Definition of "Vacating"

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    Definition of "Vacating"

    Hi, brand new to this site; I have a flat that I have rented via a letting agent for 6 years but I am now retired and have got the time (and newly acquired DIY skills) to look after the flat myself. But in the "Termination" section of my contract with the letting agent it states "The client may terminate the Agent's services by notifying the Agent in writing, but any such written termination will only take effect upon any Tenant or Occupant Vacating the Property following expiry of the Tenancy"

    My tenants are an elderly couple in their 90's and I don't want them to leave. I just want them to carry on living in the flat but under my management rather than an expensive and less than competent - that's another story - letting agent. I would save approx £1000/year by managing it myself and do a better job of it.

    The query I have is, what is the definition of "vacating"? Do the tenants have to be seen to physically leave the property and move into another home, including taking their possessions? Or alternatively, can "vacating" mean as little as being seen to leave the flat, nip up to Costas for a coffee, then come back an hour later to the flat and sign a new contract directly with me?

    My plan is to join the RLA and get up to speed on the law and processes involved in managing the flat myself, but in the meantime, any advice from members of this forum would be greatly appreciated.

    #2
    The former, of course.

    You probably need to buy your way out of the agent contract.

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      #3
      In the context of the wording "vacating" has to mean "leaving with the intention of never returning".

      However, whilst I am unable to quote any authority to support the view, I consider the provision void or unenforceable. I think a contract for services has to be such that at any given moment the parties know when it ends or can be ended. In other words it has to be for a fixed term or determinable by notice which ends the contract on a specified date.

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        #4
        Have they failed to do something so that you could treat their actions, or lack of actions as a repudiatory breach of contract?

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          #5
          Hi Jon; yes, on several occasions they have failed to undertake the basic task of managing their contractors properly in the undertaking of property maintenance tasks. The most recent case is when, on 16 April, I asked them to send a handy man around to my flat to fix the lino floor in the kitchen, which had become torn and a trip hazard for my tenants, both of whom are in their nineties. The Agent withheld £100 from my monthly rental income and raised a work order for the handy man; it is now two months later and my tenant has contacted me directly to complain that the lino has still not been fixed. Do you think I could claim breach of contract for this incident?

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by Lawcruncher View Post
            However, whilst I am unable to quote any authority to support the view, I consider the provision void or unenforceable. I think a contract for services has to be such that at any given moment the parties know when it ends or can be ended. In other words it has to be for a fixed term or determinable by notice which ends the contract on a specified date.
            I agree.

            The practical issue is getting the documentation and deposit protection information from the agent prior to ending the contract.

            If the tenants are elderly and are there for the long term I'd probably tell the agent to return the deposit to them (because it's academic if the tenants will probably leave feet first or because they're not able to cope any more - you won't be deducting money for stains in the carpet with a stressed family member).

            That means the agent has less hold on you and I'd give them three month's notice and tell the tenant to send their rent to you (and send the fees on to the agent for the notice period).

            They can try and sue you, but my guess is that they won't, because the clause is unfair.
            When I post, I am expressing an opinion - feel free to disagree, I have been wrong before.
            Please don't act on my suggestions without checking with a grown-up (ideally some kind of expert).

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