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Kagsie
01-03-2007, 12:41 PM
We have been posted abroad and are renting out our house in UK. Our tenants signed up for 6 month AST on 18th Nov but advised end Jan they wanted to move out before the 6 months were up due to "unforeseen circumstances". The property is managed by a letting agent but they are not proactive or "firm". We agreed to release the tenants from the contract early subject to suitable new tenants being found. The agent has specified the terms of this in writing to the tenants including stating that they are liable for the rent and bills up to the date the new tenants move in.

A new tenant has been found and will move in on 4th April. However, the rent due on 18th Feb has not been received from the current tenants. They are still living there. They will also need to pay us on 18th March. The letting agent wrote to the tenants on 28th Feb asking for the overdue rent.

All information posted seems to relate to tenants not paying with more than 2 months to go on the AST so repossession is the main topic. This is not our issue (currently!) as they are due to leave within 2 months so serving a Section 21 seems pointless.

I have a feeling the tenant is not going to pay any more rent and will expect us to simply take money owed from their deposit (this is only one month's rent though so will not cover the debt plus I don't know the state of the property and would expect to have to use some of the deposit for cleaning charges etc.)

Can anyone comment please on our options?

Many thanks

Miffy
02-03-2007, 07:02 AM
I would say that you need to be very careful not to assume anything. Until the tenants hand you the keys back they have not given up the tenancy, so you could still be stuck with them on the date the new tenants are due to move in!

As for the money, I think you could take them to the small claims court (or money claim online) but I am not sure how long that would take. Perhaps threatening to do so might make them pay up?

Worldlife
02-03-2007, 07:38 AM
In my view a formal S21 Notice should be served immediately so as to bring the tenancy to end after 17th May

Have the tenants given you written notice of their intention to leave the property before 4th April.

If they fail to leave even if the S21 Notice has been served you will need to go to Court to get a Possession Order and if they ignore that you will have to go back to Court and get their bailiffs to evict the tenants.


Perhaps others have experience of this situation but I would certainly be worried in these circumstances about issuing new tenancy agreement when repossession could be doubtful. I'm pretty sure that even if the tenant provides you with a letter giving a vacation date a Court would not consider a Possession Order before the end of the fixed term. Don't forget the new tenancy agreement is an enforceable contract.

What are the professional qualifications of your letting agent or to what professional organisations does your letting agent belong. Should you suffer losses as a result of the letting agents incompetence you could make complaint to his professional organisation or use arbitration procedures.

The tenants seem to be "people of straw" and even if you are successful in a County Court claim for rent arrears the enforcement of the claim with people of no fixed abode could be difficult.

Did your letting agent take up references for these tenants? Ask if you can see them.

Beeber
02-03-2007, 07:47 AM
All information posted seems to relate to tenants not paying with more than 2 months to go on the AST so repossession is the main topic. This is not our issue (currently!) as they are due to leave within 2 months so serving a Section 21 seems pointless.


Have you considered that your non-paying tenants with an aversion to payng the rent may also have an aversion to leaving the property when they state?

They have indicated that they intend to leave but perhaps you should prepare for the worst outcome and make sure there's an S21 issued in case you do need to go through the legal repossession process.

Your letting agent has found you unreliable tenants (which happens to even the most professional companies) but are you certain that they undertook thorough screening of those tenants - employer & previous landlord references, credit check, etc? And do your agents belong to a regulatory body as this at least protects landlords from agents that abscond with clients money, etc.

If not, switch to an agency that is less likely to be negligent with tenant verification.

"Remember, you hire an agent to reduce the stress of letting property, not to increase it. If this is not the case, find another agent fast!"

http://www.landlordzone.co.uk/agents.htm

Kagsie
02-03-2007, 11:10 AM
Thanks so much for this advice - no I had not even considered that they might not move out......I will get the agents to issue a section 21 tomorrow for the 17th May so my bases are covered.

The agents are the most reputable in my area and came recommended! They assured me they had taken full references. What I am learning fast is not to take anyone on their word but to check, check and double check!

Thanks again.

Beeber
02-03-2007, 12:27 PM
You haven't had an experience to justify their good reputation so perhaps you should consider taking your business to a regulated agency in future instead!

Did the agency give you a copy of the references and was it a full credit and ID check undertaken or did they just make a few phone calls? Ask for a copy of it or see how they squirm or evade this question.

A comprehensive check undertaken by an agency as detailed here will probably weed out the majority of bad tenants but some will always escape detection beforehand.

https://www.tenantverify.co.uk/comprehensive.htm

tobylaura@btinternet.com
02-03-2007, 16:47 PM
i sympathise with your situation, but, like many L.Ls you cannot assume to use any tenant's deposit for anything other than actual damage caused by them (proven )...especially not cleaning bills, unless the property is in a worse state than at the start of the tenancy.

Worldlife
02-03-2007, 17:21 PM
Thanks so much for this advice - no I had not even considered that they might not move out......I will get the agents to issue a section 21 tomorrow for the 17th May so my bases are covered.

The agents are the most reputable in my area and came recommended! They assured me they had taken full references. What I am learning fast is not to take anyone on their word but to check, check and double check!

Thanks again.

It is possible that the agents may have automatically issued a S21 after the tenancy came into force.

If not their failure to have done so in the present circumstances seems to lack professionalism. As I mentioned in my previous post consider making a complaint to the agent's professional organisation if you suffer losses.

Hope all goes well - please keep us updated

Kagsie
03-03-2007, 02:47 AM
Have covered all the points raised by forum members with the agents so I'm feeling more in control. The tenants have replied wanting rent owed to come out of deposit held so I've said absolutely not! Section 21 is being served and I've asked for copies of the references they took out to check they were done properly.

Thanks again for all advice.