Tenant stops cheque after leaving property

Tenant stops cheque after leaving property

by Readers Question

Guest Author

8:59 AM, 25th February 2014, About 10 years ago 24

Text Size

My tenant of 5 yrs gave notice to me on 15th Jan. Her rent day was 30th of month and she gave her leaving date of 28th Feb. Tenant did not give written notice, she told me by phone, but I confirmed by letter that I had received her notice and her leaving date was 28th Feb. She then said she would be leaving before the end of her tenancy but she sent her cheque to pay until end of Feb and asked for her deposit to be released. Tenant stops cheque after leaving property

She dropped off her keys with letting agent, flat was in good order, new tenants lined up to move in 1st March. I told agent to release her deposit. Then her cheque is returned to me as stopped. Tenant claims she has been told someone else is now living in the flat and refuses to pay last months rent. I realise I have made mistakes in not getting written notice and releasing her deposit before the end of the tenancy but no-one is in the flat until 1st March. Tenant thinks she doesn’t have a contract because she hasn’t signed one since she moved in. She was on a periodic tenancy. Could you please tell me, is the tenancy officially ended when the keys are given in and the deposit returned or on the last day of tenancy? Is it worth me chasing this debt?

Share This Article


11:22 AM, 25th February 2014, About 10 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Mark Alexander" at "25/02/2014 - 11:10":

yes, just got that, seems i read the comment too quickly, so no overlap, tenant liable, i guess. must pay more attention

Jeremy Smith

11:31 AM, 25th February 2014, About 10 years ago

"has not signed a tenancy agreement 'since' she moved in"
- do you mean she signed one just before, or she never signed one when she moved in 5 years ago.

Fed Up Landlord

11:36 AM, 25th February 2014, About 10 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Julie Ford" at "25/02/2014 - 11:15":

Hi Julie,

If the two tenancy documents are for different time periods then they are exclusive to each tenant at that point in time. If there is an overlap between one tenant and another, and the outgoing tenant's tenancy encroaches into the incoming tenants tenancy, then I agree that's not good. In circumstances such as this when a tenant moves out before the end of their notice period I always get the outgoing tenant to sign a letter voluntarily surrendering the tenancy ....or even a Deed of Surrender!!
( Arrrghhhhhh...yes I know we have done that to death recently) (LOL) Then you do not have two tenancies running at the same time.

If it is on their request I do not refund the rent for the unoccupied period. If it's at my request because it suits the new tenant then as an incentive I will refund the money paid for the unoccupied days as I am a member of the Good Landlord Campaign and feel it's important to treat tenants fairly. Although sometimes that does not work the other way round as we all know.

Jeremy Smith

11:46 AM, 25th February 2014, About 10 years ago

I just can't understand all this confusion about overlapping tenancies,
- it is quite clear!! - there is no overlap, why do people keep going on about it ?
- just tell the outgoing tenant there is NO overlap !!
How does 28th Feb and 1st March overlap !!! ???

But please clear this up :
"Tenant thinks she doesn’t have a contract because she hasn’t signed one since she moved in"
...did she have a TA for when she first occupied the property 5 years ago??

Romain Garcin

11:48 AM, 25th February 2014, About 10 years ago

Even if there was an overlap, the tenant was not entitled to a refund.

If it comes to suing, I think OP has 2 options:
1. To sue on the basis that rent is due and unpaid.
2. To sue on the stopped cheque.

Indeed, cheque is an unconditional promise to pay and as such, as I understand it, there is no defence in court if you are sued because your cheque was dishonoured.

It is perhaps possible to make a single money claim that the money is due because (1) and in addition because (2).

Call me cynical, but unless the tenant usually paid by cheque, I suspect that she planned the whole thing in advance...

Steve Masters

13:24 PM, 25th February 2014, About 10 years ago

When my tenants move out before their notice period I charge them to the end of the notice period or up until a new tenant moves in, I don't charge double rent.

When outgoing tenant moved out and returned the keys she returned possession and with it the tenancy, so no overlap.

I always pursue rent owed via MCOL Money Claim OnLine, it's easy.

Industry Observer

9:09 AM, 26th February 2014, About 10 years ago

I really don't see the problem here if you have had rent to Feb 28th and new tenant is in and paying from 1st March. Was rent paid in arrear and the cheque was for february rent, don't think detail is clear enough here.

Anyway Julie is correct and Gary is wrong - how on earth can you have two tenancies running at same time and two separate sets of tenants liable to pay rent for the same facility.

Surprised no-one is focusing more on the cheque and the fact it is an offence

a. To put a cheque into circulation knowing it will not be met


b. To receive goods or services paid for by cheque but then cancel that cheque

Freda Blogs

9:13 AM, 26th February 2014, About 10 years ago

As a general principle, I would say pursue the debt, particularly as the tenant's alleged reasons for non payment are unproven and for all the reasons mentioned by others.

However, how much money are we talking about? Put a price on your time and ask yourself if its worth spending x hours pursuing the debt. If we are not talking very much, you may just wish to accept it as a cost of doing business and move on.

To have had a tenant paying rent for 5 years with no voids and the property left in good order is a good result...

Mrs Ploughley

9:53 AM, 26th February 2014, About 10 years ago

I'm sorry if I haven't made myself clear but I was really cross when I wrote the initial post.

The tenant moved in five years ago and signed a six month AST. Since the end of the first six months she's been on a periodic tenancy.

There has been no overlap of tenancy. Her tenancy was due to finish at the end of February and new tenants lined up to move in 1st March. Tenant cancelled her standing order (her usual method of payment) and sent the cheque for her last month's rent. Then she told me her new accommodation was ready to move into and she was moving out early and she wanted her deposit back before the end of the month. Letting agent confirmed the flat was in good condition and tenant handed over keys to agent in exchange for return of deposit monies.

Then the cheque for the last month's rent came back as 'stopped' and I rang to ask the tenant (who was now in her new accommodation) why it had been stopped as the rent was payable until the end of the month. She said she had been told that someone else was now in the flat and she wash't going to pay. There was no-one in the flat and no-one due to move in until after the end of the notice period. I asked the Letting Agent to confirm this to her but she was not listening.

Thanks for all the wise words. I'm really cross with myself for giving back her deposit money early but i thought I was being fair as she had moved out and the flat was in good order. My initial instinct was Small Claims Court but I wondered if by handing in her keys and by my giving her the deposit back it could be assumed that the tenancy had ended early.

No, it's not a huge rent, £500, and I guess I'll have to consider if it's worth the time effort and stress of taking it further. I have threatened her with SCC but it hasn't produced a result. It's just really galling when you think you've been fair but a lesson learned.

Sue P

10:27 AM, 26th February 2014, About 10 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Mrs Ploughley" at "26/02/2014 - 09:53":

I understand your frustration, it's when you try to be reasonable & a good landlord that it all goes wrong and you loose your faith in decent tenants!

Reading the full story I would keep going with the county court route, If you do the online form & print it out rather than filing it I would send her that with a 7 day letter, if that doesnt work press the send button & put her in court. I think she will pay rather than get a CCJ

Good luck

Leave Comments

In order to post comments you will need to Sign In or Sign Up for a FREE Membership


Don't have an account? Sign Up

Landlord Tax Planning Book Now