Unilateral Break Clause

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    Unilateral Break Clause

    Hiya, I'm not good at this kind of thing.

    I moved​ ​​into a flat in London two weeks ago with a verbal agreement that the other T would not be smoking indoors, at the viewing. This is a joint contract.

    The contract says: "Smoking inside the property is not permitted without the landlord’s permission which may
    not be unreasonably withheld, only in the lounge ( as specified by tenant’s use) or
    garden.

    So, I had taken them at their word without thinking enough, and here I am."

    The contract is for one year, up to 15/11/2020, however it appears I have an interesting break clause: "Term For the term of 1 year commencing on 16.11. 2019 - finishing on 15.11. 2020.
    As a new tenant to the property T(just me) will receive a two months break clause.
    If the tenancy has to be cut short the tenants have to find a new sharing tenant as the
    full amount of rent of £1000 is payable on the 16th of every month regardless."

    There are no words to this effect for the other T.

    This, paired with the following: "Where there is more than one tenant, all obligations, including those for rent and
    repairs can be enforced against all of the tenants jointly and against each individually.
    Where the tenancy is subject to deposit protection then joint tenants may have to
    nominate a lead tenant to act on their behalf with the Landlord or Tenancy Deposit
    Scheme provider or their alternative dispute resolution service provider."

    My first question is: does this mean that I can break the contract in the first two months, or is it that I must provide two months notice at any time to break the contract?

    Second: if I enact the break clause, will I be liable to pay my share of the rent up to the end of the contract, or is that placed on the other T?

    I'd appreciate some insight! And please ask if more info is required to answer!
    ​​​​​​

    #2
    If this is verbatim, it is atrociously drafted. You don't, for example, receive a break clause. I'm still trying to work out how to interpret the smoking clause. I think this would have to go to court before one could say for certain what it means.

    Comment


      #3
      Yep, verbatim. I was looking for a place asap as my workplace had changed, and although the viewing went well I'm now regretting it.

      I suppose my best bet is to try my luck with my option one above, and see what they say.

      Comment


        #4
        That text makes no sense at all.
        I think it's trying to allow you to leave in the first two months if you (both) can find a replacement but fails to do that.

        If the landlord/agent thinks it means that as well, you might be alright if you can find a replacement.
        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


          #5
          I think this situation calls for bold action. If it were me I would find a replacement tenant asap and write to the landlord giving notice under that break clause and nominating the replacement. If the landlord equivocates I would advise him to take legal advice. If he does that then my bet is that any lawyer is going to throw up their hands in horror at that wording and tell him he doesn't have a hope of winning any case in court.

          Comment


            #6
            The problem is that a meaningless clause helps the landlord because it's the tenant who wants to rely on it.
            The issue is that the clause must be there for some reason, the question is what is it trying to do (and failing).
            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
              Originally posted by jpkeates View Post
              The problem is that a meaningless clause helps the landlord because it's the tenant who wants to rely on it.
              But its the landlord who would have to sue the tenant and show that it doesn't mean what the tenant thinks it does. With such a vague clause I wouldn't fancy my chances as a landlord.

              Comment


                #8
                Am I missing something obvious, or does there seem to not really be any obligation on me to find a replacement, otherwise pay rent for the coming months.
                If I were to give notice under that break clause - say a month as that is what is asked of me at the end of the contract if I don't want to stay on after one year - does the contract apply into future months, with me in any way responsible for paying rent?
                ​​​​​Wishful thinking I know, but it just doesn't seem logical that the second sentence of the break clause section is meaningfully related to the first.

                In effect, where it states "If the tenancy has to be cut short the tenants have to find a new sharing tenant as the full amount of rent of £1000 is payable on the 16th of every month regardless." Does that apply to me after giving notice under the break clause, or only the other named T who refuses to stop smoking in the lounge?

                I've been reading about it and it seems like this is exactly the reason a standard shared tenancy will not have a break clause for one tenant.

                Comment


                  #9
                  There is no break clause in the agreement, only a promise to provide one, whatever that means.

                  It is not really worth trying to work out what the lease means as it was written by someone who didn't know what they were doing.

                  The only place that "break clause" ought to appear in the agreement is as section heading, which is not part of the formal document, but just there to help you find your way around.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    The problem is that there doesn't seem to be a break clause, just a statement that someone will receive one.
                    And then there are some other words that don't make a lot of sense.

                    And the wording of any break clause has to do a lot of work.

                    A tenant can't give notice at all in the fixed term unless the agreement says that they can and this one doesn't actually say that.

                    In a joint tenancy, one joint tenant can't give notice unilaterally (because that's how joint agreements operate), so a term that says they can is critical because it affects someone else

                    Any term that allows person only in a joint tenancy to end it early would probably be unfair because the agreement that benefits you profoundly disadvantages the other tenant.
                    They have entered a contract with the expectation that both of you will be liable for all of the rent and that the other occupant of the property will be you and the break clause (depending on what it actually means) risks them being responsible for all of the rent or compel them to enter into a contract and residence with someone else.
                    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


                      #11
                      I think it would be helpful if we could see the whole agreement, identifying details blanked out.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Are you both identified as tenant in the agreement?

                        Comment

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