Assigning joint tenancy - Landlord demands

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    Assigning joint tenancy - Landlord demands

    Hi, this is a really complicated situation but I'll try to keep this short and clear.

    4 of us signed a lease on 6th Sept 2011 for a 23 month period. There is no break clause for either the landlord or us as tenants. However the following clause is listed in our agreement:

    'CHANGE OF JOINT TENANTS' As outlined the tenants may not assign possession or occupation of the property without the prior written consent of the landlord of the Landlord's agent. In the event that such consent is requested and granted, it is the responsibility of the tenants to financially recompense another...

    I am relocating to Australia, and another of the original 4 has found a new place and wants to move out. When the landlord's were told that 2 of us wished to move out and had found suitable replacements ready to go through credit checks and move in from Nov 1 (this was over 2 weeks ago now) the landlords said that they wanted to sell the house and they wanted everyone out within the month (ie by our lease date Nov 5).

    From there we have had the landlords changing their mind everyday. We were told they would not accept replacement tenants and wanted us all out, then that they wanted us to fill out the lease. They then offered us a 3 month break clause, and when we went back with our replacement tenants they did something which I believe may be construed as harassment in scaring off our 2 new tenants.

    We had told the new tenants that the lease would only stand until Aug 2013 which they were ok with. We submitted their details to the real estate to ask for the process to begin credit checks. The real estate agent then sent an email to 3 of the original tenants (not including myself on the email) and the 2 replacement tenants saying the landlord was offering a 2 month break clause. The landlord then demanded that any replacement tenants would need to be met by them, and any lease would need to be signed 4 weeks later (meaning the new tenant would need to wait 6 weeks before moving in). As a result of the break clause email and the landlords demands the new tenants were scared off and decided to back out of the process.

    Given all this now none of the housemates want to stay in the property.

    Legally can we claim harassment from the landlords with their constant changing of demands and requirements?

    1. Do we as sharing tenants have the legal right to change 1, 2, 3 or all of the tenants in the house (and hence names on the lease) at any point during the lease? If we were to replace all members of a house in one instance, can the lease continue in its current form, excluding the changes to the names. Is there a precedent of this where the landlord was obligated to accept the changes?

    2. If so, what rights and obligations do we as tenants have with regards to notice period, timing, process etc to have these changes executed?

    3. Similarly, what rights and obligations does the landlord(s) have for such changes to be executed? For instance, can the landlords;

    request a meeting with the new applicants in order to approve them;
    delay such a meeting, and hence the consequential move in date for the new tenants of up to 6 weeks;
    refuse applicants without stated or adequate reason?

    4. Can the letting agent communicate directly with the new tenant applicants certain information which is likely to result in them withdrawing their application, in this case, confirmation of a week long dispute with the landlord, where the email from the agent stated the landlord has now offered a two month penalty break clause;

    5. If we believe there is an adequate argument that the landlord has purposely created delays and severe roadblocks for us changing tenants, and the actions of the agent and landlord combined has resulted in the loss of suitable replacements tenants, consequently resulting in loss of trust of all remaining tenants, is that just cause to either i) claim damages and / or ii) argue an end of the lease agreement?

    Sorry I know this is really lengthy but would really appreciate any help any one can give!!

    #2
    The answer is really quick I'm afraid. The landlord has no obligation to accept any change in the tenancy. You have a tenancy until Aug13 and you are liable for it. If the landlord wants to accept your proposal, he can do so in any terms he is happy with.

    Obviously, the landlord cant force you to leave 'by the end of the month'. The tenancy is binding for both parties and cannot be terminated or changed earlier, unless the 2 parties reach an agreement.
    All views posted reflect my personal opinion only and do not constitute professional advice which I am not qualified or knowledgeable enough to provide.

    Comment


      #3
      Originally posted by sebba View Post
      Legally can we claim harassment from the landlords with their constant changing of demands and requirements?
      If you mean claim as in bring a civil claim for damages for harassment against the LL, you have said nothing to suggest that you have a viable case to claim. Unlawful harassment is when the LL does acts with the intention of causing the tenant to give up occupation - here's a link to the relevant statute - e.g. acts like turning off utility supplies, or threats of violence, etc.

      1. Do we as sharing tenants have the legal right to change 1, 2, 3 or all of the tenants in the house (and hence names on the lease) at any point during the lease?
      No.

      If we were to replace all members of a house in one instance, can the lease continue in its current form, excluding the changes to the names.
      The tenancy will remain in place, with all the named tenants remaining as tenants, unless the LL agrees to make changes. N.B. it is likely that the contract prohibits subletting.

      Is there a precedent of this where the landlord was obligated to accept the changes?
      The LL is not obliged to accept any changes.

      3. Similarly, what rights and obligations does the landlord(s) have for such changes to be executed? For instance, can the landlords;

      request a meeting with the new applicants in order to approve them;
      delay such a meeting, and hence the consequential move in date for the new tenants of up to 6 weeks;
      refuse applicants without stated or adequate reason?
      LL may request to meet, but there is no 'right' to meet the prospective replacement tenants. LL may delay the meeting if he chooses. He may refuse to accept a replacement and is not obliged to give any reason for it.
      4. Can the letting agent communicate directly with the new tenant applicants certain information which is likely to result in them withdrawing their application, in this case, confirmation of a week long dispute with the landlord, where the email from the agent stated the landlord has now offered a two month penalty break clause;
      The agent may speak to a prospective replacement tenant.
      5. If we believe there is an adequate argument that the landlord has purposely created delays and severe roadblocks for us changing tenants, and the actions of the agent and landlord combined has resulted in the loss of suitable replacements tenants, consequently resulting in loss of trust of all remaining tenants, is that just cause to either i) claim damages and / or ii) argue an end of the lease agreement?
      No.

      You are not being harassed, the LL has no obligation whatsoever to accept any changes, and you have no 'right' to end the tenancy on the basis that the LL refuses to accept changes to the binding contract you all agreed. All you can do is negotiate and hope that the LL will agree; you could consider offering a sum of money to the LL in exchange for him agreeing to an early surrender of the whole tenancy.

      Comment


        #4
        CHANGE OF JOINT TENANTS' As outlined the tenants may not assign possession or occupation of the property without the prior written consent of the landlord of the Landlord's agent. In the event that such consent is requested and granted, it is the responsibility of the tenants to financially recompense another...
        I think it would be nice to see what was "outlined" and the rest of the clause as it may be important.

        Pending that, the effect of the clause as seen is that the tenants cannot assign without the landlord's consent. Where the terms of a tenancy so provide, there is implied a condition that the consent is not to be unreasonably withheld. Further, a landlord is under a duty to deal with an application for consent within a reasonable time.

        A possible fly in the ointment is section 15 of the Housing Act 1988. The section provides that it is an implied term of an assured tenancy that the tenant may not assign without consent but goes on to disapply the condition that consent is not to be unreasonably withheld. That leaves the question of whether an express term is or is not subject to the condition. The precise wording suggests that the condition is only disapplied where the term is implied.

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by sebba View Post
          4 of us signed a lease on 6th Sept 2011 for a 23 month period. There is no break clause for either the landlord or us as tenants.
          So, the tenancy is within the fixed term. And s.15 HA1988 applies only to periodic tenancies.

          15 Limited prohibition on assignment etc. without consent.

          (1)Subject to subsection (3) below, it shall be an implied term of every assured tenancy which is a periodic tenancy that, except with the consent of the landlord, the tenant shall not—
          (a) assign the tenancy (in whole or in part); or
          (b )sub-let or part with possession of the whole or any part of the dwelling-house let on the tenancy.
          (2) Section 19 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1927 (consents to assign not to be unreasonably withheld etc.) shall not apply to a term which is implied into an assured tenancy by subsection (1) above.

          Comment

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