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

by Readers Question

8:32 AM, 25th May 2017
About 3 years ago

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

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

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,

Laura



Comments

Dr Rosalind Beck

23:21 PM, 29th May 2017
About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Michael Barnes" at "29/05/2017 - 22:54":

So you always wait until you have vacant possession before you grant tenancies? Do you this for your annual student lets? Do you wait until 1st of July before signing contracts? It is common practice to sign months in advance.

Ian Narbeth

16:53 PM, 30th May 2017
About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Dr Rosalind Beck" at "29/05/2017 - 23:21":

Dear Ros
I am afraid this is a massive problem for landlords and one that Parliament cares not a jot about.
Laura's landlord is in breach of her covenant for quiet enjoyment. The non-budging tenant is almost certainly within his rights to stay. There are possible ways round this problem but they are not straightforward.

Where you have student lets and want cohort 1 out so that cohort 2 can move in at the start of the new year, one option is to give the tenants a six month longer lease with a break clause that they must exercise a month before the end of the contractual term (i.e. on the date they say they want to leave). Couple this with a 50% rent increase in the lease commencing the day after the break and which kicks in if the tenant remains in occupation and you have a big stick to persuade the tenant to go. It doesn't mean you are not in breach with the new tenant but at least you get some compensation and the awkward tenant finds himself stuck on a six month lease at a high rent. This is not ideal but better than the situation Laura's landlord is in.

Michael Barnes

15:07 PM, 1st June 2017
About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Dr Rosalind Beck" at "29/05/2017 - 23:21":

"So you always wait until you have vacant possession before you grant tenancies? Do you this for your annual student lets?

Yes, to both.

But then, I am a mathematician.

Ian Cognito

15:51 PM, 1st June 2017
About 3 years ago

A little survey for 118 Landlords.

1) Do you advertise your properties whilst they are still tenanted?
2) Do you sign a new agreement before the existing tenant has vacated?

My answers are YES and YES.

Dr Rosalind Beck

15:55 PM, 1st June 2017
About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Ian Cognito" at "01/06/2017 - 15:51":

Yes, of course. Otherwise you would have loads of voids all the time and there would be no point in tenants having to give a month's notice. If you were unwilling to sign student tenants up in, say January for a tenancy to begin in July then you would find your student houses empty all summer.

Graham Bowcock

16:06 PM, 1st June 2017
About 3 years ago

In response to Ian

Yes - we get them marketed as soon as we know they are coming available.
No - we do not complete tenancies prior to gaining VP.

Graham

Ian Cognito

16:09 PM, 1st June 2017
About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Graham Bowcock" at "01/06/2017 - 16:06":

Hi Graham

When all goes to plan, how long are your void periods?

Graham Bowcock

22:28 PM, 1st June 2017
About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Ian Cognito" at "01/06/2017 - 16:09":

Ian

Our "churn" rate generally is very low and we have many long-standing tenants. In my own portfolio my longest tenant has been in for 20 years; we have many beyond 5 years. Therefore a couple of weeks vacant is not the end of the world; and to answer your question it is usually a couple of weeks, no more than a month. This allows time for the house to be properly prepared for the incomers. We will market before getting a property back as this is good sense, but we cannot guarantee availability. 99% of the time everything goes to plan. The plus side that if people are prepared to wait they get a better house (twice last year my wife, who does the work, had incoming tenants crying when they got the keys to their new house and found that everything had been done so well).

Graham

Ian Cognito

0:49 AM, 2nd June 2017
About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Graham Bowcock" at "01/06/2017 - 22:28":

So do you have an "agreement in principle"; essentially giving the prospective tenant sight of the new agreement with the expectation on both sides that it will be signed when the existing tenant has left?

Or perhaps the prospective tenant signs it but you wait?

Dr Rosalind Beck

7:52 AM, 2nd June 2017
About 3 years ago

My letting agent gets these signed and done and dusted way in advance. The only time there was a problem was when the council was licensing one house and decided that the loft room could no longer be let (after having been let for nearly 20 years), and we had a group of 4 students all signed up. We just told the letting agent to let them know about the problem, find them an alternative house and get us a group of 3. This was done within a week and no-one played up or tried to sue us.

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