Fixed term tenancy ending abruptly

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    Fixed term tenancy ending abruptly

    My tenants have dropped a bombshell on me a few days ago, they have split up and their marriage has broken down.

    The tenancy started on the 21/09/2019 and is for 6 months so I believe (correct me if I am wrong) it ends at midnight on the 20/03/2020. Obviously they are within their rights to leave without notice in this case.

    Now my problem it seems there may well be furniture and belonging left by one if not both tenants and its not clear when they intend on giving me the keys back, they are both being very difficult to communicate with at present. If I don't get the keys and stuff is still left when I go and inspect the property on the 22/03/2020 (already given notice for this) does that mean the tenancy has rolled over into a statutory periodic tenancy.

    So far all I have been told by one tenant is that they have left and taken their belongings, the other tenant says they actually left first, that they are sofa surfing and the other tenant has left their stuff but that they will try and move it all.

    Just looking to clarify my position and would welcome advice.

    #2
    Their notice is of no effect during the fixed term, so I think it has to depend on how good the evidence is that they really have moved. Do you have clear emails saying they've moved out and are not living there? Do an inspection and check whether there is evidence of them living there - clothes, toothbrush, food in fridge, mail piled up etc. If it all stacked up then I consider taking possession and would record all the of the evidence and let them know I'd done this and ask when they're removing the furniture. If it doesn't quite stack up then you must tell them that the tenancy becomes periodic and they have to serve a proper notice to end it.

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      #3
      If the tenants remain in possession after midnight on 20th, a periodic tenancy begins.

      Whether they are in possession or not is a matter of fact (which ironically means it's a matter of opinion).
      The difference is probably going to be determined by their attitude about what's left in the property and their access to the property.

      If they continue to expect to be able to access the property on/after 21st or want some time to remove the furniture (during which time you can't relet the property or start to do any work on it) they're probably in possession.

      But this are not normal times, and I'm not sure being flexible isn't the best thing.
      If it all goes pear shaped, you won't be able to evict them, for example.
      Getting someone to help move furniture might be more tricky than usual right now - and what would you do if the tenant with furniture in the place claims to be self-isolating?
      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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        #4
        Looks like one tenant is emptying the property this evening so fingers crossed there are no surprises. It is terrible timing given what's going on, I have three different sources of income all gone within a week of each other and trying to sell or relet while having to isolate is not going to be easy.

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