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Question

Landlord Wants Tenant to Leave (England) | Tenant Wants to Leave (England)

Unreliable tenant moving out

20 Jul 2016 | 3 comments

My tenant has given notice that she will vacate on 26th August after six months.

Given her track record of obfuscation, lies and poor communication, I’m concerned that if I re-let the property and find my tenant doesn’t move out, what is my liability towards the new tenants if they cannot move in because my incumbent tenant suddenly claims she has nowhere to move to or is simply b-minded and decides to stay put.

She is claiming housing benefit, are the council obliged to house her in these circumstances if new tenants are scheduled to move in?

Answer

3 Comments

  1. guildy

    The first thing is that you should never grant a tenancy until you have actual possession back. I accept student lettings are different and the market demands that lettings are made earlier in the year for the following September but other than that, this shouldn’t be done.

    There is no problem in you showing round whilst the tenant is still there and taking references etc. (of course the existing tenant may not allow entry given how they’ve been – in which case you will just have to wait until they have gone). Make sure you don’t sign any new tenancy until the day the new ones are to move in. When communicating with a prospective tenant, mark everything “subject to contract”. Our Application for Accommodation is useful because as part of the disclaimer, it explains that the tenancy is subject to contract throughout the application process.

    In this type of situation (which is fairly rare), we personally don’t even bother showing round. Yes, there will be a gap between lets but the hassle in trying to arrange viewings and then the worry that they won’t leave isn’t worth it in our view. Also, commonly, a tenant with these inclinations won’t often be looking after the property, making viewings next to impossible anyway.

    If you did sign a tenancy whilst the old tenant is still residing and then the old tenant failed to leave, you could be liable to the new tenant for costs and compensation.

    The local authority will not assist in this case because they have made themselves homeless by giving notice.

    If the tenant fails to vacate by the date given in their notice, they will owe you double the rent until they vacate. However, as per that article, you must not demand rent beyond expiry of their notice because the tenancy will be at an end. You will be entitled to “damages for use and occupation” which will be at an equal rate to the previous (double) rent.

    You should send this letter after expiry of the notice explaining any money you receive will not be rent.

    Also, if the tenant fails to vacate, you will need to obtain a court order for possession. However, no notice will need to be given by you as you will be relying upon their notice to quit.

    All of this is assuming the notice to quit from the tenant is a valid notice to quit.

  2. wykeham

    Thanks for the above information.

    My tenants, a couple, separated one month after moving in and the tenancy is joint and several. She remains in my property. He has never communicated with me in anyway and fails to respond to anything.

    Could you clarify – do I need notice from him to quit as well as from her? The information on one of links seems contradictory to me. Her notice was as follows and sent 15 July:

    Dear Rxxx,
    I hereby give you notice that I will be vacating the property, so will return the keys to you the day my tenancy runs out on 26th August, Dxxxxx.

    • guildy

      Actually, there is no statutory requirement for a tenant give any notice for leaving on the very last day of the tenancy.

      In order for the tenancy to end on the very last day, it would need both of them to have gone. Because one has already left, this will happen and therefore no periodic tenancy will arise assuming the tenant does actually vacate. Assuming you get the keys then I see no reason why the entire tenancy wouldn’t be at an end.

      Our agreements contain a clause that the tenants must give notice if they intend to leave on the last day but it remains to be seen whether it is enforceable or not, because of the lack of a statutory requirement to give notice.

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