Agent stalling regarding renewal terms - what can I do?

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    Agent stalling regarding renewal terms - what can I do?

    Sadly, I think I already know the answers to my questions (as usual, the tenant loses) but I thought I would ask you kind folk for your advice.

    I am on a joint lease with a friend of mine in a London property. Our 6 month lease is almost up (just over a month left) and nearly 3 months ago we received the customary written request from the agents, asking us to indicate our intentions regarding renewing it. As usual, we responded in record time - with well over 2.5 months still left on the lease. We also agreed to a rent increase for the renewal (as this was a condition of the previous 6 month renewal).

    After the customary 1 month wait to hear anything from the agent (despite sending them reminder emails), we had an email back saying the landlord wanted a 12 month lease with 6 month break clause (instead of a 6 month lease, which is what we had previously been on).

    In principle we aren't against this, but we asked that the agent reply with:
    a) confirmation that the rental would be fixed for the duration next lease (or not) and
    b) written confirmation of what the procedures would be if one of us decided to move out, either inside or outside the break clause period.

    As usual, I've had no reply for 3 weeks. If I call, the agent is conveniently not in and if I email, I get no response. If I leave a message, this is never returned.

    I cannot help but think that the agency is just stalling us until there is less than one month to go, so that we are pressurised into agreeing to whatever terms are set. That seems very unfair to me. It's not like the property will not let if we are not happy with the terms and vacate, but leaving us less than a month to do so if we are not in agreement just frankly pi$$es me off.

    It would not be the first time that the agent has engaged in (what I would call) 'less than ethical' treatment of us tenants (just look for my previous post to see what I mean). I think they tell us only what we want to hear and (like the average sod) we are none the wiser to their hidden agendas. I don't trust them at all.

    I'm also well aware that the olympics are rolling around next year, more or less 12 months after the start date of our new agreement (should we choose to accept it). How coincidental that the landlord now wants a 12 month agreement! Lock the current tenants in, and get rid of them in 12 months time when it's time to rent out the place for fat stacks of cash. But hey I am a businessman as well and would probably do the same if I had a property to rent in London.

    Now that you've read my (no doubt very common) sad story, can anyone give some advice on:

    1. Is there ANYTHING I can do to move the agent along in terms of answering my questions and stop us from being forced at the last minute into a new lease on whatever terms the landlord/agency feel like?

    2. Assuming we do reach an agreement and pick up a new 12 month lease, should I approach the agency asking if the landlord intends to rent the place out for the olympics? Or am I playing my hand too early there? Or maybe I can somehow prevent that from happening by insisting on a certain condition of the new lease. Any suggestions on this one are appreciated. I have a feeling it's going to be a very hot topic in about 12 months time!

    Any help is much appreciated.

    #2
    Originally posted by JetPil0t View Post
    Sadly, I think I already know the answers to my questions (as usual, the tenant loses) but I thought I would ask you kind folk for your advice.

    I am on a joint lease with a friend of mine in a London property. Our 6 month lease is almost up (just over a month left) and nearly 3 months ago we received the customary written request from the agents, asking us to indicate our intentions regarding renewing it. As usual, we responded in record time - with well over 2.5 months still left on the lease. We also agreed to a rent increase for the renewal (as this was a condition of the previous 6 month renewal).

    After the customary 1 month wait to hear anything from the agent (despite sending them reminder emails), we had an email back saying the landlord wanted a 12 month lease with 6 month break clause (instead of a 6 month lease, which is what we had previously been on).

    In principle we aren't against this, but we asked that the agent reply with:
    a) confirmation that the rental would be fixed for the duration next lease (or not) and
    b) written confirmation of what the procedures would be if one of us decided to move out, either inside or outside the break clause period.

    As usual, I've had no reply for 3 weeks. If I call, the agent is conveniently not in and if I email, I get no response. If I leave a message, this is never returned.

    I cannot help but think that the agency is just stalling us until there is less than one month to go, so that we are pressurised into agreeing to whatever terms are set. That seems very unfair to me. It's not like the property will not let if we are not happy with the terms and vacate, but leaving us less than a month to do so if we are not in agreement just frankly pi$$es me off.

    It would not be the first time that the agent has engaged in (what I would call) 'less than ethical' treatment of us tenants (just look for my previous post to see what I mean). I think they tell us only what we want to hear and (like the average sod) we are none the wiser to their hidden agendas. I don't trust them at all.

    I'm also well aware that the olympics are rolling around next year, more or less 12 months after the start date of our new agreement (should we choose to accept it). How coincidental that the landlord now wants a 12 month agreement! Lock the current tenants in, and get rid of them in 12 months time when it's time to rent out the place for fat stacks of cash. But hey I am a businessman as well and would probably do the same if I had a property to rent in London.

    Now that you've read my (no doubt very common) sad story, can anyone give some advice on:

    1. Is there ANYTHING I can do to move the agent along in terms of answering my questions and stop us from being forced at the last minute into a new lease on whatever terms the landlord/agency feel like?

    2. Assuming we do reach an agreement and pick up a new 12 month lease, should I approach the agency asking if the landlord intends to rent the place out for the olympics? Or am I playing my hand too early there? Or maybe I can somehow prevent that from happening by insisting on a certain condition of the new lease. Any suggestions on this one are appreciated. I have a feeling it's going to be a very hot topic in about 12 months time!

    Any help is much appreciated.
    You're under disillusions as to the ease of which LL/Agent would be able to get rid of you! Indeed if the tenancy were to run periodic this could be beneficial to you - reduced notice periods etc.
    [I]The opinions I give are simply my opinions and interpretations of what I have learnt, in numerous years as a property professional, I would not rely upon them without consulting with a paid advisor and providing them with all the relevant facts[I]

    Comment


      #3
      Originally posted by MrJohnnyB View Post
      You're under disillusions as to the ease of which LL/Agent would be able to get rid of you! Indeed if the tenancy were to run periodic this could be beneficial to you - reduced notice periods etc.
      I take your point regarding the agreement going to periodic - had not thought about it that way before! At what point are we 'safe' in terms of the agreement rolling over to periodic?

      Am I correct in guessing that if the tenancy goes into the last calendar month and we haven't signed a new fixed term lease, then we cannot be forced to leave at the end of the month? I'm sure there are some disadvantages to the agreement going periodic though - most notably rent increase notices...are there any other major ones that I haven't though of?

      Comment


        #4
        Originally posted by JetPil0t View Post
        I take your point regarding the agreement going to periodic - had not thought about it that way before! At what point are we 'safe' in terms of the agreement rolling over to periodic?

        Am I correct in guessing that if the tenancy goes into the last calendar month and we haven't signed a new fixed term lease, then we cannot be forced to leave at the end of the month? I'm sure there are some disadvantages to the agreement going periodic though - most notably rent increase notices...are there any other major ones that I haven't though of?
        You are still entitled to 2 months notice even during the fixed period... I do not believe, without creating a new agreement the landlord can increase the rent until 12 months after the inception of the intial agremeent or 12 months since the last rental increase, doing so would require a s13 notice. In any event this can only be increased to market level which, if failing to be agreed between the parties would go to a rent committee... Is the property being let at current market level? If not you can roughly tell what the open market value would be through sites such as rightmove etc.
        [I]The opinions I give are simply my opinions and interpretations of what I have learnt, in numerous years as a property professional, I would not rely upon them without consulting with a paid advisor and providing them with all the relevant facts[I]

        Comment


          #5
          Thanks - some useful info on the notice periods is in this post:
          http://www.landlordzone.co.uk/forums...ms-(inc.-rent)
          although it's from 2008...do you think it still applies?

          Regarding the rent increase - can you elaborate why you don't think that "without creating a new agreement the landlord can increase the rent until 12 months after the inception of the intial agremeent or 12 months since the last rental increase, doing so would require a s13 notice" - is this a statutory rule? I haven't checked (yet) but I'm sure the existing tenancy agreement will have some sneaky clause in it basically saying "the landlord can increase the rent whenever they want". Would such a clause be unenforceable?

          I would say the rent increase is fair i.t.o the market. In principle we're OK with it (but not signing any new agreement until the agent answers our other questions about avoiding ANOTHER increase in the next 12 months, procedures if 1 of us wants to leave, etc).

          What is interesting is that they tried to push this increase on us 6 months ago (which was only 6 months after the initial agreement). Possibly of interest, the initial agreement was initially a statutory as opposed to AST agreement, due to the annual rent amount exceeding the threshold, before they changed the law to increase the threshold last year. It became an AST automatically at some point during the initial 6 months (so it was an AST, but not even for 6 months, when the rent increase was initially requested). Now when the tenancy is renewed, it will be 12 months since the initial agreement. Not sure if that is relevant, but just so you have all the facts.

          I'd dearly love to know if:
          - The initial request to increase the rent was legal (water under the bridge now anyway, but possibly further ammo for if I am forced to go after these agents further down the road..)
          - There is any law preventing another increase inside 12 months (assuming we sign a 12 month AST renewal at an increased rent)?
          - What about if we end up on a periodic - I guess the landlord can give us the s13 notice straight away?

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by JetPil0t View Post

            Regarding the rent increase - can you elaborate why you don't think that "without creating a new agreement the landlord can increase the rent until 12 months after the inception of the intial agremeent or 12 months since the last rental increase, doing so would require a s13 notice" - is this a statutory rule? I haven't checked (yet) but I'm sure the existing tenancy agreement will have some sneaky clause in it basically saying "the landlord can increase the rent whenever they want". Would such a clause be unenforceable?

            I would say the rent increase is fair i.t.o the market. In principle we're OK with it (but not signing any new agreement until the agent answers our other questions about avoiding ANOTHER increase in the next 12 months, procedures if 1 of us wants to leave, etc).

            What is interesting is that they tried to push this increase on us 6 months ago (which was only 6 months after the initial agreement). Possibly of interest, the initial agreement was initially a statutory as opposed to AST agreement, due to the annual rent amount exceeding the threshold, before they changed the law to increase the threshold last year. It became an AST automatically at some point during the initial 6 months (so it was an AST, but not even for 6 months, when the rent increase was initially requested). Now when the tenancy is renewed, it will be 12 months since the initial agreement. Not sure if that is relevant, but just so you have all the facts.

            I'd dearly love to know if:
            - The initial request to increase the rent was legal (water under the bridge now anyway, but possibly further ammo for if I am forced to go after these agents further down the road..)
            - There is any law preventing another increase inside 12 months (assuming we sign a 12 month AST renewal at an increased rent)?
            - What about if we end up on a periodic - I guess the landlord can give us the s13 notice straight away?
            Rent cannot be increased within 12 months of the inception of a lease or 12 months since the last rental increase because the housing act 1998 says so. As your previous agreement was for a term of 6 months, in theory your rent cannot unilateraly be increased for 6 months.
            [I]The opinions I give are simply my opinions and interpretations of what I have learnt, in numerous years as a property professional, I would not rely upon them without consulting with a paid advisor and providing them with all the relevant facts[I]

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by MrJohnnyB View Post
              Rent cannot be increased within 12 months of the inception of a lease or 12 months since the last rental increase because the housing act 1998 says so. As your previous agreement was for a term of 6 months, in theory your rent cannot unilateraly be increased for 6 months.
              I think you mean 1988 not 1998...anyway, I'm not sure I agree with that. I had a read of this page:
              http://www.landlordzone.co.uk/legal/...t-increase.htm

              Just to be clear:
              a) The initial joint agreement was 6 months and not an AST originally (it could not be, because of the threshold for annual rent value - so it was a Statutory tenancy) but (due to the law change last year) it automatically became an AST about 4 months in.
              b) When the rent increase was initially requested after 6 months, the lease (which had already become an AST) was coming to an end. We did not accept that rent increase and agreed to a new 6 month AST (the current one, which is coming to an end next month) AND we agreed as part of signing that agreement, to a rent increase at the end of the new 6 month term.

              I agree the housing act (and the link above) talk about the rent not being increased if it has been increased in the last 12 months, but I can only see that mentioned under *NON* AST agreements (section 13), which is in Chapter I, and under Chapter II (where Assured Shorthold Tenancies are discussed) I see no mention of rent increase rules.

              Unless I have misread something?

              Sorry if we appear to be getting a bit off topic here - but what I'm trying to ascertain is: if we agree to a new AST (either 6 months or 12) *AND* we agree to a rent increase (as I said, in principle we are OK with it), I just want to clarify when the rent can legally be increased again (and can it be done INSIDE the term of the new AST agreement).

              Unfortunately as I said before, I do not trust the agent at all, so trying to think of everything...

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by JetPil0t View Post
                Sorry if we appear to be getting a bit off topic here - but what I'm trying to ascertain is: if we agree to a new AST (either 6 months or 12) *AND* we agree to a rent increase (as I said, in principle we are OK with it), I just want to clarify when the rent can legally be increased again (and can it be done INSIDE the term of the new AST agreement).
                The rent cannot be increased for the duration of the fixed term plainly.
                [I]The opinions I give are simply my opinions and interpretations of what I have learnt, in numerous years as a property professional, I would not rely upon them without consulting with a paid advisor and providing them with all the relevant facts[I]

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by JetPil0t View Post
                  what I'm trying to ascertain is: if we agree to a new AST (either 6 months or 12) *AND* we agree to a rent increase (as I said, in principle we are OK with it), I just want to clarify when the rent can legally be increased again (and can it be done INSIDE the term of the new AST agreement).
                  A statutory periodic tenancy will automatically arise if you remain in occupation after fixed term expiry and don't renew the fixed term. The terms of the expired contract carry through into the SPT (e.g. rent payable etc) except for any provision relating to notice. In a SPT, T must give at least one month's notice, LL two - the notice must also expire at the end of a tenancy period.

                  Note that LL's (s.21) notice is not a 'notice to quit'. It would merely entitle him to apply for possession after the notice expired, and the tenancy would continue until he obtained and enforced a possession order (if the tenancy didn't meanwhile end by you serving notice etc).

                  If you agree a new AST and it does not contain a provision relating to rent increases, your rent cannot be increased during the fixed term by s.13 procedure. If a statutory periodic tenancy arises after fixed term expiry, then LL may increase the rent by s.13 procedure. He can't increase it again for another 12 months.

                  If you agree a new AST and it does contain a provision for rent increases, such provision would apply during the fixed term and would also carry through into a statutory periodic tenancy. LL could not use s.13 procedure.

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