Tenants Notice Period – please consider this scenario

Tenants Notice Period – please consider this scenario

10:01 AM, 3rd December 2012, About 9 years ago 25

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Readers Question

I wonder if anyone can give me advice on what they might do in my position over a potential tenants notice period dispute?

I’ve had good tenants in a house for about four years who recently told me that they might be looking for a larger property in the near future, but that there was no urgency. As we were due to go abroad on holiday for 3 weeks from 10 Nov I gave the tenant my daughter’s phone number to contact in case of an emergency.

On 22 Nov I had a call at 4am in New Zealand from the tenant. I sent her a text back and asked her to text as I was in NZ.

She did so, telling me that she’d tried to phone me a couple of times and that they were moving out on 7 Dec. I sent a text back saying I’d accept her text as written notice to leave on 22 Dec, that they should pay the usual rent on 1 Dec and I’d refund as appropriate. She immediately sent a text back saying “I tried to give you notice but couldn’t get a hold of you. A letter is at your house for notice to end on 7 Dec. I also tried to contact our daughter as well.”

My daughter sent me a text on the same day to say that she’d received a voicemail from my tenant on 22 Nov saying that they had tried to get hold of me and they were moving out.

I didn’t respond to to the tenant as I wanted to enjoy my holiday, but now we’re back and have found the letter at the house dated 10 Nov, saying they are moving out 10 Dec (not 7th as stated in texts).

My tenant may well have been unable to contact me for a few days earlier by phone as it was switched off, but we left on 10 Nov, and she didn’t phone or text me, or phone or text daughter until 22 Nov. Although the letter is dated 10 Nov it could have been delivered any time up until 30 Nov when we returned.

Surely I’m not being unreasonable to say that she could have done more to give me proper notice?

I intend to claim the deposit in lieu of rent as I’m sure she won’t pay the correct rent. The annoying thing is that I sent their deposit away for custodial protection just before we went on holiday to comply with the new Scottish regs.

What would readers advise me to do when I get in touch with them?

Roberta Goodall



Comments

by

6:59 AM, 4th December 2012, About 9 years ago

As has been suggested this is one of those occasions where you take it on the chin.
You were away and it is just unfortunate things happened whilst you were away.
Hopefully the decor the tenant left the property in is not dark so you would be looking at a simple tosh over anyway.
Chances of sourcing tenants in December, about ZERO.
Accept the void, you have done OK over the past 4 years with no void on the property, get the place all sorted for new tenant enquirers early next year.
Not many tenants are looking to move in December.
It might not be until early Feb before you rent out again as tenants have to give a LL 1 month notice if on a SPT, but NOT so if on a fixed period AST.
To lose 2 months income after a tenant has been there for 4 years is pretty good going.
Wish all my tenants had stayed for 4 years.!!
They haven't and I had to redec 3 flats after fair wear and tear!

by

8:02 AM, 4th December 2012, About 9 years ago

This case shows how important it is to have a detailed tenancy agreement where all these points are recorded and agreed. Usually, notice should be given on the same day of the month when the tenancy agreement started, or on the day when the rent is paid. If it is paid monthly on the 1st of the month, your tenants should have given their notice on 1st November. They cannot just give a hand-delivered notice, especially as they knew you were going abroad for 3 weeks. I think you could challenge this, but most comments in reply to you do not agree. (Tenancy deposit dispute resolutions do tend to favour the tenants.) Why should one be happy that there has not been a void for 4 years and accept the situation? I also had a tenant who stayed in my flat for 4 years. He left to go to United States in mid-March this year and paid his rent and the council tax to the end of the tenancy period at the end of March. I used the 2 weeks to redecorate the flat, which really needed it after 4 years. I also had to change the carpet in his bedroom as he had a waterbed there (with my somewhat reluctant permission) that left very deep marks on the carpet; my tenant paid for the new carpet, and also contributed to the cost of redecoration, as the checking-out report stated he should. I had a detailed inventory prepared, by an independent inventory company, at the beginning and end of the tenancy. For the new tenancy, I'd suggest that you review the tenancy agreement and also arrange for a professional inventory to be done. You can obtain a sample copy of a tenancy agreement from the Residential Landlords Association, or other similar organisations. (Perhaps Mark Alexander has this service?) This is very useful in case there are disputes. Perhaps we do things slightly differently in London, where there is competition for good rental property. I have never had a void in the 7 years I have had my flat.

by

8:40 AM, 4th December 2012, About 9 years ago

Roberta, I believe that legally you have a strong case. You said that the rent is due on the first of each month. That being the case the tenant needs to have given you notice by the 30th November (not 1st Dec - Satu43 is incorrect in their posting) to take effect 31st Dec. In this I am assuming you have a decent tenancy agreement not one purchased off the shelf. Case law has made these dates very important. (Having said that I have just accepted a notice dated 1st December when it should have been 30th Nov). Legalities aside, I tend to agree with those suggesting that after four years its not worth falling out over a few days.

by Roberta Goodall

22:28 PM, 4th December 2012, About 9 years ago

Thanks for your very detailed reply. I am confident in my rental agreement, but what I am concerned about is that it clearly states that one month's notice should be given, not the 19 days they have given me - and rent of less than a week to cover the 3 weeks in December they should have paid. I know I was away but they never texted me although that is the usual mode of communication with these tenants, and they never texted my daughter, but phoned us both on 22 Nov. I might be cynical but I doubt their letter had been lying in my house since 10 Nov!

Yes I'm pleased they've been good tenants for four years, and incidentally rob craigie they think I've been a brilliant landlord, but I've also recently had tenants doing a moonlight flit that cost a bucketload, and I've had to evict someone recently for non-payment. So the thought that 'good' tenants are taking advantage rankles somewhat. But I'll probably just have to take it on the chin and agree with the tenant that her letter dated 10 Nov was indeed acceptable notice. But I don't believe it!

by

6:09 AM, 5th December 2012, About 9 years ago

Talk nicely to your tenants about the rent and the decorating.
It seems likely that notice was correctly given, if somewhat deviously, so you should be paid up to and including the 10th.
Ask them to agree to the extra rent and a reasonable amount toward the decorating to be deducted from the deposit

by Bob G

22:42 PM, 5th December 2012, About 9 years ago

Dont be a racist by insinuating that all Scots are mean. That is a myth along with countless other ones about other races.

by

9:33 AM, 6th December 2012, About 9 years ago

Dear Roberta,
You must accept responsibility for not being contactable. If you are managing your portfolio yourself then you should put in place a reliable system for when you are away. My best advise is to arrange a bespoke arrangement with a local private agent on the basis that you cover their time should they need to get involved. A good many landlords believe it is all or nothing, i.e: manage Yourself or Offload onto an Agent. This is not the case at all. I have bespoke private arrangements with many private agents in several areas of the country. Under normal circumstances they do not get involved except at tenant finder stage. Thereafter, if for any reason I cannot be contacted the tenant is instructed, in writing, to contact the agent directly. The agent is authorised to act on my behalf and I pay them a flat hourly rate for their time.
Being a Landlord is a business, not a part time investment vehicle. We need to be professional in every aspect of our business, including communication. Like every business, the most important element is the customer and in our case the customer is our tenant.
Your customer has been very good to you over 4 years. Take it on the chin, write them a letter wishing them all the best for the future and move on.
Richard Spong

by Puzzler

12:05 PM, 6th December 2012, About 9 years ago

Not so, Antony, unless that has been written into their agreement, one month's notice is required but it is not required to be on any particular date in the month. All my tenants' rents are due on 1st, but they can leave on any date. My agent is very particular with the rules so if this was not legal, I am sure they would not do it.

by Mark Alexander

15:16 PM, 6th December 2012, About 9 years ago

Diverting telephones is also a good idea, even if only to a family member who keeps their mobile phone on all the time. Alternatively, if you have an intelligent telephone system you could set up a voicemail which delivers messages in the form of email attachments which you can play back whilst you are away. You can then forward the voice mail messages via email to the relevant person.

by Roberta Goodall

22:34 PM, 6th December 2012, About 9 years ago

Final update on this matter! I phoned the tenant the other day and she told me they'd already moved out but that she was in the house filling in picture holes and painting. I said I'd need to meet her to do a check out and we met this evening. She'd repainted some bits of the kitchen and some bits of the hall and the place looked pretty good considering they've been in over 4 years. They've also tidied up the gardens - well, mainly removed what few plants there were and replaced with chips. They were my first tenants in that property and the whole place was magnolia. Now it has jazzy paper on one wall in the living room, blue in the kitchen, and dark colours on the bedroom walls. I asked about the rent - she said she'd not paid anything because she didn't know what I would want, and we agreed on £140 for 10 days, which I'll take from the deposit. They left with my best wishes for a good life in their new place, and they thanked me for being a great landlord.

Tenant had given my phone number to people next door and their son and girlfriend then came round to look at the house and are desperate to move in. But it's their first tenancy and they don't really have references, but that's a whole 'nother question as they say!

Thanks everyone for all the advice, it did help me to relax about it and I think it's worked out well, even if these new ones don't move in.


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