Early termination of a fixed one year tenancy agreement

by Readers Question

11:03 AM, 26th May 2014
About 7 years ago

Early termination of a fixed one year tenancy agreement

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Early termination of a fixed one year tenancy agreement

Following the non payment of rent due on the 1st May, my tenants have requested an early termination of their fixed one year tenancy as a result of family change of circumstances.

Their guarantor to the Agreement (their father) has now paid the o/s rent following an exchange of emails/telecons, in which I have reminded them of their contractual obligations under their Tenancy Agreement and agreed with them that we will release them from their obligations as and when we find a suitable new tenant for the property.(ie we will only agree to termination of their tenancy when a new tenant has been found and has signed up).

Until this date the existing tenants remain responsible for paying the rent and all other costs that are identified in the Agreement, including any shortfall in the letting fees still due to our agents.

I pointed out to the tenants that, while I couldn’t insist on this, it would greatly assist in the speedy re-marketing of the property if they decided to vacate the property themselves. I pointed out that if they chose to do this they would still be responsible for the rent until the date that we agreed as their tenancy termination date, at which point the matter of their deposit would be dealt with as per the T&C’s in the Tenancy Agreement.

They have now vacated the property and have not (so far) rejected any of the points I have made concerning their ongoing obligations. Can you advise me whether by vacating the property voluntarily they have made it more difficult for me to enforce the continuing payment of rent?”


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Londoner 43

19:36 PM, 26th May 2014
About 7 years ago

In 2012, my tenant left 2 weeks before the end of this tenancy agreement as he was relocating to New York. He had paid his rent for the full month, but had paid the council tax to the middle of the month (that is, 2 weeks short). I asked the council tax department and was told the council tax was not my responsibility and that they would chase my tenant for the remaining 2 weeks. It was his responsibility to pay the tax until the end of this tenancy agreement. As i had not returned the deposit yet, I decided to deduct the money owed from his deposit (informing him what I had done). Less hassle for all concerned that way.


20:19 PM, 26th May 2014
About 7 years ago

I own a house which is let on a room basis and I pay all the bills incl council tax. When I tried to put the council tax bill in my name they refused - the council said it had to be in the tenants names!

Yvette Newbury

22:25 PM, 26th May 2014
About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Martin Rdg" at "26/05/2014 - 20:19":

That is very odd, Martin! But typical of how you really need to speak to your particular Council and see what version you are given by them as to what they will tell you to do. If you don't like the response, call on a different day and you are likely to be told something different! That's my experience anyway.

Devon Landlord

9:47 AM, 27th May 2014
About 7 years ago

The advice from Councils is a bit of a mixed bag. In the cuts over the last few years many experienced employees have been made redundant and their wealth of relevant experience lost. It takes time for new people to get up to speed and then there are frequent changes within departments so many of the people who respond to you are ill informed. My advice is to be open and pleasant and ask for precise evidence in the legislation which requires you to do what they want, then take their explanation to your Landlord Association for additional overview and advice. This does a number of things. 1. It buys you a little more time whilst they scrabble about for the justification. 2. It helps the official understand the legal evidence that supports (or not) their position. 3. It helps you get advice from an independent organisation with considerable experience in landlording issues. 4. It gives you time to act appropriately and resolve any issues before they get out of hand.

In this case Contract Law is on your side and the tenant has tried to be reasonable. Don't expect the same from your Council, so make sure you challenge anything from them that you either do not understand or accept. Its then that you need Association support.

Devon Landlord.

Michael Barnes

10:21 AM, 27th May 2014
About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Colin Dartnell" at "26/05/2014 - 12:25":

Leaving tenants in the property runs the risk that you get a new tenancy agreed and then the original tenants do not leave. That puts you in breach of contract with the new tenants.

I have not been in this position, but I think that my approach would be to draw up a new contract with the existing tenants varying the terms of the original contract, to allow them to leave early.
This new contract would NOT be a tenancy agreement and would include terms along the lines of
1. They can leave the property on a date of their choosing within the next two weeks.
2. On leaving there will be a check-out as would happen at the normal end of tenancy.
3. tenants to pay for all chargeable items found at checkout.
4. Tenants will pay, at time of signing the contract, a sum to cover 2 months expenses, including rent, council tax (and possibly gas, electricity, water, etc standing charges for that period), and any payments that the letting agent may be due for the remainder of the tenancy period (talk to letting agent and negitiate these down). This amount to be the limit of their liability
5. You will market the property immediately to find a new tenant.
6. All services and charges to be put into your name when they leave (costs covered by 4 above).
7. If less than two-thirds of the tenancy have elapsed, then I would also want to recover some of the costs of reletting. These costs to be taken from the monies at point 4.
8.If new tenants are in the property less than 2 months after current tenants leave, then you will refund balance of monies taken at 4 above, less if appropriate reletting costs, to the old tenants.
9. The contract to be signed as a deed.

Michael Barnes

10:32 AM, 27th May 2014
About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "CaZ " at "26/05/2014 - 16:38":

During a fixed term of 6 months or more the tenant is responsible for paying council tax even if they are not living there.

Landlord is responsible only if tenant is not living in the property during a periodic tenancy (certainly for statutory periodic, not sure about contractual periodic tenancy).

By responsible I mean "the council may pursue for payment". Provided that your tenancy agreement includes a clause that the tenant is responsible for council tax during the tenancy, then you can pursue the tenant for the payment you are required to make to the council (and if you have a suitable clauses, then you may also pursue them for costs reasonably incurred in paying this, eg phone calls and letters)

Carol Thomas

10:41 AM, 27th May 2014
About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "MdeB " at "27/05/2014 - 10:32":

Agreed, I have subsequently had this written into all new contracts! Once bitten, twice shy!

John MacAlevey

12:03 PM, 27th May 2014
About 7 years ago

Have they returned all the property keys originally issued when they first occupied the property?

Yvette Newbury

14:35 PM, 27th May 2014
About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "MdeB " at "27/05/2014 - 10:32":

Just to clarify this, generally I would always avoid paying any bills on behalf of the tenants unless you are specifically being targeted/asked for payment yourself. The Council or utility company will be more effective at extracting payment from previous tenants than you will be so provide forwarding address to the utility company for the departing tenants and let them request the payment, even if you hold a deposit. Meanwhile you can request evidence of final bills from your departing tenants so that the balance of the deposit can be resolved. One tenant who left us recently had a final gas/electricity bill for over £2,500, more than the deposit we held anyway!

Robert FitzHerbert

16:01 PM, 27th May 2014
About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "MdeB " at "27/05/2014 - 10:32":

Thanks for that MdeB - very to the point in connection with the payment of council tax and of help to me as we do have such a clause in the contract applying to the whole of the fixed term period.

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