Am I being unreasonable?

by Readers Question

11:50 AM, 25th January 2021
About 4 months ago

Am I being unreasonable?

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Am I being unreasonable?

As readers of Property 118 are professionals, what opinions and advice can you offer on whether I’m being unreasonable in holding a widow to the terms of the tenancy agreement.

I own a modern retirement (over 55s) flat and for the last 5 years it has been rented to a lovely couple – model tenants in fact. They pay the rent largely from housing benefit with the shortfall made up by their daughter. I also have a guarantor for the AST. The tenancy was renewed on 6/9/2020 for a further 12 months.

The husband died from Covid last week and the daughter has written to me giving 2 months’ notice after which she expects her mother will have moved out due to ill health (can’t carry on living in the flat on her own) and has assumed the tenancy will then be ended.

I have said I am not prepared to do this as legally; I am entitled to receive the rent (£1100 per month) up to September 2021; if I agree to cancel the tenancy at the end of March, I will lose out on £5500 in rent unless I can re-let the flat quickly. Because over 55s is a very restricted market and most people who would be interested would be downsizing buyers rather than renters, it is quite possible that it could take me until September or even longer to find new tenants.

Am I being unreasonable by insisting that the rent is paid each month until September even though after March 31st, the widow won’t be living there? I’ve discussed this situation with a number of people and opinion is divided but while I feel sorry that a tenant has died and his widow needs to move out for health reasons, I don’t see why I should have to just accept a loss of up to £5500.

As readers of Property 118 are professionals, what opinions and advice can you offer?

Jonathan

Comments

Steve Masters

18:55 PM, 25th January 2021
About 4 months ago

Normally when one of my tenants asks to leave early I say to them I will only charge rent until I find a suitable replacement tenant, please work with me to help this happen, it's in your interest.

I've just had a tenant die of covid, very sad. His daughter has said they will vacate as soon as possible. I'm working with them to help this happen, it's in my best interest.
I will not be charging this poor girls dead father any rent, it's the human thing to do.

Janet Carnochan

20:25 PM, 25th January 2021
About 4 months ago

I'd accept the 2 months. Start immediately trying to get a new tenant. By your own admissions, you say housing benefit pay the bulk of the rent. If the widow moves out then they will no longer be paying. You would then have to chase the guarantor which would incur you more expense. If it went to court then there is no guarantee you will win. In Scotland our tenants don't need to give that much notice to get out of a tenancy. I would also show compassion.

Jonathan

10:05 AM, 26th January 2021
About 4 months ago

Firstly, can I thank everyone who has posted a comment whether agreeing with me or disagreeing with me.

Next, I didn’t provide this information but for each month without receiving any rent, I still have to pay the service charge of £242 plus the council tax. I am asset-rich but income-poor and rely on the rent to supplement my state pension. Interest on savings is 0.01% so that source of income has disappeared, and I am living off capital, so I am not a greedy, grasping insensitive landlord – just someone trying to protect his and his family’s standard of living.

Finally, having taken all of the comments on board, a compromise has been reached. On reflection, the daughter thought that getting her mother out of the flat in 2 months would put too much pressure on, so they have decided to withdraw their notice, stay in the flat until the end of June and then give 2 months’ notice at the beginning of May. That gives them breathing space and me a fair shot at trying to find replacement tenants. If I haven’t found anyone by the end of June, the tenancy will be deemed ended and I will, if necessary, absorb the loss of rent until what would have been the end of the AST i.e. 30th September.

The daughter and her mother are happy, I am now happy and I am grateful to everyone who posted on Property 118 for giving me the clarity of thought to have arrived at this solution.

Martin Roberts

10:18 AM, 26th January 2021
About 4 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Jonathan at 26/01/2021 - 10:05
Well done, and thanks for letting us know.

Beaver

10:33 AM, 26th January 2021
About 4 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Jonathan at 26/01/2021 - 10:05
Thank you for sharing your personal circumstances with us and therefore highlighting an important point which is that that most landlords have only 1 -2 properties; many of us have them to supplement our pensions or provide for our families and when government introduces policies that effectively mean tenants don't have to pay, these policies are not necessarily fair.

I think another important point is that you can sometimes resolve things fairly by dialogue with the tenants which is relevant to discussions going on elsewhere on this forum.

I'm glad things turned out OK for you.

Adrian Jones

10:42 AM, 26th January 2021
About 4 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Boble at 25/01/2021 - 17:23
Unfortunately we are not living "under normal circumstances".

Paul Shears

11:48 AM, 26th January 2021
About 4 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Jonathan at 26/01/2021 - 10:05
Good on you. 🙂

Ronald Crane

12:16 PM, 26th January 2021
About 4 months ago

If you make this poor lady pay you will not rest easy in your bed at night & you will severely dent your self image.
If you have a heart at all.
Let her go & move on.
You will be better for it

J CHAPMAN

14:00 PM, 26th January 2021
About 4 months ago

Thanks for letting us know the outcome and am glad you worked something out between you.

Trapped Landlord

15:34 PM, 27th January 2021
About 4 months ago

Just out of interest, does anyone have any idea whats the councils line would be in a matter like this ? i.e., are they permitted to show discretion/ compassion ?because I'm my experience all they seem to want to do is throw their weight around whether you have done the right thing or not.

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Pandemic related arrears should be top of the Housing Minister’s in-tray