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bbanyard
18-09-2006, 12:05 PM
My previous property rental, where I lived for three and a half years - had run out after the initial fixed term and had therefore become a periodic tenancy.

Was my landlord therefore legally in the right to insist that I should give two month's notice (as per my original - but lapsed - contract) or should this actually only have been one month?

I have found some info on this website which seems to agree with this point, but it also says that "the tenancy will be on the same basis as the original agreement, with all the same clauses and conditions being operative". Does this mean everything EXCEPT the notice period?

I'm asking this as my landlord was uncommunicative after I moved out and is now withholding some of my desposit because she claims I did not give sufficient notice according to my original contract. I am considering legal action via the small claims court.

Ericthelobster
18-09-2006, 12:17 PM
Yes, one months' notice from the tenant is all that's required (and two months from the LL).

Surrey
18-09-2006, 12:27 PM
Yes, one months' notice from the tenant is all that's required (and two months from the LL).

But isn't that one month ending on the last day of a rental period? So if your normal rental period is 4th of the month to 3rd of the next month, then you have to give notice that your last day will be the 3rd of a month. So if you decide on 6th of August that you want to leave, you can't leave on 3rd September as that would be less than a month, you'd have to leave on 3rd October.

I'm sure someone will either confirm what I've said or correct me...

bbanyard
18-09-2006, 13:16 PM
My problem is that I gave notice much earlier than I would have done had I known my rights - and also that the agency from whom I was renting are very poorly organised so they didn't actually tell me they were withholding some of my deposit until three weeks after I had moved out and returned the keys! Would the fact that none of this was notified in writing go in my favour?

Surrey
18-09-2006, 13:35 PM
My problem is that I gave notice much earlier than I would have done had I known my rights - and also that the agency from whom I was renting are very poorly organised so they didn't actually tell me they were withholding some of my deposit until three weeks after I had moved out and returned the keys! Would the fact that none of this was notified in writing go in my favour?

What did the agency say they were withholding the deposit for and did they put it in writing? Was it against an agreed (and signed) inventory or are they saying it's for breach of one of the clauses in your original tenancy agreement?
When you gave your notice, did you do so in writing?
I don't see what the problem is with you giving MORE notice than you were obliged to, that certainly doesn't seem like a reason to withhold your deposit!

bbanyard
18-09-2006, 15:08 PM
OK - probably sounds more complicated than it actually is but here we go:

With our property purchase seemingly drawing to a conclusion I called the landlord on 20th June to enquire about giving notice. I was told that it was two months and therefore e-mailed them the same day to give notice, but said that we would probably move out before the end of July. I received a reply a few days later acknowledging this and saying that until I could confirm otherwise, they would work to 20th August being the official end of our tenancy.

A couple of days later the agency called me at work and asked if someone could look around at 5pm that day. Since we wanted to appear as flexible and accommodating as possible, and because the prospective tenants were from overseas and could only make that day, my partner left work early and went home to make sure that the house was spick and span. When we heard that these people wanted to take the house we were delighted, since the landlord had said that if they could find someone quickly to replace us they could be flexible on the two months.

On 21st July I e-mailed the landlord to say that we would definitely be moving out on 31st July, and I confirmed that I had cancelled the direct debit for the rent payments, reasoning that if we were out at the end of one rental period there would be no more rent due. In hindsight I wish I had pressed for confirmation of this....

On 31st July I dropped the keys back at the office of the agency. The woman who was working there that day seemed confused but when I reminded her that I had e-mailed to confirm that 31st would be our final day the penny dropped. I enquired about the return of the deposit and she confirmed that I could receive it back within four weeks.

On 20th August I receive a phone call at work from the office manager at the agency, asking whether we had returned our keys to the property....rather confused, I said that I had dropped the keys in on 31st July. I then asked when I would get the deposit back, but was told that this would not be returned until four weeks after the so-called "official" end to our tenancy, coincidentally that same day. She then dropped the bombshell that they would be taking three weeks (ie 1st Aug - 20th Aug) out of our deposit to cover the outstanding rent.

My contention was that this was never clearly communicated and I had very little in writing to back it up. I wrote to them again, saying that we had been good tenants for three and a half years and hoping that we could resolve the dispute amicably.

When they stood their ground, I took advice from the Tenancy Liaison Office at Bristol City Council, who told me that two months' notice for a statutory periodic tenancy was illegal.

Had I known this at the time (ie that only a month's notice was actually required) I wouldn't now be in this mess. I realise that this is a slightly contentious issue, but we still believe we are in the right, purely because nothing was ever made clear by our landlord, and nothing was ever communicated in writing.

Does anyone else out there have any thoughts, or experience of problems like this? Many thanks to those who have responded so far!

Surrey
18-09-2006, 22:47 PM
It does appear at first glance that neither you, the landlord or the agent have got things quite right, but as ever the devil is in the detail.

What date of the month did the original term of your tenancy end? This is the key question regarding when you ought to have given notice.

Let's have that answer then we can carry on the discussion.

bbanyard
19-09-2006, 08:02 AM
My rent was payable on the first date of each month, so if I was looking to leave on 31st July (which was our intention before we were told that the notice period was two months) presumably we should have handed our notice in on 30th June? Or 29th June to be on the safe side?

For clarification, the landlord and the agency are one in the same - they own around 50 properties which they maintain and rent to tenants.

justaboutsane
19-09-2006, 09:00 AM
As far as I can see you did the right thing. You gave Notice earlier than needed and you left the day before rent was due over 1 month later. Did you get a reciept or anything in writing to say you had handed the keys in?

I would be writing a strong letter stating these facts and demanding your monies back!

bbanyard
19-09-2006, 09:34 AM
Strong letter written....reply received...(essentially "talk to the hand"...:( )...three weeks deducted from the deposit. Basically they have now told me that if I want to pursue it I should direct any correspondence to their solicitor.

We're currently trying to get hold of the local Citizen's Advice Bureau (Bristol office) but without success as they can't have many volunteers manning the phones and they don't accept queries via e-mail. I think we're just going to have to send them an old-fashioned letter via snail mail.

We're determined not to let this rest - if anything there's a principle at stake and we are convinced that as well as being illegal, our landlord's actions are immoral. Taking this money from us is theft, and to add insult to injury we now have a battle on our hands to get it back!

MrShed
19-09-2006, 10:07 AM
Just take them to small claims www.moneyclaim.gov.uk I think is the link! CAB are worse than useless in this situation I'm afraid - at least in my experience.

justaboutsane
19-09-2006, 10:09 AM
To be honest I would avoid Bristol CAB.. in my opinion they are a waste of space! .. My sister had her deposit withheld by her LL in Feb this year CAB have had her sending letter after letter! All they would say was well it goes in your favour if you tried to avoid court! .. Go to Moneyclaim online and apply that way, yes it costs about £80 but you can claim that back along with Interest on the money miossing from your deposit!

My ID may say I am a Stokie.. but I am Bristol born and bred! Good luck.

Surrey
19-09-2006, 10:45 AM
Have they ONLY claimed the missing rent? Have they made ANY comment about the condition of the property? By your post it doesn't sound like it.

Can I suggest that as a final attempt to resolve this without going to court you complete a form N1 (general claim form), print it out, send a copy of it to the agent/LL with a covering letter to inform them that unless they return the balance of your deposit within 7 days you will start the claim detailed on the enclosed form N1. Do point out that when the claim is successful they will also be liable for the court fee plus interest on the amount owed from the day it became due (31st July by my reckoning), so in the interest of saving themselves any further expense and hassle they should just cough!

Best is to avoid the courts if at all possible - court is a total pain in the backside so do try one last time to get it back. At least if you have already prepared the claim form they will see that you are REALLY serious.

bbanyard
19-09-2006, 10:57 AM
Yes - the cheque and letter we received recently implies that all is well with the property itself and that all they are deducting is three weeks of rent.

We are going to make one final attempt to reason with them by sending them a copy of some info I printed out from this website. If we get no joy from that I will fill in the form you suggested....

So grateful for all of this support from you all - very kind!

By the way - your thoughts on Bristol CAB are completely accurate - my girlfriend has spoken to them today and they insist that seeing as the notice period stipulated in the original contract was two months, then this is what we have to abide by! WRONG!

Surrey
19-09-2006, 11:12 AM
...We are going to make one final attempt to reason with them by sending them a copy of some info I printed out from this website. If we get no joy from that I will fill in the form you suggested...

Why waste more days and the cost of a stamp? Send both the info you suggest AND the form in the same envelope - hit them with both barrels!

bbanyard
26-09-2006, 15:47 PM
Just a quick update to this query - this is the wording I've found on my contract which covers the issue of the notice period - am I still bound by this even in a periodic tenancy? It seems very woolly!

“The Landlord or the Tenant must give the other a two months’ notice in writing to take effect after the initial term.”

Ericthelobster
26-09-2006, 16:37 PM
Just a quick update to this query - this is the wording I've found on my contract which covers the issue of the notice period - am I still bound by this even in a periodic tenancy? It seems very woolly!

“The Landlord or the Tenant must give the other a two months’ notice in writing to take effect after the initial term.”

No, I already answered this in the very first response to your original query!

RichieP
26-09-2006, 19:22 PM
Just to support what Eric says, just sticking something in an AST doesn't mean it overrides your statutory rights.

bbanyard
27-09-2006, 08:06 AM
No, I already answered this in the very first response to your original query!

Not quite the same thing - I thought I'd post the actual text of the contract here to see if it makes any difference - it's the "after the initial term" gubbins that's bothering me!

Surrey
27-09-2006, 08:33 AM
It could be that your initial term was only 6 months, in which case the clause wouldn't be wrong, as you would have to give 2 months' notice ending after 6 months. That doesn't change what happens now though, which is that you have to give one month ending on the last day of a rental period, landlord has to give two.