10:25 AM, 11th August 2021, About 2 months ago 3
There has been much discussion on this topic, with landlords finding that they are not successful in front of some County court judges. Of course, county court decisions are not binding, and it’s not unknown (although not desirable) to have different decisions.
We had a Possession order today (10th August) where the judge accepted the landlords claim for ‘Double rent’ under the Distress for Rent Act, awarding a possession order in 14 days and the amount of outstanding rent that included Double rent for the period after which the tenant had given notice (that had expired and he remained in the property)
Some crucial elements leading to a successful claim are that the landlord communicates back to the tenant upon receipt of their Notice to end the tenancy, that it is accepted and that the tenancy will end on x date in accordance with the tenant’s notice. (Any future monies paid to be accepted as Mesne profit)
There were already significant rent arrears and hints of a disrepair counterclaim that fortunately did not materialise (although the landlord had copious evidence of attending to the few matters that had arisen.)
We drafted a letter to the tenant setting out the provisions of the legislation and liability for Double-rent. Nevertheless, he did not vacate.
Shortly prior to the Review hearing, the tenant had visited Citizens Advice who raised a point from the Tenancy agreement that set out Notice of ending the tenancy to be given in ‘writing’ – whereas the tenant had SMS / WhatsApp’ed his termination ‘notice’
We had prepared a response for the court on this subject, but it does raise an interesting point.
We come across a range of tenancy agreements drafted by various letting agents or other organisations, and often I have some comment upon the drafting of the AST.
If we look at the NRLA’s latest AST ( Version 1.1u ) Para 7.0 mentions to end a periodic tenancy, ‘you must provide us with written notice’
Under para 9.0 Notices, the provision for notices to be accepted by email is addressed but, in our view given contemporary communication methods (WhatsApp, Telegram, Signal, Messenger etc)
A tenancy agreement should include, “or any other electronic recordable form” (When did a landlord have a written letter from a tenant ? – I can’t ever remember.)
As it happened, the Tenant did not appear or offer any defence.
On the subject of Tenancy agreements, my most serious concern on the AST described above, is the omission of a clause that allows the Landlord to increase the rent, no more often than 12-month intervals.
This is a crucial clause that was in previous NLA tenancy agreements. Providing the Tenancy agreement includes such a clause, the Tenant cannot dispute any future rent increase with the First Tier Tribunal, as it removes their jurisdiction to determine the rent. (Contour Homes v Rowen 2007)
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