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View Full Version : Landlady has breached contract, so can I withhold rent?



Neon_Black
12-07-2011, 16:36 PM
Hi

I rent a one bedroom flat under an AST, but two months ago I moved into my girlfriend's property. I still have two months to go until my contract at the flat ends, so I'm still paying my rent, and I pop back every now and then to collect my property and make sure everything's ok.

I hadn't told my landlady of my new arrangements, since I assumed it was none of her business. But a few weeks ago I noticed that someone - I'm guessing the landlady had let themselves in and left two windows ajar. I closed them, fearing that the property which I am storing in the flat might be stolen, but I came back last weekend to see she has done it again.

The contract we both signed states that she needs to give me two days notice if she wants to inspect the property, and I have received no such notice on either occasion. Can I legitimately withhold my rent now, and if so, how should I go about it?

Editor
12-07-2011, 16:55 PM
You are not entitled to withhold rent.
If indeed it was your landlady who entered the flat without notice or permission then she is in the wrong and could be commiting an offence, but this in itself does not entitle you to withold rent.
In fact you yourself could be breaching your contract through:
1 - leaving the property vacant without notifying the landlady. You could render the property insurance void if the insurance company have not been informed.
2 - An assured shorthold tenancy depends on the rental being the tenant's main residence - obviously in this case it is not. This has financial implications for the landlord.
3 - The landlord can apply to the court (2 weeks' notice) to end your tenancy under ground 12 - Housing Act 1988

westminster
12-07-2011, 17:53 PM
Although the LL (or her agent) may have entered without your consent, it may not be a breach of quiet enjoyment since you don't actually live at the property. It might be, as Editor suggests, an offence of some kind - perhaps trespass, I don't know - but whatever it is it is very minor, you've suffered no loss as a consequence, and it certainly doesn't entitle you to withhold the rent due under the terms of the contract.

As the Editor says, you're most likely in [more serious] breach of contract by failing to occupy the property. You should inform the LL that you've moved out so that she can take any necessary steps to protect her position. She may even be willing to agree an early surrender.

westminster
12-07-2011, 17:54 PM
2 - An assured shorthold tenancy depends on the rental being the tenant's main residence - obviously in this case it is not. This has financial implications for the landlord.
3 - The landlord can apply to the court (2 weeks' notice) to end your tenancy under ground 12 - Housing Act 1988
These two points are contradictory. If it is no longer an assured [shorthold] tenancy then Housing Act 1988 does not apply.

Editor
12-07-2011, 18:16 PM
Quite right Westminster - it's a common law tenancy so landlay can go for forfeiture.