Open ended tenancies and on the hook for start dates?

by Readers Question

13:55 PM, 3rd January 2019
About 2 weeks ago

Open ended tenancies and on the hook for start dates?

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Open ended tenancies and on the hook for start dates?

As Scotland is leading the way in bringing more uncertainty to an uncertain future for the PRS I am faced with a puzzling question. I am currently advertising a vacant property, but notes of interest are coming from prospective tenants looking to secure a property in September 2019.

Basis I cannot assure a future tenancy as once the property is tenanted in the near future I would have to await until current (new) tenants have elected to leave and that could be any time if at all.

This got me thinking – can I sign up for a start date with the qualification ” subject to conditions being met” such as the current tenants having left ?

Another related question would be – what happens if you sign up a lease for a future, date but the property is not available as occupying tenant has not left? Are you on the hook for the new contract?

Many thanks

Asif



Comments

Alison King

10:36 AM, 4th January 2019
About 2 weeks ago

Is the property in a student area? Student tenancies usually run for 11 months from September to July with one month in August to get the property ready for the next group.

Yvonne Francis

10:42 AM, 4th January 2019
About 2 weeks ago

I am a landlord who lets only to students. I have this sort of problem every year as student houses are signed for as early as November for occupation in next year’s summer. An agent told me that once I had exchanged contracts, if I could not fulfil the tenancy then I would be under an obligation to find these new tenants, at my expense, alternative and suitable accommodation.

They did suggest I could sign them up but not exchange the contract, although under those circumstances they in turn could not accept the contract and consequently back out.

Must say for the sake of my reputation and my conscience I never took this advice and thought it worth the risk.

Luke P

10:49 AM, 4th January 2019
About 2 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by Alison King at 04/01/2019 - 10:36
Alison, are you familiar with Scotland having done away with fixed term tenancies since December 2017 and the ability for a LL to give notice? Only the tenant can initiate the ('amicable') ending of a tenancy...yes, they're now open-ended...except for either selling, moving back in (if previously the LL's main residence) or one of the specified 18 grounds for eviction (heard by a Tribunal)! If a current tenant decides they want a bit longer in the property, they can screw up the previously established cycle/pattern. Tenants on the other hand can give 28 days' notice AT ANY TIME (including the very next day after signing if they so desire)...

Chris Daniel

11:27 AM, 4th January 2019
About 2 weeks ago

The 'Advice' I give, is to get the tenants to sign the AST ( but Landlord doesn't sign, until the previous tenants vacate. )
In terms of students, their University studies are a little more predictable that other tenants, so should less often be a vacating issue ( dare I say ? )

Luke P

11:32 AM, 4th January 2019
About 2 weeks ago

Asif, are you operating in Scotland?

AA

16:20 PM, 4th January 2019
About 2 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by Luke P at 04/01/2019 - 11:32
Yes and this is the first sense of things to come. One set of tenants deliberately misrepresented themselves when asked about desired length of stay. It was one of these trimesters so stayed 3 months when they reported it would be to May / June.

AA

16:30 PM, 4th January 2019
About 2 weeks ago

Another thing is from the tenants perspective alone - to avoid being in limbo i.e. no back to back rental when going from one flat to another, they are submitting the 28 days notice that assures them a back to back rental, but at an inconvenience to the LL. We have the theory and the ideas but the reality is somewhat different.
Regarding Yvonne's comment - it will take just one determined tenant to have you on the ropes as the agents advice would be correct in contract law.
The only question is - if qualifications are introduced into the start date, would they stand up in court.

Arnie Newington

7:57 AM, 5th January 2019
About 2 weeks ago

Hi Asif

Just wondered if you were aware that Edinburgh University run a Property Management Company who can still run fixed lease periods. This might be one way round the problem.

Failing that I would just do short term let’s until the new tenants move in in September.

For the new tenants you would only be liable for their costs in the event that your property was unavailable if they have signed a lease, so naturally I would avoid this until you are sure that you will have vacant possession.

AA

10:15 AM, 5th January 2019
About 2 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by Arnie Newington at 05/01/2019 - 07:57
"For the new tenants you would only be liable for their costs in the event that your property was unavailable if they have signed a lease," - I get this if the PRT start date stated say 01/01/2019. What if the start date was framed as "Start date 01/01/2019 subject to the following condition - landlord has acquired vacant possession from preceding tenancy"
I have never been a fan of agencies and management companies from experiences. The success to this business is control. Whereas agencies most likely have a first come first served basis and don't really vet their tenants. And why would they, it's not their property. It has taken me years to get a feel for the right tenant. In the current environment , get it wrong, it can cost, really cost.

Yvonne Francis

12:05 PM, 5th January 2019
About 2 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by AA at 04/01/2019 - 16:30
I am not quite sure what aspect of my tenancies you mean could put me ‘on the ropes’. If you mean the present tenants not moving out, then whoever has me ‘on the ropes’ I could charge them the entire rent and who would want to pay £4000 a month? They would also not be the flavour of the month at their College as it is usually friends from the same College who move in afterwards. The Colleges are small units where everyone knows each other. If you mean the new tenants then I accept that liability which I am well able to finance.

The alternative is not to return the lease until the last minute but as my tenants are willing to commit then so should I.
I prefer my tenants to feel secure. I have been letting for forty years and I can personally afford all this. I guess lots of other landlords have to be a bit more mercenary and I can’t blame them as their situation is not mine, although in all honesty I do not think it a very ethical thing to do.

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