Advice on break clause and potential additional charges being imposed

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    Advice on break clause and potential additional charges being imposed

    Good morning all.

    I have been renting a property for almost 6 years now, and for the past 2 years I have had the below clause added to my tenancy agreement.
    I am in now in the final stages of purchasing my first home, and have stated 8 weeks between exchange and completion (2 months) for purpose of serving my notice. However my landlord nor the agency are being forthcoming with any degree of flexibility. The place I rent has been kept in extremely good condition and I have done many things for the landlord including DIY.

    The wording is very awkward given nobody takes 6 months to purchase a house, and in my opinion is not really useful for a break clause in any way or form.

    The agents are also stating I am liable for rent up to the end of my tenancy agreement date (25 Jan 2019 as well as a bunch of other costs detailed below)

    My questions are

    1. Are these legally enforceable?
    2. Would I just be best off walking away when I need to move and losing my deposit (£1500)
    3. Should I seek legal advice / CAB to assist me?


    Tenancy Agreement wording

    The Landlord agrees that the Tenant has the right to terminate the Tenancy at the end of the first six months of the Term by giving to the Landlord not less than two month’s notice in writing to be sent by first class post or hand delivery to the address of the Premises to end the Tenancy. To avoid any doubt between the parties it is agreed that the notice period cannot take effect any earlier than 26th May 2019 and cannot expire any earlier than 25th July 2019. If the Tenant does not give notice to expire at the end of the first six months of the Tenancy it is agreed between the parties that the Tenant will be bound for the whole of the fixed Term which expires on 25th January 2020, when the notice period expires the Agreement shall cease. This does not affect the right of either the Landlord or the Tenant to pursue their legal remedies against the other for any existing breach of any rights under the Agreement.


    Additional charges being imposed

    Further to your conversation with xxxx that you may be considering to vacate before the end of the fixed term agreement, c. November 2019, I wanted to email you to confirm the procedure around an early termination and the fees involved in this. You will be liable for fees that the landlord will incur in finding new tenants to take over the tenancy. This is as per the Tenancy Agreement you have signed clause 2ag and 3g and Point 2 under the 'Deposit Agreement'.

    xxxx has also informed me that she will be away from c.27thNov -11th Dec 2019 and 21st Dec-11th January 2020. She has to be present when you do vacate and whenever the new tenancy begins.

    1) Rent would be due until the 25th of January 2020 or until new tenants have been found and moved into the property. The sooner of the two would be used.

    2) You will be liable for all utilities during this period also.

    3) You will be liable for part of the landlords re-letting cost. This will be calculated from the date the new tenancy agreement commences until the 25th of January 2020. This will be charged at a daily rate based on the fee payable to the xxxx. We cannot confirm the exact amount at this time but to give you an idea this fee will be around £116 per month plus VAT.

    4) You have already made payment at the beginning of the tenancy for a check-out and Professional Clean and so this will be used at the end of your tenancy. Should these costs exceed the amount given, you will be liable for the extra.

    5) You would also be liable for the costs incurred by the landlord for the new tenant which would be the tenancy agreement, registering deposit, right to rent checks, references. This cost is £275+VAT. You would also be liable for the cost of the inventory reports for the landlord which would be £288 inclusive of VAT. If the landlord were to incur any charges for changing details on any existing policies these costs would need to also be covered.

    I would at this time like to remind you that an agreement was made with the landlord regarding hanging items in the flat. You are still obliged to repair holes which must be refilled, made good and the rooms (all walls in the rooms affected) repainted in its entirety, avoiding patchiness, in line with the agreement at the end of the tenancy.


    TIA

    S.M.

    #2
    1 - You have agreed to a fixed term and not exercised the (limited) break clause. You are committed to paying rent until 25th January and any agreement to allow you to leave early is open to whatever terms you can agree. There are some restrictions, the landlord can't charge you any "penalty" for leaving early and you might argue that the new tenant fees are being charged to you as a penalty, because they would be incurred after 25th January if you leave as per the contract. But the landlord isn't obliged to allow you to end the agreement before January and it's hard to see what option you have.
    2 - You are liable for the rent (and, depending on the tenancy agreement, probably the cost of any utilities and council tax) until 25 January, so you could lose more than your deposit. The landlord could sue you for the difference and would probably win. You could offer the deposit as part of a deal to leave early.
    3 - You could, and it might help (CAB won't be much use, but a solicitor might be able to find a loophole or simply present a better bargaining position).
    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
      They are legally enforceable, although there may be some question as to how much of the landlrord's re-letting expenses are claimable.

      If you walk away, you can be sued for the shortfall after the deposit is used up, and could end up wit a CCJ against you.

      Generally it is agents who like annual contracts. You might be able to get better terms by talking directly to the landlord, but the agent is going to want to make sure that they are not out of pocket as a result. Current advice to landlords on the forum is to go for a six months fixed term and then let the tenancy lapse to a periodic one, which would only require one month's notice, rounded up to the end of a rental period.

      There is no legal requirement for the actual landlord to be present for check-in and check-out, unless that is in the contract.

      Comment


        #4
        Originally posted by leaseholder64 View Post
        There is no legal requirement for the actual landlord to be present for check-in and check-out, unless that is in the contract.
        Yes but in a negotiated surrender there might be such an imposed requirement. The landlord might want to be around at any changeover and to vet tenants personally (I would), and if that changeover occurs at an unanticipated time (per the contract) that may present a difficulty.

        OP I think you need to approach the landlord directly and ask what they would want of you in order to negotiate a early surrender. New legislation has made it such that this is unlikely to be possible.

        Comment

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