Ending of a tenancy

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    Ending of a tenancy

    Hello,

    I am a landlord with a tenancy fixed term ending in March. My tenants emailed to say they will be leaving, giving two month notice.

    I will be marketing the property to find new tenants. How do I know that am I protected from the event of the tenants staying beyond the end of the fixed term and potentially overlapping with new tenants moving in soon after the fixed term - when the existing tenants have not moved out?

    I do want to reduce void times as much as possible but at the same time not sure about legal position in the worst case scenario - given I would have agreed a new tenancy with new tenants etc?

    Is the notice existing tenants gave enough?

    Thanks

    #2
    I don't market properties until the tenants have left - properties full of tenants' possessions aren't at their best, and there made be things you need to do to smarten it up or fix.

    It's not actually possible for a tenant to give valid notice during a fixed term, so you couldn't rely on it 100%.
    But it's most likely to happen.

    The tenant can leave at the end of the fixed term without notice.
    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
      OK.

      But where do I stand legally?

      If tenants agree to leave as per email, but they don't actually leave, meanwhile new tenant is due to move in. Can I claim all costs, including new tenants claims from me, from existing tenants?

      Comment


        #4
        Originally posted by leasee123 View Post
        OK.

        But where do I stand legally?

        If tenants agree to leave as per email, but they don't actually leave, meanwhile new tenant is due to move in. Can I claim all costs, including new tenants claims from me, from existing tenants?
        No way! The current tenant's agreement continues under a periodic tenancy if they don't leave and rent is sitll payable. It is totally your fault if you have let the premises to others without having vacant possession.



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

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by leasee123 View Post
          OK.

          But where do I stand legally?

          If tenants agree to leave as per email, but they don't actually leave, meanwhile new tenant is due to move in. Can I claim all costs, including new tenants claims from me, from existing tenants?
          Potentially but you are expected to mitigate your costs. Signing a new tenancy agreement with someone else before the current tenants move out would be very foolish.

          Comment


            #6
            Although nobody likes voids, I much prefer showing tenants an empty, ready-to-let property. People can't see through other people's possessions (or mess) and do not necessarily believe you when you say it will be repainted / cleaned / repaired etc.

            Much better to show a prospective tenant the finished article than to risk a tenant not moving out and all the problems that may entail.

            Comment


              #7
              Assuming the worst case (existing tenants do not move out), at what point can a new tenant sue me for breach of contract? Only when AST is signed or before?

              Can I accept an offer from a new tenant conditional on existing tenants leaving?

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by leasee123 View Post
                ...................

                I will be marketing the property to find new tenants. How do I know that am I protected from the event of the tenants staying beyond the end of the fixed term and potentially overlapping with new tenants moving in soon after the fixed term - when the existing tenants have not moved out?

                ..............
                How are you protected? Simple, by not signing any new agreement nor making any "promises", probably not taking any holding deposit, until both...
                a) Tenants have actually left &
                b) all tenant's goods & belongings are gone, any repairs sorted, place decorated as you would wish.

                Until tenants have left you don't know three key things....
                a) When will they actual leave??
                b) What needs doing before new tenants move in... (you make make a guess from an inspection prior to departure, but that will only be a guess...)
                c) How long to do things found in (b).

                Gaps between tenancies (voids) are an obvious expense/issue that face any landlord. Budget for it!
                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


                  #9
                  Originally posted by leasee123 View Post
                  But where do I stand legally?

                  If tenants agree to leave as per email, but they don't actually leave, meanwhile new tenant is due to move in. Can I claim all costs, including new tenants claims from me, from existing tenants?
                  If the tenant's notice was valid, when it expires, the tenancy ends.
                  If they then don't leave, they are holding over, and you can take immediate court action to evict them (the costs of which they would have to bear) and claim "mesne profit" at a rate of twice the value of the rent.

                  You would be liable for any loss incurred by the incoming tenant as a consequence of your breach of contract.

                  As I don't think the tenant's notice is valid in this case, they would simply be in breach of their promise in their email and you could try and claim your losses on that basis, but I'm not sure you'd succeed.

                  It's possible that, even though the tenant's notice isn't valid, by accepting it and communicating that to the tenant, it's been made valid. But that's not definite.

                  It's unusual for a tenancy agreement to allow a tenant to serve notice by email, normally there's an address that is to be used to send notices (although this isn't always the case).

                  Most tenants move out when they say they're going to (or just before).
                  It's just that, if they don't for some reason, and you've got a tenant moving in the next few days, it can go horribly wrong.
                  And it's not simply that the tenant might be wrong about their intention to leave, they could simply fall ill or fall over at an inconvenient time.
                  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


                    #10
                    Originally posted by leasee123 View Post
                    Hello,

                    I am a landlord with a tenancy fixed term ending in March. My tenants emailed to say they will be leaving, giving two month notice.

                    ..................

                    Is the notice existing tenants gave enough?
                    ....
                    A tenant may not give any notice during fixed term to leave during that fixed term. But you and tenant can agree an early surrender (eg today @ 17:35.). Indeed they don;t need to give any notice to leave by the end of fixed term. You can't force them out expect through court (eg using s8..)

                    In those circumstances I'd be very happy to see something from tenants saying they would be going, but you have to wait & see what happens.
                    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


                      #11
                      Thanks jpkeates for that comprehensive reply.

                      How do I know whether a notice is valid or not? The AST allows for notices to be sent via email with the addresses explicitly stated.

                      I don't expect at all for my tenants to do anything untoward, however, as you mention, things can happen beyond their control which could mean they end up staying whilst a new tenant(s) are due to move in at the same time. That was really my concern.

                      It is a risk I am wondering others take as well? Especially for lower yielding properties in London (which is where mine is), where every month of void costs quite a lot.

                      If I do find tenants and accept offer and holding deposit, at what point does it constitute a legally binding contract? On acceptance of a holding deposit or signing of the agreement or something else?

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by leasee123 View Post
                        How do I know whether a notice is valid or not? The AST allows for notices to be sent via email with the addresses explicitly stated.
                        The problem is that if the tenant doesn't move out before the fixed term ends, a periodic tenancy is created automatically, and that process renders the tenant's notice void.
                        So the notice can be valid now and be invalid in future.

                        It is a risk I am wondering others take as well? Especially for lower yielding properties in London (which is where mine is), where every month of void costs quite a lot.
                        If it costs a lot when void, you might want to consider getting rid of it.
                        If, rather than actual cost, you mean you lose income, I'd plan for that - I plan for 11 month's income per annum and that one month's rent will be absorbed by some kind of repair costs.
                        I generally do better than that, but it sets my expectation so I don't plan as though I've got 12 month's income coming in.

                        If I do find tenants and accept offer and holding deposit, at what point does it constitute a legally binding contract? On acceptance of a holding deposit or signing of the agreement or something else?
                        It depends on the basis on which you take a holding deposit.
                        Normally it's an agreement to stop advertising the property to anyone else, but you can usually return the deposit which simply ends the agreement at that point.
                        I don't take holding deposits, so I'm not that familiar with how they work.

                        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
                          It's invalid if they are leaving before end of fixed term. That's how fixed terms work (unless break clauses). Tenant can't give notice during it, landlord can only give notice if breach of some s8 grounds (eg not paying rent...)
                          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


                            #14
                            As Artful says, the tenants notice is invalid as its served during the fixed term, (unless you have a contractual periodic tenancy), so you can't legally rely on them moving out and would have no recourse if the changed their minds and stayed on.

                            New tenants would likely sue you for their hotel costs or seek a lump sum ex-gratia payment to release you from the contract.

                            Just wait until they leave.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              I don't want to rain on everyone's parade, but I do not wait for tenants to move out before marketing the property, and I sign the new tenancy agreement providing the current tenant has not attempted to rescind the notice/everything seems to point to them leaving, when they said they would. A 6 week void is too long for me, I don't want that sort of loss.

                              I do a pre moving out inspection, which basically lays out expectations as to cleaning and making good any damage, and gives me time to plan for any remedial work needing doing.

                              For me it has worked well.

                              Op if your tenant has given notice, there is a huge likelihood they will be moving out when they say they will.
                              If they don't, yes you will be in breach of contract, but the damages the prospective tenant would be able to recover will probably not be much more than that 6 week void, if they bothered, and most wouldn't.

                              Comment

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