Fixed term tenancy - notice required? (Landlord withholding deposit!)

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    Fixed term tenancy - notice required? (Landlord withholding deposit!)

    Hi all - apologies for the lengthy post but i'm at my wits end with my old landlord. Any help gratefully received!

    I moved into an apartment on 19 April 2011 under a fixed term tenancy lasting 12 months and 11 days (end date: 30 April 2012).

    In February the Letting Agent (LA) asked what I was intending to do at the end of my fixed term tenancy. I informed him that I wasn't happy with the "notice to seek repossession" notices I had received from the landlords mortgage company and didn’t feel comfortable with them coming through the door, despite his reassurances that they were “nothing”. I told him I would be looking for somewhere else to live. He said he was happy for the tenancy to roll onto a monthly tenancy on the same terms of my fixed tenancy (including a 2 month notice period) if I hadn't found somewhere by the end of April 2012. At this point I did tell him that I thought 2 months was an excessive notice period because no new landlord would hold a property for that long. He told me it was tough because “that’s what’s in the contract and you signed it”. He did not re-advertise the property.

    I checked my tenancy agreement and the 2 month notice period he refers to is a break clause which allows either party to give 2 months notice to end the agreement after the initial 6 months has passed. It makes no mention of notice being required to end the tenancy at the end of the fixed term.

    In the last week of April, I found a new property and called the LA to inform him that I would be handing my notice in with a view to vacating the flat at end of May, at which point I would have moved into a statutory periodic tenancy. He became irate and told me that a minimum of 2 months notice was required, as per the tenancy agreement.

    As I understood it, my fixed term tenancy was due to come to an end on 30 April 2012 and if I remained in the property after that date I would move into a rolling tenancy which would require only 1 months notice (following frequency of my rent payments). I explained this to him and he was adamant that either way 2 months notice was required. He then went on to say that I had entered into a verbal agreement in our February phone call to extend the tenancy on the same terms (including the notice period)! To my mind it was a statement of fact that once the fixed term ended that I would move into a rolling contract and legally only 1 months notice would be required. Throughout these phone calls he was shouting at me and clearly trying to bully me!

    I did a bit of internet research and found some posts that indicated I would be well within my rights to vacate at the end of the fixed term without notice. I called the landlord back to tell him I would give 1 months notice as a courtesy. Again rejected this and insisted on 2 months notice.
    I felt trapped in a flat I didn't want to stay in and feared I would lose the new house (which the new landlord had kindly agreed to hold for me until end May) so I told him I would be leaving at the end of the fixed term and moved out on 29th April. I’m living with my grandparents for the 2 weeks until the new house is available.

    The LA is now refusing to return my deposit because he did not receive any notice. He has offered to “settle” by keeping my deposit as full and final settlement for my notice period!

    Throughout my tenancy all rent and bills have been paid on time and the flat has been kept immaculately as though it were my own. To my mind I have fulfilled my contractual obligations by paying all rent due up to 30 April 2012 and do not owe him anything further – hence I would like my full deposit back.

    My deposit is protected with the DPS and I have raised a dispute but I just wanted to check where I stand on this. Am I right in asking for my full deposit back??

    If you have an assured shorthold tenancy then you have no legal need to give notice at the end of a fixed term tenancy - although as you appreciate, it is polite to do so. Many landlords dispute this, but this document by Shelter on the Housing Law Practitioners Association website outlines the law involved (MS Word Reqd).

    You should win your DPS claim through arbitration without problem.


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