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pj_smith
01-03-2007, 16:23 PM
Hi,

I wonder if someone can advise. I am a UK tenant on a fixed term 6 month letting agreement that reverts to a standard shorthold agreement after the 6 months is up with full rental months notice from my side.

Today is 1st March 2007 and I intend to serve notice tomorrow as we have purchased a house (exchaning tomorrow) and will complete on 23rd March.

I need to give 2 full rental months notice up to the 6 months which ends on 5th April. ie I would have needed to give 2 months notice on 5th Febuary to end it on 5th April.

The letting agent holds 1.5 months as a deposit and they seem to be quite a big and officious company (not a back street organisation).

I would like to know where I stand in the following respect considering we are handing back the property on 23rd March but I think we need to pay up to 5th May.

1) I understand that if they find a new tenant that can move in before 5th May then they must reimburse me rental pro-rata from the date the new tenants move in.

2) If the letting agent does not market the property immediately on reciept of my quitting letter can I claw any money back as I belive they are obliged to try and find a replacement as soon as possible.

3) What if the landlord wants to do repairs and improvements after the 23rd March. Is he allowed to do so while I am paying rent on the property even though I have left? If not then what if he says to the letting agent to sit on it until 5th May and then he decides to sell/renovate etc. Is this fair?

4) What if he decides to sell the property and the property is therefore not marketed?

5) What if he asks for a very high rent that will make it impossible for the letting agent to find somone quickly?

6) As we are moving out on 23rd and the full inventory check will take place on 24th is it reasonable to expect the landlord (after any reasonable deductions - which I expect there will be none) to return my deposit immediately assuming I am paid up until 5th May. At the moment we are paid up until 5th April but do not really want to shell out any more rental money than legelly necessary.

I am a fair person and I know the landlord needs to make his money so I don't want to push for anything underhand - I just want to know what is reasonable and legally defensible.

Many thanks for the help, I really appreciate it.

Below is the letter I have drafted for the agent - am I wasting my time with all the comments etc.


------------------------------ Draft Letter Below ---------------------------

2nd March 2007

Dear Sir/Madam

Re: Termination of Rental Agreement for xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

We have now found a property to buy and have exchanged contracts today (Friday 2nd March 2007) and therefore give notice of our intention to terminate our rental of the above property.

We understand that we need to give the appropriate notice period as laid out in the agreement but would like to point out that we intend to hand the property back in to your care at 4pm on Friday 23rd March 2007 as this is the day after we physically move out. This will give us time to fully clean the property and leave it in good condition as well as allowing a time slot for check-out.

Can you please try to find another tenant as soon as possible after this date so as to minimise the costs to us of paying rental on a vacant property. We trust that the property will be actively marketed immediately and we are more than happy for viewings to take place as soon as possible. If it is not marketed immediately then I hope we will be recompensed for any delay. As you will appreciate we really need keep a tight reign on this as we now have major financial commitments on the new property and we have virtually no spare money available. If the landlord chooses to make alternative use of the property (e.g. marketing the property for sale / building works / replacing windows and the like) then we trust this will be at his own cost and not while we are still paying rent on the vacant property. I am sure we can come to a mutually beneficial arrangement.

We would like to arrange the formal check-out to take place on Friday 23rd March 2007 at approximately 4pm as we obviously would need to be present. If this is not possible then can you please let us know as soon as possible as the following week we are very busy with new employment. We will need most of the day of the 23rd to actually do the cleaning post removals.



Yours sincerely,

xxxxxxxxxxxx

Tweedle Dum
01-03-2007, 18:00 PM
Hi, if you are still within a fixed term agreement then you can vacate on the last day of the agreement without giving any notice at all.If you are within a fixed term terminating on 5th April then you can leave on that date if you wish without giving any notice and you are only liable for the rent upto that date.

Bel
01-03-2007, 22:12 PM
I agree with tweedle.

Just pay to the end of the tenancy fixed term. Tell her that you do not need to give proper notice if you only stay for the fixed term (n.b. but not a day over). Tell her your intentions by all means; but this is only courtesy on your part.
You must pay for the whole of the fixed term; the property will still legally be in your possession, even if you are away. She should not enter without your permission.
You could say that you will surrender the tenacy by giving her the keys a few days early if she hands over the deposit, then she can get it ready for the next tenants sooner. Keep the keys until you get the deposit or reach the end of the fixed term; which ever comes first.
As long as there is no damage and the place is clean, you are entitled to get the deposit back even if she refuses to go for the trade. It just might take longer if she feels agrieved by your insubordination!!

pj_smith
02-03-2007, 08:00 AM
Hi There,

The tenancy is an Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement with the following on the front page. Also below this is the section entitiled NOTICES. So now I am a bit confused. Apologoes for this as this is my first rental. What I read from it is that I have to give 2 months notice to quit right up to 5th April and after that I have to give 1 months notice.

Am I wrong?

I appreciate your help and expertise.

Cheers,

Paul

--------------------------------------------------------------------------
THIS AGREEMENT is made on the date specified below BETWEEN the Landlord and the Tenant. It is intended that the

tenancy created by this Agreement is and shall be an assured shorthold tenancy within the meaning of the Housing Acts


Note: Under s. 48, Landlord and Tenant Act 1987, notices can be served on the Landlord at the above address

Tenant(s): Mr xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Property: The dwelling known as:

15 xxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Contents: The fixtures and fittings at the Property together with any furniture, carpetc, curtains and other effects listed in the Inventory

Term: For the term of six months

commencing on and includIng 05 October 2006 through to and including 04 April 2007

Rent: £xxxx.xx

Payment: in advance before the tenancy start date

Deposit: A deposit of £xxxx.xx is payable on signing this Agreement and will be held by John Mortimer
Property Management Ltd as Stakeholder

I. The Landlord agrees to let and the Tenant agrees to take the Property and Contents for the Term at the Rent payable as above
2. The Tenant pays the Deposit as security for the performance of the Tenant’s obligations and to pay and compensate the Landlord for the reasonable costs of any breach of those obligations. It is specifically agreed that this money is not to be used by the Tenant as payment for any rent due under this agreement. No interest shall be payable on this Deposit. The balance of the Deposit to be paid to the Tenant as soon as possible after the conclusion of the tenancy, less any reasonable costs incurred for the breach of any obligation

The Tenant agrees with the Landlord:

3. Rent & charges

(3.1) Not used



(3.2) To pay promptly to the authorities to whom they are due, council tax, water and sewerage charges, gas, electric
and telephone (if any) relating to the Property, where they are incurred during the period of the agreement,
including any which are imposed after the date of this Agreement (even if of a novel nature) and to pay the total
cost of any re-connection fee relating to the supply of water, gas, electricity and telephone if the same is
disconnected. The Tenant agrees to notify the Landlord prior to changing supplier for any of the utility services
stated above

(3.3) That in the case ofa breach of the terms of the tenancy by the Tenant, a reasonable administration charge maybe made in addition to the costs of any remedial work, in order to compensate the Landlord or Agent his reasonable expenses

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

NOTICES

20. It is agreed that after an initial period of four months, TWO COMPLETE RENTAL MONTHS NOTICE in writing to the Landlords Managing Agent may be served by either party to terminate this Agreement.

21. It is agreed that both parties will ensure that any notice is an original signed letter and sent to the Agent ensuring adequate
delivery time by Registered Post, Guaranteed Next Day Delivery, 1st Class post or is delivered by hand.

22. It is agreed that if notice from either party is not received by the Agent the tenancy will become a Statutory Periodic Tenancy and WILL CONTINUE ON THE SAME TERMS FROM ONE COMPLETE RENT PERIOD TO
ANOTHER. Statutory notice periods will apply.

Tweedle Dum
02-03-2007, 08:26 AM
The fact remains that you can quit the tenancy on the last day of the fixed term without giving any notice at all.You are not legally bound to give any notice whatsoever regardless of any clauses they insert into the agreement.

pj_smith
02-03-2007, 09:12 AM
Okay Tweedle Dum - that is good news from my point of view. The problem is that the letting agent are telling me otherwise.

Is there a term / wording I can quote to them to reinforce this assertation? e.g. According to the xxxxx act 19xx under sub section 5 of clause 1 I am xxxxxxxxxxx

I really appreciate your help.

Paul

Beeber
02-03-2007, 09:21 AM
Well, you can direct them to the Shelter website for a start or contact them on their free advice line to see if they can quote you the particular regulation or law that covers that

What happens when my agreement runs out?

"If your agreement is for a fixed term (eg. six months), you can leave on the last day of the fixed term without giving notice...

If you intend to leave on the last day you are not legally required to give the landlord any notice, but it's usually a good idea to do so, to avoid any dispute about when you actually left".

http://england.shelter.org.uk/advice/advice-3145.cfm#wipLive-14092-4

When does your fixed term agreement actually end and when are you intending to leave? I don't understand from the information provided whether you are within this fixed term or whether it has (or will) lapse before you leave and become a periodic agreement.

pj_smith
02-03-2007, 09:46 AM
Hi,

thanks for that.

The fixed term ends on 5th April and we intend to leave on 23rd March.

Does the "2 months notice" clause mean nothing then?

thanks.
Paul

UKLandlord1000
02-03-2007, 09:57 AM
Hi,

thanks for that.

The fixed term ends on 5th April and we intend to leave on 23rd March.

Does the "2 months notice" clause mean nothing then?

thanks.
Paul

The fixed term actually ends on April 4th, not the 5th and I believe that the "2 months notice" clause would be unenforceable by the landlord.

pj_smith
02-03-2007, 10:13 AM
Great stuff. This could save me £1400!

Thanks so much to all for their advice and opinions. I will follow this up with "Shelter" and I can then use their name in my letter.

I think it is still "nice" and "fair" to give as much notice as possible so I will do that unless you advise otherwise. I will give notice later today (hopefully if we actuall exchange on our house purchase) and give them notice that I intend to end on 4th April. I will then pick up the cost from 23rd March - 4th April (unless they find somone else and they move in on 24th March - unlikely).

Paul

UKLandlord1000
02-03-2007, 10:24 AM
Great stuff. This could save me £1400!

Thanks so much to all for their advice and opinions. I will follow this up with "Shelter" and I can then use their name in my letter.

I think it is still "nice" and "fair" to give as much notice as possible so I will do that unless you advise otherwise. I will give notice later today (hopefully if we actuall exchange on our house purchase) and give them notice that I intend to end on 4th April. I will then pick up the cost from 23rd March - 4th April (unless they find somone else and they move in on 24th March - unlikely).

Paul

Yes definitely best to advise them of your departure date.

Ruth Less
02-03-2007, 21:07 PM
Also the Office of Fair Trading, see OFT356:

Page 35, Section 3.78.

Notice not required for fixed term agreements

3.78 A tenant is not required to give notice to bring the tenancy to an end at the end of the fixed term. That is because a fixed term agreement comes to an end at the end of the fixed term, and no periodic tenancy will arise if the tenant then leaves. We appreciate that landlords will want to ensure that their properties are not left empty between tenancies, but object to terms that impose a contractual obligation on the tenant to give notice in order for the tenancy to be terminated at the end of the fixed term. This could allow the landlord to impose a substantial financial penalty on tenants who do not realise that notice is not required, by requiring them to pay rent for a period after the end of the fixed term. Terms such as this are not necessary to protect landlords from the possibility that their property will be left empty, as the law allows landlords to recover possession at the end of the fixed term by serving at least two months' notice, and they could do so where their current tenant fails to indicate when asked whether they intend to stay on. The landlord and tenant could of course still agree to a renewal of the tenancy even after such notice was served.

http://www.oft.gov.uk/advice_and_resources/publications/guidance/unfair-terms-consumer/oft356

Bel
02-03-2007, 23:12 PM
Okay Tweedle Dum - that is good news from my point of view. The problem is that the letting agent are telling me otherwise.





The problem is that bullies are not right, they are just more forceful.

Or it could be they just don't have a clue about tenants rights !!

A good link by Ruth Less, by the way.

Miffy
03-03-2007, 06:35 AM
I think it is still "nice" and "fair" to give as much notice as possible so I will do that unless you advise otherwise. I will give notice later today (hopefully if we actuall exchange on our house purchase) and give them notice that I intend to end on 4th April. I will then pick up the cost from 23rd March - 4th April (unless they find somone else and they move in on 24th March - unlikely).

Paul

Don't worry, you are both morally and legally in the right. A month's notice is plenty and you are fulfilling your minimum fixed term. The overlap could even be useful to you to lessen the stress of the move and let you properly prepare your new place.

Ruthless -It would seem a bit much to just up & leave on the end of the fixed term without informing anyone, although one could do so legally as long as there is no debate about whether one had actually stayed longer and made it a periodic tenancy. On this note, how can the tenant be sure that they can hand the keys back (thus bringing the tenancy to an end) if they don't make arrangements in advance to meet the LL?

Worldlife
03-03-2007, 06:58 AM
Good point Miffy - it is very important to meet the landlord/agent at the property for a final inspection to agree condition and meter readings etc and to hand over the keys.

This just requires a letter suggesting the time and date for the handover and not a formal notice.

Ruth Less
03-03-2007, 15:36 PM
Ruthless -It would seem a bit much to just up & leave on the end of the fixed term without informing anyone, although one could do so legally as long as there is no debate about whether one had actually stayed longer and made it a periodic tenancy.

Miffy, of course you've got to tell the landlord and hand back the keys, it needs to be clear you've gone. The point is there is no need to give notice so you can't be charged rent due to a lack of notice. The text is an exact quote of the OFT document in case it wasn't clear. Personally I would want to arrange and be present at a checkout with the landlord/agent if there was time to arrange this.

pj_smith
03-03-2007, 16:16 PM
Thanks everyone.

I just got word back from the solicitors at "Shelter" who (shelter) have been superb and really helpful. A donation will be on its way to them!

They have confirmed that the notice period may possibly be "unfair" according to the OFT (as above in the paragraph from the OFT publication).

What to do - that's the question? I have now served my notice giving 1 month's notice and have also pointed out that I think the notice is unfair. I ahve also offered to leave on 23rd March if the landlord agrees not to try to charge me any rent beyond 4th April. this gives him two free weeks of the property to do with it what he pleases. I have told them I will vacate on 4th April at the end of the fixed term. I have told them that I do not want the agreement to revert to a statuatory periodic tenancy (as it states this will happen if "notice" is not served).

the notice clause is prescisely as follows:

"It is agreed that after an initial period of four months, TWO COMPLETE RENTAL MONTHS NOTICE in writing to the landlords managing agent may be served by either party to end the agreement"

Note the word "may" - not "must" ??? Interesting......

also the first page of the agreement states in the "General Notes":

"This agreement has been drawn up after consideration of the Office of Fair Trading guidance on Unfair Tems in Tenancy Agreements".

Well....... How so? If it was then a term that the OFT say is potentially unfair surely would not have been included. This tells me that they put a potentially unfair term in their contract with both eyes open and it was not just an oversight!!! or ..... they have cocked up big time..... or they are chancing their arm as 90% of people would comply.

The problem is. What do I do. They say verbally I owe them £1400 for 1 months rent (subject to a reply to my notice to quit). They also hold £2100 as a deposit to be used to compenste the landlord for "reasonable costs for any breach".

I suspect they will return my deposit minus the £1400 and wait for me to sue them. If I lose then I will have to pay their costs and mine.

Anyone any idea of their likely costs in the small claims court? Also, anyone aware of any legal prescident for this situation that I can quote to them. Courts like prescident don't they!!

Are there any "no win no fee" type deals out their for this kind of thing?

I do have DAS legal protection in my home insurance so I guess I could try them. Better get in touch with them on Monday.


Cheers,

Paul