View Full Version : Tenant changed mind after signing agreement and taking posession
06-12-2011, 13:35 PM
This is my first post and I'm a mere novice to the letting business so your advice would be appreciated. I will keep it as brief as possible.
* Lady views property and wishes to rent.
* Tenancy agreement signed and bond and 1st month deposit paid
* Current tenant not moving out until day before new tenant takes over (Big mistake I know!)
* New tenant collects keys and takes posession
* New tenant has concerns with cleanliness
* I visit with new tenant, and whilst I'm sure there have been many worse, I agree to get it recleaned and carpets shampooed. Tenant says thanks for offer but will instead do it herself.
* Tenant calls next day to say no longer wants property can we terminate agreement amicably
* I visit property to see tenant who has not yet moved in, she flips out and starts threatening court action
* After calming, I offer again to re-clean, carpet shampoo and re-paint to try and please, along with 1 weeks rent refund give a bit of time to arrange or I will agree to terminate early for two months notice as it is 3 weeks before Xmas and I would have to pay to re-advertise etc.
* Tenant thanks for offer and says will think about it and call me back.
* I receive a text message the next day saying there is a letter under your door mat! Not sure what was wrong with the postbox!
* Keys returned along with a letter stating if both bond and first months rent are not returned in full then court proceeding will follow in 7 days.
Anyone had anything similar or any pearls of wisdom would be appreciated.
You would almost certainly win any case that followed, she took possession when she took the keys and entered the flat. You have no onus on you to mitigate the debt but it's probably best to try to let it out again. You will need a signed deed of surrender from her before you do.
06-12-2011, 13:54 PM
As JTA says, your tenant is liable until the earlier of:
1) The end of the contract she agreed
2) You let the property to someone else
3) You and the tenant agree a surrender
You must NOT accept the surrender of the tenancy, if you do you cease to be entitled to rent. I am sure her letter is sufficient to be classed as an offer of surrender, and if you re-let the property, that is you accepting the surrender.
Technically, you could leave the property empty and continue as if the tenancy were continuing, and sue at the end of the tenancy for the unpaid rent. That has the disadvantage of having to wait 6 or 12 months and the possibility of T not having sufficient funds to honour any court order.
More practical is to re-let the property ASAP and get someone in who will pay rent. Current tenant owes you until you do though, and there is NO obligation on you to do so.
That raises a question.
If OP wants to be completely safe why can't he get an open ended surrender specifying that it does not come into force until a new tenant has been secured.
06-12-2011, 16:17 PM
Your contract would almost certainly stand up in court.
However, she sounds like a nightmare. You might be better off charging her a small admin fee and letting her go the sooner the better.
06-12-2011, 16:19 PM
IMO a Deed of Surrender cannot be open-ended, it ends the T on date both parties sign it.
I would perhaps reply with
Your T started when you accepted the keys and entered the property on the appointed day specified in the signed AST.
Your T is in the fixed term specified. Therefore I cannot return the deposit as requested and you remain liable for rent for duration of fixed term. I am willing,though not obligated, to find a new T (with your written consent), to release you from our Contract when new T can move in.
Suggest a solic reviews the final draft.
Let T pay Court costs if she is serious.
06-12-2011, 17:44 PM
Have you put bond in any of the deposit protection scheme's yet if not do so now, and my advice would be to let her go asap because she will probably turn out to be a nightmare!
11-12-2011, 15:57 PM
Thanks all for your replies, much appreciated.
11-12-2011, 18:21 PM
That raises a question.
If OP wants to be completely safe why can't he get an open ended surrender specifying that it does not come into force until a new tenant has been secured.My understanding is that an offer to surrender is open ended anyway, the tenant can not impose a specific date. Of course, many do attempt to impose a date but it has no effect because of the contract.
The landlord specifying that the surrender be open ended would certainly aid clarity so could be a good idea, but is not (imho) essential.
Therefore the landlord has an offer, it is up to him if or when he accepts it. In this case, the landlord would accept it by operation of law once the new tenant moves in (providing he had not done so beforehand).
11-12-2011, 19:00 PM
Did you or the LL provide an inventory, a checkin and did the tenant sign the checkin?
mind the gap
11-12-2011, 19:07 PM
But if the LL is not bound to surrender the tenancy 'until suitable new tenants are found and move in', there is no reason why he should stir himself to find any, surely?
Actually,I am not convinced this T did actually move in, as seems to have been assumed.She took the keys - but in OP's #1 he says :
I visit property to see tenant who has not yet moved in, she flips out and starts threatening court action
11-12-2011, 19:32 PM
But if the LL is not bound to surrender the tenancy 'until suitable new tenants are found and move in', there is no reason why he should stir himself to find any, surely?He has no obligation to. There is case law, but my link to it now only works if you have a subscription to the times online newspaper. I don't. Doh!
Actually,I am not convinced this T did actually move in, as seems to have been assumed.She took the keys - but in OP's #1 he says :Valid point - maybe Shiner could clarify the exact sequence of events with particular emphasis on whether the tenant did actually move in. Does accepting the keys and then entering unaccompanied count as 'moving in' or does it actually have to involve moving furniture in, or perhaps staying overnight? I wonder if anyone could express an opinion ;)
12-12-2011, 13:02 PM
I don't think that the fact that T did not actually fully move in means that the tenancy did not start.
She certainly took possession (as evidenced by her having the keys and entering the property) and paid the rent.
"Once a person is given possession (exclusively) of land or property (usually evidenced by possession of the keys) and the owner accepts rent payments, a tenancy comes into existence legally. "
Also perhaps interesting (just found):
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