Can I get reimbursement of costs incurred as result of tenant not moving out?

Can I get reimbursement of costs incurred as result of tenant not moving out?

8:32 AM, 25th May 2017, About 6 years ago 21

Text Size

In early May, we signed a one-year assured shorthold tenancy agreement due to start on Tues 9 May. We received a phone call from the agent on the afternoon of Thurs 4 May advising us that the current tenant had refused to move out of the property and therefore our tenancy would not be able to proceed.

– Both parties had signed the tenancy agreement.
– 8 months rent had been paid in advance to the agent and the equivalent of 2 months rent had been paid to the landlord as a deposit and had already been paid into TDS (and has yet to be repaid to us).

As a result of the failed tenancy contract, we have incurred some cash costs which we have asked the landlord to reimburse:

1. As we were unable to move into he property, we had no choice but to place our belongings into storage until we are able to move into an alternative property. Our move in date will be Saturday 8 July (on the basis we are able to secure a suitable alternative property), the day after we return to the UK from Dubai where we currently reside. We have moved our belongings down from the Midlands to the local area and have rented a storage unit from Saturday 20 May until Saturday 8 July which is a period of 7 weeks. The total cost of this storage is £55.50 per week (£388.50 in total).

2. We will also incur an additional tranche of removal costs because as well as moving our belongings down to Surrey from the Midlands to place into storage, we will now have to make an extra move to move our belongings from the local storage unit to our new property on 8 July. I have received a couple of quotes and these are coming out at approx £200.

3. Finally, on Weds 3 May, I had organised house contents insurance with Direct Line for 8 Oakdale Road prior to being notified us of the issue with the property, to start from 9 May. I was able to cancel this within the 14-day cooling off period but I have been charged cancellation costs of £36.30.

In total, we have requested a payment of £625 from the landlord so we are not out of pocket. The landlord has refused to pay these costs and I would like some clarity on our legal position. Is the landlord liable to us for breach of contract?

Many thanks for your advice,


Share This Article


Graham Bowcock

13:02 PM, 25th May 2017, About 6 years ago

Dear Laura

From what you say it sounds like the Agreements were completed, in which case there is a contract in place. If the landlord cannot provide entry into the property on the appointed date that is a breach of contract. To that end you are entitled to compensation for losses arising from the breach. I suggest you put it in those terms to both the landlord and the agent to make sure they know you are seeking damages.

If the Agreements have not actually completed then your case will be weaker, although you have the moral case and the fact that money has been paid over (which should be returned without any delay).


Luke P

15:18 PM, 25th May 2017, About 6 years ago

I see you posted the property address.

I now know your landlord's and his wife's full names, occupations, place of work, home address, dates of birth, various family members names, the price they paid for both the property you were to move in to and that of his own home (as well as the lender on each). I have a photograph of him and his wife, the school he attended, his previous employment, his main hobby, limited company name, number and his company position. I know his home telephone number, alma mater and degree information and I also know he went to see the Olympics in Rio last year, the date he got married, his place of birth, parents names and a copy of his latest accounts filed with HMRC.

It took me less than three minutes to find all that from a partial address. I am not a spy. I am not a detective. I am not particularly computer literate.

Be careful what you post.

Having said all that I believe you should not be out-of-pocket.

John Dace

17:34 PM, 25th May 2017, About 6 years ago

I am no solicitor but think i'm right in suggesting that a defence to a contract being unfulfilled is that it would be impossible without being unlawfull. (Clearly it would be unlawfull to turf the original tenant out to allow mew one in).

Ian Cognito

15:15 PM, 26th May 2017, About 6 years ago

My Agreements start with the following clause:

IMPORTANT: This tenancy agreement is a binding document. However, if there is an existing tenant in the property at the time this agreement is signed (i.e. if there will be a change of tenant at the start of The Term as defined in 1.1.4), then this agreement is subject to vacant possession being provided by that tenant (or tenants if there is more than one). If the tenant refuses to move out, then this agreement will not take effect.

Jay James

15:21 PM, 26th May 2017, About 6 years ago

Laura, what is your name, address, place of work, birth date and what exactly do you look like?

Sounds inappropriate, almost discomforting doesn't it?

What is your real motivation for concocting a story to enable you to make such information available whilst hiding the same information about yourself?

Dr Rosalind Beck

8:47 AM, 28th May 2017, About 6 years ago

I would assume that you have also saved money by not having to pay for a place you are not living in whilst you are still in Dubai, so you may not be out of pocket, but the reverse.

Also, you know that it is not the landlord's fault, but the tenant's who won't move out. Personally, I would not try not to sue someone for something that isn't their fault and is out of their control (there may be exceptions to this, but I wouldn't break this rule for hundreds of pounds).

Romain Garcin

10:10 AM, 28th May 2017, About 6 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Ian Cognito" at "26/05/2017 - 15:15":

This has to be an unfair term, and in contradiction to the main term of the contract, IMO.

I don't think that you can on the one hand have a contract to let a property starting on a given date, and on the other hand in effect state that you are not obliged to deliver possession on that date.

Rob Crawford

12:23 PM, 29th May 2017, About 6 years ago

Hi Laura, before you communicate further to your landlord or his agent may I suggest you discuss this with a solicitor who is conversant with letting properties under an AST. It not unusual to have a tenant contracted to move in asap at the end of a current tenancy and I cannot believe this situation is unusual, it is very easy for an existing tenant to change their plans at no fault of the landlord or agent. Having said that I have not experienced such a problem myself but am very interested in how your situation is resolved. Thanks.

Graham Bowcock

21:41 PM, 29th May 2017, About 6 years ago

The general advice is that Laura needs to pursue the letting agent/landlord for breach of contract, with a refund of monies paid over and compensation for losses incurred, perhaps seeking legal advice quickly.

Picking up on other people's comments, I think that the clause about not being able to deliver the tenancy contract would be an unfair contract term and unenforceable. It begs the question as to why any tenant would sign up to such a clause; surely they are committing to take a property and in many cases will be incurring significant costs (and I must mention the expectation of moving house, education, employment, etc.).

In our firm we take great care not to complete any agreement where we have a tenant still in residence. Even with the best tenants we have, they may be let down at the last minute and unable to move (perhaps their ongoing tenancy has failed!). Whilst we would expect them to honour the agreed vacation date we cannot quickly enforce it.

Where we are letting a house which already has tenants in situ we would make the incoming tenants aware of the situation and, as I say, would not complete with them. Where tenants are moving perhaps from abroad or a long distance it may be that they look elsewhere - but that's a discussion we have to have with all concerned. It would be unwise for a landlord (or their agent) to contract for a tenancy that they cannot guarantee to deliver. The landlord may have to accept an empty property for a while, but at least it avoids problems like this.

There is no magic answer.


Michael Barnes

22:54 PM, 29th May 2017, About 6 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Dr Rosalind Beck" at "28/05/2017 - 08:47":

"Also, you know that it is not the landlord’s fault, but the tenant’s who won’t move out. Personally, I would not try not to sue someone for something that isn’t their fault and is out of their control (there may be exceptions to this, but I wouldn’t break this rule for hundreds of pounds)."

It is entirely the landlord's fault for agreeing to something he was unable to deliver.

Any landlord that lets a property before he has possession is (in my opinion) an idiot.
Prospective tenant should not be out of pocket because of landlord's stupidity.

1 2 3

Leave Comments

In order to post comments you will need to Sign In or Sign Up for a FREE Membership


Don't have an account? Sign Up

Landlord Tax Planning Book Now