Some AST Questions (Deposit, Tenancy Agreement etc.)

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    Some AST Questions (Deposit, Tenancy Agreement etc.)

    Hello,

    I hope you're well. As a tenant, I have some questions regarding an AST. First, some background info...

    The agreement was signed in December 2011 and the term is shown as 2 months as initially agreed. About a month in to the agreement, I received a text message from the LL asking if it would be ok to change this to a 6 month agreement. At the time, I thought I would be staying for more than that so replied saying something along the lines of "Yes, that's fine" - though I no longer have a copy of this conversation as my phone was stolen some time ago.

    I heard nothing back regarding a 6 month contract until midway through April when I received an email with it attached. The end date showed as July 2012 which to me, is an 8 month contract.

    As this was never signed, I assumed that the tenancy had become statutory periodic and as such, provided my LL with 1 months notice on 1st May that I would be ending the tenancy. I received an email back stating I couldn't leave early as the 6 month agreement was in effect and they wouldn't agree to early termination.

    I emailed back advising that as far as I was aware, no 6 month (or 8 month as the agreement was in fact drafted as) had been signed hence I was well within my right to provide 1 months notice. He then emailed back stating "I want to to leave ASAP before your end date, let me know when you've gone". I've emailed him advising I'll be leaving on the 20th May (as he stated he wanted me out earlier) and have agreed for him to come and check the room before I leave.

    My questions are:
    • Although a text message conversation between the LL and I said "Yes that's fine" when asked about a 6 month tenancy, the agreement I received by email was for 8 months and was never signed, is this legally binding?
    • In terms of deposit, I asked the LL which scheme it was protected with and received no reply, I have since found out it is protected by one of them. Every time I ask him about the process of getting this back, I get no response. What are my options?


    Apologies for the lengthy post, I hope you are able to assist with your knowledge, and thanks in advance. Feel free to ask any questions.

    Many thanks again!

    #2
    He offered a 6 month extension, you agreed to it.
    Allow tenants to protect their own deposits. I want free money when they do it wrong

    Comment


      #3
      Originally posted by thesaint View Post
      He offered a 6 month extension, you agreed to it.
      Thanks for your reply. I don't have a copy of the conversation any more as previously stated, however I am 99% certain the wording was 'would it be ok to change to a 6 month contract' rather than 'extend' in which case, the end date would be end of May anyway as the initial agreement was signed in Decemeber.

      Am I right in thinking that? And if so, by law, I wouldn't need to provide notice anyway as I could leave at the end of the fixed term without providing notice, in theory?

      All this is hypothetical to whether me saying "yes, that's fine" would consider the change from a 2 month term to a 6 month term being legally binding.

      Comment


        #4
        I see.
        If you agreed to a six month fixed term instead of a 2, then that is what the fixed term is.

        In all honesty, without anything to prove otherwise, I would work on that basis and let them prove otherwise.

        When did your tenancy start, and how did you serve notice?
        Allow tenants to protect their own deposits. I want free money when they do it wrong

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by thesaint View Post
          I see.
          If you agreed to a six month fixed term instead of a 2, then that is what the fixed term is.

          In all honesty, without anything to prove otherwise, I would work on that basis and let them prove otherwise.

          When did your tenancy start, and how did you serve notice?
          The tenancy started on 23rd December. So a 6 month tenancy would in fact mean it would end on 23rd June, not 23rd May. Notice was served via email.

          So I guess the real question is - is a text message legally binding? I can see this being a grey area.

          Comment


            #6
            22nd I think..

            The problem with verbal contracts is proving what was agreed. Try negotiating?? Landlord has very little proof of his position either...
            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


              #7
              Ahh yes, 22nd. I tried advising him that the copy of the signed agreement I have is 2 months meaning it was now statutory periodic as we're now 5 months in, however his response was initially that I'd be breaching the agreement if I left early.

              He then sent a further email saying "If you would move out ASAP" which to me would suggest he accepts my notice(?) Before receiving another email with regards to checking the room stating "Just for the record this is not an agreement to you breaching your agreement. We are just looking to see if the place has been left clean and without damage."

              I'm confused as to whether he's accepted my notice to leave, or whether he doesn't accept it but still understands I'll be leaving. The thing I'm worried about most is the deposit - I feel he may withhold it. Does he have any right to do so if the room is left in a clean and undamaged state? Might be worth noting that an inventory was never completed at the start of the tenancy either.

              Comment


                #8
                It is not clear which (if any) scheme protected your deposit.

                If it is not protected, you can submit a claim for the return of the deposit through the county court and the landlord will have to counterclaim for anything he thinks he should be allowed to keep - he will need compelling proof for that. You could also sue for non-compliance with the deposit protection laws, but that is a much more expensive proposition.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Hi Snorkerz,

                  I was never provided with details of the deposit scheme used though I have found out myself that it is protected by MyDeposits.

                  The fact that it's protected provides me with some comfort as there'll be a dispute procedure to go through if it comes to it, but I just wanted to know where I stood in terms of whether a text message is legally binding when it comes to changing the terms of a tenancy agreement, information I've found here: http://www.adviceguide.org.uk/englan...ancy_agreement suggests that changes to tenancy agreements should be made in writing by amending the current agreement or creating a new one.

                  Given this was incorrect when provided with it in mid-April (for 7 months, not 6) and never signed, would I be right in assuming the initial 2 month agreement is current?

                  Comment


                    #10
                    He offered, you agreed, text or no text.
                    Allow tenants to protect their own deposits. I want free money when they do it wrong

                    Comment


                      #11
                      RE: deposit protection. The arbitration/dispute service is optional. If either party declines it, then you will have to go through the courts anyway.

                      HOWEVER, you do have a little leverage. If he hasn't provided you with the information about the scheme (called 'prescribed information') you could sue him and not only obtain the deposit back but also a further 1-3 times the deposit. Don't get your hopes up (£ signs in the eyes!) it is a very expensive claim, but you could do it. It would be in the landlords interests to keep you sweet. In case you need to convince the landlord, it is the 2004 Housing Act as amended by the 2010 Localism Act.

                      With regard to your text - the judge has to decide questions like this 'on the balance of probabilities' - who does he think is right? If your landlord comes up with a text from your phone that contradicts what you claim, which way is the judge going to go?

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Thanks Snorkerz, most appreciated. I thought that would be the case in terms of not receiving prescribed information. Something to consider if it comes to it - am I right in thinking this would be a multi-track claim?

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Originally posted by pringleswitch View Post
                          Thanks Snorkerz, most appreciated. I thought that would be the case in terms of not receiving prescribed information. Something to consider if it comes to it - am I right in thinking this would be a multi-track claim?
                          Yes, probably multi-track, certainly not small claims. Total cost in court fees alone is £1000+ but you would, of course, expect the judge to award those against the landlord.

                          Comment

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