One-year AST; T leaves after 3 weeks (bereavement)

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    One-year AST; T leaves after 3 weeks (bereavement)

    The TA details:
    12 months AST. Individual tenancy. Minimum 8 months, ie. 6 months with 2 months notice. Tenant signed 3 weeks ago. The deposit was registered within the 14 day period.

    Quick story:
    1 Week after moving in her Grand mother supposedly passed away. She said she moved all her belongings out in the weekend just gone and will be posting keys to the letting agent. As she will be moving into her Grandmothers property in order to sort out bills, mortgage payments etc.. until the place is sold (probate). And cites she cannot afford to pay rent as well as pay her Grandmother's mortgage

    So, where do I as a LL stand legally on this?

    As far as the TA is concerned (and as far as I understand it) she is liable for the 8 months rent. Of course, the sensible thing is to advertise the room ASAP and release her as soon as a new tenant signs on.

    I have not been given documentation as proof of her Grandmother's death so do not know the legitimacy of her story. Nor do I want to ask in case I offend her if it is true.

    What advise do you have in this situation? I assume this has happened many a time to previous landlords before. Whether it is a scape-goat excuse or a genuine situation

    Any advice appreciated

    #2
    Legally, T has no right to terminate the letting (and you, as L, have no obligation to mitigate loss of rent) during fixed ]term.
    Morally, you might act a little better than insisting on her compliance with strict law. Try this:
    1. Ask T for evidence of the death. If there's no evidence, you're entitled to assume that she is lying.
    2. If it's true, tell her the strict legal position (above).
    3. Then, invite her to agree a deal.
    4. If she'll pay your extra costs [get her £££ in advance] and all rent pro tem [get at least one month's more rent], you'll seek new tenant (T2).
    5. If and when you start a new letting to T2, that will end T1's rent liability.
    JEFFREY SHAW, solicitor [and Topic Expert], Nether Edge Law*
    1. Public advice is believed accurate, but I accept no legal responsibility except to direct-paying private clients.
    2. Telephone advice: see http://www.landlordzone.co.uk/forums/showthread.php?t=34638.
    3. For paid advice about conveyancing/leaseholds/L&T, contact me* and become a private client.
    4. *- Contact info: click on my name (blue-highlight link).

    Comment


      #3
      Originally posted by sparkie View Post
      As she will be moving into her Grandmothers property in order to sort out bills, mortgage payments etc.. until the place is sold (probate). And cites she cannot afford to pay rent as well as pay her Grandmother's mortgage
      Why would she have to pay her grandmother's mortgage payments? Such payments are usually made by standing order and if not any necessary payments would be dealt with by GM's executors and come out of the GM's estate; I feel sure the mortgage company would allow for any delay in payments caused by death of the mortgagee upon production of a death certificate.


      As far as the TA is concerned (and as far as I understand it) she is liable for the 8 months rent. Of course, the sensible thing is to advertise the room ASAP and release her as soon as a new tenant signs on.

      I have not been given documentation as proof of her Grandmother's death so do not know the legitimacy of her story. Nor do I want to ask in case I offend her if it is true.
      It doesn't really matter whether it's true or not. Either way I would negotiate a deal whereby she remains liable for rent (and council tax) up to the date a new tenancy commences, plus any admin costs. T has no choice but to accept or remain liable for the full eight months.

      Comment


        #4
        Originally posted by westminster View Post
        Why would she have to pay her grandmother's mortgage payments? Such payments are usually made by standing order and if not any necessary payments would be dealt with by GM's executors and come out of the GM's estate; I feel sure the mortgage company would allow for any delay in payments caused by death of the mortgagee upon production of a death certificate.
        Absolutely. Upon death of an individual his/her bank account will be frozen anyway, and the lender will fully expect to paid at a later date. There will certainly be no onus on a next of kin to have to keep up the payments, so you could 'kindly' advise your tenant of this fact - I'm sure she'll be relieved to know. It also means she should have no bother in keeping up the contracted rent payments.

        I would guess that your tenant has suddenly found herself with free accommodation (whether or not GM has actually died, or moved elsewhere, or just has a spare room available) and doesn't want her rented property any more.

        [EDIT] PS:
        Originally posted by sparkie View Post
        I have not been given documentation as proof of her Grandmother's death so do not know the legitimacy of her story. Nor do I want to ask in case I offend her if it is true.
        Notwithstanding my answer above, if you do want to allow your tenant to move out unimpeded, then you really shouldn't worry about that. I am currently acting as executor of a relative's estate and have been asked by any number of institutions to send in original copies of death certificates. I am not in the least offended by this, it's simply the way it has to be. You are not the tenant's friend, you are in a business transaction with her, and it's through that relationship that you need evidence of the death. If you allow her to move out you will lose money, so you are perfectly entitled to ask for the evidence if that's what you choose.

        If you're really squeamish about this, tell her a story about your accountant requesting the death certificate to enable you to offset the lost rent as a business expense or something...

        Comment


          #5
          Opposite argument:
          Perhaps the Deceased devised the mortgaged property subject to the continuing mortgage (which is possible). Assent by PRs would incorporate new covenants by Beneficiary in favour of Mortgagee, in consideration of Mortgagee releasing Deceased's Estate from mortgage covenants.
          JEFFREY SHAW, solicitor [and Topic Expert], Nether Edge Law*
          1. Public advice is believed accurate, but I accept no legal responsibility except to direct-paying private clients.
          2. Telephone advice: see http://www.landlordzone.co.uk/forums/showthread.php?t=34638.
          3. For paid advice about conveyancing/leaseholds/L&T, contact me* and become a private client.
          4. *- Contact info: click on my name (blue-highlight link).

          Comment


            #6
            OP, are you sure it's 8 months? More normally 6 months notice being given the appropriate length of time before the 6 months are up.

            Comment


              #7
              Thanks for all your advice. Can anyone suggest a tactful and respectful written request for proof of her grandmothers death?

              I have never had to deal with this scenario and want to thread carefully.

              I'd appreciate any example paragraphs you could kindly word/suggest

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by Telometer View Post
                OP, are you sure it's 8 months? More normally 6 months notice being given the appropriate length of time before the 6 months are up.
                Yes, the AST that the tenant signed states 8 months minimum. That's standard on all my tenancy agreements unless otherwise negotiated prior to signing. If a tenant negotiated a 6 months minimum agreement, then it would be 4+2 months notice. I always state a minimum 2 months notice to give enough time to find a suitable tenant

                Comment


                  #9
                  Dear............

                  Following your request to terminate your tenancy as a result of the unfortunate decease of your grandmother, for which please accept my deepest condolences, in order to further consider your request, please may I have sight of a copy of the death certificate.

                  I appreciate that this is a distressing time for you and I would like to offer whatever assistance and concessions I can towards the situation you have found yourself in.

                  I enclose a stamped and addressed envelope for you to send the certificate in

                  (optional wording ) And if I find out this is all a scam, you will be reported for presenting a fraudulent document with intent to decieve and your lodging problems may well be solved by a stay at one of Her Majesty's hotels - the ones that have HMP before their name and the guests do not have their own key!!!!!

                  Yours sincerely,




                  Bill the Landlord.



                  When and if you get the certificate - check it out, photocopies can be altered, or she could get someone elses grannies certificate.

                  If she does not send the certificate - treat it as an attempted fraud and report it to the police.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    ...report it to the police...


                    You are 'avin' a larf, aren't you.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Originally posted by davidjohnbutton View Post
                      "...in order to further consider your request, please may I have sight of a copy of the death certificate...
                      ...and details of your grandmother's solicitors".

                      This'll safeguard against a fake certificate. OP can write to the solicitors for confirmation that T's story is true. (Not that it makes any difference as to T's liability for rent).

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by davidjohnbutton View Post
                        Dear............

                        Following your request to terminate your tenancy as a result of the unfortunate decease of your grandmother, for which please accept my deepest condolences, in order to further consider your request, please may I have sight of a copy of the death certificate.

                        I appreciate that this is a distressing time for you and I would like to offer whatever assistance and concessions I can towards the situation you have found yourself in.

                        I enclose a stamped and addressed envelope for you to send the certificate in

                        (optional wording ) And if I find out this is all a scam, you will be reported for presenting a fraudulent document with intent to decieve and your lodging problems may well be solved by a stay at one of Her Majesty's hotels - the ones that have HMP before their name and the guests do not have their own key!!!!!

                        Yours sincerely,




                        Bill the Landlord.



                        When and if you get the certificate - check it out, photocopies can be altered, or she could get someone elses grannies certificate.

                        If she does not send the certificate - treat it as an attempted fraud and report it to the police.

                        Thanks for the letter. You were joking about the 'optional' wording right? And the last sentence above about attempted fraud and reporting it to the police.. would they really bother to act?

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Originally posted by Telometer View Post
                          OP, are you sure it's 8 months? More normally 6 months notice being given the appropriate length of time before the 6 months are up.
                          Sorry, forgot to add that, its a 6 months break clause + 2 months notice, hence the 8 months.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Thanks for all the replies and advice. I'll ask for the death certificate etc.. and see what response I get from her. Will report back

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Originally posted by westminster View Post
                              ...and details of your grandmother's solicitors".

                              This'll safeguard against a fake certificate. OP can write to the solicitors for confirmation that T's story is true. (Not that it makes any difference as to T's liability for rent).
                              UPDATE:

                              I asked for her solicitors details. This is her response:

                              "Her property does not have to go to probate with any lawyers as my father has shares in the association that runs the entire development. I am currently awaiting the chairman of the Association to provide me with a letter which confirms my father has authorised me with permission to live at that residence until the property can be sold."

                              Does this sound valid and possibly true?

                              She emailed me a scanned certificate. No original by post yet. Scans are easy to doctor. Is there a UK death register online to check if her Grandmothers details are registered?

                              I have told her she is liable for rent and rates till the end of her tenancy end date. Unless an early surrender subject to certain conditions is negotiated.

                              She has replied by saying she is now prepared to forfeit her deposit.

                              Should I advertise her room and try to get someone in ASAP. of hold her to her contract?

                              Comment

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