He simply wants to keep it because he’s paid for it?

by Readers Question

9:00 AM, 10th September 2020
About a month ago

He simply wants to keep it because he’s paid for it?

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He simply wants to keep it because he’s paid for it?

Hi. We have a tenant who left a fixed-term tenancy agreement 2 months earlier than his end of tenancy agreement and moved into a larger property nearby.

He paid all his rent till the end, but would not hand over his keys or give consent for us to access the property to prepare it for the next tenant. His contract formally ends on 16th October, and we have a new tenant who wants to move in on 12th.

He knows he will receive 5 days worth of rent back when the new tenant’s contract starts, but we require the property back before the new tenancy starts to undertake repair works and reinstate the property. We require about 5 days before the new tenancy starts to be able to get the unit ready.

We asked him in writing if he requires further access to the property and the keys, but he is ignoring the correspondence. We know the property is empty and no one is in. He simply wants to keep it because he’s paid for it. We know legally the property is his till the end, and he’s legally entitled to the keys. However, his behaviour is unreasonable and somewhat out of spite. Does this mean there is nothing we can do?

Many Thanks.


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15:10 PM, 10th September 2020
About a month ago

Reply to the comment left by Neil Patterson at 10/09/2020 - 09:03
A sweetner is probably what he's angling for!


8:23 AM, 12th September 2020
About a month ago

So, if I’m reading this correctly your tenant would have liked to end his tenancy on 16th August, two months early?

I’m intrigued, did he ask to terminate early?
How do you know he wanted to go early?
You then asked him if he’d vacate 5 day early so that you could make extra money after you let him waste nearly two months money on rent he didn’t need, you’d like to use his rent to cover your losses whilst you decorate for you and the next tenant.
I’m a landlord and I think he is being perfectly reasonable.
I think you should have had a conversation when you found out he first wanted to go.
Offer him cash for half his loss, I’m sure he’ll take it.


8:44 AM, 12th September 2020
About a month ago

Did the tenant ask for a refund of the two months initially and you refused? (as is your right).
Then it would make sense why they don’t want to help you out now. Your only option as others have indicated it to offer an inducement to them on top of the few days rent refund from the date you need access (not the date the new tenant moves in). And also point out the council tax savings in doing this.
But if they can afford to get what they presumably see as revenge, there may be nothing you can do apart from do the repairs with the new tenants in situ (assuming the old tenant has at least agreed to vacate from that date - if not you could be in a lot of trouble unfortunately).


9:18 AM, 12th September 2020
About a month ago

Reply to the comment left by Tim at 12/09/2020 - 08:23
The tenant has asked in writing to move out sooner than his fixed term contract ends and we agreed to issue Deed of Surrender and releasing him off his liability subject to a new tenant moving in within the existing tenant's Tenacy Agreement. We agreed and he understood that he will be getting a rebate on his final rent on a pro rata basis. It was his choice to take up a new and additional property before his agreement ended with us, starting an additional liability for himself. We kept him in the loop about the hunt for the new tenant. The new tenant found also wants to leave her existing flat sooner and move in to ours asap which would have helped our old tenant but she is smarter and not making the move until her existing tenancy expires. There is no double dipping here as the old tenant will get rent back from the day the new tenant moves in. We often get tenants leaving earlier as they circumstances demand and they always hand over their keys unless they need it for a specific purpose and we proceed with the check out and prof. clean and any repairs. These are high end properties and take a few days at least to reinstate.


10:14 AM, 12th September 2020
About a month ago

Surely the landlord has at least one spare set of keys to enter and inspect the property to check it is OK and that no taps have been left running and electrical appliances are switched off? If there were a fire in the property, as an insurance company, I would take a dim view that the owner had not inspected property when it was vacant. My own insurance policy requires me to notify the insurers of any void period exceeding 2 weeks and sent photos of the outside of the property showing that it is secure.


10:23 AM, 12th September 2020
About a month ago

Reply to the comment left by at 12/09/2020 - 10:14
Of course, we have a key. But we deliberately avoided going in unless he provides consent to us in writing and releases the keys. This is just in case, later on if there was a deposit dispute and he can say the landlord went in the property without his consent and did whatever.

Edwin Cowper

11:44 AM, 12th September 2020
About a month ago

I suggest there are three relevant issues:
the first is whether there is a covenant in the agreement that the tenant won't leave the property unoccupied.
The second is whether there is a right to enter to inspect the property
The third is whether there is a right to carry out necessary work
The fourth is whether re-entry if the tenant has vacated everything is not actionable as harassment (in which case, what are the damages if the tenant claimed for a few days out of the property)
The fifth is whether there is an obligation to comply with the insurers requirements (which will give grounds for possession) The sixth is that the Landlord may be liable for empty rates (not necessarily)

All of these except 4 should be covered by a good rental agreement.

As someone said, the easiest way is to negotiate a deal. If the tenant won't agree, get fixed price legal advice (perhaps on the internet) on the re-entry issue first and foremost and then the other issues if necessary

paul kaye

11:55 AM, 12th September 2020
About a month ago

you must write to the tenant and advise him that no deposit will be returned until all bills have been paid and property inspected for damages.
Also advise him that he will be held liable for claims made on you from insurance company and all agreements he signed for on the tenancy.
For all council tax due,(you are not liable)until date his tenancy expires.
Also for all claims made from mortgage company etc etc
All this should get him thinking !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!best form of defence is attack.


12:28 PM, 12th September 2020
About a month ago

Reply to the comment left by Gunga Din at 10/09/2020 - 09:39
Ive found tenants doing this have told the council that they have vacated a month before the end of the tenancy and claimed the months council tax empty property exemption period. Meaning you then cant claim any gap between tenancies and end up paying ct in any gap in full Happened to me a few times now. 😞


16:50 PM, 12th September 2020
About a month ago

Reply to the comment left by desertfox at 12/09/2020 - 12:28
Show the council a copy of the AST committing the tenant to pay the council tax until the end date.

It has worked every time for me.

Also - ensure that the AST is written so that the agreement goes to a contractual periodic at the end of the fixed term.

Don't allow it to remain silent on this point or use the language "statutory periodic" (which some ignorant solicitors are even now still drafting into agreements).

This will also allow you to avoid the intensely annoying one-day council tax charge at the end of the tenancy.

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