT changed and hit me badly. The indexation that used to exist was replaced with rates of 18% and 28% . The loss of a partner also took away the possibility of double CGT allowance.
Many landlords are unaware of the complexity of disposing of property in the most tax advantageous way. Had I known then what I know now my policy would not have been soley based on rental and capital appreciation. I would have bought, renovated , rented for a period and sold after maybe a year. Thus CGT allowances would have been maximised so no tax would have been payable on around £10k on the rise in value and say I had £5k in rent it would have effectively made £15k but only taxed on £5k.
Sadly I will soon be evicting the nice ones year by year. There is an advantage that I can offer a discount for sitting tenant to buy as that can reduce some CGT to their advantage but few are in a stable enough position to buy. One was refused a mortgage because they baulked on the last payment of a mobile phone contract !!!
So even at one per year I will be just under 70 when the last one is disposed of.
And just as another thread on here says...I will be rollering walls for some time !!!
As I said I have not done to badly out of property overall but my exit plan would have been structured much earlier if I had been able to read a crystal ball.

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emma6 4th October, 2014 @ 21:53

There is no need to evict nice tenants. You can sell a property tenanted. You just have to remove the clause about vacant possession. No need to make people miserable unnecessarily.

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Nige 4th October, 2014 @ 22:57

I can assure you that my personal situation has been known about by all my tenants for a long time. (age/health etc) . They have all been on borrowed time in reality as I could easily have evicted years ago due to my health and financial situation and most had a damn sight better lifestyle than I did as I struggled with the recession. Most are grateful that I did not just bail out and allowed them to run arrears etc in the bad times.
I agree that you can sell a property tenanted but you will find that it is treated as an investment value and not the achievable value. There are schemes whereby you can sell your property to ''investment people'' but their usual strategy is to buy cheaper, allow the tenant to live there for six months before evicting or then raise rents or sell at a profit. A few of my tenants have expressed a fear that if I do sell tenanted that they might end up on the street anyway or be landed with a landlord who does not treat them so well or evicts if one months rent is late. They would prefer to be given good notice, and that is usually a minimum of a year so they can look around.
Some will use it as an 'excuse' if that is the word to move out of town so that they can be nearer relatives.
I have one tenant who thought that I would sell and was happy that this was not the case because it allowed their kids to leave school and at this point they would probably have to move anyway due to DHSS rules. So I do talk to tenants a lot and I am not the evict with no reason type.
Sadly a tenanted property usually shows a great deal of ageing. Often this is cosmetic like advocado bathroom suite or older colours in the kitchen units. With the last house I sold I was offered two thirds of the achieved price merely because it needed updating with a new kitchen and bathroom although it was in very very clean condition. Funny thing is that although I replaced kitchen and bathroom the buyers ripped it all out !!! One house we sold years ago only had low offers because my daughter lived there with students but was in totally renovated condition. It was upsetting to say the least when the new owners sold a year later for 50% profit.
There is also the financial aspect regarding mortgages and achievable rents. I am not up to date on current lending but lenders used to expect a rent of 125% of the mortgage. On current DHSS rates that is not achievable.
So no I am not cruel or heartless and do talk extensively to tenants but as any gains from my properties are my pension then that has to be considered. I could sell within my family but after 4 years in the business my daughter will be selling her stock as she is changing direction and moved away and can't handle distance tenancies.
Finally but not the subject you think about or want to is inheritance tax. That's why an exit plan is important.

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andrewa 6th October, 2014 @ 22:11

@ Nige

Well I'll possibly be in your position in the next 10 or so years (65 and not so keen anymore to climb ladders, still property gave me my Fnck You money for the last 10 years, I now work for fun). Question: is there such a thing as usefruct in British law? In South Africa you can leave your property/s to your children a bit at a time tax free with the understanding that as it belongs to them they are responsible for the maintenance (and can claim the tax deduction) while you as the possessor of the usefruct have the "enjoyment" of the property/s until death. Besides the profits on the rents has to be better than the cash invested in the bank scenario and HMRC will hit you with CGT if you sell.

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Nige 6th October, 2014 @ 23:28

As I understand it HMRC have closed loopholes . Im not an accountant so what I say may be slightly or totally inaccurate. I believe you can gift a portion of your house to your kids or the whole lot. Survive 7 years and its all theirs. If however you gift and live in it you are deemed to be getting benefit in kind and therefore HMRC expects them to charge you rent.
When I sold a house to my daughter in the recession the solicitor made grunts about proving that it was an accurate reflection of prices locally and not artificially reduced.
You are probably like me thinking about preserving the estate for the kids whilst not living life to the full.
I made the decission to sell a house at a time, pay CGT , and say you do this at 65 £100k wil give you £10k a year(plus a bit of interest) until you are 75 at which point you probably won't have the desire to go out on the town every night. Plus of course your portfolio which is left is still pulling income. Personally with work pension from years ago, OAP, interest from investments and my rents I have never been better off in my life. My girl doesn't need my money !! She is probably richer than me.
I have seen people put off taking pensions and really lose out. I have also seen the fact that if they get ill and have to go into a home then the home fees soon eat up everything. I want to be very comfortable for the remaining part of my life thank you !! After all for every £1 I spend my beneficiaries will only lose 60p !!

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Charlotte 10th October, 2014 @ 13:16

Thanks @The Landlord for making me think about this in a different way.

As a Landlord and Agent I think I am guilty of immediately, NO! They can't leave, they've signed until Blah Blah.

I have however then calmed down and been flexible and have let people go with the understanding they are liable for rent until the property is tenanted again.

I shall now be taking on your "the end date is a physcological deterrent" approach. I will channel that initial RAGE (how dare they leave vibe) into immediately and positively focussing on getting a new lovelier tenant in.

The worst ever is when tenants just leave - that to me is the pits.

But let's not end on that thought - let't try and remember all the lovely tenants we have. I wrote a blog particularly about one of ours recently - http://abodeltd.co.uk/tenant-focus-making-a-house-your-home/

Happy Friday fellow Landlords :)

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David 17th October, 2014 @ 12:01

@Charlotte

It is good that you found this thought provoking.

You raise two things that please and displease me.

The mistake that most landlords make is blaming their tenants when like any business you have to be honest and ask yourself "what could I do to to improve this or prevent it occuring".

In my business my approach to clients is to treat them like royalty, sure there is a service level agreement in place but I ALWAYS strive to over deliver.

So if you treat a Tenant as a client you will find things go way better.

So if you can make them feel that you are easy to speak to and that if problems arise you will do your best to help them, things will go better in the end.

When it comes to signing, it is meaningless, whether it be unfair contract terms or simply the minimum term, why, because life gets in the way. People lose their jobs, family members die, people get divorced and so it goes on.

For a tenant, they are not renting a flat, maisonette or house, they are renting a HOME and that is what I liked about your post and your website.

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Charlotte 17th October, 2014 @ 12:55

Hi David, yes treating tenants as clients, this is certainly how to ensure a good relationship and to make the whole journey a much more enjoyable ride for us all.

Thank you for reading my post too.

Ps I hope the pleased outways the displeased!!

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rob 20th October, 2014 @ 18:44

Ive just seen a clause in a tenancy agreement (ast) stating that any items of furniture need to be left in the same place as on commencement! Bizzare.

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Nige 20th October, 2014 @ 18:52

Not as stupid as it sounds. Overcrowding rules now state that living rooms and dining rooms can now be regarded as bedrooms and therefore tenants will store this furniture anywhere and I have seen it piled up in a conservatory on one house we worked on.

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Lucky 13th November, 2014 @ 18:23

Hi there,
My story is slightly different. Look forward to you advise:
We had a Nigerian student (lady) come to view a room in our flat for renting. We are live-in landlords. She liked the place and paid the 2 weeks deposit and one week advance rent. We gave her the keys and she signed the agreement on Tuesday. The agreement is worded as below;
1. “Minimum 3 months stay agreement. If tenant vacate with-in minimum period agreement, deposit will not be refunded. After that two weeks notice period is required from tenant to vacate the flat.
2. Two week’s deposit and advance rent is required from the tenant. Deposit will be refunded to tenant upon satisfactory handover of the room and the keys or part adjusted against any due amount – which ever may be the case.
….”
On the Second day (Thursday) she asked for all the money back as she would not be needing the place anymore. Please advise the best course of action? To be fair I have refunded £164 to her. However, she is threatening with legal action. Please advise if we are on the right and it was a good will gesture to refund her any money and not an obligation at all.

Your help in the matter is greatly appreciated.

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Nige 14th November, 2014 @ 01:14

Take this advice quickly.
You have been hit by a scam. The scam goes like this.
She now has an address. She can show residency for 3 months as she has an agreement. She can show that she has complied with your conditions. Depending upon when this happened she can still pull this agreement up if needs be and return to the property .
My bet is that she or somebody will pop around for the mail or she will put mail direct on her post. Bung it all back in the post with not at this address in BIG letters.
Some action for you to take. Contact police ASAP and tell them. Contact immigration. Phone the DHSS hotline for fraud.
If she is honest then investigations will prove she is.
My guess is that she is using the address as an accommodation address in principle to obtain anything from student status to false DHSS claims or worse.
You do not say how much security you took like passport/ photo/ student or work permit/ references etc. Guarantor etc.etc. I would suspect none of these.
Place funds in a separate holding savings account to show that you are holding them securely. I am not sure if a separate flat in your own home requires the deposit to be held in a deposit scheme. Check on this with local housing.
You may have to take further precautions like changing passwords, tell bank if any transactions involved cheques or signature.
Change locks as they have a key to your house.Cover yourself regarding unlawfull eviction by putting small note on door to ring...a mobile to get in.
Think of any other info they hve on you. They have your name, address, phone numbers, maybe bank account, car number etc.
Sorry to be so down but I would be taking steps to ensure that you don't get police knocking on your door or worse..identity fraud.
Just out of interest. Did she say she was a student at a particular college? If so does it exist and if it does write to them explaining your predicament. Colleges here were witholding certificates until landlords bills were settled.
Hope this helps.

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David 14th November, 2014 @ 22:48

Really depends on the whole agreement but if she signed a contract she is bound by that contract unless there are unfair contract terms or terms that go against OFT guidelines or common law.

What some landlords do is refunds a proportion if they are able to let for the period agreed to.

A deposit can only be used for damages and non payment of rent, did you pay it into a scheme?

I think you were kind to refund the £164, she signed a 3 month agreement. I would explain to her that if she wants to go to Court you will enforce the contract or else what you have paid back is your offer of settlement.

I think Nige might well be on the money, sounds scammy.

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Nige 14th November, 2014 @ 23:12

Thanks David,
It sounds scammy and the threat of court could be empty and to scare the landlord.
If it was just a student..yes maybe easy to enforce. Overseas student...risky but there are thousands of them in UK who are desperate for accommodation and its one of those areas where you are lucky to get anything at all so you grab and keep.
Nigerian ...well that could be the key.
Unfortunately if you are to trusting as a landlord you actually hand over a lot of personal details to tenants.

I won't say its a scam but I have had tenants forge my signature (which of course is on a tenancy agreement) to change the water supply meter which I was told once done was not reversible. That means they often have signature plus bank account details.They have the landlords address . And unfortunately with the internet it is possible to get other details fairly easy.They can find out if you are a director. Ask land registry for your property details etc. If you own a car they can get no end of details if they use the excuse that you bumped them. Add that to the fascination people have with posting everything on facebook or other social media from what they had for breakfast to their sex lives it easy to build up a picture especially if you are stupid enough to say you are going on holiday.
You would be surprised at bank scams where somehow the banks number comes up on caller id and if convincing enough can get your pin number. For example. For confirmation of who YOU are they will ask for memorable word and first and second number of your pin. Well on the way to emptying your bank account.Its worth reading up about bank scams.
99% of tenants of course don't do it.
Most landlords must remember that they are often handing something worth £100,000 plus to complete strangers. Thats why checks are so important.

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Fasteviction Service 17th November, 2014 @ 12:12

Lol, I completely agree with this article. If your tenants want to go, quit being a douche bag. Roll with it otherwise it can end up in a bad scenario for both. Following the compromising points above is the way to keep your cool.

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David 18th November, 2014 @ 02:13

@nige

Well if it was the Landlord who runs this site they would have his sexual preferences from reading the posts.

More of your personal info is being shared by your GP, you can and should opt out of sharing to NHS spine and Care Data.

The Land Registry is on the verge of being sold off so all info will become much easier than the £3 per doc it costs now.

It all starts with your voting info being sold at £3 per 1000 (even if you opt out they share it but put the opt out).

A lot of the data is given up voluntarily on social networks where it can all be tracked, you are told that it is anonymous, not when combined with info already out there.

A retargetting cookie is put on your PC, Phone, Tablet and even Smart TV. These cookies are not deleted when you delete cookies, they are stored in common folder on your PC and need a special utility available on some browsers and by using ccleaner.

Your Phone shares your location with apps that have terms that do not make it clear.

Default setting of search on your phone is to search all your messages and emails sharing them with servers to improve your search results.

Oh and if you do not want to share your info then you can't get a credit reference so can't rent a property, can't get cheap deal on Energy etc etc

Welcome to 1984

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Nige 18th November, 2014 @ 09:59

@David
I have never seen the fascination with sharing all your data with others. Kids today seem to want to do it. Swipe your phone over a pay machine instead of cash. I'm sure that you could track an average active teenager on a Friday night on a pub crawl to within 3 feet at any time.
Funnily enough I watched Judge Judy the other day pull a mobile phone call record where the guy was denying he called his ex girlfriend. Found he had 2 phones and the second one was at his ex girlfriends house.
Dartford crossing is about to go payless with tracking and billing.No tax disk on cars. The one thing they have not figured out how to do yet is that they can check tax insurance mot but not who is driving the car. So there are technically uninsured drivers out there.
From 2015 all cars will be fitted with a device that automatically calls the emergency services if an airbag goes off.
And as for loyalty cards !! They know what you buy, when you buy, how you pay, if by card there is a credit limit to determine how well off you are.
Buy an airline ticket , go on a ferry, long term car park etc and they know who you are before you get there which allows automatic check in .
The one thing that isn't going to change is the fact that this happens and will get worse.
Have you shaved your head lately to see if there is a barcode tatooed there !! Won't be long before we are chipped at birth !!
No wonder there is a thriving market in false documents.
Its an intereting point that the Dartford crossing change creates 300 EXTRA jobs from basically nothing . So the charge is increasing. My friend lost a vehicle document and has had to travel 30 miles by bus to the nearest office as the local one closed. All keeping us occupied in case they find out we have leisure time.
I really cannot understand the fascination with incentives like £100 to change banks, £50 to change insurance etc. Its the same business going round and round in a circle.
As I always said. The worst thing I ever did to my daughter was register her birth because now she is part of the system.

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Property Manager 22nd January, 2015 @ 18:02

My client wants to terminate their agreement with his Tenant earlier than contractually allowed. We rented a flat to a lady who just graduated and looking for work. She had a cracking guarantor with perfect references. Nothing about this woman would make you suspicious in any way, shape or form. A few months into the Tenancy the Landlord did an inspection and suspected there was more than 1 tenant living in the property at the very least and at the very worst it was being used as a brothel! When he told me I thought he was overreacting about the brothel part as there was nothing other than there was more than 1 woman in the flat and a neighbour commenting about there being an issue with brothels in the building. However, due diligence made me look into it further... nothing came up with her name and I confirmed once again that the guarantor was ligit but when I googled her email address it came up on several "massage" postings advertising everything from 4 hand massage to prostate massages in a clean environment in the area of the property. :o Now if this isn't awful enough for the Landlord, the Landlord now is legally obliged to report it to the police straight away and still go through the lengthily and expensive route of a court eviction! :(

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emma6 22nd January, 2015 @ 19:25

On the plus side, Property Manager, having used the premises for illegal and/or immoral purposes, she has DEFINITELY breached the lease. So it shouldn't be too taxing to boot her out. Biding his time until after she is arrested will only aid his case.

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Effing Landlord 30th January, 2015 @ 08:16

This is exactly why I always used month-to-month contracts. Knowing I would fold if tenants chose to vacate early, I figured I'd level the playing field a little by giving myself the option to raise rent anytime I chose (with a 30-day notice of course). Naturally, in the event that anyone had ever asked for a annual lease agreement, I wouldn't have argued about it.

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New Landlord 12th June, 2016 @ 05:32

We have just had a tenant request to leave one month into a 12 month contract. They are unhappy to cover the cost of finding a new tenant and a room clean. We purchased furniture specifically at their request as a prerequisite for them moving in. Any advice welcome.

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David 12th June, 2016 @ 19:18

@NewLandlord

Your new so I am going to give it to straight.

You do not buy specific anything for a tenant!!

Generally I think that renting a furnished place is a mistake, people have expectations when a toaster does not work. You are not a B&B you are a landlord.

Stick to White goods in the Kitchen, an Oven and a Fridge Freezer, not even a washing machine unless you have a maintenance contract and it is costed into your rent.

The advice at the top of the page says all you need to know, but this is really early and quite unreasonable.

So first of all you need to let the person know in as nice a way as that they signed a legally binding contract, say that you are within your rights to hold them to that contract for the period of the tenancy agreement or till there is a break clause.

However, you are trying to be reasonable and to resolve the matter in an amicable way and ask that they take the same approach.

Say that if you were to pursue your rights they could end up in Court with a CCJ (whether they attend or not) and that could make it difficult for them to obtain credit or even find a new place to live.

Say that you will do all you can to mitigate the losses to them and get someone in ASAP.

Also say that if they are cooperative you will be prepared to give them a positive reference.

I would put an ad on Open Rent, it is cheap as chips or look at the online letting agents here.

http://www.propertyinvestmentproject.co.uk/blog/online-letting-agents/

One word of warning, make sure that you have protected their deposit, I have come across scammers who take a place then pull out, the deposit isn't protected, then they do not bother because they think the tenant is leaving, then there is a lot of dialog back and forth so money not returned say for 3 months.

You can take monies from the deposit via the DPS, TDS or Mydeposits custodial schemes for the cleaning and unfulfilled terms of the tenancy agreement.

You cannot charge any old amount and no fixed amount per day, it has to reflect your ACTUAL costs plus perhaps £5 for this and £5 for that. As long as you keep meticulous records you will get paid out.

Any other problems and update the thread.

Good luck!

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David 12th June, 2016 @ 19:35

@PropertyManager

I missed your post and suspect it is all sorted now

However, for the sake of others arriving here, ALWAYS have a morality clause in your tenancy agreement.

Have the clause say that the contract is immediately terminated in such an event or that it triggers a break clause that you have elsewhere in the agreement. Common law prevails for notice, so a S21 would need to be issued, I doubt they will fight it because they will want to move on. Make sure your terms are OFT356 compliant (fair and reasonable).

I would put up some plastic drilled signs with this image, you can get them online from catalogs and on ebay. Make sure it says for the purpose of crime prevention and make sure you say who they are operated by.

tringmain.com/signs/cctv.JPG

You do not have to actually put any up but a few fakes will scare away the punters and no money means they move on.

Hanging around the communal entrance, asking what flat they are visiting and asking people to sign a visitors book also scares them off.

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New Landlord 14th June, 2016 @ 12:58

Hi David,

Many thanks for your reply. I agree, we were naive and now our fingers have been burnt we won't be again.

We have used the DPS and are keeping receipts of all the expenses of finding a tenant and preparing the room for them.

Hopefully everything will be concluded amicably.

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