View Full Version : new tenant has collected keys & cancels
20-09-2006, 14:15 PM
I have a tenant who signed a 12 month agreement in August and was supposed to collect the keys on the 1st september at the start of the tenancy. Keys are kept with the concierge of the building and they had instructions to release the keys to him on the 1st.he failed to collect keys or pay the first months rent and was not contactable for 2 weeks. He then got in touch stating he was in hospital & could not call me. He agreed to pay the rent and I agreed not to charge him any interest on overdue rent if he proved he was in hospital.so he transferred the rent into my account. His story just didn't seem believable in the slightest.
He hadn't returned the inventory to me and we arranged to meet and get the inventory. He didn't turn up and then informed me he wanted to cancel the rent as his mum needed some care and he had to go back and take care of her.
I have subsequently asked him for a letter stating he wants to cancel the contract but he refuses as he says he wants all his money first then he will provide the letter. He says he didn't physically move in so he shouldn't have to pay the rent.
he has just wasted my time as I could have found another tenant and I think I have been very fair in releasing him from the contract. the only money I want to retain is 1 months rent as I have to find another tenant.
He has now threatened that he will go back to the flat and destroy it unless I pay him all his money. I have contacted the police but they are unable to do anything until he actually goes in does any damage. So I basically have to wait for him to damage the place.
I'm not sure where i stand legally. I'm not sure what i should do at all. Am I being fair by keeping a months rent while i find a new tenant? I might not find a tenant by the 1st but all I am charging him is the one moths rent.
Any advice would be much appreciated.
Many thanks on advance.
This is my opinion and i may be wrong
I would do this:
i am not an expert but surely this person is not happy to be there you can not make him no matter what you do. therefore you need to come to a compromise .
you could give him his money back minus something as a compensation to waste of time. if however you do not then even if you legally force him to stay he will still make your life hell by creating many problems in the long term and you will loose at the end.
20-09-2006, 15:06 PM
thanks for reply. I did try that but he is not happy and wants me to refund all of his money which I think is unfair. I was prepared to do this as if I force him to stay then he might damage my brand new flat. I would rather let him go but I want to get teh cancellation letter before releasing any funds to him. He could always turn it around saying I cancelled and then I have no proof. So I wnt tomake sure I'm covered.
20-09-2006, 21:34 PM
What is the notice period of the contract?
Did he pay a deposit and how much is this?
Has he collected the keys from the concierge?
Is he currently living in the property as your post indicates he may not have moved in?
I'm no expert either so will leave it to others much more experienced or qualified to respond but feel the above info would be helpful.
I understand from reading previous posts that if a Landlord agrees to a voluntary cessation of a tenancy agreement prior to the signed period with the tenant, it is not usual for the tenant to pay the cost of the rent until it is re-let and any advertising fees, for example, but it is expected that the Landlord does their best to relet without dragging their feet.
I also feel, it wouldn't hurt you in to record the threats that are made by the (ex) tenant in the event that it does unfortunately result in an incident that requires Police/legal intervention but that's probably just paranoia or over active risk management on my part.
ATI recommends that you reach a compromise. From my perspective, if you are willing to be flexible but the tenant hasn't heeded their responsibilities and wish you to relinquish all your rights to suit them, plus they are not physically present in the property, I would be reluctant to bend over backwards and take all the financial hit and make them feel that threatening behaviour can be rewarded with 'compensation' to them!
But hopefully other posters can give you a 100% legal viewpoint on your best course of action.
20-09-2006, 21:40 PM
Apologies - your subject heading makes clear that the tenant has the keys to the property. It seems they wish to prematurely end the tenancy agreement at no expense to themselves despite the expense and inconvenience it causes you and are prepared to trash your property to get their own way. Good luck - the experts that contribute to the forum are bound to give sound advice.
Out of curiosity, what tenant screening checks did you undertake to ascertain the character of your tenant?
At the very least, you will have learned to not permit the person to sign the tenancy agreement and collect keys to a property without undertaking them and having a fully detailed and signed inventory in place. Landlords who don't have inventories in place leave themselves very vulnerable as this precludes deductions for damage, for example.
21-09-2006, 08:35 AM
A warning from bitter experience. Our (non-paying) tenant said he wished to surrender his tenancy. He wrote to us to say this. A week later he changed his mind. Took legal advice. The "surrender" is not worth the paper it is written on if you are within the initial term of the AST. So, do not give him any money on the strength of a surrender of tenancy letter. He must be out and keys handed over before you hand over the money, or he may "change his mind" again, stay put, not pay you and you will have to wait months to get him out under a section 8.
I think some deductions are reasonable - probably 1 month?
21-09-2006, 09:46 AM
When the keys are handed back and you return the money, change the locks.
21-09-2006, 09:55 AM
Thank you beeber and islandgirl,
I was in such a flap i didn't make my my posting very clear. The tenant didn't actually pick up the keys from the concierge. I did check with them but the keys were not removed. So i guess in his mind he thinks he didn't physically move in so why should he pay any rent.
So to answer Beeber:-
He has not picked up keys or moved in.
the deposit is £950
The notice period is 6 weeks
I did call the police but they were not interested till he actually causes damage and they did not want to record anything. I did however record the conversation i had with the tenant where he was threatening to damage the flat.I also informed the concierge and asked for extra security to patrol around the flat.
I used tenant verify which is recommended here & i have used raeburn before. I always do full searches on tenants but it's no guarantee.
The inventory was quite intense and I gave him CD's as well with numerous pictures as his copy plus the papercopy.I did this as the flat was only built a year ago and is in prsitine condition. He agreed to meet with me and give me the inventory but on the way when i was talking to him he told me he had forgotten to bring it which i thought was just another excuse.
The minute i knew he wanted to cancel I started advertising the property and am conducting viewings.
Thank you for your response. This is my fear actually. He doesn't seem to know what he wants. he does not have keys to the property as he never collected them.he said he didn't collect them because he was in hospital but his story doesn't check out. I have no intention of keeping all of his money. I think it is fair to keep a months rent. if i get someone before the end of the month I will retain less. I'm just a bit worried that when i give him his money back he could come back and say he wants the place again and because he has given me nothing in writing his AST is still valid.So legally where do i stand?
I have been tring to re-let the property but not sure if this is what i should do.If he takes me to court for his one months rent and his AST is still valid and I have no cancellation letter then am I in wrong for re-letting?
21-09-2006, 09:59 AM
He didn't pick up the keys at all according to the concierge. After the threats I asked the concierge not to release the keys to anyone.
It's just a question of what should i do no to protect myself legally and I also want to start getting an income from the property so should i actually let it given that he hasn't given me anything in writting to cancel.
21-09-2006, 10:57 AM
You need to bear in mind that it could be argued that there was never actually any tenancy, despite the signing of the contract, as he has not at any point taken possession of the property...
21-09-2006, 11:18 AM
Mr. Shed - you are right that there was no tenancy and therefore the subject "tenant" could not argue unlawful eviction - but however, there was a contract which has been broken and it is upon that contract that the landlord becomes entitled to damages in respect of its non-performance - after all, the property was reserved for a tenant who then fails to take it up.
21-09-2006, 11:22 AM
Yes indeed DJB - sorry couldnt actually figure out the implications of it, can't think straight this morning! It does mean that there cannot be any comebacks if the OP relet the property. I would just keep the months rent, forget about him and move on. He isn't going to damage the property, it's all hot air. If he does, then you know who it is! Just go to the property, make sure the windows are all closed etc etc, doors locked then don't worry. Bear in mind that you are not technically entitled to the months rent per se - you are entitled to the financial cost of him cancelling the contract which is - any costs incurred to you for setting the tenancy up, and tenancy finding fees. The months rent should just about cover it :)
21-09-2006, 11:32 AM
and for any actual loss of rent though the landlord is under a legal obligation to mitigate this by taking reasonable steps to re-let the property as soon as possible.
21-09-2006, 11:32 AM
It suppose it could be argued but that is no fault of mine. i can't physically force him to move in and it was his choice not to take possession. Then he changed his mind about moving altogether. Surely I can't be made financially responsible for his indecision? or can I?
i just want to make sure I do things the correct way but in the same breath i feel it is unfair that I will have lost out on a months rent.
what is the right thing to do? i also feel bad about taking a months rent and he hasn't been living there.
21-09-2006, 11:35 AM
The right thing to do is to keep the months rent, and just re let forgetting about him - your financial cost will be at least a months rent I would have thought.
22-09-2006, 10:47 AM
I have decided that I will keep a months rent and transfer the rest to him.I'm sure i can get someone in by then end of the month.
23-09-2006, 13:32 PM
As a saftety net, I would suggest getting another inventory done by an independant inventory clerk. That way if there were to be any damage you would have proof of the condition of the property, while the contract is in his name, although if he has no keys he cannot gain access:)
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