Have I an assured shorthold tenancy / can my landlord force me out in one month?

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    Have I an assured shorthold tenancy / can my landlord force me out in one month?

    There's a bit of a story here but I'm keen for any perspective. I've tried to stick to the salient points.

    My lease comes to an end July 31 (after a year) and the landlord is demanding we move out by the end of August (one month's notice after the end of the lease). The rent is £2300 but we were given a discount of £3500 in total for paying rent up front several times

    That is where things get complicated. The agent, it turned out, hadn't passed any of our rent over to the landlord. Instead, he had told the landlord that work that had needed doing on the house and that he was spending the rent on that. To us, he was telling us that the landlord had some cash flow problems and that the getting the cash up front was much easier for the landlord and hence the discount.

    In the end, we sought out the landlord earlier this year through another letting agent that we knew he dealt with. The landlord basically thinks we were unreasonable accepting the discount and appears to hold us to blame for his loss. He was demanding we paid back the discounted sum and that if we did he would let us sign another one year contract.

    In the meantime, we have been looking to buy a house and have found one that we're hoping to complete and exchange on relatively soon (second week of August). It's been empty for three years and needs a bit of work.

    I would really like to stay on till end-September or October and don't know where I stand with the landlord's notice that I need to be out by the end of August. I've been reading up and have a few open thoughts. I figure my best bet is to try to reason with the landlord and come to some arrangement but any specific insight would be welcome.

    1. The contract states its intention to create an assured shorthold tenancy but it seems that in itself is not enough. But does the rent having fallen below the £25000 limit mean that we are now in an AST? If that were the case and we carried on in a periodic tenancy, the amount would go up to the original rent: would that mean we wouldn't have an AST and would be back where we started?

    2. If we stay on past the end of the lease and the landlord accepts our rent does that create a new lease and more problems for the landlord if we try to be painful? Could that be why he's trying to get us out so quickly?

    3. If we aren't in an AST, it looks like he can serve just one month's notice. In practice, can he just send round the bailiffs or would he need a court order. I'm thinking the latter but that this would just give us an extra two weeks and might land us with the landlord's costs (any idea how much that would be)?

    Thanks in advance for any suggestions.

    Nick

    #2
    It depends on how much rent is lawfully payable. A tenancy can move into and out of the 1988 Act's scope, of course.
    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).

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