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In a long history of renting, this is a new one for me, any hints appreciated! Already planning to talk to Shelter, CAB etc.

Brief facts:

Property rented through agent, AST 12 months with 6 months break, 2 months notice. Agent keeps both tenant and LL signed copies of contract. Rent paid to agent who disburses to LL. 1 year comes and goes with no problems.

Renewal request comes through from agent, saying LL wishes to renew for further 12m AST with small rent increase, I sign and return contract (again, 12m/6m/2m) and increase the monthly payments. At the same time, LL has property valued but claims no intention to sell. Tenany renewal discussed directly with LL. LL neither confirms nor denies renewal.

2 months go by, LL puts property on market. Agent then says tenancy is periodic because landlord did not return signed contract! Agent states that this is because LL was thinking about selling from the time of the renewal!

A periodic tenancy means LL can get me out in a bit over 2 months from now whereas with the renewed AST it would be a bit over 3 months. Makes a big difference to me.

Here are some questions that strike me, sure there are others:

1) Does the change of conditions (increase of rent paid by the tenant in clear expectation of a renewal, and tacitly accepted) imply that this cannot be a Periodic AST?

2) Is the fact that the agent did not inform the tenant that there were difficulties establishing the renewal significant? Or is the onus on the Tenant to not expect that a renewal has happened unless they have a signed contract in their hand? In this case, how does it square with the established pattern of the agent keeping the LL's copy? How is the Tenant therefore expected to know that the renewal has not happened?

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Hi there

Not sure this helps - but until my recent tenancy - when I signed a contract - it was then signed by landlord and a copy sent to me with both signatures.

Until now - I have never had a case over 20 years of renting where I this was not the case.

However, my recent 12 month AST agreement (with no breaks) - I signed on day 1 of moving in but had never read - and was not given a copy to read or time to read it when I moved in. It took over three months to get a copy of the contract I had signed - because the LL changed his mind after I'd moved in, and LA wanted me to change to 6 months.

LA had said initially, LL would sign and I would receive copy of contract with both signatures.

When I said sounds like LL wants to sell LA said no - will renew when he "trusts" me because I was a new tenant. I got shelter on board - and basically they said that because it was a verbal agreement - it still stood no matter what - although it was only a 3rd party, LA, who agreed to the year.

I have never had signed contract - and suspect LL never did sign. Needless to say 7.5 months into agreement - valuers round and property on the market.

However, shelter were clear that the agreement was with the LL and not the lettings agent - so that may be the difference in your case - because you have spoken to the LL and he didn't agree/disagree. May be an issue.

Has your property been sold already - or under exchange of contracts etc?

I have got vast experience of being in whilst LL sells - and agreed with LL (or via LA), saying they get the benefit of rent paid, until the Exchange of contracts - after which I would move out two weeks before final date. Never in writing, only verbally agreed - but did move out then.

One flat - went on the market within my initial 6 months contract (hence why I only do 12 months no break) - but it took over a year to sell from then. Ditto other properties - have always taken longer to sell.

Not sure it helps - but do Shelter - they have an online service - and it's excellent!

I did CAB - and it was a bit hit and miss but they did get me on several occasions, free time with a solicitor for upto 1/2 hour (although all went on longer and I was never charged). I made sure I had already got stage-by-stage written down and supporting documents plus a precis of my case at the beginning of the page.

Have found solicitors like documents - and to read them - rather than you sitting in front of them verbally holding forth (because then they have to take notes - and it's difficult to take notes and form an opinion quickly - within 1/2 hour).

Good luck - and do post back what the end result is - because with the current climate - I'm sure there are many who will benefit from your experience.

Am contacting my MP about this whole thing of LL selling when you are in and have contracts which say you have right to quiet enjoyment.

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Hmm now you got me thinking. I dont think l ever got a copy of the contract signed by the landlord for the last 2 places l've rented including my current one. What does this mean then?? :huh:

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If they are arguing that the LL didnt sign the new contract, then ask the letting agents through what mechanism did he increase the rent? And will they be providing you with copies of it with your signature on because obviousy you would have to have agreed to any increase, which you did through a new AST.

Incidently when was the new AST signed, was it after 5th April this year? This is VERY important.

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if your landlord didn't sign don't you have more rights not less because he has let you live in his house without a contract.... (you can stop paying rent etc etc)..... citizens advice?

Edited by moosetea

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No you have exactly the same rights as if you did sign. A signed document is not necessarily required for an AST to be in place. The landlord has accepted that a new AST is in place by proposing a rent increase within it and then accepting the increased rent from you.

Remeber need to know if the new AST came into place after 5th April this year.

Edited by Planner

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Remeber need to know if the new AST came into place after 5th April this year.

Yes it did.

Shelter's opinion (very helpful and knowledgable they were) was that I have a very strong case that the AST was renewed.

LA said that rent can increase when going from fixed term to periodic. Contrary to my understanding.

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Hi there

Remembered something after I'd posted.

Confirmed by Shelter and a free visit to a solicitor via CAB.

If you are liaising through a third party i.e. Lettings Agent - they are acting on behalf of the Landlord and as such are appointed as representing the LL.

Therefore what they say - equals what the landlord says unless it can be proved they're acting on their own.

This is how I substantiated my case.

LA's in my experience will try and say this is not the case - but in a court case, apparently, it would not hold water but with LA's saying one thing and then another - most tenants back down because they are not aware of this.

Check it out.

Can a LL change the rental agreement from AST to periodic?

I don't know but surely not without your knowledge in advance.

If you find out the real answer, do post back - I'd love to know - not been in this situation myself but am doing a letter to my MP on this whole stuff.

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Can a LL change the rental agreement from AST to periodic?

Not just like that, but ASTs automatically become periodic at the expiry of the fixed term, if no action is taken - neither serving notice nor trying to renew the tenancy. They just roll over under the same terms and conditions, indefinitely.

The point is that in this (my) case, the AST's fixed term was coming up to expiry and so it would have become periodic. But, the LA had said that the LL wanted to create a new fixed term AST, and then accepted a signed contract, tenancy renewal fee and increased rent from me.

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Hi there,

I got the same legal advise from a lawyer as Heather did. If the letting agent said that the Landlord agreed the new contract and it was drawn up and you signed then it is considered as agreed. It does not need the LL signature as the agent is acting on his behalf.

However, in my case we did not get to go to court and argue the case. It's all dependant on what happens in court.

For example you want it to be a AST as you get more notice. The LL needs to get a court order to evict you if you stay after he has served a notice on you. Your argument is that it will not be the right notice at the rght time.

Therefore you end up in court to defend the eviction notice.

Under the new deposit scheme there are added protection if they haven't protected your deposit and given you the information. I don't know how this works as yet.

Good luck.

Kindest regards,

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The reason I asked about the date the new AST started was because your deposit should have been protected, so someone is in trouble.

I think its time for you to start playing hardball with them. A letter to the Letting Agents is what is required stating something like the following;

Thankyou for your letter dated XX September 2007, in which you inform me that while in XXdateXX you sent me a new AST which I promptly signed and returned to enter into a further 12 month fixed term (with 6 month break clause) you are now claiming that this AST is not valid as it was never signed by the Landlord.

You will note that the AST contain provisions for a rent increase, which you will note has been duly paid since xxdatexx. As I am not aware of any further conmmunication from yourself in which I was informed of, and agreed to an increase in the monthly rent for the property at xxaddressxx, I believe that a new 12 month fixed term hs been entered into in accordance with section 20 of the 1988 housing act and therefore canot be periodic as you claim. As yourselves and the Landlord have accepted the new proposed rent for the past xxnumberxx of months, as termed in the new AST, I believe you have no case to claim that this AST is not in force as it wasnt signed by the Landlord as you claim as the Landlord has happily accepted the new rent of the AST and therefore has accepted a new AST has been created wether it is signed or not by him.

I would also draw your attention to the need to ensure my deposit is secure in a tenancy deposit scheme for all new ASTs that began on or after 6th April 2007, and your responsibility to send me the details of the scheme within 14 days.

Unfortunalty I am now left with no alternative but to bring the above to the attention of the county court. I will allow you 7 days to respond to the above before I will impliment legal proceedings against you and your client.

I must insist that all future communication is in writing.

I look forward to your prompt response.

Edited by Planner

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The reason I asked about the date the new AST started was because your deposit should have been protected, so someone is in trouble.

They did send me details of the protection scheme, which just adds more weight to the AST renewal argument. Thanks for the draft though.

I'm hoping that this can be resolved without needing too much hardball, I'm just interested in my options should the worst case happen.

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They did send me details of the protection scheme, which just adds more weight to the AST renewal argument. Thanks for the draft though.

I'm hoping that this can be resolved without needing too much hardball, I'm just interested in my options should the worst case happen.

If you use the letter above, make sure you spell "impliment" properly.

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As they have sent you details of the deposit scheme they dont have a leg to stand on. TDS is only a requirement for new ASTs IMPLIMENTED (Surfcat) after 5th April 2007.

I think you need to do something to make it clear to the Agents that a new AST is in place and the earliest you can be asked to leave is if correct notice to IMPLIMENT(Surfcat) the breakclause is given by the LL/Agents.

Surfcat - would you mind checking spelling/grammer on that for me. As you obviously have no useful advice you might as well contribute this way. :P

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Its up to you, but personally I would turn round and say 'Periodic eh? Now I'm giving you 1 months notice I'm moving out'.

Hopefully he will then have to cover the void -- and with luck the sale will fall through! :D

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The reason I asked about the date the new AST started was because your deposit should have been protected, so someone is in trouble.

I think its time for you to start playing hardball with them. A letter to the Letting Agents is what is required stating something like the following;

Thankyou for your letter dated XX September 2007, in which you inform me that while in XXdateXX you sent me a new AST which I promptly signed and returned to enter into a further 12 month fixed term (with 6 month break clause) you are now claiming that this AST is not valid as it was never signed by the Landlord.

You will note that the AST contain provisions for a rent increase, which you will note has been duly paid since xxdatexx. As I am not aware of any further conmmunication from yourself in which I was informed of, and agreed to an increase in the monthly rent for the property at xxaddressxx, I believe that a new 12 month fixed term hs been entered into in accordance with section 20 of the 1988 housing act and therefore canot be periodic as you claim. As yourselves and the Landlord have accepted the new proposed rent for the past xxnumberxx of months, as termed in the new AST, I believe you have no case to claim that this AST is not in force as it wasnt signed by the Landlord as you claim as the Landlord has happily accepted the new rent of the AST and therefore has accepted a new AST has been created wether it is signed or not by him.

I would also draw your attention to the need to ensure my deposit is secure in a tenancy deposit scheme for all new ASTs that began on or after 6th April 2007, and your responsibility to send me the details of the scheme within 14 days.

Unfortunalty I am now left with no alternative but to bring the above to the attention of the county court. I will allow you 7 days to respond to the above before I will impliment legal proceedings against you and your client.

I must insist that all future communication is in writing.

I look forward to your prompt response.

Brilliant letter Planner. You could charge for that you know.

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I'd guess that the combination of accepting the rent increase and providing details of the deposit holder is all the evidence needed to show that a new AST does exist: it's just a question of whether they're prepared to argue the toss in front of a judge.

The moral of the story, though, is to keep everything in writing and in your possession at every stage of the process.

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