Taking rent from tenant overlap?

by Readers Question

10:21 AM, 10th December 2018
About a month ago

Taking rent from tenant overlap?

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Taking rent from tenant overlap?

I had a tenant whose tenancy ends at the end of Nov, who actually left, checked out and handed back keys at the end of Oct, one month earlier.

I then had my letting agent find a new tenant and started her tenancy at mid Nov, two weeks before the previous tenant’s tenancy ends.

Therefore I expect
– the old tenant pays rent upto end of Nov as in the previous tenant’s tenancy agreement
– the new tenant pays rent from mid Nov as in the later new tenant’s tenancy agreement

However my letting agent argue that I can’t take rent from the old tenant, as soon as a new tenancy starts, which I find very odd.

The old tenant is responsible for his/her obligation of paying rent till the end of the tenancy they agreed. They may leave the property earlier, but are obliged for their rent in full. If they did leave early and give back the possession of the property to the landlord, landlord can decide what ever fit to do which has absolutely nothing to do with the previous tenant’s rent etc.

Is there any legal clause that saying the landlord has to refund the rent to the old tenant once a tenant is found? I never agreed or instructed to the letting agent or the previous tenant for a refund etc.

Many thanks

Mike



Comments

Neil Patterson

10:33 AM, 10th December 2018
About a month ago

Hi Mike,
I have not seen specific legislation on this.

However, a frequent topic for readers is when tenants break their agreement and move out early with or without notice.

The consensus of opinion on Property118 from readers has always been to charge the rent up until the point a new tenant is found. The agent's recommendation would seem to concur with this.

Plus it would seem a little harsh if they have been a good tenant?

Harlequin Garden

11:04 AM, 10th December 2018
About a month ago

I have always believed - and I can't recall where heard this sadly - that you can't take 'double rent' and I have to say I never have and never will and I have had the opportunity - lets play fair.

Zoe AM

11:07 AM, 10th December 2018
About a month ago

I have a similar one, tenants not happy with the house at month 3 of 6 month AST, asked to surrender the tenancy. Leaders Letting Agents agreed to look, they found a tenant, asked for a move in date of 10 days later so tenants obliged and quickly moved out and handed keys back. New tenants didn't move in after all. Email confirmed they wouldn't owe any more money, after that date. It doesn't mention if the new tenant withdrew/failed referencing, what the situation would be.
Leaders are withholding the deposit.
What are your thoughts?

Paul Kaye

11:10 AM, 10th December 2018
About a month ago

if you replace a tenant you cant in effect double charge rent.
You will just need to be in the same position,ie old tenant pays upto the new tenant starts.
So you are not at any loss.The old tenant pays council tax to date the new tenant starts and energy costs to the date the new tenant starts.
Just advise energy company and council the dates of end and start dates.

Zoe AM

11:14 AM, 10th December 2018
About a month ago

Reply to the comment left by Neil Patterson at 10/12/2018 - 10:33
To reply to the original comment, I represented the landlord on a county court case for arrears. Tenant never handed keys back, property in very bad order when we finally realised he had left. Never gave notice. We claimed rent, damage and costs up to the day a new person moved in. But the Judge did say in this circumstance with a lack of notice ever having been given, that the landlord was generous in not charging up to the current day. He would have awarded it. So notice letter is very important!

moneymanager

11:15 AM, 10th December 2018
About a month ago

The tenant leaving early had a contractural obligation from which they wished to be released, early surrender fee? Our fee terms which mirror our former agent provides for an early surrender fee of £300, you will be incurring relet costs two weeks prematurely.
The early exit has shifted your tenancy renewal date forward two weeks, is that a desirable outcome? I just had a tenant who wanted to leave a month early at the end of November, finding a tenant in the first week of the year is bad enough but the beginning of December? My response was no, unless I can find a tenant and subject to the above which was accepted.

Annie Landlord

12:03 PM, 10th December 2018
About a month ago

Your AST should cover this situation. Mine say that if a tenant wishing to leave during a fixed period, rent will be charged for the whole period until the property is relet. That seems fair for the landlord and the outgoing tenant

Kate Mellor

14:47 PM, 10th December 2018
About a month ago

The best way I can explain the agent’s point is as follows:
If the tenant has a tenancy agreement giving them possession until the end of November and has paid rent for that period they have a right to occupy the property and could legally and contractually re-enter despite having returned the keys to you. (If they had not paid rent and had surrendered the keys you could claim a surrender by their clear intention). By relettimg early without a deed of surrender, or at least the tenants agreement in writing that their tenancy will end on a particular earlier date you are in breach of your tenancy agreement. If you have got the tenants agreement in writing to end the tenancy on an earlier date you have therefore released them from their obligation to pay rent for the remainder of the tenancy.
You are not OBLIGATED to release them early, but by reletting the property you have in fact done so.
You can’t have it both ways. You’ve either accepted the early surrender and ended your tenants obligations under that tenancy (which you did when you relet), or you enforce the terms of their agreement, which means they continue to have a valid tenancy until the end of the term and you are unable to relet it until 1 December.
If you wish to charge a penalty fee for allowing an early surrender you must stipulate this in your AST, or negotiate these terms in writing with the tenant in exchange for their early release of their obligations, but this cannot be rent. The original tenant either has a valid contract for which rent paid is the consideration, or the contract is ended in which case they do not owe rent.

Ian Cognito

16:32 PM, 10th December 2018
About a month ago

Let's ignore the legalities. What you are suggesting, Mike, is not only morally wrong. it provides ammunition for Shelter to fire back at ALL landlords, as if they need it.

Apologies if I have somehow misread the situation.

Mike

22:34 PM, 10th December 2018
About a month ago

Reply to the comment left by Ian Cognito at 10/12/2018 - 16:32Many thanks to all who has replied with great details.
What I'd like understand is whether there is a clear cut on the legal level, i.e. clauses in any relevant regulation or law, or we can only rely on one's interoperation on how a tenancy agreement implies in general. Whether actually charging it would be another issue on the mortal level.
If there's no clear cut (which seems the impression I'm getting from above) and is up to our interoperation, then may I offer some very different and amusing angle to stir everyone's thinking a little?
When we book a flight or hotel room where there's clear conditions that it's non-refundable. Inevitably some of us may have no choice but to cancel their booking at times, even tho there isn't any refund.
The airline or the hotel certainly will not keep the empty seat on flight or the hotel room for you because you paid for it but cancelled later, they then would have the seat and room back to their possession and disposal ie free to sell again.
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