Being made to pay two months' notice - Please Help

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    Being made to pay two months' notice - Please Help

    Hello,

    We are coming up to the end of a fixed term 12 month contract (assured shorthold tenancy) which was due to end on the 21st June. We gave notice a couple of days ago, but subsequently received the following e-mail:

    "Thank you for sending us your notice. As you are contractually required to provide two month written notice, we have processed your notice dated 20 May 2020 to terminate the tenancy on 20 July 2020, Your Landlord will be in touch to organise your check-out on the last day of your tenancy."

    We have never experienced anything like this and we are already due to move elsewhere and start paying rent in June. Naturally, that is not easy for most people, but rather than tug at anyone's heartstrings we would ask whether this is in any way enforceable? What are our options?

    Thank you for any thoughts and help.

    Hans

    #2
    How would we know if it’s enforceable, we haven’t seen what you signed for on the tenancy agreement. Did you sign agreeing to give two months notice?
    One option would’ve been to have checked how much notice you had to give before waiting until now to give your notice.
    Another option is to tell the agent when you want to leave and when you want to stop paying and see what they say.
    Another option is to move out when you want to, stop paying when you want to and see if anything is enforced.
    How about asking if you can move out and surrender the tenancy on the date you planned to move out but continue paying the council tax and pay half the rent up front for the remaining notice period meaning new tenants can move in sooner.
    Another option is to see if you can postpone the start date of the tenancy agreement on the property you are moving in to, explain the situation to the agency or landlord and they might sympathise with you and allow a later tenancy start date meaning a later payment start date or lower payment if you move in mid month rather than beginning of the month.
    Or just pay for the two properties and use the overlap period to move your stuff to the new property at your convenience rather than rushing the move.

    Comment


      #3
      There are two options.

      Either your tenancy has a fixed term which ends on 21st June and you can leave on that date without giving any notice at all (or having given incorrect notice).
      That's because the tenancy ends automatically and, by leaving, you do not create a periodic tenancy.
      The tenancy agreement does not override that.

      Or

      Your tenancy doesn't have a fixed term, it has an initial term and continues afterwards.
      In that case the clauses relating to notice are valid and you need to adhere to them.

      The specific wording relating to the term and what happens afterwards will determine which is the case.
      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


        #4
        An option you have is to simply leave prior to very end of fixed term, take loads of date/time stamped photos showing excellent condition (low quality, think about it) the claim return of deposit through scheme adjudication. See if landlord fights or sues for unpaid rent. I doubt they would, but you never can tell
        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...

        Comment


          #5
          Thank you all for your thoughts thus far. Some points from the contract which may help:

          - Throughout the agreement it is referred to as a fixed term agreement, save for one occasion below where it is described as an "initial term".

          - The following language appears under "Special clauses individually negotiated between the parties":

          "If the Tenant intends to vacate at the end of the fixed Term or later he must give the Landlord at least two clear months prior notice
          in writing."


          jpkeates: Having looked through the document, under "summary of core terms" it states:

          "1.8 Initial TERM of the tenancy will be: 12 months (refer to Special clauses individually negotiated between parties)."

          Any thoughts - are we absolutely screwed? I am seeing contradictory messages on the net so any input would be really helpful. To be honest, we simply had not identified these pointers previously. When we had discussed moving in we were absolutely explicit that this for for a one year fixed term.

          Clearly we should have been more sophisticated in our approached here, but having usually dealt directly with landlords we have known, we went into this rather naively. Given that I have taken a 50% paycut and my housemate has not worked since March (and will not be working for some time) we are extremely worried.

          Thank you for any help and advice.

          Hans

          Comment


            #6
            Is there a definition of "Term" - either initial or fixed?

            Does the tenancy agreement say what happens after the Term ends?

            Is there anything in the agreement along the lines of, "The tenancy begins on 22nd June 2019 and ends on 21st June 2020"?
            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
              Thank you jpkeates. Is this the sort of thing you are after, copied fromthe agreement under "Summary of core terms":

              1.8 Initial TERM of the tenancy will be: 12 months (refer to Special clauses individually negotiated between parties).

              COMMENCEMENT date; from and including: 21 June 2019

              EXPIRY date; to and including: 20 June 2020.



              What do you think?

              Hans

              Comment


                #8
                That's a fixed term.
                For the absolute avoidance of doubt, you could try and argue the other way, but it would be a very tough argument to make.

                So you can simply leave on or before the 20th June and the tenancy will come to an end.

                You will be in breach of the term that requires you to give two month's notice, but there's nothing the landlord can do about it.
                Again, for the avoidance of doubt, they could claim that the breach resulted in a loss, but they'd have no chance of doing anything about it.

                I appreciate that a random "someone" on the internet isn't a great authority to base your actions on,
                but you should be able to check this with any solicitor or (for free) Shelter (just be prepared for a wait on the phone, make tea first).
                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


                  #9
                  I think you've made one of the classic mistakes (made equally by landlords and tenants) of failing to read the paperwork you signed.

                  On the face of it, it looks legally enforceable. I suggest you start talking to your landlord ASAP and see what you can negotiate.

                  Your landlord has (legally) the upper hand, so what can you offer him? I suggest the following....
                  1. You tart up the house to ikea show-room standards of cleanliness.
                  2. Landlord starts advertising straight away.
                  3. you agree to host viewings, do everything you can to 'sell' the property.
                  4. landlord agrees to waive some or all of the remaining period if you can help him to find his next tenant.

                  Be aware that your next landlord may not be happy if he discovers you have breached your current tenancy agreement.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by GrumpyGit View Post
                    On the face of it, it looks legally enforceable. I suggest you start talking to your landlord ASAP and see what you can negotiate.
                    There is no way that the notice period can be "enforced".
                    That's a complete non-starter.

                    There is nothing to negotiate.

                    The landlord has made three basic errors:
                    They have not understood the basic elements of a tenancy.
                    They have inserted a meaningless clause into the agreement,
                    They have pretended that it is an "individually negotiated" clause when it isn't.

                    It's also wrong nowadays to rely on "individually negotiated" clauses as being fair, as that hasn't been the case since 2015, but, to be fair, most people wouldn't know that.
                    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
                      The Landlord will be at liberty to sue for breach of contract and his consequential losses. Were I tenant I'd risk it, but I could manage any court action costs.
                      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...

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by theartfullodger View Post
                        The Landlord will be at liberty to sue for breach of contract and his consequential losses. Were I tenant I'd risk it, but I could manage any court action costs.
                        What loss?
                        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
                          Make sure you let them know your employment situation and will be unable to afford the rent. They might come to the conclusion it's better empty than with non paying tenants.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Thank you all for your help. In particular, thank you very much jpkeates for giving us more than enough confidence in our case to pursue and settle this without simply accepting what the agent is saying. I sincerely appreciate your help!

                            Hans

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Originally posted by jpkeates View Post
                              What loss?
                              Loss if landlord won breach of contract case - I guess award of no more the 2 month's rent plus small claims fees - £50?
                              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...

                              Comment

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