Tenant question - surrendering tenancy

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    Tenant question - surrendering tenancy

    Hello,

    My husband and I have been in contact attempting to end our tenancy agreement. We have a break clause in December but need to vacate the property as soon as possible. We have been living here since 2015 with an initial FTC of 24 months which we have renewed up until now.

    In short my husband and FIL had a business together that folded and resulted in my husband being unemployed for 3 months and then taking a job with significantly lower pay. We have been struggling to manage the bills, rent ect. and all of our savings have been eaten up.

    We contacted the our landlord to let him know of our change of circumstances and to ask if he would consider allowing us to surrender our tenancy as we cannot afford to live here without going in to arrears. He agreed in principle that we can do this provided a new tenant is in place before we leave or we are liable for rent until one is, which we completely understand.

    But he is also saying we have to pay the letting agent fees tallied up until December (regardless of when a new tenant moves in), pay for a new tenancy agreement for the new tenants, asked us to redecorate the entire flat (fair wear and tear?) and fix a crack in the wall (this was there when we moved in, is on inventory but has gotten bigger).

    He has also asked us to complete a deep clean, inventory and vacate so he can take pictures and list the property while still paying rent.

    A plumbing issue arose last week which has meant we have had no use of our sink, washing machine or dishwasher - and therefore cannot use the kitchen properly. He has refused to show any more tenants until the issue is resolved but appears to be hiring handymen who are his friends to come along to look at the pipes. Two consecutive appointments were cancelled, with a third appointment being kept today. Today's appointment had a plumber show up for 15mins without the correct equipment and having to come back tomorrow.

    I suppose I have three main questions:

    1. Are the costs he is assigning to us acceptable?
    2. What can we do in regards to our living situation with a room of the flat and it's facilities being unusable?
    3. As we are entirely broke and just about managing paycheck to paycheck we do not have spare money for any costs for the plumbing repairs or the deep clean/inventory. Can these be taken from our deposit?

    I am very aware that this is a situation we have gotten ourselves in to and accept we may just have to grin an bear all the costs being levied at us but thought I should get some advice regardless.

    #2
    1 - Whether or not they are reasonable, the landlord can decline the surrender unless you meet the conditions that they set. You are otherwise bound by the tenancy agreement and can only end it when the tenancy agreement says you can.

    2 - The landlord should carry out the repairs in a reasonable time frame and you could try and claim compensation if he doesn't. Unless you pay for the repair yourself (and follow a process detailed on the Shelter web site) you can't simply deduct anything from the rent.

    3 - The deposit is your money and so it's up to what you can agree with your landlord.

    That aside, you should probably consider what is best for you and your husband.
    You might find it more survivable to find somewhere else to live that you can afford, and simply move out and stop paying rent.
    Give the keys back and offer an immediate surrender.
    (This is terrible advice from a legal point of view, but the landlord isn't really being helpful).

    You would be in breach of contract and the landlord could sue you for the missing rent.
    However, the chances are, that they would have to relet the property because they couldn't rely on you being able to pay what you would owe,
    When the landlord regains possession after your surrender, the landlord has accepted the surrender, so the tenancy ends, along with your liability to pay rent.
    At worst, I suspect you will end up owing less money (although you'll lose the deposit for sure).

    You seem to be trying to do the right thing (which I'm taking on trust) and, if I were your landlord, I'd have just let you leave, given the circumstances.

    I'm sure other people will have different views.

    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).

    Comment


      #3
      It sounds better to hold out till December.

      Yes it is a negotiation to break a contract. So anything is acceptable. He could just say "yes if you give me £2K in cash". You are free to say yes or no. These are not really deposit related things it is a "deal". It sounds like a bad deal. You could come back with a counter offer.

      You might wish to say that you wish better surrender terms or else you are going to be forced to sublet the property or to default on rent. Do not permit tenant viewings until you have an agreed deal.

      The problem too is that the landlord does not have to permit just any old tenant to take over. These days he would have to be very very picky (given the legislative framework imposed). So you really need a deal that fixes a surrender date in exchange for (whatever) regardless of whether a new tenant is in place.

      Comment


        #4
        The bottom line is that you are liable for the rent for the duration of the contract or until the expiry of your break clause notice, (assuming the break clause is as you say). Anything else is a negotiation and the landlord can pursue you through the courts if necessary for the recovery of any arrears.

        I think that the Tenant Fees Act mean that his charges have to be reasonable and not in excess of the actual costs to him. All the fees he mentions seem reasonable except the redecoration, fixing the crack and the Agents fee until December if a tenant moves in earlier.

        I think you should go back and renegotiate the terms of the surrender, but bear in mind that he could just change his mind or drag his feet by continuing to hire numpties to do the work. I think you should also negotiate a payment plan that means you could spread your costs over a longer period, which would mean that you could be continuing to pay after you have left. If he refuses all this come back to us.

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by DPT57 View Post
          I think that the Tenant Fees Act mean that his charges have to be reasonable and not in excess of the actual costs to him. All the fees he mentions seem reasonable except the redecoration, fixing the crack and the Agents fee until December if a tenant moves in earlier.
          Does it??? If that were the case no landlord would negotiate to surrender a tenancy ever to the mutual benefit of all parties.

          It would be yet another massive cause of detriment to tenants induced by this legislation.

          As far as I knew negotiations to surrender are entirely outwith any of the legislation. It is simply something the parties agree. If I am wrong, then I am truly shocked as to how badly the politicians have got things -- they are legislating about things they know absolutely zero, and damaging real people who they claim to be helping (sad laughter).

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by AndrewDod View Post
            Does it???
            No.
            The agreement is for compensation, not a fee for a service.
            Same as end of lease damages beyond fair wear and tear.

            If the cost was interpreted as a fee, it's clearly optional for the tenant and is an alternative for something that they are free to do instead, so it would probably not be a prohibited payment even then.
            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).

            Comment


              #7
              TFA19 Sched1 S7 says:
              A payment is a permitted payment if it is a payment to a landlord in consideration of the termination of a tenancy at the tenant’s request—

              (a)in the case of a fixed term tenancy, before the end of the term, or

              (b)in the case of a periodic tenancy, without the tenant giving the period of notice required under the tenancy agreement or by virtue of any rule of law.

              (2)But if the amount of the payment exceeds the loss suffered by the landlord as a result of the termination of the tenancy, the amount of the excess is a prohibited payment.

              Comment


                #8
                OK well in that case the tenant (and all others like them) are totally stuffed. What a bunch of total idiots our politicians are. Fools damn fools the whole lot of them. And evil too.

                And in any event how can the "loss suffered" ever be quantified other than by a court? It is completely nebulous - the loss depends on what sort of tenant the L will accept -- or whether he is prepared to take a risk without finding a tenant (the best outcome for the tenant). Is every surrender of every tenancy supposed to go to court so that the landlord will be sure that there is not a prohibited payment?

                Idiots.

                Comment


                  #9
                  The maximum loss is easy to quantify.
                  It's all of the rent due in the remaining committed term.

                  Any other costs relating to the reletting are part of the normal business and would have occurred at the end of a tenancy anyway.
                  So they're not a loss.

                  The tenant's fees act doesn't actually change anything, that was always the case without the act.
                  Not that everyone played by the rules in real life.
                  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).

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by jpkeates View Post
                    The maximum loss is easy to quantify.
                    It's all of the rent due in the remaining committed term.

                    Any other costs relating to the reletting are part of the normal business and would have occurred at the end of a tenancy anyway.
                    So they're not a loss.

                    The tenant's fees act doesn't actually change anything, that was always the case without the act.
                    Not that everyone played by the rules in real life.
                    And all the council tax, electricity, winter heating, gardening, getting someone to visit the property every day or two, insurance uplift for vacant property. I am sure there are a few other things.

                    It DOES change things because that is not how any sensible surrender would work. A sensible surrender is "pay X and we will regard the tenancy as terminated on X date with no further liability for anything". The landlord might make a slight gain or a slight loss depending on how it plays out but it would be clean and predictable for everyone. He would be motivated to find a good tenant as soon as possible instead of as slowly and at a high-threshold as possible.

                    The act would prevent exactly that sort of common sense.

                    The act also prevents surrenders where the landlord actually needs to make a small profit (and the tenant wants that small profit to happen in order to get what they want). Wealthy tenant locked into a year long tenancy might be happy to give the L a £1000 gift to get what they want. As things stand now they would be told to get stuffed.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Originally posted by jpkeates View Post
                      Any other costs relating to the reletting are part of the normal business and would have occurred at the end of a tenancy anyway.
                      So they're not a loss.
                      They are a loss because they are occurring at a higher frequency than expected. By way of example if all tenancies were one year and all were surrendered at 6 months, the total accessory costs to the landlord of tenancy change-overs would be doubled.

                      Furthermore the changeover may occur at an inopportune time (all of my tenants in some properties are postgraduate students or medical staff). It is only possible to find appropriate tenants in small bandwidths of time, which is also when most tenancies are expected to end (when the fixed terms end anyway). Under the circumstances I would rather just wait until that period arises and put all of the risk onto the tenant (which is clearly what the legislators intend I guess).

                      So it is not at all as straight-forward as you suggest JP.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by AndrewDod View Post
                        And all the council tax, electricity, winter heating, gardening, getting someone to visit the property every day or two, insurance uplift for vacant property. I am sure there are a few other things.
                        Those costs would occur in any void period.
                        They're not extra costs caused by an early surrender.

                        All that's changed is that the landlord doesn't get the rent the tenant agreed to pay them, so that's the loss.
                        Anything else is just a change in timing.

                        In the example here, the landlord's costs of reletting would simply occur in September or October, instead of December.
                        There's no greater cost in bringing them forward, any seasonality actually works in favour of doing it sooner, the void will be shorter.

                        If the landlord charges the tenant all of the rent they would otherwise have had to pay, when the property is relet the landlord is in exactly the same position as before.
                        So they can negotiate from that position - when will I be able to relet the property and how can I make the situation work so that I'm happy with it and the tenant pays less to incentivise them?

                        Otherwise, there's no need to agree to the request to surrender early, which has always been the unique case with a lease.
                        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).

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Originally posted by AndrewDod View Post
                          So it is not at all as straight-forward as you suggest JP.
                          Yes it is, because the landlord isn't ever compelled to agree a surrender.

                          If the timing means a relet is difficult, that should be a factor in the cost of that particular early surrender.
                          If the tenant wants to leave half way through a lease and a replacement isn't possible, the cost of the early surrender might be the full six month's rent.
                          It just can't be more than the tenant had already committed to.
                          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).

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Originally posted by jpkeates View Post
                            Yes it is, because the landlord isn't ever compelled to agree a surrender.
                            But that's the whole point JP!!!

                            The problem is not the compelling, but that there is no reason at all for a landlord to ever want to help facilitate a surrender (except for a potential tenant from hell).

                            It has to do with confounding normal sensible interactions and arrangements between people - not about who is compelled to do what. That is where every bit of L&T legislation gets it wrong.

                            Putting my self into a tenants shoes, if I had a tenancy agreement ending 8 months from now, and I was offered a fantastic job 500 miles away - I would want to know NOW exactly where I stood, and that would mean both sides having to take a guess as to the gamble that suited them best.

                            I would never be able to accept that job under an agreement that at some point the L might find a tenant suitable to them, and I might then be able to leave. That would be far too late. So the job would be lost. And that is also the position the OP in this thread finds themselves.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Originally posted by AndrewDod View Post
                              But that's the whole point JP!!!
                              Having spent some time considering this issue, I think I now agree with you.

                              Just gaming the situation in my head, there's no possible way to determine upfront the actual cost of a surrender in a way that satisfies the new legislation.
                              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).

                              Comment

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