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

by Readers Question

9:00 AM, 10th September 2020
About 6 months 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.

Roger

Comments

Graham Bowcock

18:33 PM, 12th September 2020
About 6 months ago

Reply to the comment left by at 12/09/2020 - 10:14
Even if the landlord has a key they should not unilaterally enter the property without the tenant's consent. There is a potential conflict here with insurance requirements, I agree.

We once had a house flooded when a tenant moved out early and failed to drain it down. I (as agent) had not taken the keys back off them as we were charging them up to the end of the tenancy, not the earlier date they vacated. The rather wonderful insurer (Letsure) paid out in full as the tenancy was still in place - there wasn't even any real discussion, but it was accepted that it wasn't the landlord's place to go and check on a let house.

Smartermind

21:11 PM, 12th September 2020
About 6 months ago

Reply to the comment left by John Mac at 10/09/2020 - 09:44
As soon as the tenant informs the council that he is no longer in residence at the property and provides proof of his new address, irrespective of whether he is the contractual tenant or not, the council will charge the landlord with Council Tax. The landlord can't pass admin charges such as "increased insurance costs" to the tenant - that kind of nonsense has been outlawed.

As others have pointed out, the tenant is contracted to the end of the term and if the landlord wants the property back earlier, then needs to be reasonable and refund the excess rent to the tenant.

Jessie Jones

11:06 AM, 10th October 2020
About 5 months ago

The handing back of keys is not the only way to end a tenancy.
If the tenant has moved out, and taken his belongings with him, and you have evidence that they are now living somewhere else, and they asked to leave the tenancy on a particular date, then I would argue that they have already ended the tenancy, notwithstanding that they haven't handed the keys back.
But you don't want to find yourself at Court for illegal eviction so you would need pretty good evidence for each of these points. If you have emails or letters from them saying these things then you are on fairly firm ground. If you have only phone conversations or word of mouth then it would be better to err on the side of caution.

Gunga Din

11:18 AM, 10th October 2020
About 5 months ago

"As soon as the tenant informs the council that he is no longer in residence at the property and provides proof of his new address, irrespective of whether he is the contractual tenant or not, the council will charge the landlord with Council Tax."

Indeed, thats the default response.

After several months of persistence Hartlepool have just conceded the point (contractual vs. statutory AST) and refunded a period they charged me for, between the previous tenants' notifying of a new address, and the legal end of tenancy in my flat.

John Mac

11:20 AM, 10th October 2020
About 5 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Smartermind at 12/09/2020 - 21:11
The council will try & charge the Landlord BUT if there is still a live Tenancy the Tenant is still responsible for the C.T (irrespective if they are living elsewhere) & other bills.
My post was a suggestion to gee the Tenant into handing back the property in the correct manner.

Nigel

11:27 AM, 10th October 2020
About 5 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Jessie Jones at 10/10/2020 - 11:06
Thanks Jessie. I believe you are right, and we did have plenty of written evidence to support our case. However, we always act cautiously. It turned out that he was holding onto the keys because he wanted his cousin who came over to London to stay at the property for a week (it is a furnished property) and wanted to keep it quiet since his Tenancy Agreement clearly does not allow it unless he has written consent from the Landlord. Given that we wanted the keys back, we overlooked it without any issues, now got the keys back and he'll be getting a rental rebate, only paying to the day the new tenant moves into the property next week. It is resolved amicably but it is interesting why he was keeping the keys back and keeping quiet about it.

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