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Oct, 2014

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  1. #1

    Default Signature on Tenancy Agreement

    I rent out a property to 4 students (one of whom is my son).

    On the 10th April, new individual tenancy agreements (for the academic year 05/06) were issued and hand delivered. I issued new tenancy agreements (to replace the existing ones when they expired) due to a small rent increase. This rise had been previously discussed and all had indicated their desire to remain in the property.

    The new tenancy agreements (two copies) had been signed by myself and independently witnessed and the covering letter from me asked that they sign both copies, retain one and return the other to me "as soon as possible". I live 250 miles away. A 'polite reminder' was issued by email on the 25th April asking for them to return the signed tenancy agreement at the earliest opportunity.

    I have still to get a response from two of the tenants. On the 3rd May I made a formal request for the return of the signed tenancy agreement. I stated that it was a very important legal document that contractually binds both them and myself (the landlord) to certain conditions. I said that failure on their part to provide a signature would invalidate the new tenancy agreement and would therefore no longer guarantee their continued stay at the house.

    I further stated that I would be grateful if this documentation could be returned to me by Thursday 12th May (in 3 days time). Todate I have received nought!! I said that if they had a problem with this then they should ring me to discuss. I have heard nothing!! In the absence of the signed tenancy agreement by the due date I then said that I would assume they wanted to find alternative accommodation for the next academic year and I would be at liberty therefore to look for new tenants.

    Am I being unreasonable?

    If I don't hear from them by the 12th May, do I have to do anything. Their current tenancy agreement expires on the 31st July or do I need to issue them with notice to quit regardless.

    Please don't flame me for my ignorance (I realise that already) but buying a property was not meant as an investment for myself... more a means to help my son (who is a medic) clear his debts at the end of his course.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Hampshire
    Posts
    6,111

    Angry Need MUCH more information!

    1. Are the original individual AST's signed by you as well as the tenants or do you have one signed by each tenant and they have a separate copy signed by you?
    2. You must serve a correct verison of a S.21 Notice on each tenant to bring the tenancies to an end and it MUST be unconditional (Don't offer any of them a new AST, the tenants MUST request one otherwise you invalidate the S.21 Notices) - that's when you can introduce any proposed rent increase so that they are able to decline if they so wish.
    3. Witness signatures are not required on any tenancy agreements of less than 3 years duration, but it doesn't matter if you have them.


    I understand your wanting to "tie-up" things before then end of the academic year but getting everything right is I'm afraid fraught with legalities upon which you can easily slip-up.

    I can see you are asking your tenants to respond but students are not known for being pro-active!

  3. #3

    Default

    Paul,

    Reponding sheepishly...

    Are the original individual AST's signed by you as well as the tenants or do you have one signed by each tenant and they have a separate copy signed by you?
    The original 'individual' AST's (4 agreements) are signed by both parties... myself (the landlord) and each student (the tenant).

    In respect of the new AST's - again, all four have their own individual AST. Once it had been drawn up I gave them two copies each. Both copies of the AST (per tenant) were signed by myself (and witnessed... unnecessarily it would seem). My problem has been that they hadn't returned a copy to me with their own signature on and I have been trying to chase it up. As of today I have now heard back from 3 of the students who have returned a signed copy - only one is outstanding - but I understand "it is in the post" and should be with me by tomorrow.

    You must serve a correct verison of a S.21 Notice on each tenant to bring the tenancies to an end and it MUST be unconditional (Don't offer any of them a new AST, the tenants MUST request one otherwise you invalidate the S.21 Notices) - that's when you can introduce any proposed rent increase so that they are able to decline if they so wish.
    Wiping her sweaty brow wondering if she has made a complete mess of things now. Let me say at the outset, I don't want to get rid of my tenants. They are good kids. We all (the students and I) had a discussion about the rent increase (on account of the fact I was actually making a monthly loss... it doesn't help, of course that I am also paying my son's rent on the property) and my tenants all agreed to a small rent increase. They each confirmed this in writing. It was at this point that I issued new ASTs (to commence on 1st August) working on the basis that these would take effect when the old ones expired on 31st July.

    I've effectively already offered (and given them) new ASTs. I'm just waiting for the final signature. No S.21 Notice was issued to bring the current agreement to an end. I didn't think I needed to.

    Should I assume therefore that I should have issued a correct (?) version of a S.21 Notice (correct me if I'm wrong) to bring the current ASTs to an end first, before issuing the new ones with the rent increase... even though I knew they wanted to stay on - and I wanted them to stay.

    What, if anything, should I do now? You advice would be much appreciated.

    Laura

    PS: If my middle son thinks I am doing this for him when he starts University in October, he's got another think coming. Paul (and forum members) thank your lucky stars I can't afford to.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Hampshire
    Posts
    6,111

    Default Whew!

    If only you knew the ifs, buts whys and wherefores about the correct answer we'd be here all day, and tomorrow!

    If you don't bring the current agreements formally to an end the tenants are entitled to assume the existing one will continue on a statutory periodic tenancy until you do. Remember as landlord you are supposed to know what you are doing but as tenants, the students are not expected to know. That's the difference between being a landlord and a tenant.

    But!.........If they agree to a new tenancy that is purely an arrangement between two consenting parties and the new ones will supersede the previous AST's. However if they ever try to assert that the old agreement is valid and any new one was invalid you might have difficulty proving this if you didn't bring the aforementioned old tenancies to an end as they could say they were coerced......do you follow me? Clear as mud I know! In future do it all by the book otherwise you might be in a bit of a mess!

  5. #5

    Default

    Paul,

    Thank you for not shouting at me. I'm not having the best of times at the moment and, in the big scheme of things, these tenancy agreements are probably one of my more minor worries. Of course, now I need to make sure they don't become my most 'major' concern.

    Never have I been so relieved to see a .... But!!....

    You have highlighted (quite rightly) my ignorance in these matters and I will endeavour now to do it by the book, because if it's going to go pear shaped, then you can almost guarantee it will happen to me. I'm not known for my luck.

    I think I need to start reading - what would you recommend?

    Laura

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