Refusing a tenancy on the day of move in - help needed!

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    Refusing a tenancy on the day of move in - help needed!

    Hi All, I am really hoping somebody can help with a difficult situation.

    Student tenants found at the beginning of September for a 2 bed flat under a normal AST, due to move in on 1st Oct. We charged a non-refundable admin fee and holding deposit (half of rent) after we had done credit checks. All references were completed a couple of weeks ago, and then the issues started.

    For the last week, there has been a host of problems, including requests for change of guarantor, one of the tenants potentially not being able to now move in, date of move in changed 3 x etc - basically an absolute nightmare and serious alarm bells started ringing. We also request that the deposit and remaining rent are paid 24 hours before move in, which they were also refusing/ignoring requests to do so, saying they would pay at the property on the day.

    The move in date and time was agreed for today. 15 mins before they were meant to arrive I get a phone call from one of the parties stating they hadn't been able to get hold of the other party all morning, and they were going to have to withdraw from the property because she has been messing them about, and they don't think they have any other choice because they can't afford to take it on on their own, can't afford to pay the remaining balance etc. All discussed, all fine and back on the market after speaking to landlord who agreed the events of the last week weren't boding well for a good tenancy, and he was happy for me to proceed with finding somebody else.

    Around an hour later, I get another call from the "missing" party saying she had been in hospital this morning, hence why they couldn't get hold of her and they are going to leave now so they will be there in about 2 hours. I made it clear that I would not be meeting them today, and that the landlord is virtually certain he now doesn't want to proceed with the tenancy owing to these issues. Sent a lengthy email to them explaining this was the position, its at the landlord's discretion to grant a tenancy not their right to have it, and owing to their behaviour and confusion he is no longer comfortable granting them a tenancy at the property.

    Now my questions are - do you feel (from the limited information I have put above), that the landlord is justified in saying no to signing a tenancy agreement with them? In 5 years I have never had this situation on the day of a tenant move in, and getting photos from the tenants showing "we are still outside the property" along with the hours (no exaggeration) of aggressive phone calls about this that and the other over the last week has frazzled my brain so apologies if the answer is obvious!

    Secondly, the non-refundable admin fee/holding deposit - are we justified in keeping this, despite the fact based on the references we have no reason to refuse a tenancy, but their subsequent behaviour has proved differently?

    Any help/advice would be greatly appreciated!

    #2
    I think your own processes have let you & landlord down.

    Give the f***wits back their money, and learn from this in the future.

    Comment


      #3
      It sounds like they haven't taken possession, so you have a simple breach of contract, and can sue them for lost rent and the cost of finding new tenants, but only on the basis that you try to mitigate your losses by getting new tenants as soon as reasonably possible.

      Comment


        #4
        Originally posted by JK0 View Post
        I think your own processes have let you & landlord down.

        Give the f***wits back their money, and learn from this in the future.
        Hi, which processes exactly - I have always thought our processes were stricter than others around locally, but am open to hear where you think we could have done things differently?

        And after we have spent money and time on referencing these tenants (as students, not a lot of referencing can be done!), inspecting the property today etc, should we be giving this money back?

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by leaseholder64 View Post
          It sounds like they haven't taken possession, so you have a simple breach of contract, and can sue them for lost rent and the cost of finding new tenants, but only on the basis that you try to mitigate your losses by getting new tenants as soon as reasonably possible.
          Thanks, I also am inclined to think it is a breach of contract as things we lay out at the application phase, before they've paid a penny, haven't been adhered to! No tenancy agreement signed, as that what I had been waiting to do with them when I got the phone call today with the latest dramas today!

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by osborneproperty View Post

            Hi, which processes exactly - I have always thought our processes were stricter than others around locally, but am open to hear where you think we could have done things differently?

            And after we have spent money and time on referencing these tenants (as students, not a lot of referencing can be done!), inspecting the property today etc, should we be giving this money back?
            You gave tenant the option to mess you around. I take the first month's rent on reservation. Then, there is no changing days & no lack of money to move in.

            I realise this only gives an agent a small commission if things go south, but being stricter makes this much less likely.

            Not playing ball now, may leave you open to being sued if tenant does not get a refund.

            Comment


              #7
              Did you write “subject to contract” on any written correspondence with them prior to today?

              Comment


                #8
                Hold on a sec, the landlord is refusing to continue with the tenancy? The tenant should be suing for breach of contract then.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by davett View Post
                  Hold on a sec, the landlord is refusing to continue with the tenancy? The tenant should be suing for breach of contract then.
                  Hi Davett, not to continue with the tenancy but to actually start the tenancy at all! As the tenants have been changing their minds about things every 5 minutes it seems since last week, and also not complying with payment of deposit at the time stated on their app form, sending over documents we need prior to move in etc, he (and I) are now not comfortable that they will be good tenants going forward, that this confusion, un-organisation, lack of communication will be an issue throughout the tenancy.

                  Really difficult to have known this from referencing as they had been in student halls so no "real" landlord reference to refer to, and although on paper and other communications they looked/seemed a couple of weeks ago like normal student tenants, this subsequent behaviour has really thrown up a lot of questions.

                  I wish I could put up everything that has gone on in even the last 24 hours, as it would probably be a lot clearer as to how erratic and just unusual this has all been, but I just can't even explain half of it succinctly!!

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by JK0 View Post

                    You gave tenant the option to mess you around. I take the first month's rent on reservation. Then, there is no changing days & no lack of money to move in.

                    I realise this only gives an agent a small commission if things go south, but being stricter makes this much less likely.

                    Not playing ball now, may leave you open to being sued if tenant does not get a refund.
                    I see what you are saying, how would you get around the deposit issue though? We don't take any money from anyone until we have credit checked the applicants, and our admin fee is very nominal, essentially just to cover the costs of the referencing rather than make money from tenants. And the half months rent is to cover inconvenience to landlord should a tenant mess about (although normally not so late in the day!)

                    By taking a first month's rent on reservation, how does this change the tenant saying they need to change the move in day because of X, Y & Z? Do you sign AST forward dated on reservation??

                    Genuinely curious as opposed to questioning your methods

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Is there a signed AST?

                      You can't just decide not to go ahead with the tenancy just because they messed you around. You have a contract and it doesn't sound like they are trying to break it. You took money from them so there is consideration.

                      If you did it to me I'd have you in court for breach of contract pronto. You'd be paying me damages.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by davett View Post
                        Is there a signed AST?

                        You can't just decide not to go ahead with the tenancy just because they messed you around. You have a contract and it doesn't sound like they are trying to break it. You took money from them so there is consideration.

                        If you did it to me I'd have you in court for breach of contract pronto. You'd be paying me damages.
                        Hi Davett, no signed AST. We were waiting at the property today to sign the AST when we got the call to say they were going to have to pull out because the other party had been uncontactable all morning (this seemed to be the party causing the majority of the problems), and they couldn't afford to take the tenancy on their own etc. It was then an hour after leaving the property that we got the call to say that the other party had now been "found" so all should proceed. No deposit and no remaining half of rent paid which we stipulate needs to be paid 24 hours prior to move in (still not paid at the time of writing)

                        Comment


                          #13
                          So if they pay, they can move in 24 hours later?

                          Your landlord has agreed a tenancy. If you (I assume you are the agent) are anything like the agents I've had dealings with, your processes are probably not squeaky clean - mine often neglects to put subject to contract on things, especially the offer letter! Any lack in the process will leave you open to being sued for breach of contract. I'd say you are particularly vulnerable as you have taken money, and offered the tenancy.

                          So, in my opinion, you have a cheek to be asking to keep their money when it is your side that is breaching the agreement.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Originally posted by davett View Post
                            So if they pay, they can move in 24 hours later?

                            Your landlord has agreed a tenancy. If you (I assume you are the agent) are anything like the agents I've had dealings with, your processes are probably not squeaky clean - mine often neglects to put subject to contract on things, especially the offer letter! Any lack in the process will leave you open to being sued for breach of contract. I'd say you are particularly vulnerable as you have taken money, and offered the tenancy.

                            So, in my opinion, you have a cheek to be asking to keep their money when it is your side that is breaching the agreement.
                            Hi Davett, before we take any money from any tenant we do credit checks as to avoid taking any fees from somebody who would definitely not be accepted. We then state that if they would like to proceed, as we are comfortable proceeding to the next step based on the credit checks, they need to pay the non-refundable admin fee and holding rent, subject to satisfactory references. I have to state here I have never had to refund anybody this money because they have come back with bad references - good luck on our part, but I am human and have always refunded where people's circumstances have changed and they cannot proceed for good reason, but never had this happen on the day of move in! We also state at the same time, that the balance of the remaining rent and deposit is payable 24 hours prior to move in.

                            I don't want to keep any money unnecessarily from anyone, and I am trying to be fair to both the landlord and the tenant, but the tenants pulled out of the property at around 11.45 and then their circumstances changed (again) by 1.30 and wanted to proceed after all. Completely understand why the landlord doesn't want to proceed after all these shenanigans, so as per my original post that was my main question; whether he is within his right to refuse a tenancy. The money is by the by, I just wanted to know if anyone had any opinions on whether it was justifiable for the landlord to keep it based on the circumstances.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Originally posted by osborneproperty View Post

                              I see what you are saying, how would you get around the deposit issue though? We don't take any money from anyone until we have credit checked the applicants, and our admin fee is very nominal, essentially just to cover the costs of the referencing rather than make money from tenants. And the half months rent is to cover inconvenience to landlord should a tenant mess about (although normally not so late in the day!)

                              By taking a first month's rent on reservation, how does this change the tenant saying they need to change the move in day because of X, Y & Z? Do you sign AST forward dated on reservation??

                              Genuinely curious as opposed to questioning your methods
                              Deposits are utterly pointless in my view, as any award is likely to be a similar amount to the cost of two inventories.

                              The tenancy is agreed to start on a particular date, but not signed until that date. If they don't show up until a week later, then that's a week's rent wasted. If they want to start earlier, but that is not convenient for me, then again the answer is no.

                              Comment

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