Tenant refuses to negotiate surrender & moves out ?

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    Tenant refuses to negotiate surrender & moves out ?

    My tenant (who has a guarantor) complained of damp (and it's smell) at the end of last year. A damp surveyor found at the time of the survey there was excess humidity (mould caused by insufficient ventilation). He went over the changes the tenant had to make to combat the damp but it did not resolve the situation, we suspect the tenant was half-hearted/resistant to applying the measures and the tenant gave a months notice to quit and left the flat last month with several months of a 20-month tenancy agreement left on their contract. They at all stages refused any negotiated surrender of the contract. How long do I have to wait before serving an S21 or S8 notice ? Can I serve it on the guarantor if I do not have the tenants new address ? Do I take the tenant to court for back payment of rent after I have served the S21 or S8 notice ? Can I just take the guarantor to court for back payment of the rent instead ?
    Thanks for any help/advice with this.

    #2
    Who wanted 20 months - you or tenant please (strange length) ?

    Any rent owing: If so serve s8 TODAY! Currently both s8 & s21 take 3 months to expire.

    In your shoes I'd let them go, install positive ventilation - eg like
    https://www.envirovent.com/sectors/landlords/

    - clean up the mould & re-let.

    Obviously no reference or only a full, honest, one.
    I am legally unqualified: If you need to rely on advice check it with a suitable authority - eg a solicitor specialising in landlord/tenant law...

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      #3
      Thanks artful lodger - the lettings agent negotiated the 20-months with the tenant, there was a lot of interest in the flat at the time. Why do you pick the S8 ? If I was to let them go presumably I would still need to get an agreement on surrender ?

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        #4
        A bit more info. - the tenant returned the key to the letting agency when they left.

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          #5
          It might depend on what the Agent said when they accepted the keys. If they've accepted an implied surrender then the tenant is no longer liable. Otherwise pursue the tenant and guarantor for the rent, but be prepared for a battle over the damp issue and whether the property was 'fit for human habitation'

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            #6
            Hello DPT57 - the tenant posted the keys through the letter box but both myself and the Agent made it clear before and after that we did not accept this as a surrender and needed to negotiate it. It sounds as though I should have a preliminary talk with a lawyer to see what they advise.

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              #7
              On the bright side, you had an unwilling tenant who has returned the keys and quit - much preferable to having him resident and refusing to pay.

              My advice
              • Accept that he has left. Change the locks
              • Contact tenant in writing. Advise him that his abandonment of the property does not end his contract, nor his obligation to pay rent.
              • Offer him a carrot...."pay half the remaining rent and we'll call it quits" or "pay my costs in finding a new tenant". Threaten him with a a stick "I have a legal contact with you, you owe me X months rent, I'll take you to court"
              • Remember the golden rule of going to court - never sue poor people!
              With regard to the damp.
              • Fit externally vented cooker hood.
              • Fit automatic extractor fan to bathroom.
              • Fit a tumble dryer
              • Install trickle vents on all the windows.
              Whilst the property is empty, fit a de-humidifier, crank it up to max. if after a week you still have damp areas, then chances are you have a leak somewhere

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                #8
                I'd be negotiating with the guarantor. Presumably this is someone with tenant contact. Try to get a surrender with payment up until then.

                Damp - Was the tenant someone from a warmer climate who resisted opening windows and running heat at 23C+?




                Freedom at the point of zero............

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                  #9
                  GrumpyGit's advice is spot on.

                  The OP seems to be trying to serve notice on a tenant who's trying to surrender a tenancy.
                  That's so much more complicated than accepting the surrender (and reality).
                  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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                    #10
                    I would accept the surrender of keys as surrender of the tenancy - and inform tenant of this - then accept the loss and move on with a new tenant. Anything else (especially if it involves a solicitor) will end up costing more than you will win. It sounds like you are only losing 'a few months rent' - most of which you can recoup with a new tenant so you probably have had at least 18mths rent? Not a bad rental period.

                    Next tenancy - 6 mnths then periodic. No-one really knows what they will be doing in 12, 20 or 24 myths - as this pandemic has proven.

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                      #11
                      Some very good advice - the comments come to life early in the morning !! Damp - the tenant (not from abroad) never seriously tried to counter the damp but just insisted it should not be there and it was not their fault. I have had 9-months rent from the tenant. GrumpGit's advice is good, i will do something along those lines just aiming to keep the deposit which is just over 1-months rent. If this sorts the matter out I will just rent the flat out again as soon as possible. I'll avoid getting a solicitor and having to chase the guarantor. I'll also use some of the advice regarding dealing with the damp and varying the contract length. A lesson learnt - a guarantor sounds good until you need to get money from them, and getting an above average rent and longer rental contract is not necessarily a situation that bear fruit. Thanks to all and let me know if there is anything else you suggest.

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                        #12
                        Originally posted by jpkeates View Post
                        GrumpyGit's advice is spot on..
                        I read his advice as claiming rent for a period after LL had changed the locks; that sounds wrong to me.

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                          #13
                          Why not ask guarantor for his proposals for paying off the rest of the rent? He might offer you some money without going to court.

                          Not sure why you are asking about s8 & s21. Those are for eviction, but your tenant already left.

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                            #14
                            Hello JKO - was asking about an s8 and s21 as i'd been lead to believe that I still needed to serve one even if the tenant had left to legally regain access to the flat. From the replies above I now understand that the tenant has implied surrender of the flat by their actions - writing they were giving up the flat in a months time and then handing in the keys to the estate agent and leaving the flat after the month was up. If I take some of the advice above I will on Monday tell the tenant and guarantor I want/will keep the deposit for the rent that is owed and consider the matter closed. And I will visit the flat, change the locks and find new tenants ?

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                              #15
                              If the tenant has given up the keys that is the clearest possible indication of not wanting the flat anymore. Accept the tenancy is over. The advice above to get envirovent or some similar company is good, we use them a lot. A flat of say 600 sq ft just cant cope with four showers a day and cooking steam and clothes being left to dry on rads. If they have left the flat nice I am not sure we would keep all the deposit as your suggest.. Depends how it presents

                              Comment

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