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Larry

Need Some Advice On An Assured Short Hold Tenancy.

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Firstly I’d just like to say I’ve been reading these forums and have found them very informative and enlightening.

Right then, enough of the brown nosing and down to my predicament….. ;)

I am presently renting a property from a letting agency, been with them for about 2 years and bar from the odd hiccup have been relatively ok. I found out recently (naively on my part I agree) the agency have been sending me a new 6 month AST which I have been agreeing to and signing. A little over a year ago I asked to have a 1 month get out clause incorporated into the contract and the agency agreed. Recently I have asked to move out the property and was told that the get out clause wasn’t valid on the current contract but only on the 6 month period when I originally asked for it.

Again possibly naivety on my part when I asked for this kind of clause you expect it to carry through the subsequent contracts or least have the agency warn me aboout it.

I am slightly annoyed with this as I have seen a new place I like but can’t take it cause I am contractually obliged to the original place for another 4 months and don’t really want to pay 2 lots of rent.

I have spoken to a couple of friends ( ones a landlord and the other a property surveyor) who say though legal it’s not one of the "best practices" to go about renting property. In most cases I’m told agencies will give you an AST for the first 6 months then switch it to the monthly periodic.

My question is this: Is there anyway I can get out of my current contract legally? If not what would be the ramifications of moving out cancelling my DD with the agency?

Also the agency have emailed me to say that they won’t release me as the landlady wishes to sell to property at the end of this current contract and wants to keep me in there till then. I would have thought if she wants to sell it, there shouldn’t be an issue letting me go (They won’t release me in a month but more than happy to chuck me out in 4 months).

Thanks for reading my “war and peace” novella and any help or advice would be greatly appreciated.

Larry

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Welcome Larry!

I have spoken to a couple of friends ( ones a landlord and the other a property surveyor) who say though legal it's not one of the "best practices" to go about renting property. In most cases I'm told agencies will give you an AST for the first 6 months then switch it to the monthly periodic.

It is fairly common for agencies to get you to renew rather than let you move onto a monthly-rolling contract as they and the landlords like the extra protection for the longer-term of 6 or 12 months. I know many people (myself included) who are in similar situations.

My question is this: Is there anyway I can get out of my current contract legally? If not what would be the ramifications of moving out cancelling my DD with the agency?

IANAL, but I would have thought that the landlord would be legally entitled to chase you for the remaining money owed plus interest (or sell the debt to a debt agency).

Also the agency have emailed me to say that they won't release me as the landlady wishes to sell to property at the end of this current contract and wants to keep me in there till then. I would have thought if she wants to sell it, there shouldn't be an issue letting me go (They won't release me in a month but more than happy to chuck me out in 4 months).

I assume that the landlord wants to have the four months to put the house on the market and "get the best price" with no rush to sell rather than be faced with an empty property with no income and be forced to sell to the first person who makes an offer.

I am not sure there is much else you can do.

Edited by King Of Fools

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Thanks King for coming back to me,

I'm just annoyed that I ask for notice clause in good faith and expect it to stay. Also the fact they were more than happy to let me have it but coudn't be bothered to tell me that it wouldn't be in the future contracts. Is it unreasonable to assume this ???

I obviously want to do this by the book, last thing I want are possible CCJ's and going through and going down a legal route.

grrrrr just fustrating.....

Larry

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There are two questions here:

Firstly you need to double check the new AST - do you have to stay there 6 months? Probably yes. (You should have asked to be put a periodic tenancy and the landlord would probably have agreed as you are/were a good long term tenant – unless he/she was a moron as void periods should be avoided)

Secondly, if you are still in the initial six month term there is still hope. As a landlord a similar situation happened to me earlier this year. The agent who manages the property informed me that although the tenant is still within the initial 6 months I (as the landlord) have to take reasonable steps to find another tenant if notice is given. The flat was duly re-advertised by the agent. The tenant was, though, responsible for covering my costs so I don't 'lose out' - in this case this is the landlord's costs for setting up a contract with the new tenant and paying for the inventory (approx £100 from memory). You said you took advice from a landlord. Most landlords are not fully conversant with housing law and make basic mistakes – some letting agents aren’t that good at it either! I am in this category that is why I chose an agency with a legal department that can give specialist advice.

Suggest you contact the agent and ask for the let to be re-advertised. You should check that this has been done (check newspaper ads and internet sites) and also ask a friend to ring up check the validity of the ad to see if agent says the property is available.

Also recommend you check with Citizen’s advice or *search* the Internet the forums on www.landlordzone.co.uk as these type of queries as raised frequently.

(The fact she is looking to sell makes no odds. Also you do not have to allow prospective buyers/estate agents entry to view while you are still a tenant - this may help your bargaining position as she will have to wait for four months to sell the property at which point she has no income. See other threads on this forum on this subject.)

MrM

Edited by MrMash

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Hi there Mr Mash,

To answer your questions:

1: Yes i have agreed to the 6 months, at the time i wasn't fully aware of how AST's work and assumed i was still covered by the 1 month get out clause.

2: Sadly i've been here a little over 2 years and this is the 5th 6 month AST. I asked for the 1 month get out clause about a year after i moved in (think it was at the beginning of the 3rd contract) and again assumed after that it would carry on accordingly. (Just as an after thought, when i asked for the clause i would have thought they'd have gone to the periodic contract then...or not as the case may be).

The agent has emailed me and seems quite adamant that they won't be reletting at the end of this contract and are more than happy to keep me in it as the landlady is looking to sell in november and doesn't want to put someone else in here for another min 6 months contract. Just strikes me as being a little to convienient

I'm popping down to the CAB tommorow to get there view on it then i'll see from there. If worse comes to worse looks like i'll have to stick it out here a while longer, it's shame really i saw a very nice flat but that looks like i'll have to miss out on it.

Larry

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The agent who manages the property informed me that although the tenant is still within the initial 6 months I (as the landlord) have to take reasonable steps to find another tenant if notice is given. The flat was duly re-advertised by the agent. The tenant was, though, responsible for covering my costs so I don't 'lose out' - in this case this is the landlord's costs for setting up a contract with the new tenant and paying for the inventory (approx £100 from memory).

This is correct. You have to mitigate your loss by finding a replacement tenant and the tenant that left early is only liable for your costs and the rent till the new tenant moves in.

An alternative is that the tenant who's leaving finds a replacement tenant, but in this case the landlord has the right to check them and refuse them if there are reasonable grounds to do so.

The fact she is looking to sell makes no odds.

But if the landlady wants to sell in four months time then that will scupper getting a new tenant in. What tenant would want to move in for a short time? Also the landlady would have to give the new tenant a minimum six months so the sale will be delayed.

Also you do not have to allow prospective buyers/estate agents entry to view while you are still a tenant - this may help your bargaining position as she will have to wait for four months to sell the property

Good point. Good bargaining chip there!

Larry, I'd say you tell the landlady that her intention so sell means she will be unable to mitigate her loss by finding a replacement tenant. Therefore you could argue you are not liable to pay till the end. Get her intention to sell in four months time in writing first.

Edited by Elvis-Has-Sold-The-Building

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How can anyone be expected to ‘be kept’ in a rented property?

“…the agency say that they won’t release me…”

I’d ignore them and go!

I thought that the contracts existed to protect tenants from dodgy landlords.

I can’t imagine a court instructing an ex-tenant to pay for the remaining four months rent.

Surely you can give notice, cancel your direct debit and leave the flat?

Can tenants really be obliged by law to stay and pay?

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Yes.

Quite clearly! Why on earth would you not??? :S

To answer your question, yes you are tied into the contract, simple as. But, there are some ways out. Try searching for "assignment" at www.landlordzone.co.uk, I have posted at length on this matter before. If I can find the post, I'll copy and paste it into these forums for you :)

Edited by MrShed

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Cheers MrShed,

I’d seriously appreciate the information.

Two different friends of mine have needed to move from rented flats.

They had six month AST's but were able to move.

The landlords must have both been the understanding type I guess?

Vacuum.

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As promised, quote from my post:

The simple answer is, no you cannot end the tenancy as such early. However, there are still several options available to you, I shall attempt to detail them below(in order I would do them):

- Check your AST for a break clause. It is quite possible that in a long term contract there may well be such a clause, allowing you to give notice during the tenancy. However, this is still unlikely, but definitely worth checking.

- Negotiate with the landlord. A landlord may be quite receptive to you just sitting, talking to him, and telling him that you would like to leave if possible. They may also be receptive to a financial settlement to break the contract, a couple of months rent may be amenable.

- Give notice and leave. In this situation, you are responsible for the rent still, however the landlord must make every reasonable attempt to find a new tenant, and realistically finding a new tenant should not take any longer than 2 to 3 months - of course depending on the property and the area. I do not think that the notice period would matter, as you are more giving him notice to look for new tenants than giving notice that you are breaking the tenancy and stopping rent payments. But I wait to be corrected on this. However, it is obviously advisable to give as much notice as possible.

- Assignment. As long as it is not prohibited in your AST, you have the right to assign your tenancy to someone else. This means that you can find someone else to take over the tenancy from you, and this cannot reasonably be refused. However, I think they have to pass the same credit checks etc as you did.

- Sublet. Again, as long as it is not prohibited in your AST(most do prohibit it) you can sublet the property to someone else. NB: it is an unfair term to prohibit both assigment and subletting, so if both are, then you can basically choose either, as the terms are null and void.

- Remember that you are only responsible for the rent until a new tenant is installed, and the landlord must make every reasonable effort to mitigate his losses i.e. find a new tenant.

Hope this helps.

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Tell them you're about to be declared bankrupt and that you won't be able to pay the rent. Start to try to negotiate a lower rent with them etc. and see how quickly they want to get you out of there! You might try to throw in squatter's rights while discussing it ;)

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You might try to throw in squatter's rights while discussing it ;)

I'd be interested to know what exactly this would have to do with the situation?

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