Student wants to abandon tenancy agreement unilaterally?

by Readers Question

7:55 AM, 20th March 2020
About 5 months ago

Student wants to abandon tenancy agreement unilaterally?

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Student wants to abandon tenancy agreement unilaterally?

I have a student HMO, one of the students who merely signed up 2 months ago for a 6 months contract without any deposit has contacted me today and advised that, as her University is closing due to pandemic she no longer needs the accommodation and would be returning back home as her parents are worried due to pandemic.

I am aware that, her parents are based here she is simply trying to get out of contract.

I have politely advised her that, I will not be able to release her from contract and I am able to agree a payment plan with her should she needs one. For avoidance of doubt, she is not a working student and her rent was transferred into her account by her parents. In addition, she has advised that she hasn’t any financial issues, but would simply like to get out of contract.

The rent is due tomorrow and she ended call by stating “I need legal advice and I will revert back to you”

Any suggestions/comments would be greatly appreciated.

Simon



Comments

Jireh Homes

19:42 PM, 20th March 2020
About 5 months ago

Hi Simon - your approach appears reasonable but is a tough call as the consequences is no rent till the COV-19 situation improves. Unfortunately in Scotland we have no choice, as under the PRS students simply able to give 28 days notice and walk-away.

Smartermind

20:56 PM, 20th March 2020
About 5 months ago

Why did you sign her up with zero deposit - that should have been a forewarning of what was to come. Show some compassion and cut your losses. You say she is just trying to get out of contract - but the Corona virus is real and not made up. Universities have closed. Do you really want a disgruntled tenant who may torch the place out of spite? Let her exit with a partial settlement and put the property on the market for the next academic year.

Seething Landlord

22:14 PM, 20th March 2020
About 5 months ago

Best of luck if you try to enforce the contract through the courts in the present climate.

Judith Wordsworth

22:43 PM, 20th March 2020
About 5 months ago

Did she not have a student loan for fees and a maintenance loan or grant for accommodation?

Dancinglandlord

0:13 AM, 21st March 2020
About 5 months ago

I suspect there will be a few cases like this but the university loan scheme should cover it as students should still get their money?

Contractually they should be bound, but under the new legislation it would be difficult to enforce.

However, for those of us with mainly student lettings, if all students backed out of their contracts we would all go out of business, so it’s not a case of being understanding. It’s a case of us being out in the same position as restaurants but with little back up. A mortgage payment holiday goes nowhere to covering those sort of losses.

Steve Masters

12:11 PM, 21st March 2020
About 5 months ago

Let her go. Remind her of her contractual obligations but say you will work with her to work something out. See what happens next week.
Perhaps offer to accept 80%, but accept less. Say without agreed payment terms you will eventually go to court for 100% including costs and resulting in a CCJ.
We are all in this together.

And offer to limit her liability up until you or she finds her replacement, which we know almost definitely isn't going to happen however hard you try.

Steve Masters

12:31 PM, 21st March 2020
About 5 months ago

How about this? Offer to advertise the room at say 80% rent with the leaver topping up the other 20%. Open to negotiation.
At least you are trying!

Grumpy Doug

14:18 PM, 21st March 2020
About 5 months ago

This is on the Student Loan Company (SLC) website, updated yesterday.
"Will I still get my next student finance payment?
SLC can confirm that students will receive their scheduled or next instalment of their maintenance loan at the planned start of their summer term, regardless of whether their university or provider has made alternative arrangements for teaching."

I've been in touch with all my students and a good number are staying put. Their precautions are crap anyway so best they stick together rather than going home and infecting all their elderly relatives

Glenn Ackroyd

14:19 PM, 21st March 2020
About 5 months ago

I think you'll find courts apply the law of frustration to remove the obligation of student tenants to pay where their Universities have closed due to the Coronavirus;

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/Geo6/6-7/40/section/1
https://www.lawteacher.net/modules/contract-law/discharge-of-obligations/frustration/lecture.php

Ultimately, I foresee student further rent being non-recoverable if pursued by the courts due to 'non-occurrence of the event' as per the coronation case law - eg, it's implied in a student let that people staying there are going to the university. If the university is longer open to students, through no fault of either party, the contract is frustrated:

The operation of frustration in such circumstances is best understood with reference to the most famous cases on frustration, known as the ‘coronation case’.

In Krell v Henry, the coronation was the foundation of both parties entering into the contract, they had both made the assumption that the coronation event would go ahead. The contract was deemed to be frustrated because the purpose of the contract did not happen.

Grumpy Doug

14:36 PM, 21st March 2020
About 5 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Glenn Ackroyd at 21/03/2020 - 14:19
This could well be the case where the accommodation is halls of residence or houses let via the University accommodation service. Mine are standard ASTs that could apply equally to students or any group of unrelated individuals. Thoughts?

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