down to find the advice you are looking for. Most recent
questions and answers are listed first.
Statutory perodic tenancy
I have a single mother on housing benefit who has been a tenant for 18 months; it was originally a 6 month AST, now converted to a statutory periodic tenancy. She has asked if her boyfriend can move in. I told her I needed to reference check him and a new 6 month ast agreement will have to commence. Also she needs to talk to housing benefit people. Is this correct or is there a better way for me? I know I am going to have to give them 6 months assurance under the new ast rather than the more flexable periodic contract that is operating now.
You are obviously happy with this tenant or you would not be asking the questions. That said, I would be dubious, given the very temporary nature of many modern relationships to end very quickly, to give him any rights in the property just yet. He can move in, if you give your permission, without being given rights. Before you give permission for him to move in, still do the full reference checks – he could have been the neighbor from hell in another property and you would not want him in yours, if this is the case. Yes, housing benefits must be notified that he is lodging there and this will almost certainly affect the benefit your tenant is receiving, so this must be sorted out asap. You may need to check with housing benefits that they have done this. I always err on the side of caution and I think in this case, following the lead of the council gives you a get-out but keeps your tenant with full rights. Tell her that if she was in a council property, they would expect him to live with her 12 months before he could be given legal status in the property and that you operate on the same lines. If things go wrong, she can tell him to go and her security is unaffected. If things work out well, in 12 months you will have confidence that this is going well and can then give the tenancy agreement. Until then, you have the flexibility you seem to value.
Who should sign?
I am lucky in having very good tenants who have been renting from me for three or four years. I renew them every year with a new Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement.
As there are two tenants and my husband and I jointly own the property, we have all four of us been signing it, with a witness. The property is some distance from my home and I wondered whether it would be in order for just two of us to sign, or whether it could be signed by post?
Your two tenants must both sign, as this makes them ‘jointly and severally’ liable, which gives you better rights should you need to recover a debt. I would hesitate to change what has been in place for a while and which has worked well for you, but if you feel happy to just have one of you to sign as landlord, I cannot see that would make much difference to anything. The main thing is that both tenants sign. Remember though that if the tenancy now goes in the name of one landlord, then you have to ensure that he or she is the one who signs official notices and the like. If you do this, be very clear with the tenants who they should contact if needs be.
I was given agreement that is titled 6 month assured shorthold tenancy even though I live in one room with my son in a house that I have shared with the landlord since 1 June. I feel she might want to evict me because she works nights and my son who is one is very noisy in the day. What rights do I have as a tenant and if I needed to go to the council would this be seen as a settled accommodation. (pay for bills between us and pay rent with housing benefit).
I am sorry, but I don’t think this is a tenancy, it sounds like you are a lodger, living there under licence. You have the right to reasonable notice, but possibly, nothing more. However, if she has given you an agreement, she may perhaps feel she is bound by what is in it, even if legally, she is not. She must have been aware that a one year old would make some noise, and if she has made no complaint, try not to worry about it. However, I think you should perhaps look for somewhere where your child can be himself without you worrying about the landlady.
One sided break clause
I am four months into a twelve month contract (ending March 2010). I changed jobs in June and now work really long hours so want to move closer to work. I have asked my landlord if I can be released from the contract early as there is no break clause. I have offered up to two months’ notice for him to find another tenant or to stay until one is found. There is a six month break clause for him to exercise but not for me.
Please will you clarify my position? Can he force me to stay?
As you don’t say what your landlord responded to your requests to be released, I take it he did not agree. Write to the landlord stating your wish to take advantage of the six month break clause, which gives him just about two months’ notice. State that as he is bound by the 1988 Housing Act (amended 1996) which states that the tenancy cannot be ended before the termination of the tenancy, the one sided break clause would appear to be an unfair contract term. See what response you get. If it is still unsatisfactory, see the Office of Fair Trading/Trading Standards and get their opinion on it.
I would also say that whilst I would always fight for landlords, landlords should also try and be fair with their tenants. If you leave at the end of six months, having advised him you intended to go, allowed him access to show the property to prospective tenants etc, he would have to go to the small claims court to hold you to the agreement. At that point, you would point out the unfair contract term, have copies of the letters you have written to the landlord etc. He would have to provide proof that he had tried to find another tenant and provide copies of newspaper adverts, applications received etc. The court is unlikely to decide you should still be responsible for the rent if the landlord has not done what he should.
However, never sign an agreement for such a lengthy period if it is likely you will not settle. You must have changed jobs within days of moving and you would have been better waiting to move until you knew where you would be working.
I have used the assured shorthold tenancy agreement for a 6 month initial tenancy. The actual term I outlined was from your excellent site and written as, "6 months commencing on xxxxx and ending on xxxxxxx and any period of holding over or extension or continuance by statute or common law" As the tenant wishes to continue on a monthly basis, does the above wording allow the agreement to continue unchanged, or do I need draw up a new agreement, or can a one page extension notice be sufficient with both parties signature and date?
I think this covers you to allow the tenancy to continue as a Statutory Periodic Tenancy, to which an assured shorthold tenancy automatically converts at the expiry of the tenancy.
Placing the responsibility on tenants
With my girlfriend I recently started a 6 month tenancy for an unfurnished property. This afternoon I took another look at the tenancy agreements and spotted a clause which stated: ‘If any appliances supplied by the landlord break down, it is not their responsibility to replace/mend the appliance’. Also, the small print stated: ‘Note. If the property has electrical items such as washing machines, vacuum cleaners, TV, radios, microwaves, fridge/freezers, dishwashers, dryers and such like, the tenant is responsible for the maintenance of such equipment and any repairs necessary their tenancy’.
This sounds out of order to me and i have never heard of a landlord expecting a tenant to repair their own equipment. As far as I am concerned, if the washing machine breaks down it should not be my responsibility to fix it, I don't own it and have rented the property with it. I would never have signed this agreement if I had seen these clauses earlier. It may be a standard clause they put in to cover themselves and in practice they don't actually honour it. But I am uncomfortable with this.
Am I now legally obliged to repair any equipment provided? Is there any cooling off period in which I can challenge this? What should I do, so that I do not have to replace/repair equipment?
You should really have read the agreement before signing, but you are quite right – if equipment breaks due to wear and tear, there is no responsibility on you to repair. If the washing machine breaks because a child puts a brick in (it could happen, that is not fair wear and tear and would be the responsibility of the tenant. An unfurnished tenancy probably means there are very few appliances provided, but if there are, such as built-in cooker, washer etc., it is the landlord’s responsibility. As you are obviously sensible tenants, you would probably wish to get this sorted before a replacement or repair arises, so:
Write to the landlord, note the appliances he or she has provided and state you have taken advice on this point and would like some reassurance that provided the equipment is kept properly, you expect them to be repaired/replaced, should that be necessary.
If the landlord is obdurate, then I am afraid you will have to be quite assertive and state that you will take advice from the Office of Fair Trading/Trading Standards or Housing Aid or even Shelter as you believe this to be an unfair term.
Any of these actions are likely to make the landlord feel quite miffed, so be prepared to receive notice and look for somewhere else at the end of the tenancy – then read the agreement before signing.
When is a renewal a renewal
I have rented my property to a couple for the past year on a 12 month term with 6 month break clause. In advance of the term ending I told them that I would be happy to renew the agreement. I sent them a tenancy renewal agreement to this effect, which they signed and returned before the end of the tenancy period. The only change I made was to small reduction in rent to take into account the current state of the market.
During this time I had a good valuation on the property and am willing to sell should I receive an offer near this amount. I have told the tenants of my intentions and have placed the property on the market.
I am now rather confused about the legal position in which leaves both myself and my tenants. I live out of the country and have been relying on an agency.
Since I did not countersign the tenancy renewal agreement, am I correct in thinking that the tenancy is now legally a periodic tenancy, and that I am able to give two months’ notice and they are able to give one month notice? I am worried that I did not inform the tenants of the change in circumstances until after the new term had started, by which time they had paid their first month's rent at the new level. Is there any way that their paying the first month's rent could have enacted a new 12 month term contract?
The agency has now issued the tenants with a new draft of the tenancy renewal agreement, which includes a two month break clause on either side. Assuming they sign this, and it is back-dated, will everything be covered?
I look at how a court may look at this, should a dispute arise, or should your tenants not be happy to sign the most recent agreement. I think a court would look most sympathetically at the tenants, given that they did what was required and signed the first agreement they were presented with. They paid the first month’s rent in good faith.
If I was the tenant, I would probably feel that the second agreement reduced my rights and disturbed myr quiet enjoyment of the property, given that if the property is now up for sale, there will presumably be a board put up and I may be asked to allow viewings.
If the tenants are happy to go along with the new agreement, fine, but I think they may not and only a court could then decide on the validity of an agreement you did not sign.
Responsibility for fire protection
I am a landlord but this question is about my step son who has rented a furnished flat for six months. The wall-mounted heaters in the flat were not working. During an inspection visit the landlord’s agent advised him to use a portable convector heater supplied with the flat.
Last week he left the portable convector heater turned on while out. On his return some hours later he found the heater had caught fire and the carpet was burning. He put out the fire himself but there is now damage to the carpet and extensive smoke damage to the walls and furnishings.
The agent says the fire and the resulting repairs are the responsibility of my step son. The firm says common sense dictates he should not have left the heater on when away from the flat.
My argument is that it was an accident. The convector heater was supplied by the landlord. No operating instructions were supplied and the tenancy agreement has a clause stating that: ‘the landlord covers accidental fire risk'. Surely this was an accidental fire.
Further my son relied on this clause when deciding not to take out contents insurance.
Who is responsible? Please advise.
As a result of this we realised we did not have adequate insurance cover on our own properties so have now taken out landlords’ contents insurance including accidental fire risk. We are now in the process of demanding that our tenants take out contents insurance.
Please remember that my work is with landlords. If a tenant approached me and said ‘it was an accident’, I would feel I had to say that that was unfortunate, but it is still your responsibility. The clause in the agreement is interesting – but I wonder whether the landlord’s interpretation would be that he or she covers unavoidable fire damage which was not caused by the tenant’s own actions.
I am afraid I think your son was responsible – he should not have left the heater on.
Not to take out contents insurance on the basis of the clause seems a trifle short-sighted – a flood could have caused the same level of damage, he could have been burgled. I do not think it is appropriate to try and apportion blame because of a lack of insurance on the clause.
I think the steps you have taken with your own properties would indicate that you know that your son left himself at risk. I think I would try and negotiate with the agent along the lines that the wall heaters should have been working. Perhaps an agreement to pay half each would be the best you could manage.
We issued a shorthold tenancy agreement to a couple who have now split up. The fixed term of 12 months has expired and we have been continuing on the basis of a periodic tenancy.
One half of the couple wishes to stay and we are happy with that. Can we just issue a new contract in his name only to supersede the original, or do we need to give notice to bring that one to an end?
Provided there is agreement on both sides that one leaves, I cannot see that you need to give notice as the one who has left should have given you notice anyway. I would always advise that you confirm anything in writing, provided you have a forwarding address. However, if there seems some disagreement between them, serve them both a notice. Whatever the circumstances, issue a new tenancy agreement in one name. It may not apply, but be aware that if your tenant now or at some time in the future needs to apply for local housing allowance/housing benefit, he will be limited to the single person rate, so ensure he can afford the rent on his own.
We have put our let property up for sale - our tenants are
aware of this and have not complained since we have given
verbal assurances that we will give them at least one month’s
notice as soon as we have a buyer. The six month tenancy runs
out at the end of September. How can we document this?
Just a letter
confirming that the original tenancy has expired and has therefore
converted to a statutory periodic tenancy from the date of
expiry, to run on month by month, should be sufficient. Just
as a point of interest (and law) – your tenants have
the right to 2 months notice – if they are happy with
one month, fine, but should they be unable to find alternative
accommodation and approach the local authority, they will
be told this is an illegal eviction.
Guest or joint tenant?
One of my male tenants who has an AST has allowed his male friends
to stay with him for over a year since the break up of his marriage.
Originally this was meant to be a temporary arrangement.
The guest pays the
food bills and contributes towards other running costs but
my tenant assures me he receives no rent because he is aware
he cannot sublet. The tenant has been advised that this situation
cannot continue indefinitely and my preference is for a joint
tenancy agreement to be drawn up. Is this the best way to
legalise the position for all parties and is there a limit
to the rate of rent increase I am allowed to imposer to reflect
two persons living in the property?
is quite interesting but also tricky. My feelings are that
there is a rent for a property, based on facilities, size
etc., but not necessarily on how many people are living there.
For example, in the area I am familiar with, a rent of £100
per week would be standard for a two bed property. If only
one person takes it, then the rent is still £100. Local
Housing Allowance will only pay £80 for one person,
but that is irrelevant to the rent the landlord wants.
Unless you feel
the rent you charged the one tenant was discounted because
of the fact it was sole occupancy, I do not see that you can
ask for anything more than a standard, cost of living increase
which your original tenant should expect after more than a
year. The additional costs associated with two people living
in the property are being met through increased utilities
the tenant has made with the lodger may not be “rent”
as we know it, but I think a court may believe that it constituted
Wanting to end the tenancy early
I am currently renting out the property I used to live in. A
friend is managing the let for me.
The initial 12 month tenancy came to an end a few months ago.
In my absence, my friend renewed the tenancy for two years (at
the time he was unable to contact me because I was out of the
This is not OK. My discount rate mortgage ends soon and the
rent will not cover the mortgage.
I have two options:
1 Move back into the property myself, or
2 Run up mortgage arrears and possibly allow the bank to repossess
There is no equity in the property and I can’t remortgage
and am having some financial difficulties.
The tenants have been good tenants and pay their rent on time,
which makes it worse. I know this is my fault and feel terrible
but don't know what to do. Can I end the tenancy early?
I will of course refund their deposit in full, give as much
notice as possible and could possibly give them, say, a month
rent free by way of compensation?
is unfortunate, as you cannot legally regain possession at
this stage, without the tenants agreement. I think the best
thing you can do is discuss it with the tenants honestly.
Tell them the options you have, explaining that the worst
scenario is that the property will be re-possessed which will
leave them homeless anyway.
The steps you
are prepared to take, with refunding the deposit, a month
rent free, excellent reference to the next landlord, may be
sufficient to persuade them to move out voluntarily. If they
are not prepared to leave, I really do not know what you can
do. I think the fact your friend gave them a two year tenancy
makes it worse – they may have felt they were settled
for quite a lengthy period. Negotiation is your only option.
Is it worth speaking to your mortgage company, to see if they
will allow any leeway with the discount mortgage rate, though
I know in the current financial climate, that may not be an
option. Best of luck with your tenants.
My Tenant gave one
month written notice, but stated that this may need to be
extended as she may not be ready to vacate by then. Her tenancy
dates run from the 27 to 26 of each month and the rent is
paid calendar monthly.
She did not vacate
the property on the 26 May and actually vacated on the 9 June
and therefore extended her notice into the next rental period.
Am I therefore entitled
to charge her for the whole month (27 May to 26June) or is
she only liable up to 9 June? It's just that it seems unfair
as we didn't have an exact move out date and we had a tenant
to move in who was then put off as we couldn't give an exact
date to move in.
depends how long it took you for a new tenant to move in.
If they moved in before 26th June, then she was liable for
the rent to that date. If it was later than that, then you
are entitled to the full month, and could even claim to the
date the new tenant moved in, though you may struggle to get
did not move on 26 May, I think you should have asked her
for a new months notice and then there would be no argument.
Tenants must realise that the law protects both parties and
putting it in writing and then not acting on it negates the
notice given, in my view.
I would like to rent my two bed semi detached house to my daughter
who is 17 years old and her friend who is 18. Will my daughter
be able to sign the tenancy agreement if she is under 18? What
options do we have if she can't sign if underage?
Also, I understand
that as the property will have only two occupants and I therefore
don't need a landlords licence and can just rent on the basis
of being the landlord and us all having a tenancy agreement.
Is this correct?
Lastly, I need to
have the electrics and gas appliances tested and signed off
with a landlord’s certificate. Is this correct?
17 year old cannot be bound by the terms of a tenancy agreement
as she is not of a legal age. I cannot see any reasonable
option for you. Were you letting to someone of 17 unconnected
to you, you would ask for a guarantor who would sign the agreement,
stating that the property was the residence of ................only.
Clearly, you cannot do this.
No, you do not
require a licence for two occupiers though it would still
count as a House in Multiple Occupation.
You must have
the gas appliances and system inspected by a Corgi registered
tradesman. This is a statutory requirement and must be done
annually. There is not, at present, a statutory requirement
to have the electrics checked, but it is good practice and,
of course, you would want to ensure that your daughter was
safe. If you have it done, it won’t be needed for a
further five years.
I am new to letting out property and have a query in regards
to gardening. Who is responsible for the general upkeep of
the garden, from lawn mowing to weeding? If it is the tenants’
responsibility, whose responsibility is it to provide the
gardening equipment from lawnmowers to gardening shears and
It is generally
down to the tenants, and should be included in the tenancy
agreement. I think the upkeep of the garden must be discussed
fully at the start (or even before). If you are letting your
property unfurnished, then your tenants obviously has been
established before, so may have the appropriate tools. If
you are letting it furnished, then your tenants may not have
the means to buy their own tools. Also, I have not seen your
garden! Did it used to be your pride and joy? If so, and it
must be with the tenant’s agreement, you may feel easier
looking after it yourself. If the worst comes to the worst,
it may be better providing the cheapest lawn mower than giving
the tenants an excuse not to look after the lawn.
Can I use an Assured Shorthold
Tenancy Agreement for a let with rent in excess of £25k
pa? What are the consequences if I do or what do I use instead?
I am afraid
you cannot use this type of tenancy agreement – the
feeling seems to be that a tenancy attracting this amount
of rent does not require the protection afforded by an assured
shorthold tenancy. I would advise that you seek the advice
of a specialist solicitor in drawing up an appropriate agreement.
A year less a day
Thank you for your wonderful questions and answers on Residential
Landlord. I find them invaluable.
tenancy agreements for 12 months state that the tenancy is
for a period of twelve months less one day and I wondered
what the ramifications of this are?
Also I now wish to
grant a tenant an 18 month agreement with a one way break
clause after 12 months for the tenant. How is best to proceed
i.e. type of tenancy agreement.
you for your kind comments, it is nice to hear that I am providing
what landlords want.
The tenancy agreement length is very interesting. I believe
that the ramifications are that it is important that the tenancy
does not go into another rental period. For this reason, when
advising landlords, I usually advise that they use months
and dates, so: one year tenancy issued, beginning 1 January.
I would write on the agreement that it commenced 1 January,
rent payable on 1 of the month, tenancy to end 31 December.
A s.21 notice would be issued 1 November, to end 31 December
and a court order would be applied for after 31 December.
the other point, about an 18 month tenancy, seems unnecessarily
complex. I would be inclined just to do a 12 month one and
then let it run on, if the tenants did not wish to break it.
However, an 18 month tenancy could be issued, with a clause
added (it can be a different sheet, provided it is attached
and you and the tenant both signing) stating that after 12
months/one year, the tenant can exercise the break clause.
However, what is actually in the agreement only counts if
there is likely to be a dispute. As you have already agreed
that the tenancy can be broken, do you really need it? Hope
that makes sense.
A tenant to whom I would
like to rent my property has a poor credit rating. Would it
benefit me if I asked his parent to sign the agreement or
Provided he is
over 18, he should sign his own tenancy agreement. What I
would definitely do is ask his parents to be guarantors. Get
a good deposit (you can ask for up to two months) and protect
it, of course, with one of the Tenancy Deposit Protection
schemes. If the parents stand as Guarantors, make sure they
have the means to pay, should you find your tenant leaves
arrears or damages. They should be home owners and be in full
time work. To be honest, I would generally be cautious about
a tenant with poor credit references, but you say you would
like to rent to him, so presumably he has impressed you that
he will be a good tenant.
I am hoping to rent out a room in my
house. I am the home owner. The lodger will have a bedroom that
is furnished with a bed and will have access to all living areas,
bathing areas apart from my bedroom. I would like to draw up
a lodgings agreement and wondered if you could advise me on
what this needs to be written into it. Would you advise that
a deposit is asked for also?
can write in what you want, but include rent, when you are
likely to want it increased (i.e. annually), what payment
arrangements are, how much notice you can give, what is included
in the rent, how you cover payment of bills (is it included
in the rent or are you going to split them), specify the rooms
he has access to, whether there is any facility for him to
have overnight guests or whether that is forbidden. There
may also be specified prohibitions, like no smoking, no pets
etc. I would always recommend that you ask for a deposit,
a month seems to be the norm.
AST v periodic
My wife and I are new to letting and
we're confused about what to do at the end of assured shorthold
tenancy agreements. Do we have to keep renewing them at six
monthly intervals? If not, are they automatically converted
into statutory periodic tenancy agreements?
of our agreements actually expired last November: has this
already been automatically converted, or should we propose
another six month agreement starting now? We've seen one agreement
drawn up for another landlord who says it 'intends to create
an assured shorthold tenancy' and yet the term is 'for a period
of six months and thereafter monthly until determined by notice
in writing from either party'. Is this kind of hybrid agreement
legal? If so, does it have any disadvantages from a landlord's
tenancy which is for a fixed period and ends, but continues
without a new agreement, automatically becomes a statutory
periodic tenancy. The way I always used to explain it is that
if I was a landlord, I would be quite happy with statutory
periodic tenancies, as it would mean I would only have to
give two month’s notice and could recover the property.
If I was a tenant, I would want greater security than a periodic
tenancy could offer. It is worth discussing with your tenants,
whether they want agreements every six months (or perhaps
every year after the tenant has lived there for six months
and there has been no problem). I think the agreement you
mention is OK, but the wording is unnecessary as it automatically
converts. Can’t think of any disadvantages.
Can you tell me if there is a different
residential tenancy agreement for company landlords (rather
than individual landlords), i.e. do these still follow the same
terms of either assured shorthold or assured tenancy agreements?
Provided the company is offering private rented accommodation
on the same basis as a private landlord, working on his own,
there should not really be any difference. Few private landlords
would offer assured tenancies, but a company registered with
the Housing Corporation as a Housing Association or Co-operative,
might. However, it is difficult to say from the brief details
you give me whether there are other implications. If in doubt,
see a solicitor.
Can you have an AST over 12 months? I have been told you can’t
but have seen some AST's for two and three years.
landlord can issue an AST for up to seven years, I believe.
However, I would never advise a landlord to issue a tenancy
for that long. Six months to start and then a possible 12
month renewal, or allowed to converted to a statutory periodic
tenancy and run on, but not such a long AST - the reason being
that a tenant is difficult to evict if they do not do anything
really bad in the tenancy, like lengthy rent arrears.
landlord may decide to sell the property or want to move a
relative in, which would be impossible if a tenant has a degree
of security for rwo or three years.
I own a property
that I have just let out. The agents I am using have suggested
as a term of the contract my tenants must have contents insurance.
Is this an acceptable thing to do? Can the tenants object
and indeed not take the insurance out?
I think it makes
good sense to have this, and as it protects them more than
you, why would they object? Anything you have in the property
should be covered by your own insurance, so carpets, curtains,
any appliances etc. However, if they choose not to insure,
how would you know? If you discovered it, you would probably
not be able to evict on that ground, as it would be discretionary.
A court is unlikely to feel that it is reasonable for you
to go for possession on the basis that they have not done
something which safeguards their own valuables. Just a thought
– the insurance would not have to come from a company
which the agent receives commission from, would it? If there
is any connection, it is even less likely that a court would
find in your favour and may find it was an unfair contract
I have a property let through a letting agent.
My tenants have not
asked my permission to hang pictures, install sky, change
some of the fixtures, as in change and add net curtains etc.
Some of these have damaged the exterior of my property.
I was under the impression
from my contract drafted by my letting agent, the tenants
needed to get permission from me beforehand. Obviously this
is not the case as my letting agent has said they can do whatever
they want as long as they make it good at the end of tenancy.
Is this right?
What is the point
of having a contract? It does not sound as though the contract
is worth the paper it is written on and is more to protect
the tenant as opposed to the landlord.
Is there anything
I can do? They have signed a two year tenancy with a break
out clause after 12 months. They have only been at the property
for three months.
Also the contract
says no pets, but on a recent visit fish have appeared. Are
these classed as pets? Again should they have said anything
Your agent seems
remarkably cool about tenants doing things they should not
– his experience should tell him that the likelihood
of the tenants doing what is required to put the property
back in order at the end of the tenancy is quite low. I would
prefer that six month tenancies are given, with the option
I think you are
tied to these tenants. Check the agreement – does the
break clause apply to both sides, you and the tenants? Often
it is the option for the tenants only, but if you can break
it, tell the agent that the contract will not be continued
after one year unless you are satisfied that certainly the
external damage is repaired before the renewal date.
I have to say
though, that I would be very surprised if you can break after
one year, as the ground you would be using is section 21,
if there is not another available ground, which would be difficult
when on the face of it you have a two year contract.
The contract is
meant to apply to both parties, but it is very difficult to
obtain possession on the grounds you have mentioned, in that
breaking the terms of the agreement other than rent arrears,
is a discretionary ground and would require a court to feel
that it was reasonable for you to want possession. Net curtains
may seem not very reasonable, particularly if they go to court
and say ‘We were committed to this tenancy, it is for
two years and we wanted to guard our privacy/hang pictures,
make it into a home’. I think you are going to have
to bite the bullet and leave it to the agent.
I thinkit would
be stretching it a bit to say the tenant has broken tenancy
agreement by keeping fish. If your tenant went to Trading
Standards, they would almost certainly say this was an unfair
contract term. Dogs and cats leave hair, possibly odours and
maybe even worse. Fish cannot come into the same category.
Cooling off period
I had a room available for rent and a guy came round to view
the room, liked it and we signed the contract which specified
the minimum tenancy would be three months.
He didn't give me
any money and said he would give me the deposit and a month’s
rent in a couple of day’s time. But he rang me later
and told me he had changed his mind and didn’t want
to move anymore. So, although we signed the contract, he hasn't
moved in, doesn't have the keys and hasn't given me any money.
Is there a cooling
off period after signing a tenancy agreement? Does he have
to honour the contract?
People like you or I would say this was a contract and would
feel bound by it. Unfortunately, he clearly does not. Even
with an assured shorthold tenancy, there is no cooling off
period, and even if an agreement is signed, most landlords
appreciate that if a prospective tenant changes his mind,
there is little they can do about it, though some may keep
a week of the deposit to cover re-advertisement costs or loss
Even after the
tenant has moved in, if he changes his mind and moves out,
the only way a landlord can be recompensed for failure to
keep to the contract is via the Small Claims Court, but even
that is unlikely to result in compensation. It is far more
likely the landlord would have to provide proof of what he
has done to get a new tenant, obviously no compensation being
payable when a new tenant moves in. So sorry, I don’t
think there is a lot you can do.
I helped a friend by acting as a guarantor on a 12 month tenancy
agreement at £ 330 per week with a break clause at six
months with one month notice. After exactly five months minus
1 day, I asked the estate agent acting for the landlord if
I could break the tenancy agreement as a guarantor. Their
answer was a very clear ‘yes’ and no ‘buts’.
So I did. Then two weeks later the estate agent came crawling
back saying it was all a misunderstanding and the landlord
did not accept it, claiming that the landlord said only the
tenant could invoke the break clause. Obviously I disagreed,
pointing out the advice they gave me. It is now two months
later and we have not had any formal conversation about this.
The contract clearly
stated that three parties were involved and signed the agreement
and that each party could break at six month given one month’s
If this came to court
what would be my chances?
I really would
have to see the agreement to give any kind of advice on this.
However, I would generally say that unless the agreement clearly
indicates otherwise, a tenancy agreement would be between
a landlord and tenant and that the guarantor is not, strictly
speaking, party to the tenancy. I think you need to discuss
this with your friend. I think (and as I say, without the
agreement I cannot be certain) a court may feel that the break
clause was to benefit your friend and that you had agreed
to be a guarantor for a 12 month tenancy.
sort is needed?
I have just bought my first property in London. It is a furnished
flat that I am going to let. What kind tenancy agreement I
need? Is the one they sell in WH Smith good enough to use?
Would that guarantee my rights as a landlord?
should be quite adequate. Your local landlord’s scheme/accreditation
scheme may also provide a tenancy agreement, or you could
download a free outline tenancy agreement from this website.
Whichever route you chose, I would advise that you read the
agreement carefully and add any clauses need to cover anything
that has been omitted but is needed in your own circumstances
– for example, the right to make regular inspections;
the requirement that notice be given when the tenant intends
to leave the premises empty for longer than 14 days, the right
to end the tenancy in the case of suspected abandonment by
serving a 28 day Notice to Quit; agreement that any goods
left in the premises after the expiry of the tenancy will
be kept for seven days and then disposed of; and confirmation
that anti-social behaviour will not be tolerated.
Providing all sums paid to date are refunded, can I as a landlord
go back on a signed tenancy agreement before the prospective
tenant has gained occupation?
For a contract
to be effective there must be an offer, an acceptance and
an exchange of value. So if a tenancy agreement is offered,
accepted and money accepted, there is a legal liability in
place on both sides – after all there is a rental liability
from the date the agreement starts.
may have invested time and money in finding a suitable let.
So simply saying sorry is unlikely to wash. Unless the tenant
agrees for some reason (a financial incentive perhaps) to
accept cancellation of the agreement than I think he or she
could argue that any attempt to stop him or her moving in
amounts to an illegal eviction.
We have had a tenant in a property for the last four years,
with whom we have had a good working relationship. He has given
a month’s notice with 12 days of his tenancy still remaining.
week I conducted viewings with prospective tenants, with the
current tenant present, and he stated that no viewings can
take place without him being there. The property is completely
empty and he is now living elsewhere so I feel that this is
I have more prospective
tenants lined up to view, however the tenant works nights
and is not always available (in fact telling me that no viewings
can take place until next week, at a time to suit him) he
is adamant that as he is still paying rent, no one can enter
I would like to know
what my rights are. The tenancy agreement states that that
the tenant should: ‘permit the landlord or the Landlord's
agents at reasonable hours in the daytime within the last
twenty-eight days of the tenancy to enter and view the property
with prospective tenants’.
I have never come
across this before, and usually tenants allow us to show people
around whilst they are still living in the property with it
Could you please advise
of the best solution, I have tried ringing the tenant but
he will not answer the telephone. I sent him a text advising
that we cannot put off viewings until Monday, and he texted
back saying we could not enter.
This seems to
be the week for awkward tenants! I am in total agreement with
you – this is unreasonable. However, agreeing with you
does not really help the situation as the tenant is still
paying the rent and is choosing to be obstructive. Although
the tenancy agreement he signed does say that viewings should
be allowed, he has nothing to lose now by refusing to allow
it. Is it worth the unpleasantness if you decide to let people
view it without him? He could certainly allege that this is
harassment, if he takes the matter up with Shelter or a Housing
Aid organisation. I would try and talk to him and see if you
can reach some kind of compromise, but if not, bite the bullet
and wait until his tenancy is over.
I have been renting out a property for
the past six years. The original agreement - an assured shorthold
tenancy - was with a group of tenants who were young professionals
and all friends. Amongst other things, the original agreement
specified that the rent was payable monthly, the agreed sum
being for the house as a whole, with a maximum of five tenants
at any time.
the years, the original group of tenants has changed one by
one, and by now none of the original group lives at the property
– each time a tenant has left the remaining tenants
have found another suitable person.
This means I have
not entered into a written contract of any kind with any of
the current tenants.
Recently, one of the
tenants left, giving one month's verbal notice as has been
the pattern over the years. Previously, in such situations
the remaining tenants have continued to pay the full rent
for the house, even if there have been less than the five
maximum tenants in occupancy at any given time. At present,
two of the remaining four tenants have been at the property
for over a year, and two others have been there for nine months.
With the prospect
of yet another new tenant arriving, I feel it would be useful
to formalise my agreement with the current set of tenants.
Can I do this with a statutory periodic tenancy, based on
the original tenancy agreement dating from 2001, or do I need
to provide them with an assured tenancy? Although I am more
than happy to give the tenants two month’s written notice
of requiring the property, I would like to avoid giving them
an assured tenancy as I am currently undergoing major changes
in my personal life and may well wish to recover the property
before the end of a six month term.
You cannot, legally,
recover the property before the end of a six month term. The
only tenancy that you would be advised issuing would be an
assured shorthold tenancy; you can issue this for any period,
three or four months, but there is no point as you cannot
recover possession unless the tenancy has run for more than
six months. The current situation is fine, but should you
wish to evict because you want the house back, you would need
a ground as you could not serve a section 21 as the tenants
there now are not listed on the tenancy agreement –
you must have a tenancy agreement with your tenants’
names to use a section.21 accelerated possession procedure
the best thing you can do is issue a six month tenancy to
your tenants and hope that if you have to get possession before
the end of six months, they agree to it.
We had a tenancy agreement (not assured) signed by the tenants
and landlord, and witnessed. Four years later our landlord scribbled
out the rent amount and wrote in a figure that was double and
a new date. He says was the rent due and is trying to recover
the difference between it and what we paid even though we have
since left. We never saw the revise agreement or signed it until
we had left. This seems like forgery of a legal document to
me. Where do we stand?
is a legal process for raising the rent – if the tenancy
agreement does not specify that rent will alter on the anniversary
or every one or two years the landlord should complete the
form ‘Landlord’s notice proposing a new rent under
an Assured Periodic Tenancy of premises situated in England/Wales
(see Residential Landlord, landlord forms) giving one month’s
notice. If this process did not happen, you were not liable
to pay an increased rent.
Sale of Rented Property
parents have rented a house for over 40 years. It was originally
owned by a trust but on the death of the remaining trust member
it was sold to a private company. My parents were informed that
it was going on the market at some point and they asked to be
told the details as they were interested in buying it. The property
was sold without their knowledge and now the new company are
seeking rent increases. Is this allowed and do my parents have
any rights over a sale of a property they are living in?
had specifically asked to be notified of the sale, in order
to consider it themselves, I think they might be advised to
discuss this with a solicitor – many will give a free
or cheap consultation and they would know whether there was
any case to answer. Generally speaking, I would not expect
a tenant to have any rights over the sale of a property, other
than those provided by law that as Rent Act Protected tenants,
they have the right to remain in the property. The difference
with your parents, if there is one, is that they had felt
they were in a position to purchase and would have liked first
refusal, but were denied this opportunity.
When it comes
to rent increases, they have a right to be given notice and
to appeal to a rent officer if they believe the rent being
asked is not fair.
My tenants, who moved in three months ago with a six month assured
shorthold tenancy agreement, are splitting up. The woman and
her children would like to remain and she says she will be able
to pay. I am reasonably confident that this won't be a problem,
but have been advised to get a financial reference from her
bank and to request further deposit for her. She would like
to be issued with a new contract, and in theory I am OK with
this, subject to financial satisfaction.
The question I now have is regarding the six months of the AST
- I assume that if I send her a new contract, it starts again
at six months from date of signing. I understand that it must
be at least six months and that I cannot change the form of
contract offered to her. I lived in the house in question for
four years, and there is a possibility, albeit quite a small
one, that my partner and I might wish to move back into the
house this year. To start a contract over again would prevent
us doing so until the end of the year. If I must offer her a
new contract, it doesn't seem fair that my choices are limited
by my tenants' decision - what if I needed to sell the house
or was having some kind of housing crisis and really needed
to move back? Is there any way round this, other than insisting
the contract with the partner's name must stand?
I think you need to re-asses
your intentions about letting. If you want to rent the property
out as a business, then you must be committed to this. By issuing
a six month tenancy you are committing to the tenant for this
period of time. If you wish to sell the property in this time
then the property would have to be sold with a sitting tenant.
At the end of the day, you have to ask yourself if you are being
fair to the mother of a small child knowing you will only want
her to stay a short term? It may be fairer to the tenant to
tell her your concerns, and let her make the choice of whether
she wishes to live there under those conditions.
I am buying a flat with a sitting tenant. What should I do regarding
the current tenancy agreement?
(1) Should I change it now or wait until it expires (we are
talking about a 6 month agreement with one month notice thereafter)?
(2) Can I just keep the initial agreement even after the end
of the six month period?
You can keep the initial tenancy
agreement, however this is not advisable. I would recommend
issuing a new tenancy agreement once the current tenancy ends
– meaning that if you had to serve notice through court
then at least the details of property owner match on both the
tenancy and notice. At the expiry of your agreement the tenancy
converts automatically to a statutory periodic tenancy, which
runs on month to month. However, you would still be bound by
the rules for ending an assured shorthold tenancy and to give
appropriate notice if you required possession.
I have a property and inherited a tenant upon purchase. I
have been receiving rent based on a six month assured shorthold
tenancy which, however, remains unsigned. Is the unsigned
AST binding as I now wish to take possession of the property
and I am unsure how I stand.
on a regular basis means you have enforced the original tenancy
agreement, not creating a new tenancy. If that agreement was
entered into before 28 February 1997 you may use a s21 Notice
Seeking Possession. The fact an agreement is unsigned will
make little difference as a tenancy was created by the acceptance
Last year I rented a flat for which I had a six month agreement
that expired on the 28 October. Although I stayed on, I was
told by the letting agent that I did not need a new contract.
is now four months later and I wish to leave. I have been
told that I need to give two month’s notice which is
what I would have needed to give during the tenancy period.
It contains no reference to notice periods after the contract
has ended and both my landlady and I understood that I only
needed to give one month’s notice.
I had been having
a few problems with my neighbours who were also renting from
the same letting agent and was not taken seriously. I now
believe that the letting agent will try to withhold my deposit
if I do not give two month’s notice.
Both my landlady and
I are unhappy with the service the agent provides. Do I need
to give two months notice and what do I do if they try to
withhold my deposit?
Be pleasant but
firm – in civil law, you are not required to give more
than one month’s notice and even though you agreed to
two months under the agreement, I think the letting agent
would find difficulty, even with the agreement, to hold you
to what could be seen as an unfair contract term. Take the
agent to the small claims court if it tries to withhold your
deposit, and complain to its governing body.
With my partner I
signed a six month tenancy agreement to rent a flat. Since,
we have had loads of problems with the landlord and the property,
the latest being that the flat has become infested with mice.
Before this, we had
intended to stay on as tenants and renew our contract and
were told by the landlord that we could do this by giving
him a letter at the end of the tenancy explaining that we
wished to continue renting on a periodic basis. Now, of course,
we simply wish to leave.
It states in our contract
that we have to give a month’s notice before leaving,
so for that reason the landlord says he can keep our deposit.
My argument is that the reason we want to leave so soon and
are unable to give a month’s notice is because the mice
problem got worse and the property is not in a habitable conditions.
We reported the mouse problem and the landlord who simply
told to contact the council – although I believe he
should have dealt with the problem himself.
Another problem was that I had a chest infection caused by
dampness in the property. We had radiators but the gas fire
was not serviced by the landlord so we didn’t use it
- the landlord was advised by his contractor but never actually
had it serviced.
I am very annoyed
and feel cheated of the deposit because we are only having
to leave so soon because of the conditions of the place.
Is there anything
we can do - such as report the property, and do we have any
rights in this matter concerning the mice? The landlord also
made what I consider to be racist remarks and wonder if this
is something we should take up also?
If you consider
that the landlord has racially abused you, you must report
it – it is a crime. Speak to your local authority which
may be able to assist you to take action.
I agree, the landlord
should have taken steps regarding the mice, but having said
that, if he is too idle, then do it yourself. Speak to Pest
Control. Mice are fairly easy to get rid of and there all
sorts of things you can buy yourself which can help.
The condition of the property sounds disturbing and well worth
reporting to Environmental Services. If they agree with you
about how bad it is, you have a good case to make in the small
claims court should the landlord refuse to return your deposit.
I own a leasehold
studio flat and the company that I pay ground rent to has
issued me a letter saying that I need their permission to
let out the flat. It has also included a bill of £117.50
for administration - checking to make sure that my insurance
is valid for letting. It also wants to know what kind of tenant
I have in there. I've never heard of needing permission to
let a flat from the leaseholder before. Am I obliged to give
the company information about who it is that I let to? Surely
that's none of its business?
The other thing is,
at the moment, all the flat owners in this converted house
(there are four units in what used to be a large house) get
their insurance through the freeholder’s broker. The
premium is for the entire property and the four of us share
a quarter of the whole amount. Do I have to go by that or
can I look for my own insurance?
You should check
your lease both about your right to sub-let and also what
it has to say about insurance. It is likely you will require
permission to sub-let from the freeholder. You will also need
consent from your mortgagors.And you will also need to ensure
that your insurance company has no issue with you letting
I have been renting
a property in Scotland for nearly two years. In the first
year I had two six month tenancy agreements after which there
was a verbal agreement with the landlady who was happy for
me to stay as long as I wanted. I also agreed with the landlady
that I was responsible for the property and I was allowed
to let the other two bedrooms as long as the property is kept
in clean and tidy condition.
I have recently got
a new house mate and she wants a six month contract for her
own peace of mind, but I am concerned that the landlord could
decide to sell the property and issue me two month’s
What would you advise
I do with regards to sharing the house with others and also
ensuring that I do not inadvertently break any laws even though
the landlord agrees to me sub letting?
I think you will
have to ask the landlady to issue your sub-lessee with a tenancy,
or confirm in writing that she is happy for you to sub-let.
As you only have two months security of tenure, I think she
will need to issue you with another six month tenancy, to
ensure the new comer has some security.
Reneging on a verbal agreement
We have been living
in a flat for many years, and have been good tenants. When
our landlord recently said he would like to rent out the house
as a whole, we said we wold be happy to take on the whole
lease. The landlord agreed verbally and an assured tenancy
of 12 months was to be signed. We were all due to sign the
lease in a few days.
In the meantime, we
have spent many weeks interviewing for new flatmates and have
invited the chosen ones to move in.
However, the landlord
has now told us he has received news from overseas of a ‘personal
disaster’ which means he has to sell the house immediately.
He will not tell us what the disaster is.
We have now been put
in the very awkward position of telling the new flatmates
the news and reneging on our verbal agreements with them!
It turns out that
one of the new flatmates is going to move in anyway for a
few weeks, but the landlord is making that person sign a lease
for the short few weeks.
My question is - is
this right? I mean, the Landlord is the one kicking us out!
The new flatmate has nowhere else to go, as their moving in
date had already been agreed upon. And the poor new flatmate
has been thrown into a terrible situation which is completely
out of his hands.
I suspect the landlord
is not telling us the truth about his personal disaster and
has simply decided to sell the house. Do we have any rights
regarding him reneging on our verbal agreement?
when you moved in, I don’t know what security you have
– if it was before February 1989, you may have quite
good security, so check that – the landlord may not
be able to evict you.
it is post this date, it appears the landlord is in order
to do this, provided he gives you legal notice. With regard
to the new flatmate, the landlord can give a tenancy agreement
for as short a period as he likes – but he will not
be able to use a section 21 Accelerated Possession procedure
to evict if the tenant has not lived there six months and
refuses to go, though he would be better taking the weeks
the landlord is offering to find somewhere else and move out,
rather than prolong what will become an unpleasant situation.
I have been living
in rental accommodation for approximately 17 months. My tenancy
agreement is headed ,’Assured longhold lease’
and was originally for five years ,with six months notice
wanted by the landlord.
The landlord wanted
me to leave last September because she said I had caused considerable
damage to the property. I asked her to explain and it seemed
it came down to damage to a shelf in the kitchen caused by
one of her own dogs that we were caring for at the time. She
told me I had one month to get out. Two weeks later she wrote
me another letter saying that we were now renting on a monthly
I now want to move
out and rang her and said I wanted to give her one month’s
notice, to which she verbally agreed. But when I called her
again she said that we had to revert back to the original
contract and I now have to give her six month’s notice.
I don’t know
what to do as I really want to move out. I have somewhere
else to go. But do I have to give her six month’s notice,
or just month ? She says she will sue me if I leave before
six months is up. Can she do this?
She can try, but
I think six months is an unfair contract term – civil
law says landlords have a right to expect one month’s
notice from a tenant. I can’t see this getting further
than a solicitor perhaps writing to you – but see trading
standards and get an opinion from them.
month break clause
Our tenants signed
an assured shorthold tenancy agreement under part 1 of the
Housing Act 1988. I quote from the agreement itself: ‘A
term certain of 12 months from 24/06/2006. A Six month break
clause applies. Each party must give one month’s notice
to terminate the tenancy at six months. The tenancy cannot
be terminated before six months’.
The tenants want to move out and are willing to give a month’s
notice. In our understanding, if the six month break clause
was to apply they should have given notice at the end of the
fifth month and not now. And that they are liable for the
next six months as per the 'term certain of 12 months' and
would have to find tenants in order to get out of the contract.
We want to be certain that we are correct before we communicate
this to our tenants who will give the notice in a week’s
time. We are holding their deposit and there will have to
be deductions made in lieu of furniture damaged beyond usual
wear and tear (cigarette burns on sofas and the like). We
also have in mind to keep the remainder of the deposit in
view of the beaching of the notice period as this is totally
inconvenient for us financially. If we had to find new tenants
the costs of redecoration and refurnishing would be burdensome
at this point.
Your tenants have
signed an agreement which states the tenancy can only be ended
at the six month point, not after, so you are correct. However,
if they went to the small claims court, how reasonable would
it appear when you would have ended it on 24 December, but
find ending it on 24 February inconvenient? I would let them
go when they want, but that is up to you. You can legitimately
deduct from the deposit what you consider fair for damage,
though hopefully, the tenants would agree to this. If you
want to hold something back for breach of agreement you would
have to be prepared to argue for this in court. Certainly
advertising costs could come out. NEVER allow your tenants
to get new tenants – there have been enough letters
to this column to know that does not work – you need
to interview and feel happy with the new tenants – the
old tenants are hardly likely to be concerned whether they
will pay the rent!
I have two tenants in my flat, and one wishes to leave. They
both understand and accept the 'jointly and several' issue,
and realise that the second tenant will have to pay all the
remaining rent or give notice and leave too (unless the second
tenant finds someone else of whom I approve - I would be prepared
to go this route which I know the remaining tenant would prefer).
They signed a 12 month fixed term contract which is just coming
to the end of its first six months. No notice period or break
period has been specified in the agreement. I therefore assume
the statutory one month for tenants and two months for landlords
Notice has been given to me tonight by voicemail and I understand
this would apply from the next rent date (rent is payable
1. Am I correct in thinking that my tenant's one month notice
was not given until one week into a rental month, her rent
commitment is for seven weeks rather than one month? Given
the tenants will be leaving before the end of the contracted
period I feel entitled to take as much notice as I can legally
2. Given no notice period was specified in the contract, and
no break clause, are the tenants entitled to give notice at
all, and are they therefore liable for the rent for the remaining
six months? Or do their statutory rights entitle them to give
one month's notice after six months irrespective of the agreement.
I realise that you would probably recommend coming to a compromise,
as the tenants can just up and leave if they choose, but I
feel that the tenant who has not given notice would like to
stay and would be even more keen to find another friend to
rent with if I had the right and enforced the contract - and
that the second tenant might change her mind and stay if this
were the case (or at least stay until a friend was found).
In any case we discussed the 12 month term at the outset and
they assured me they would be there for at least 12 months.
1. Yes, the notice
period should really be from the rental period date, so she
should pay for the next seven weeks. But if the remaining
tenant gets someone who wants to move in, you would not expect
two lots of rent – the chap who wants to stay would
be better getting someone as soon as possible.
2. The tenants have
a right in civil law to give one month’s notice, though
this would not release them from the terms of the agreement
– which stipulates a 12 month tenancy. I am not aware
of a right to an automatic break clause after six months,
if they have signed for a year.
I have recently purchased
a house with a tenant living in it. I was told by the previous
landlord that I need a new tenancy agreement, due to change
in ownership. The tenancy agreement would be a six month assured
shorthold tenancy, this is also what the previous agreement
The tenant has been in the house for 18 months. By creating
a new tenancy agreement does this mean the tenant looses the
right of only having to give one month’s notice and
also myself as the landlord the right to give two month’s
notice for the tenant to leave?
A new tenancy
agreement only confers the same rights as the old one, in
this case. It is a statutory requirement for you to give two
month’s notice; the tenant cannot sign that right away.
Civil law requires a tenant to give one month’s notice,
but in practice there is little a landlord can do if the tenant
just ups and leaves. I’d be inclined to be amenable
about notice periods – two weeks is better than none.
Taking over from letting agent
I live and work abroad
and have been letting my house through an agent for the last
two years. The agreement has been a disaster from the start.
I wasn't paid anything for the first five months, even though
the tenant had paid her rent on time. The agent eventually
paid me the arrears and it was OK for a couple of months,
then payments became sporadic again. It culminated in the
agent owing me five months rent which he eventually paid,
but only after months of telephone calls and emails and bounced
The agent has now ceased trading and I am now in the UK for
four months. The agent has waived any right he had for any
notice to be served and is quite happy for me to deal directly
with the tenant. I have met with my tenant and she too is
happy to deal with me directly. The agent has withheld (up
to the time of writing) my tenant’s deposit. My questions
Do I need a contract with my tenant? Can I insist that my
tenant gives me a deposit? She is a reasonable person and
has kept the house in very good order, but this situation
could obviously change. What are my responsibilities as a
landlord to my tenant? For example, she has presented me with
a list of problems and I am unsure which ones I am obligated
It is a statutory
requirement under the Housing Act 2004 that tenancy agreements
be in writing, and you should issue one with your contact
Obviously you should
get a deposit, but your tenant would be justified in feeling
she has been badly treated if she does not get the deposit
back from the agents, so she can give it to you. I’d
discuss it with her – she should take the agents to
the small claims court, and when she gets it back give it
to you, but ask for a small sum as a good faith payment until
that happens. Your responsibilities are:
- to ensure that the structure of the building is sound;
- to keep installations for the heating of space and water
in good condition;
- to keep sanitary installations in good order;
- to ensure that any furniture provided meets fire safety
Without knowing details of the problems it is difficult to
be precise about your obligations. A recent problem I heard
of was that the toilet was blocked. My initial reaction was
that the landlord should get it cleared. Further investigation
showed that the landlord had had it cleared only a few weeks
previously, and the plumber had said it was because newspaper
had been used instead of toilet paper. Being much thicker,
it was causing blockages. My advice under those circumstances
was that the toilet should be cleared, but the tenant asked
to pay for it, paying a small weekly sum if necessary.
for sale and visitors everyday
My landlord is selling the flat that I rent and has asked
us to allow in visitors and real estate agents. As a results
the flat is visited nearly everyday while we are at work so
we do no feel at home any longer. We have a shorthold tenancy
for 12 months and three months are still remaining. So can
we refuse these daily visits? And if so, until when?
It may be important to add that we knew the flat was on sale
when we moved in but this was supposed to be a quick sale
with sitting tenants to an investment company that would carry
I think it is
the last paragraph that may prove difficult. I would generally
say that for your personal security and privacy, viewings
should only take place in the final month of the tenancy.
However, you state you knew it was for sale, so presumably
agreed to some viewings taking place. I think you need to
discuss with the owner and tell him how distressing you find
Could the viewings be
restricted to only one day a week? It really is a question
of mediating with the landlord.
My husband and I have been living in our rented flat for over
six months. Our lease is for 12 months. There have been many
disappointing elements of the rental including mould, appliances
not working, and water and heating problems. So after months
of recurring problems and unsuccessful solutions we have decided
it would be best to leave. The problem is that our landlord
(who lives in Amsterdam) feels that he has been more than
fair with us saying that he has sent workmen to fix the problems.
We have asked to end our lease early but his response is that
as he has done his best he would send bailiffs to collect
the remaining six month’s rent should we move out. Basically,
he has threatened us into staying. Is this legal?
This does seem
extreme, but technically the landlord is entitled to hold
you to the tenancy agreement.
Under normal circumstances,
I would expect him to have to take you to the small claims
court and they would look at what notice you gave, and what
steps he has taken to find a new tenant so as to mitigate
his loss. I say ‘normal’ because if he is in Amsterdam
and may therefore have genuine problems in getting a new tenant
and could make a case on this basis.
If the property is still in bad repair, Environmental Services
may put an order on it, which would force the landlord to
have the work done. If it was unfit for human habitation the
small claims court would have to find in your favour. It might
be worth offering to pay for advertising during the notice
period, and to allow viewings, if this would help him to re-let.
My boyfriend and I share a house with two other people. It
is a privately rented house, and the landlord lives in Canada.
The property is managed by an estate agent.
We moved into the house at the beginning of August 2005 and
have a joint fixed term tenancy (of a year - extended for
another year), with a break clause allowing us to give three
Recently our housemates have both changed, and one of them
has turned on us and is causing my boyfriend and I a lot of
misery. We find it impossible to remain in the house over
the weekends if she is there. She often brings her boyfriend
to stay, and we have overheard him threatening to beat my
boyfriend up. We have no idea why the relationships have disintegrated
so suddenly, but we would like to break our contract and move
out. We have contacted our letting agent. The firm told us:
‘Any notice given must be in line with the original
tenancy agreement. We set out below the relevant clause: The
landlord agrees that the tenant has the right to terminate
the tenancy after the first eight months by giving the landlord
not less than three months notice in writing to end the agreement.
‘The notice is to be sent by first class post and deemed
delivered two working days later; or delivered by hand and
deemed delivered the next working day; to the address shown
in clause 27.01 or the last known address of the landlord.
To avoid any doubt between the parties it is agrees that the
notice cannot commence any earlier than second day of January
2006 and cannot expire any earlier than first day of April
2006. The notice must expire at the end of a relevant period,
being the day before the rent normally falls due’.
This letter also warned us that ‘you are all jointly
and severally liable under the terms of the tenancy agreement’,
and that notice to break the agreement ‘is only valid
if all the sharers give notice’.
According to the agent ‘one or two persons cannot give
notice to bind the whole group - all of you will remain bound
unless all agree to give valid notice and leave’.
However, the agent conceded that two of the four would be
able to leave if this was agreed between the four tenants
and the remaining two wished to stay on and could afford the
rent, or if two new people wanted to move and agreed to take
on the rental commitment.
We are desperate to leave, and the atmosphere in the house
and the stress caused is making me very ill. I am very underweight
because of it, and am constantly ill. We feel like we are
being forced to stay in our room while they are there.
What are our rights? Can we break the tenancy without the
others agreeing? We have read a great deal of information
on this, but it all seems to contradict each other.
a joint tenant cannot end the whole tenancy - if one tenant
simply leaves, the tenancy devolves on the remaining tenants,
who are jointly and severally liable. So you cannot say to
the agents ‘we are leaving; therefore we are ending
the agreement and the others will have to leave’. My
concern is that you signed an agreement that seemed to indicate
that you were happy to be tied into something without the
flexibility. However, you could argue that this was an unfair
contract. It may be worth speaking to Trading Standards. Try
and discuss the situation reasonably with the agents –
they cannot expect that you will stay in a property where
there is any risk to yourselves - and threats of beating up
would indicate a risk. The agents may be more helpful than
Early end of tenancy
I moved into a two
bedroom flat with a friend earlier this year. The lease is
for a period of 12 months with a break clause at six months
(notice of two months at month four). We are three months
into the agreement and for a number of reasons my friend and
I are unable to continue living together. This is an amicable
agreement (so far!) and I would like to do the right thing
by both my friend and the landlord (who lives downstairs).
Although I am the one moving out and effectively breaking
the agreement we are both in agreement that this is the best
I would like to move out sometime within the next month and
have just paid my rent for this period. There is a possibility
that we have found someone to take over the balance of the
lease (another friend) but if this does not happen we will
obviously need to find a replacement. As I said it is very
important to me to do the right thing by everyone involved
but I also need to safeguard myself. I would like to know
where I stand and what I am legally permitted to do/not do.
Ideally we will find someone to take over the remaining period
at least until the break clause can be utilised. If I am able
to do this will my name be removed from the lease completely
and the new person placed on the contract? I would hope this
is the case as I do not want to sub let the room and find
Can the landlord or my flatmate refuse this option? Is a new
lease required or will a simpler document suffice effecting
the change of one tenant and no other amendments? I have not
informed the landlord at this time as I did not want her to
worry and was hoping to go to her with the solution already
in place but I am not sure if this is the correct procedure.
thing here is – was it a joint tenancy? If so, then
your leaving would break that tenancy. I would hope that if
you went to the landlady with a new tenant, that she would
gladly issue a new tenancy in the new names. What she may
not want is someone moving in for two months. I think you
also need to be clear that you are asking the landlady for
approval before you offer the flat to anyone – you and
your friend were presumably interviewed, references were asked
for – she would need to interview anyone who is moving
in. Yes, the landlord can refuse the option, but is unlikely
to, if you approach it properly. Your flatmate can also refuse,
though it is difficult to see why, if it is a friend and your
parting of the ways is amicable. If you cannot get agreement,
then I am afraid you will have to stay put until the six months
ends, but I think your landlady will probably be amenable.
selling: tenant buying
I recently renewed
a 12 month contract with my landlord only to find out by letter
two weeks later that she planned to sell the property. I was
offered it at a reduced price. However, as I don't want to
buy this house, I am still in contract until July 2007. Had
I known that the property was going to be sold, I would have
asked for a six month contract.
I am now in a position to buy a house and have seen one I
would really like to buy. However, I have a problem in that
I am in a contract until July of next year. There doesn't
appear to be a ‘break’ in the contract and I am
worried being charged for rent until July.
Is there any way out of this contract? It seems unfair that
the contract would have been cancelled had I bought the house
but because I am not it will continue on. And had I been told
of the selling of the house when the contract was being renewed,
I would have only asked for a six month contract.
Is there any way of getting out of the contract early?
I think you’ll
only do it by goodwill and sadly, quite a lot of landlords
want a tenant while it suits them and can be quite stroppy
when it doesn’t suit. She would have to take you to
court to hold you to the contract and I think you could then
argue that this had made you unsettled as you were not aware
that she was selling when you signed the contract. I’d
try and negotiate it with her.
My flat was originally
let to my flatmate and me. A year later she moved out and
my boyfriend moved in, taking over her lease and sorting out
everything with the letting agency. Originally our lease was
for six months, however I asked for that to be changed and
the leaving date was put back five weeks.
Things were going fine until we finally found a flat that
we were interested in purchasing. When we made an offer and
heard this had been accepted I notified the landlord in writing,
saying we would now be leaving two months earlier than planned.
The landlord was fine about this and said that the flat would
be put up for let on the website and we would be liable for
the rent until anyone moved in. This I understand completely.
However, although this happened two months ago, the flat has
only just been advertised.
We have asked the landlord if he would agree to keep the deposit
in exchange for releasing us from liability for the rent after
we move out. Can this work?
We feel the landlord has not done anything to try to let the
flat. I have done a lot of the work which I don’t necessarily
think is fair.
I think the landlord
may very well agree to this, but I feel he has probably not
acted as fairly as he could. For example, if you left and
asked for your deposit back and he disagreed, you would be
within your rights to go to the small claims court. They would
accept your rental liability, but would also be expected to
look at what steps your landlord had taken to re-let the property,
which sounds to have been very few. If, however, your landlord
does not accept your offer and you move, then he would have
to go the small claims court route and you would make your
case as you made it in your question. Good luck!
I have them on Tenancy
Agreements with a Resident Landlord - should I change them
to Assured Shorthold Tenancies in any case?
I have four tenants in my property under separate assured
shorthold tenancies (I bought the contracts from W H Smith)
which automatically continue after the initial fixed period.
By 1st Feb 2007 all of these tenants' fixed terms will have
When I initially started letting the property I also lived
there as a resident landlord, so I included all bills (except
phone) in the monthly rent. However I have since moved to
About six months ago I gave the tenants two months' notice
that I would no longer include gas and electric as I no longer
lived there and could not regulate usage (electricity bills
had more than doubled). They were very unhappy about this
as nobody wanted to take the bills in their names (they did
not know each other before moving in) so I agreed to keep
them in my name, but only if they would agree to pay proportionately
more if the bills increased again. They all agreed to this
Now my latest bill shows the gas has also more than doubled.
I notified the tenants that from December they would have
to pay the increase, as well as £30 each, for the September
to November quarter.
At least two of them are refusing to pay for last quarter
but I feel I must insist they are responsible for their gas
and electric going forward to avoid future headaches like
this. I am happy to reduce their rents by the amount currently
included for bills and can give them two months' notice of
the change, but how am I best to go about this to avoid more
As I said, their contracts are off-the-shelf types which actually
state tenants are responsible for all bills on top of the
fixed rent, but I have based the inclusive nature of the contract
on goodwill (although mine is now running out!). Can I withhold
the owed amount from their deposits when they leave, and how
could I prevent them withholding their last month's rent to
guard against this? In the meantime, should I draw up new
I think you should
make it very clear to anyone who is not prepared to pay the
appropriate sum that you will serve them a two month notice
seeking possession. I am afraid it would depend very much
on what your receipt said about what the deposit was held
for and whether you can make a deduction from the deposit
– service bills are not usually included. I think the
only way you could stop the tenants withholding the rent for
the last month is to appeal to their goodwill – which
appears to be lacking at present!
Yes, prepare new tenancy agreements – I would have preferred
these were done when the arrangement changed. Any new tenants
must get individual bills in their own names, so you may need
to get new meters installed. Then, if a tenant leaves a debt,
he will be pursued by the energy companies – as it stands
at present, you could be left with a debt and little chance
of recovery as the bills are in your name.
I have been renting
from my current landlord for about 10 years. In the past two
years my partner has moved in and is using the address as
his official address. I have a single tenancy agreement and
would like to continue with that arrangement, with my partner
simply splitting the household bills. However, my landlord
is keen to place us on a joint tenancy agreement, saying that
if we split up, my partner may have squatter's rights. Is
this correct? Would it not be the case that a joint tenancy
agreement would be a greater liability for the landlord?
Am I entitled to stick
with a single tenancy agreement?
no rights, unless they have lived in what was an empty property
for a very long time- not the case here as you have a tenancy.
If you decided to move out and your partner remained, the
landlord would issue a Notice to Quit as he is there under
licence only ie with the permission of the landlord. A joint
tenancy makes you both jointly and severally liable for the
rent, so he could pursue you both, if you leave rent arrears.
If one of you decided to terminate the tenancy, then it would
end it for both of you anyway. The only thing to beware of
is to ensure that there is no fraudulent claim is made should
one of you become unemployed.
I have a tenant who
moved into my property in 1994 without any formal tenancy
agreement. He now refuses me access to view my property at
Do I have the legal right to inspect the property, given that
I can provide some 24 hour’s notice? .How should I progress
this with the courts? Solicitor’s letters have been
to no avail.
This is quite
tricky as if your tenant will not allow you in, it is difficult
to insist, even though you are doing what is required by providing
notice. As it was 1994, the tenant has an Assured Tenancy,
so has greater security and it would be difficult to threaten
eviction without a proper ground. Do I take it he is not allowing
access for gas safety inspections? If so, he is putting himself
at risk and also you –failure to inspect gas appliances
and obtain gas safety certificates is taken very seriously.
As you have already done what would be recommended, ie got
a solicitor to write a letter, I think I would contact Environmental
Services and have a chat with them. They can almost certainly
enter the property and ensure that there are no outstanding
repairs and also ask about the gas safety.
No written agreement
I moved into my part
furnished flat on 9 December 1989 and was give a rent book,
after six months the rent book expired and I was not given
a new one, so I just carried on paying my rent in the normal
way. I did not sign an agreement and the landlord lived upstairs,
however my landlady is now in a nursing home and her daughter
has asked me to sign a six month tenancy agreement. Where
do I stand? I have been told that I am a sitting tenant, please
can you advise me.
I would say you
were an assured, rather than a sitting, tenant. This does
give you considerable security in law. You should not sign
a new six month tenancy agreement, which would almost certainly
be for an assured shorthold tenancy, with little security
and the right to evict you after six months. My only concern
is whether you actually have a tenancy, or a licence. If you
shared any facilities with the landlord, you could be classed
as a lodger.
I have a group of
tenants who signed up on an Assured Shorthold Tenancy.
This was done in June for a tenancy which did not actually
begin until 1 September 2006 and deposits by all five tenants
Before the tenants moved in I received a letter from one of
the tenants stating that she would not be returning to University
and therefore would not be receiving her student loan. Therefore
she would be unable to afford her part of the tenancy.
The other four still wish to continue but do not agree to
pay her portion. I did have her parent sign a guarantor agreement.
Please can you advise whether the tenancy agreement and guarantor
agreement is enforceable even though the tenant did not move
in before the official start of the tenancy.
If this was a
joint tenancy, the other tenants are jointly and severally
liable – they cannot, therefore, take it upon themselves
simply not to pay her portion. They are liable, until they,
or you, get another tenant. Whether the tenancy agreement
and guarantee are legally enforceable is another question.
If it went to court, the departing tenant could make a case
along the lines that she gave you plenty of notice –
and what steps had you and the other joint tenants taken to
get another person in place? I’d try and speak to the
other tenants and see if you can get any kind of compromise
I have a lodger with
no written contract. She pays me at the beginning of each
month for the month in advance. She has been with me for one
year. I have just given her one month’s notice to move
out. Given that she has paid for the month the day before,
does my notice period still stand in that she will stay this
month and have a couple of days into next month free of charge.
Am I within my rights to issue the one month notice at any
time? There would be no money owed as she will not have to
move out before this month is over.
A lodger has
few rights and one month’s notice is generous. If she
is not happy, I cannot see that she can take it anywhere –
she is a lodger, not a tenant. Obviously it is better to end
on good terms, but that should not mean she stays longer than
My partner and I moved into a rented flat in March and signed
an agreement for 12 months through a letting agency. We paid
six months in advance and a month’s bond.
We have had nothing but trouble!
Firstly, one month after we moved in a TV show rented out
one of the flats (there are eight in the building) and has
filmed here approximately twice a week from 8:00am till 19:00pm.
The crew totally take over the property. They have vans and
catering vans inside the car park so we have to ask if we
can go out - and if we are out we cannot get back in!
About 20 people wander around. The garden is communal but
we have not been able to use it at all as we are not allowed
to walk past the area they are filming. We were not asked
if we minded the film crew coming or advised of this at the
time we took out the lease.
Secondly, the boiler blew up in June - we advised the rental
agency immediately as we had to turn the water off at the
mains as it was flooding the flat. They took two days to send
someone out. In all this time we had no water and they refused
to put us up in an alternative accommodation (or hotel).
When the plumber came out he fixed the fault temporarily but
we could not get any hot water without turning the heating
on full - and then the water was erratic, luke warm to freezing.
We phoned six times in all and were told each time that the
plumber was coming that day... needless to say he did not
arrive. It took two months him to fix it properly!
We then had a burst pipe (the plumber suggested it was something
to do with the afore mentioned blow) - so had no water again
for three days as this was flooding through to the flat downstairs.
The fire alarm was ringing in the building and I called to
let the agency know – they advised there was nothing
they could do as they didn’t know which flat it was…
this went on intermittently for five nights.
We all have an allocated parking space - on numerous occasions
our space has had someone’s car there - the rental agency
claim they can’t do anything about this.
Our first six months are now coming to an end and we are at
our whit’s end with the thought of staying here any
Can you please advise if any of the above would constitute
a breach in our terms and conditions and where we need to
go from here to end this nightmare?
I would say there
appear to have been several breaches so arrange a meeting
with the agents, try and negotiate about the situation but,
if no movement on their part, see a solicitor. I think if
you politely say that you are at the end of your tether and
if you can’t reach an agreement you will seek legal
advice because of the breaches in terms and conditions, they
may be happy to discuss.
I have a couple of tenants in a property with an annual tenancy
agreement in force which continues in a two month ‘roll-on’
basis from 25th of the month with a minimum two month’s
I wrote giving the tenants two month’s notice that the
rent would increase and they have written to me four times
disputing that the increase is not in line with other properties
in the area. This is contrary to the evidence that I have
collected myself. They have now intimated that they wish to
leave and for certain reasons I am minded to terminate the
agreement in any event.
I am inclined to them less notice to leave on 25th the month
after next, which would be less than the two month’s
notice stated under the agreement but I anticipate that this
will cause me to receive further letters of dispute and that
it would be better to cut my losses and give a full two month’s
notice. Whilst I have no wish to take legal action, would
sticking to the 25th be considered unreasonable in court?
Despite having let out this property for over 15 years, I
have never had to terminate an agreement and would appreciate
some advice as to how to word the letter. Can you help me
with this please?
Sorry, I am not sure what you are
asking. Are you going to give them a section 21 notice giving
a full two month’s notice and following the tenancy
dates? You can always say you will release them early, if
this is what they wish. The section 21 can be hand written,
but must use specific wording along the lines of:
Re: Tenancy –
Your tenancy of the above mentioned property expires on …….
I will not be renewing your tenancy and therefore ask that
you accept this letter as Notice Seeking Possession.
As specified in the 1988 Housing Act, section 21, I hereby
give you the two month’s notice as required commencing
on ……..(same date as above) to end ………………I
will contact you two weeks before the end of the Notice to
discuss the arrangements for the hand over of keys and for
inspection of the property.
Please do not hesitate to contact me, or the Housing Aid/CAB
or a Solicitor if you wish to discuss this matter further.
The two month notice period on my flat ends on the first of
next month. I have had a call from my tenant who now wants
to move out on the 15th of this month. I don’t have
a problem with that, but am I entitled to receive a full months
rent for the current month, or do I have to accept only two
week’s rent for the first two weeks? The rent is paid
per calendar month.
Also I am concerned that after speaking to the tenant and
advising him that I must seek advice on this matter, he may
move out on 15th anyway but not surrender the keys until the
notice expires – leaving the property empty for two
weeks, which I would not be happy with.
You are entitled
to be paid for the month, as the tenancy is monthly and civil
law says you should be given one month’s notice. However,
as you rightly say, if you insist on it, he could leave the
flat vacant. He may move anyway and not pay you for the final
two weeks. I would suggest that as far as possible, you stay
on reasonable terms and, if need be, accept the two week’s
notice, or reach a compromise at three weeks.
We are currently living in Singapore. Earlier this year we
gave our UK tenant notice that we would be unable to renew
his tenancy agreement when it expired as we were putting the
flat up for sale. The letting agent is the same company as
the selling agent.
A couple of weeks ago, at our request for an update, the sales
person in charge of selling our property advised us that he
had had four viewings. He gave us names and their feedback,
but none had put in an offer. However, our tenant advised
us after this that the first viewing was just about to take
place (after six weeks on the market). We subsequently found
out (after numerous telephone calls) that the four viewings
we had been told about were fictitious (our tenant works from
home and was justifiably upset at the thought that the agent
had brought prospective purchasers around without his knowledge).
The branch manager has told us that action will be taken against
the sales person who consistently lied to us, but obviously
we have by now wasted two month’s selling time. Our
tenant has not yet found another place to rent, so we are
happy for him to stay on a month by month basis until we find
How do we protect ourselves legally in this instance? Do we
need to issue a new agreement? We are proposing that as soon
as contracts are exchanged to buy the property, we should
give the tenant two month’s notice.
Are we obliged to pay any more commission to the letting agent
in this instance? Their terms and conditions state that if
the tenancy is renewed, we have to pay them 7.5 per cent commission
plus an agreement fee. Also the agent is holding a six week
security deposit. Should we ask for this to be returned to
the tenant at the end of the tenancy, and should we then ask
the tenant for one month deposit to be paid directly to us?
The tenant has been very reasonable and we are in regular
email contact, but I worry that he may take advantage of the
Also, has the agent's sales department broken any rules of
the NAEA by acting dishonestly? The agent concerned is a very
large national company. We want to instruct another agent
to sell the property as the eight week sole agency has passed.
We are required to give 14 day’s notice or they can
claim commission on the sale even if another agent sells it.
Can the other agent start to advertise the property before
the 14 days is up? We need to sell the property as quickly
I would leave things
as they are with regard to the tenancy. It can run on monthly,
as it automatically converts to a statutory periodic tenancy.
With regard to the agents, I’d check with their governing
body, though they appear to have accepted that one of their
employees has behaved dishonestly and are taking steps.
Can I lose my flat
if I have a dog?
What does your
tenancy agreement say? If it says no pets, you could lose
your flat. Discuss it with your landlord, try to persuade
him the dog will be small and no trouble. But if he says ‘no’,
I think that must be the answer until you find another flat.
I recently rented out my first buy to let property to two
men. However, I have now found out that there are six adults
living in the house plus a small child. I know that this is
not right, what can I do?
Arrange a meeting
with your tenants. If this is a short term situation, a few
friends staying for a few nights, fine, but otherwise –
they are putting their tenancy at risk. Make it clear you
will evict if the situation is not sorted out. Sounds as though
the property is overcrowded – it may be worth discussing
this with Environmental Services.
I recently moved into a property on an assured short hold
tenancy agreement of six months. As per the agreement, I need
to give the landlord at least two month’s notice before
vacating the house, and I cannot give the notice till the
completion of four months. All my communications till now
have been with the property agent and I haven’t met
or spoken to the landlord. I have been living in the property
for just over a month now.
Due to an unexpected change in my job situation, I have to
move to another city by the end of this month. I informed
the agent about my situation and offered to pay him the next
two month’s rent in advance after vacating the house
but he is adamant that I should pay for the entire six months
unless I can arrange for someone to take my place. And even
the agent does not seem to be interested to find a new tenant.
When I asked if I could speak to the landlord directly, the
agent refused saying the property agency handles the property
on behalf of the landlord.
Even if I am forced to pay for the entire six months, can
I keep the keys without paying for the council or other utilities
as there is a clause in the agreement that the property cannot
be left vacant for more than 28 days? Or should I insist to
speak to the landlord as I feel he may agree to my offer?
I cannot see the
benefit of your keeping the keys unless you think it is possible
that you may wish to return to the property. You have made
what sounds like a very reasonable offer, to pay for the next
two months. If the landlord wanted to take you to the Small
Claims Court, he would have to prove that it was reasonable
for you to have to pay rent to the end of the tenancy. Two
months should be more than enough to get a new tenant.
My son is buying a house with the help of a family loan to
cover the deposit. He will be paying and be responsible for
the mortgage while his girlfriend, who is moving in with him,
will share most of the running costs, such as council tax,
fuel, water rates, food and the like. He is also expecting
rental payments from his girlfriend which will offset some
of the mortgage expenses. The question is, should this rental
agreement be formalised and if so how should this be undertaken?
I would recommend
drawing up a formal contract. However, be aware that this
is a two way street and that if the relationship were to end,
by proving there was some financial help towards maintaining
the property, your son’s girlfriend may have an equitable
claim on the property if it were sold. I’d get any agreement
drawn up by a solicitor – if she is a lodger, she has
far fewer rights, but then, they could not really be considered
as a boyfriend/girlfriend.
My question concerns whose responsibility it should be to
settle outstanding rent in a particular set of circumstances.
A daughter and mother
signed a joint tenancy for a large flat in August 1973 The
initial period was for three years after which the agreement
stated that it would then roll on monthly, with a month’s
notice either way.
Obviously the 1977 Rent Act nullified our right as landlords
to give a month’s notice to vacate other than in the
circumstances of default by the joint tenants on the conditions
of the agreement.
The daughter moved out in 1979 and was removed from the Rent
Register in 1999. The mother continued to pay the regulated
rent regularly. However, no new tenancy agreement was drawn
The daughter, usually with her children but sometimes without,
stayed overnight with the mother once or twice a month for
the next 26 years. She did not use the property as her main
residence, except for about a month between 2000 and 2002.
When the daughter divorced her husband she requested a letter
to the court confirming that she was no longer our tenant.
The manager at the time did this, although did not check the
legal position before doing so. I think he probably did this
because he was concerned that the joint tenancy might be brought
into the divorce case and the daughter obliged to move back
in, thus extending the period that the tenancy would remain
The mother died in the summer of 2005 leaving rent for the
month she died owing. Subsequently delays in probate meant
the property was not available to re-let for at least two
months, while a contractor had to be paid to remove her chattels.
However, the executor has told us payment of the resulting
debt is not a priority and that in any case he is holding
back paying out debts as the Department of Work and Pensions
has some interest in alleged overpayments to the mother.
The executor is of the opinion that a joint tenancy still
existed when the mother died and that therefore if we are
not prepared to wait to see if there is any money left after
administration and payment of priority creditors, we should
be looking to the daughter to pay the sum outstanding. However,
he agrees that if a joint tenancy did still exist then we
become a priority creditor.
I bit long winded I know, but the question is: does a joint
tenancy still exist, and if so is there any precedence of
law on this matter, or can you direct me to someone in the
A solicitor must
look into this matter for you. A court presumably accepted
the letter written at the time of her divorce, stating she
did not have a tenancy. A condition of a tenancy is that the
property was the only or main home. The fact that she paid
regular family visits does not mean it is her main home; in
fact, she must have had a main home elsewhere, which must
be a matter of records somewhere – land registry if
an owner-occupier, housing benefits if she was a tenant. But
I am afraid my advice remains the same – speak to a
We recently let a property that had been newly renovated.
Most of the contents were new.
The tenants moved out after five months. On inspection of
the property a number of things were damaged. The most notable
• A badly scratched stainless
• Red ink stains to a new
• A dent in door of a new
• Badly stained wooden
We are uncertain what is considered fair in terms of retaining
deposit monies for such damage. These items can still be used
but the damage is irreparable.
Get out the inventory you took at the beginning of the tenancy.
If everything in that was noted as new, you have a case for
discussing it with the tenant.
The badly stained
radiator cover does need re-doing – charge for materials
and time – rubbing it down, re-staining.
Red ink stains –
how bad? If it is the odd pen mark, you should be able to
minimise that, again with a bit of effort and use of specialist
stain removers – charge for the cost of that.
The hob and the fridge freezer are more difficult, but again,
I would discuss. If brand new, you will have the receipts.
There would probably be a re-sale value, but obviously decreased
by the damage – so charge them accordingly.
If you have a good, clear inventory, then your tenants should
not be able to argue that you have made deductions from the
Our landlord recently told my wife and I that he would not
renew our tenancy agreement when it expires as he wants to
sell the property. He gave us the first refusal to buy but
we were unable to get a mortgage. Consequently we started
to look for a new property to rent.
Having found a suitable property we paid £250 towards
the legal checks. However, our present landlord said we must
give two month’s notice, although he said that if we
allow viewing straight away and he agrees a sales as a consequence
then we can move out before the two month’s notice period
is up. As a consequence it looks as if we will lose the new
property since the agents have indicated they will not wait.
I feel our landlord is being unfair as it was not us that
wanted to leave. Do we have any option but to comply with
what the landlord wants?
Why is the landlord
saying two months notice? The civil law requirement for a
tenant is that one month’s notice is given. Is he getting
confused because he has to give you two month’s notice?
If you give one month’s notice and move, he would have
to take you to the Small Claims Court for the final month’s
rent, but I cannot see that this would be successful, given
that normal notice is one month. However, check your agreement,
ensure you did not agree to give this much notice.
I am about to let out my first property. Does it matter if
the property is let furnished or unfurnished to the extent
that one or the other would give me more protection?
With regard to
protecting your position, I don’t think there is much
in it. I usually suggest that wherever possible landlords
be flexible about furnishing, depending on the tenant. However,
many landlords I work with are now only providing carpets
and curtains, as there is less opportunity there for theft
or damage, so it really is a matter of choice. However, whatever
you have a responsibility for replacing or repairing anything
in place when the tenancy commences should it subsequently
My girlfriend and I have moved into a nice first floor apartment,
but it has turned out to be very noisy at night when an amazing
number buses, trucks, and service delivery vehicles use the
road below our windows, which are surprisingly thin and ineffective
at mitigating the noise.
Although the road was busy, it didn’t seem unduly so
when we inspected the place (during the day). In fact the
estate agent said the traffic died down after business hours.
I have not been able to sleep properly and I cannot concentrate
at work. As a result I do not want to stay in the apartment
for another night, let alone six months.
The tenancy agreement has a standard 12 month term with a
six month termination clause, but we really want to move out
ASAP. I have paid the first month’s rent plus a £1,000
bond and intend to talk to the estate agent about our position
but do not expect him to be very sympathetic. Is it reasonable
to give one month’s notice and then move out. And if
so should I expect to get my bond back? Do they have the right
to keep my bond if I leave the place in absolutely perfect
I am so sorry
that you are having these problems. It is always a good idea
to visit a prospective property at different hours of the
day to ensure that this kind of situation does not occur.
However, back to the
problem – your landlord could hold you to the end of
the tenancy, but few in my experience think it is worth it.
Try and discuss with him, along the lines that you are really
sorry, but the noise is affecting your health, and you do
not feel that the environment was correctly described. Tell
the landlord you would like to give a month’s notice
and are happy to pay the rent for the notice.
I think the landlord might reasonably ask you to cover the
cost of advertising to get a new tenant. If he refuses to
return the balance, after legitimate deductions, of the deposit
then you would have to go to the Small Claims Court. Try and
discuss it in a pleasant manner – you may be surprised.
You could suggest that secondary glazing may reduce the noise
for future tenants.
I am trying to find a tenancy agreement for a resident lodger.
I need a simple, straightforward document which just gives
the basics and is preferably free. Can you help or advise
on further actions?
The cheapest agreement
is the one you write yourself and should be fine, provided
the lodger is living in your property with you in residence.
It need only be very simple, along the lines of:
(your name) agrees to (lodgers name) living at (property address)
from (date) to (date). The rent is (amount). The notice required
to end this agreement is.(need only be reasonable, so could
be one week or one month). The agreement entitles (name of
lodger).to use of one bedroom with lockable door and have
shared use of the bathroom, kitchen and lounge.
Add a sheet with any
restrictions you may wish to impose - no smoking, no pets,
perhaps even no overnight guests. And add something about
the arrangement regarding bills.
You could also add something about rent arrears resulting
in immediate notice being given.
You both need to sign the agreement. Get a witness and both
keep a copy.
I have been told that a different type of tenancy agreement
is needed for tenants who have been living in my properties
for over three years. My solicitor says I need only renew
every six months indefinitely. Can you tell me who is correct?
It has also been
suggested that I would have problems evicting a tenant of
12 years or so. But again my solicitor says this is incorrect
and that providing the tenant has signed an initial (not even
a current) assured shorthold tenancy, it is perfectly possible
to go down the normal eviction route. Again, who is correct?
Your solicitor. I would
always recommend a first six month assured shorthold tenancy.
At the expiry of that, you can either re-issue, or let it
run on as it converts automatically to a statutory periodic
tenancy. I always say that if I was a tenant, I would want
the agreement re-issued as this gives more security, but as
a landlord, I’d let the agreement run on. In the past
there may have been difficulties evicting long standing tenants,
but this should not apply in the case of any tenancy that
commenced as late as 1994.
We are moving abroad for a few years and want to let our house.
There is apparently no problem with the rental to mortgage
value ratio. However the annual rental income will be above
£25K which our agents tell us is the maximum that an
assured shorthold tenancy will cover. The mortgage companies
we have spoken to require this kind of tenancy.
Are there mortgages which allow renting on different kinds
of tenancies: given the number of homes around to let at over
£500 per week I'm sure this must be a common problem?
Think your mortgage
company here are being a bit shortsighted in insisting on
this type of tenancy. I suggest you discuss this with a solicitor
who is an expert on housing law, and who should be able to
come up with an option for you.
We have been tenants in our flat for just over a year. The
first one year assured shorthold tenancy expired at the end
of May. We subsequently signed a second (new) shorthold tenancy
agreement that covered the next year (starting 1 June).
All of the terms in the contract were the same and the second
contract made no reference to the first.
One of the terms was that two month’s termination notice
could only be served after an initial six month period of
the tenancy. Again, this clause was also in the second contract.
Now, our landlord wants to sell the flat and we have been
given two month’s notice - but this is only one month
after we signed the new agreement.
Where do we stand? Could we refuse to move out until this
six month period has finished?
This was a new
tenancy agreement so the landlord is bound by the law and
should serve notice to end when the tenancy does. However,
the situation is likely to become unpleasant if you insist
on staying to the end. I would discuss it with him, on the
basis that this is an invalid notice, but that you are prepared
to move out earlier as soon as you find somewhere, and would
he like to offer some compensation for the inconvenience you
have been caused? If things get really unpleasant, then this
notice could be construed as illegal eviction and your local
authority/housing aid would want to know about it.
I have rented a house in Islington in which to live
until my wife has our child in July. We normally live in Istanbul
and I shall travel back and forth in this period.
We rented this from a local agent and before paying nine week’s
rent in advance (as agreed) plus the equivalent of four week’s
rent as deposit, we asked for assurances that work going on
inside and scaffolding outside would be finished before we
moved in. These were given.
But when we moved in the scaffolding was still there. We called
the agent to find out when it would be taken down, and were
told it would be ‘any day’.
The next day an engineer appeared at our window saying outside
work would begin very soon and would last eight to 10 weeks
- the duration of our tenancy.
I contacted the agent again and was this time told the firm
was not aware of this but that there was nothing in the contract
to stop the landlord going ahead with such work.
I have paid a lot of money in advance so that my wife could
wait for the baby in peace and comfort. Now it seems she will
have to endure scaffolding and workmen outside the windows
for the whole period of the tenancy - with all the noise,
dust and other inconvenience.
Can you please advise on what to do? What are our rights?
I would say that
this property was let on a false premise and therefore suggest
you should be released from the agreement. If the agent does
not agree to this, and all the money returned (excluding rent
for the period you have lived there), you should see a solicitor.
pays for the agreement?
I'm just about to let out my property and was wondering
what the law states when it comes to who has to pay for the
I have a possible tenant about whom I am uncertain since before
she has even moved in she is quoting laws and regulations
to me. I would like to make sure I'm on a sure footing afore
I go ahead.
I would generally expect the landlord
to pay for the agreement, and let’s face it, for £1.50
or so, is it worth arguing about? You can buy a blank agreement
from a good stationers or legal stationers, various landlord
associations have them available to members, or you can download
a free outline agreement from this website (http://www.residentiallandlord.co.uk/../tenancyintro.htm).
A tenant that knows the law should know what her obligations
are, so that may not be a bad thing, but email what she is
quoting and I will let you know whether I think these are
things you need to worry about.
Can you tell me if there is a minimum legal age that someone
has to be to take out a tenancy agreement?
The reason being is that I rent a property out to a woman
who at the start of our agreement had a 16 year old daughter,
her daughter is now just short of her 18 birthday and the
mother is giving me notice that she will be leaving but her
daughter wants to carry on living there and will take out
a new agreement with me. Is she old enough to do this?
Her father, who does not live at the property, will be assisting
her with the rent so I should be OK from that point of view,
although it will be more of a risk than before.
A 17 year old
can take a tenancy, but conditions of the tenancy could not
be enforced. Also, as she is under 25, any housing benefit
would only be paid at single room rent - so there will be
a hefty shortfall. Dad helping is great – but does he
realise the commitment he is taking on? Get him to sign a
guarantor’s form which clearly states that this is not
time limited and you will pursue him for any rent debt.
Also, be very firm with
the girl – give a six month tenancy, be quite plain
that there is not only the rent, there is the issue of tenant
like behaviour, that you WILL evict if there are any complaints
I am afraid I think this is a considerable risk – even
if she is the best 17 year old in the world, living alone
does make her vulnerable to friends taking advantage of her,
and a burglary could leaving her feeling very unsafe and abandoning
the property. Take a good deposit from her and get rent in
advance – let the father see what he is really taking
on. You may say mum paid no rent in advance and a minimal
deposit – that does not mean that is what you take from
a high risk tenant.
Sorry if I seem hard on a youngster, but that is what parents
have to do when young people go to University, I don’t
see that it is different for the young person that either
parents don’t want at home or who say they are ready
to be independent.
Partner moving out
At the end of January my partner and I both signed a 12 month
contract for a property we renting.
My partner has now told me he is going to move out. Can he
do this as his name is also on the agreement? Will he still
have to pay his half of the rent, as if not this leaves me
in a sticky situation money wise?
He has said he will give the landlord a month’s notice
and pay his half of the rent for the last month, in the meantime
he will be moving all his belongings out of the property.
He refuses to hand over the keys to me.
Surely he cannot keep hold of them and enter my home as and
when he pleases when nothing in there would belong to him,
or can he do this if he pays for a further month?
Will the landlord take him off the lease with a months notice,
or will he still be liable to pay for the remaining months
of the agreement?
If your partner
leaves and relinquishes his half of the tenancy, that effectively
ends your tenancy too. The landlord could try and hold you
both to it and expect rent to the end of 12 months, but few
landlords would do this.
The procedure would be that the landlord should end the tenancy
and offer you a new one – but you cannot afford to take
it, so I would suggest you give notice too. The other option
is that the landlord lets it run on after your partner leaves
– but this makes you liable for all the rent, as under
your agreement your will be ‘jointly and severally liable’.
Although you could stay for some time, because the rent arrears
ground to end the tenancy would take some time to accrue,
it would leave you with a hefty debt and no chance of a good
reference from your landlord, whereas a good reference may
help you get another property. I would have a frank discussion
with the landlord and see if you can reach some agreement
on leaving or if he thinks you are a good tenant he may feel
he can accept less rent for a while and let you take your
time about moving, or even keep the tenancy on yourself.
With regard to the keys, I think these should be given to
the landlord, not you, and as long as he is paying rent, he
has a right to access the property – though why he would
want to is beyond me. Is he perhaps just making a point whilst
he removes his goods?
I have bought a house and wish to end my tenancy of rented
property on 16 of June 2006, but the agreement states that
the notice period starts from the rent day. This means my
notice period will start from 3 June and end on 2 August.
Will I be liable to pay the rent for the remaining period
– that is from 17 June to 2 August? Is the tenancy agreement
with two month’s notice period a fair agreement?
Well, you did
sign the agreement. However, in civil law, a landlord is entitled
to one month’s notice, so two is perhaps a lot. Yes,
you are expected to pay rent to cover the notice period. I
think I would approach your landlord, saying you believe this
is an unfair contract term and will pay rent until 2 July.
The landlord could then try and take you to the small claims
court for the remaining month, but you would make the same
argument there – unfair contract term, could not afford
rent and mortgage, and so on.
On 2 January I rented a room from a lady who owns her own
house and I live with her. I signed an agreement and we both
My first question is: do both the landlady and tenant need
to sign as in this case it was only myself who signed?
There was no contract period. Basically I could stay as long
as I wanted. I recently decided to give my landlady one month’s
notice. However, she is saying that the contract said I must
give four week’s notice from the date I pay the rent
- which would effectively adds another two weeks.
I have lost my copy of the contract so cannot check that this
is what is said. I have asked her three times now for a photocopy
of hers to check that is what I signed for. She has refused
three times. I believe I am within my rights to see the contract.
I have told the landlady that I will leave anyway unless she
can show me that the contract states otherwise.
If I have indeed signed up to give the notice the landlady
claims, then that is fair enough and I will delay leaving.
But if there is no signed contract where do we both stand?
She is threatening to take me to court. It is only over two
weeks rent of £75 a week!
She has told me that if I don’t have a written contract
then no one knows how much deposit I paid. I think she may
be trying to deny how much I paid her so she can avoid giving
it back. However, I do know the amount involved as I have
the proof I paid her it when I moved in.
It appears you
are a lodger and therefore have minimal rights. The landlady
has to give you ‘reasonable’ notice, which could
be as little as a week. It therefore seems unfair that you
should have to give her a month. From the details you give,
she seems to be applying rules that apply to tenants rather
I would suggest you might let her take you to court, if indeed
she carries through with her threat. Write to her saying you
have no intention of reneging on the agreement, but that you
require a copy of the agreement. If she still refuses to give
you one, then the copy letter forms a basis of your defence.
I think the veiled threat implied in telling you that nobody
knows about the deposit you paid is really unpleasant and
I sincerely hope you paid by cheque so you have the written
proof of what she received. Keep the rent card safe and let
her go for it – I don’t think she has much chance.
I would suggest her failure to sign actually invalidates the
licence agreement, so I think you stand a very good chance
of winning this one.
Housing Act agreements
I have a tenant moving into a house paying £3,000
per calendar month. This is makes it a Non-Housing act tenancy
agreement and I am having problems in finding a suitable form
of agreement. Can you assist me with this in any way?
sorry, I am afraid I have no experience of properties of this
calibre. I think you need to speak to a solicitor.
Fixed term agreement
I currently rent premises. The lease was granted for a fixed
term of six years expiring on the 1 July 2006. I am keen to
renew my tenancy agreement however my landlord feels he can
obtain a higher rent if he carries out improvements to the
property. His plans are at an early stage and he does not
wish to start the necessary works for another year or so.
Please could you help me with my legal position and any procedural
steps I could take.
This sounds like commercial premises
to me, which is outside my area of expertise. However, my
common sense answer is, can you have a new agreement, with
a break clause after one year and a rent increase clause to
come into effect at the same time? Really needs a solicitor
with expertise in this area.
Wanting to leave early
Moved into flat next to train tracks and can't sleep.
I have just moved into a flat next to a set of railway tracks
and find I cannot sleep at night due to the noise. At the
time of moving in the landlord told me the noise was not going
to be a problem.
I have asked the landlord if it was possible to put in double
glazing but he does not want to do this as he feels it would
be an eye saw.
I am currently bound to a 12 month lease with the option of
giving notice and moving out after six months. I wanted to
know if I have to stay in the flat for the six months as per
the lease, or can I move out earlier.
the landlord could hold you to the six months, though few
landlords would. If you moved out, the landlord could take
you to the small claims court, which would want to know what
steps he had taken to find a new tenant. If he had made a
reasonable effort but found nobody then it could well be found
that he is entitled to the rent.
I think you need to
discuss this with him further. Double glazing should not be
an eyesore and is used widely for almost all types of windows.
Would he consider secondary glazing, which would have the
same effects of reducing noise. If he really won’t do
anything, you could put it in writing to him, stating that
he let the property when it is unfit for its purpose –
and that you will seek legal advice if he does not attempt
to rectify or release you from the agreement. It may have
no effect, but in that case, discuss with a solicitor.
A paying guest?
Recently, my landlord evicted me without notice. I had to
leave the day he asked me to go.
He is a residential landlord, I received housing benefit to
pay my rent and I used to sign the cheque for him to place
in his account.
I had no rent book, no contract and he said that I was simply
a paying guest which meant I had no rights. He said he could
ask me to leave and I would have to go if that was what he
wanted. He said I wasn't a tenant, simply a paying guest which
meant he didn't have to give me a rent book or contract.
Has he broken the law?
I am afraid you
had very few rights as a lodger, as you were there by permission
of the owner. However, you were entitled to ‘reasonable
notice’ and same day does not seem to cover that –
although there are some circumstances in which the landlord
could reasonably feel that your staying in the property another
day was unacceptable (I am talking here of serious misdemeanours).
If there was nothing like that, I suppose he has broken the
law. But your rights were so minimal that I don’t think
you could get a solicitor to take action on such grounds.
Discuss it with your local housing aid department, Citizens
Advice, or law centre.
a business from rented property
Does a tenant of a residential property need to get
a licence from the landlord before he or she can register the
rented property address as the registered office of a limited
company at Companies House?
depends whether you are simply using the address as a registered
office – somewhere official mail to the company is sent
– or are using the property as a place of business.
If the latter you will certainly need permission from your
landlord, who will probably refuse. There may be planning
considerations, other residents to take into account, and
insurance cover to be amended.
If the former,
I would still tell the landlord what you want to do and give
assurances that you will not use the property as a place of
business and that you will re-register the company’s
registered address when you move on.
Can a landlord insist that rent is paid in cash?
Please assume that the tenancy is an AST, and that the agreement
is silent on the point.
The background is that my daughter is a tenant under an AST;
she has been paying the rent by cheques which she left with
the landlord's duly appointed agent. The landlord has now fired
the agent, and is trying to collect the rent himself - and has
suddenly declared a preference for cash!
It would be dangerous for my daughter to collect such a large
cash sum and carry it about in the street, and I want to insist
that cheques delivered in time and which clear are perfectly
legitimate. Can you advise?
understand your concerns for your daughter, but I think the
landlord can insist. She, of course, need not comply –
but would almost certainly get a notice from the landlord
to end when her tenancy does. In this day and age, when personal
security is such an issue, it seems ridiculous that the landlord
wants to put her at risk, but some landlords do prefer cash,
because cheques can bounce – perhaps he has had a bad
experience with someone. That does not help your daughter.
The only chance
is by discussing your concerns and trying to reassure him
that the cheques are going to be ok. You could try saying
you will stand guarantor for her, but your daughter of course
may feel that this is saying she cannot be responsible for
herself, which clearly she is. Sorry.
Change in assignee name
We currently lease part of our building to another company,
and I have received a 'licence to assign' advising me that
they are changing their company name, and requesting 'that
we assign the whole of the premises' to the new company name,
for the residue of the term. They have also attached an authorised
guarantee agreement for signing by ourselves, and the old
Is this something
that we should be signing?
This is a commercial
lease, so I cannot say, though my gut feeling is that assigning
the whole of the premises could put you in an awkward position.
This is something where you really need a solicitor to advise
of the implications. I know that will have a cost implication,
but so could signing away your rights in the premises –
if this is in fact what you would do – or a guarantee.
son living at home
I am letting a three bedroom house on an assured shorthold
tenancy to husband, wife and one son aged 22, in full time
employment and living at home on a permanent basis. Do I include
this son on the tenancy agreement or will he be a licensee
of his parents?
What are the advantages/disadvantages
of including him on the tenancy agreement, and would your
answer be any different if he were in full time education
living partly at home and partly at university?
A joint tenancy,
whether for two or three people, would make them all ‘jointly
or severally liable’ for the rent. So if mum and dad
stop paying the rent, you could go for the full sum to the
son. However, as presuming they are living amicably, if mum
and dad were unable to pay, the son may very well assist them
The big issue,
I would think, would be if you decided to evict them, for
example, because they are not paying the rent. If only the
parents are tenants, you would issue one notice in joint names
and they would be expected to leave with their son, who would
have no right to remain. If the son is also a tenant and has
rights, it could get messy if he continues to pay some part
of the rent (though any party to a joint tenancy ending the
agreement ends it for all – but tenants may not be aware
I think I would
keep the parents’ joint tenure allowing the son to live
in the house as their guest. My answer would be the same if
he were at university. I would be less happy about a joint
tenancy including a student, who technically could be said
still be dependent on his parents. Also, a tenancy should
be a tenant’s ‘only or main home’ and students
are generally at university and therefore living away for
say 32 weeks of the year.
Is the renting out of a flat above a shop to an individual
who does not hold the lease on the shop a commercial or a
residential lease? The complete property is a commercial one.
My initial reaction
is that it would be a residential property, but then wonder
what the last sentence implies. If Environmental Services
have been involved, ensuring that it meets all required standards
for a residence, then it would be residential. A close relative
has what is a small factory in a converted pub. He fitted
out the first floor as accommodation and, with the agreement
of Environmental Services, let the rooms out. The building
is commercial and has his name outside, but the accommodation
is residential and let as an assured shorthold tenancy. Hope
We let a property on an assured shorthold tenancy that runs
from July 2005 to July 2006. The rent is paid quarterly in
We received a letter
from the tenant on 20 October 2005 stating that he wanted
to give one month’s notice to quit. My understanding
is that any notice to quit has to be given in writing and
start from the next rent date. Therefore does this mean that
we should have been given notice to quit for a rent period
(the next rent date would have been 1 January 2006) meaning
that the leaving date would be 30 March 2006 - or can the
tenant give written notice to quit at any time?
Depends on the
wording of the agreement, but if it says so, then yes, notice
should be from the rent period. I think you are right to feel
aggrieved – this is clearly someone only wanted a very
short tenancy, as they have given notice to end less than
the standard six months. However, civil law, states the tenant
is only required to give one month’s notice, and I think
if you look at why notice is asked for (to enable a landlord
to get another tenant), it may be difficult to prove it was
necessary to have three months notice. Your option is to go
to the small claims court for any sum you feel is due to you,
but you may need to prove that you have done what you could
to get a new tenant and therefore minimise your losses and
the sum you would look to your tenant for.
Where could I find examples of tenancy agreement?
How can I carry out searches on possible tenants to make sure
they will pay their rent?
has a free tenancy agreement you can download. The link is
on the home page.
You can also find
tenant referencing firms listed in the ‘selected suppliers
section of Residential Landlord (link also on home page).
I would also take references, from the last landlord and the
one before that – the one before is unlikely to lie
to get rid of a bad tenant if they have already gone. But
remember that nothing and nobody can guarantee that your tenants
pay the rent, because something unexpected can happen to the
best of tenants which means rent looses its place in their
In two months our
tenants will have completed a year’s tenancy. I am about
to write to see if they would like to stay on at the same
rent. If they do want to stay, do we just re-issue a standard
assured shorthold tenancy agreement? And if so, what happens
about the initial six months extra protection on a standard
assured shorthold tenancy, which shouldn't really be applied
to them as they've proved their worth over the last year?
You don’t really
have to issue another tenancy agreement, as the current tenancy
will automatically convert to a statutory periodic tenancy
– which I always think suits a landlord very well as
it does not commit to a specific tenancy term and can be terminated
giving two month’s notice at any time.
If your tenant
wants more security, you could issue a tenancy of six months,
one year or even two years. However, bear in mind that even
the best tenant could be biding his time and may well lapse
at some stage. I’d stick with statutory periodic, without
a new agreement or, if the tenant insists on a new agreement,
issue for a year again.
father moved in
I have let my property
to a family of four on an assured shorthold tenancy for six
months. The AST is on one name. When I visited recently I
discovered the property is now lived in by six people, including
the father who has come from overseas plus a husband to one
of the daughters.
Before signing the
AST, the family where adamant that only four people would
live in the house, and I took their word. The AST states that
it the house is a single private dwelling.
Where do I stand.
The AST is for six months Would I be able to change it in
on the rent day, and confirm who else is residing at the property,
with full names and increase the rent at the same time on
You can issue
a new tenancy agreement and raise the rent if you wish to,
though if housing benefit is involved, the authorities would
expect that the rent would stand for 12 months.
Is the property
big enough to cope with a three-generation family of this
size? If there is no over-crowding issue, I would issue a
new tenancy but probably keep it in one name – additional
names give rights to more people and that could become complicated
should one or more of them get their own place.
Around 1992 I let
a friend move into my unoccupied house at a nominal rent –
which I always had problems in collecting. Some 18 months
ago the tenant became unemployed and I now receive the rent
from the housing benefits department.
I have never had a
written tenancy agreement and I would now like to sell the
property to buy myself a property to retire to. However the
tenant is reluctant to move.
Can I serve any sort
of legal notice to gain my house back?
I have heard of
this sort of thing happening so often – you let to a
friend so think a tenancy agreement is unnecessary. Unfortunately,
in 1992, if there was no written tenancy agreement, you actually
gave your tenant an assured tenancy, which offers far greater
security than an assured shorthold tenancy.
You can only end
an assured tenancy with one of a number specified grounds.
Is the tenant eight weeks in rent arrears? If so you could
use ground 8, a mandatory ground, which involves giving two
week’s notice. Grounds 10 and 11 also refer to rent
arrears but which are discretionary grounds,
If you cannot
cite rent arrears, you may struggle. If you have something
that shows that you used to live in the property as your main
home and that the tenant was aware of this when he moved in,
you may be able to use ground 1, but you must have something
in writing. Ground 1 applies where a landlord or his spouse
has at some point occupied the dwelling as his or her only
or principle place of residence and now wishes to move back
The only other
option would be to discuss it fully with the tenant. Whilst
a nominal rent must have been attractive whilst he was working,
now he is on housing benefit it should not be such a struggle
to find somewhere else as he will not be looking for a comparable
rent. Tell him you’ll give him a reference, help with
removals and the like. Ask him if there is anything you could
do which would persuade him to leave (though be careful not
to intimidate) – it may go against the grain, but if
he asks for a few hundred cash to pay another deposit, this
may be worthwhile to you.
I had some tenants that were staying at my property under
an Assured Short Term tenancy agreement which was to expire
on the 16 February. However, after an informal conversation
on the 16 January the tenant requested an additional month
- which I agreed to, although nothing was put into writing.
On 2 January the tenant
sent me a text message saying he now planned to terminate
the contract on the original date (16 February) - hence leaving
me only two weeks to find alternative tenants.
Should I have expected
a minimum one month’s notice and therefore can I assume
this commenced on 2 February when I received the text? Or
does the original termination date of the 16 February stand?
If it is the former can I deduct the additional rent (from
16 February to 2 March) from the deposit?
Hate to say it,
because you were doing the tenant a favour, but this is why
all such discussions should be confirmed in writing. Ethically,
yes, you could take the extra two weeks from the deposit,
if you are unable to find a tenant to move in within a day
or so of the tenant vacating. However, if you do this, and
your tenant takes you to the Small Claims Court, is the tenant
likely to agree that the conversation took place extending
the tenancy? Am I too cynical to suggest such a possibility,
perhaps not? I would try and discuss and reach some form of
agreement – possibly one week from the deposit? That
way there would be give on each side. If you cannot reach
an understanding, then deduct the two weeks and see if your
tenant wants to pursue it – but bear in mind, courts
can be sympathetic to tenants who make themselves appear as
I am a tenant and
my lease is very basic. By basic I mean that the terms of
the lease are as follows:
3 Council Tax
There was no date of entry and no length of tenancy. Now the
landlord has served a simple notice to quit in the way of:
‘please leave my property within one month’.
As I live in Scotland, I was wondering how is my tenancy seen
under the Housing Act? Where do I stand with this landlord?
I would speak
to your local housing aid or Citizens Advice as although the
law is different in England, I do not believe that it is so
different that this would be sufficient notice. Certainly,
under English law, I would want to know how long the tenancy
had run and one month would not be considered adequate notice
without a ground (reason) for evicting.
up for sale
Our landlord wants
to put the house we rent up for sale before the end of our
My wife and I have
six weeks left on a one year tenancy (during which we have
been model tenants). Today, my wife was called by an estate
agent, acting on behalf of our landlord, who stated that he
now wanted to put the house on the market immediately. This
would involve erecting a ‘for sale’ sign outside
the house and the agents showing potential buyers around the
house while we are still living there (and paying rent).
We believe this to
be a gross infringement of our liberties as tenants of a house
that is still our home, not to mention more than a mild inconvenience,
especially as we have a one year old daughter. We believe
the landlord should wait until we leave before he makes any
moves to sell.
What is your opinion
and where do we stand legally?
Whilst you state
you have six weeks left to run on the tenancy, if your landlord
has not served you two months notice, you have at least two
months in the property. I would always try and suggest that
landlord and tenant treat each other with consideration. Sadly,
you do not appear to have had that from the landlord.
and reasonably with your landlord. Advise that you would have
no objection to a notice in the garden for say the last month
of the notice period. If you felt able to allow viewings in
the last two weeks, I think that would be showing consideration
to your landlord. The ‘for sale’ notice would
almost certainly reduce your privacy – it is not unknown
for people to peer through windows to get an indication of
whether they want to view. Hopefully, you can reach an understanding
but, if you find yourself unable to do this, tell the landlord
he will have to wait until you vacate, after he has issued
You must have
been good tenants, because I would never risk tenants being
in a property I was selling with vacant possession –
I’d be worried about what they would say (or do!) to
put a buyer off!
Who may rely on break clause?
I have an assured
shorthold tenancy for a fixed term of 12 months. There is
a with a break clause under the tenant's section after six
months, which I thought applied to both the landlord and tenant.
But now we want to terminate so that we can sell the property,
the tenant, who is a lawyer, says we cannot do this as the
break clause only applies to him.
We have given two
month's notice to terminate on 21 April, (the tenancy commenced
on 22 October 2005) – which will mean the tenancy has
run for six months). The tenant wants to stay for eight months.
The problem is compounded
because the tenant, to whom we gave a full month’s rebate,
was very reasonable about the inconvenience caused by recent
necessary subsidence work done. But we desperate to sell.
My question is, does
the Housing Act allow for possession after a six
month period even the tenancy agreement is for a 12 month
The relevant clause
in the tenancy agreement reads: The Tenant hereby agrees with
Landlord as follows: To give the Landlord or Landlord’s
Agent two month’s written notice if they wish to terminate
the Tenancy Agreement at the end of the Fixed Term (ie: on
or before the 21st August 2006) or if they wish to terminate
the agreement after 6 months (ie on or before 21st February
Whereby it is agreed as follows: This Agreement may be brought
to an end in accordance with the provisions in Section 5 to
12 and Schedule 2 of the Housing Act 1988 or in accordance
the provisions of Section 21 of that Act as amended under
the provisions of the Housing Act 1996.
I am sorry, but
I think this wording does only relate to the tenant ending
the tenancy. You need to consult your own solicitor, but I
think it is unlikely your tenant has signed something that
would give you equal rights to end the contract.
You are therefore
dependent on the grounds to end the tenancy, but again, your
tenant will be aware of them and unlikely to give you the
necessary reason to end the tenancy. You could try and negotiate,
ie viewings in last month of tenancy, board up, but if he
refuses, I don’t think there is much you can do. Also,
though he has told you he wants to stay eight months, if he
changes his mind, he has the right to stay until the expiry
of the tenancy and a court orders possession. If this happens,
serve him two month’s notice to end when the 12 month
have a tenancy agreement with our landlady for one year with
a six month break clause. The year long contract ends on 30
April 2006. However yesterday she gave us a letter each (there
are four of us) saying that she was giving us two month’s
notice to move out as from yesterday’s date (January
17) - so we have to be out by 18 March.
Is she entitled to
give us notice to leave? Can we leave before the two month’s
notice without incurring any penalties? The tenancy agreement
is signed by all of us tenants, however the landlady has never
signed it. Does this mean that we do not have to abide by
the contract terms?
The tenancy agreement
should have been signed by the landlady, but the fact she
has accepted rent has in itself established a tenancy agreement.
The law has changed
and she can give you a notice from any date, though I would
be inclined to ask her to honour the tenancy dates, which
would mean the notice would end on 30 March.
Without reading the agreement, it is difficult to say, but
my feeling is that as the landlady did not act to end the
first six months, you are entitled to believe the tenancy
will run to 30 April and she is therefore quite possibly not
entitled to terminate it early. I would say you are holding
the cards in your hand – she clearly wants you out.
You believe she is not entitled to ask you to go before 30
April, but if you find somewhere, may wish to leave before
18 March. I would discuss openly and pleasantly with her –
be prepared to leave early, not fuss about early termination,
and suggest she agree accept a short notice period from you.
on a tenancy
I moved to the flat I currently share with one other person
in April 2005. The agreement was that I stay for six months,
with the option to extend to one year automatically. I have
now decided to move and, in order to be fair to my landlord,
I have arranged for another friend to move in and pay rent
until the end of my contract (April 2006).
The problem is that,
at the end of the contract, the friend who will be moving
into the property would like to have the contract roll one
month at a time (probably until July 2006 or so). However
my landlord has said that the only option he will allow will
be renewal of the contract for a further six months from April.
Is this correct?
I have read on your
website about something called a ‘statutory periodic
tenancy’ but I don’t know how this works or whether
it is applicable in this situation or not.
A statutory periodic
tenancy occurs where a fixed term assured shorthold tenancy
ends and a new contract is not given. The tenant retains the
limited security which a shorthold tenancy gives, which is
that should the landlords wish to evict he or she must serve
two months’. This really does not apply in this case.
If it did, the tenancy would remain in your name, and mean
the landlord could come to you for rent. And in any case,
as you would not be living there, you would not have a legal
tenancy. If you and the other person living there had a joint
tenancy, technically speaking, this ended when you relinquished.
In that case, the solution is simple – the landlord
should issue a new joint tenancy to the original tenant and
your replacement. If you both had separate tenancies, the
landlord should issue a new six month tenancy to your friend.
This would mean that if your friend decided to stay beyond
July, the contract could convert to a statutory periodic tenancy
and continue on a month by month basis.
Are their any legal
requirements for landlords/agents to keep the gardens and
external appearance (for example painting) in good order and
in keeping with the adjacent property?
agents have a responsibility to keep the structure and exterior
of the property in good repair, making sure it is weatherproof
and does not pose a threat to health and safety. I would always
recommend a landlord or agent to have a programme of painting/decorating
– perhaps internally every three to five years, externally
seven to 10 years.
generally be the responsibility of the tenant and good landlords
would make sure that the gardens are kept neatly. I think
the tricky bit is ‘in keeping with the adjacent property’.
Not being aware of the situation, it is difficult to say,
but if my adjacent neighbour chooses to have stone cladding
or the front rendered purple – nobody on earth would
force the landlord to do the same. I presume it is not such
an extreme, that the landlord’s property is the one
that is causing some concern, rather than a desire to see
all houses as nicely matching. If the landlord’s property
looks in a bad state and is obviously deteriorating, Environmental
Health may be able to help, though probably not if the problem
is only cosmetic.
came with business
I have just taken
over a business, above is a three bedroom self contained maisonette,
with garage and parking space. An assured shorthold tenancy
is in place – the six month term is due to expire in
I offered the tenant
a new tenancy agreement for a further six months but with
increased rent as the lease payments have just increased also.
The tenant has refused to sign and said I should give him
two months notice – although the tenancy runs out next
month anyway. What shall I do?
The legal process
for raising the rent is to propose a rent rise in writing,
or on a special form. However, it does not sound as though
your tenant is being pernickety because it has not been done
correctly, simply not prepared to pay more. Although the tenancy
ends next month, you will still need to give a full two months’
notice. You can write this yourself, stating ‘two months’
notice given under section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 (amended
1996) from…………….to expire…………….
If you remain in residence after that date, it is my intention
to obtain a court order granting possession of the property’.
You should also include a paragraph advising the tenant that
he can obtain legal advice or see Citizens Advice.
My mother owns a property
in the north of England in which a protected tenant lives.
This tenant usually often lets the rent run to eight weeks
in arrears and then settles at the last minute.
As my mother is an
overseas owner can she legally remove the tenant so that she
can sell the property? She is being advised by her real estate
agent that the property would not sell with a protected tenant
in residence or at least would not sell for its market value.
To gain possession
your mother would have to evict using case 1 – that
the tenant was in breach of rent or other obligations under
the tenancy agreement. The difficulty is that the court would
have to look at the ground and also the reasonableness of
possession being sought.
The tenant is
presumably fairly mature – protected tenancies must
have started before 1977, so we already have someone who has
been a tenant nearly 30 years as a minimum. Your mother wants
possession because the tenant regularly pays the rent late
– and a case could be made this creates financial difficulties
for her. But perhaps your tenants will say he or she has simply
become forgetful and always pays when reminded. If such an
argument where made I am not sure how certain you could be
about gaining possession.
You could offer
the tenant suitable alternative accommodation, if this is
If you really
want the tenant out, I think you need to consult a solicitor
who specialises in housing law, who will be able to advise
you about the likelihood of success.
four became six
I have let my property
to a family of four. The assured shorthold tenancy agreement,
which is for six months, is in the name of one person only.
However, I have discovered there are now six people living
in the house; the tenant and his family plus his father who
has come from overseas and a husband to one of the daughters.
Before signing, the
tenant assured me that only four people would be living in
the house. The tenancy agreement states that the property
is to be used as a private dwelling.
Where do I stand with
the tenant? The tenancy agreement is for six months, so would
I be able to change it in on the rent day so as to confirm
the full names of those living at the property - and increase
the rent at the same time?
A tenant is entitled
to have guests stay on a short term basis, which may be what
daughter and husband are doing.
say when the tenancy started, but if it has already run for
some time, I’d leave it until it is coming to the end.
Two months before it ends, meet with the tenant, ask what
he wants to do. If he intends staying in the property, are
the other adult males staying too? It may be that the daughter
and husband will be moving out shortly. Whatever happens,
draw up a new tenancy agreement reflecting the situation.
If you are not
satisfied with the interview with the tenant, perhaps because
you believe the house will be overcrowded, then serve two
months’ notice and get them out.
I have recently purchased
a house with my partner and we have just handed our notice
in from the place we are currently renting. The agency wants
to organise viewings for future new tenants. I have no problem
with the principle but we both work full time and have a dog
that stays on his own in the house while we are at work (the
agent knows about the dog).
We both finish work
at 5pm and have said viewings should be after that time. However
the agent refuses to arrange viewings after 4pm.
I have suggested week
ends but the agent won’t do week ends either.
I have suggested we
show people round ourselves after 5pm, but the claims she
wants to meet people to evaluate them.
I suggested lunchtime,
which is the only other possible time I could make, but the
agent said that if we did not allow her into the house when
we were not at home we would be refusing her access. She said
she would go into the house anyway when we are not there if
it wasn’t for the fact that she is scared of the dog’s
reaction. She suggested I take the dog to work or leave him
in the car - which is not possible for obvious reasons.
My question is, has
she got any rights to come in without our permission when
we are not in the house? And can we refuse the agent access
to show the property to new tenants? Our tenancy agreement
is really vague on that and only mentions a three days notice
but nothing clear.
The agent does
not have he has not got the right to enter without your permission
and would be foolish to do so – if anything went missing
whilst she was there, she would be held responsible.
I really don’t
know how to take this one forward. You appear to have been
fairly open about viewings; it is she that is being obstructive.
Is there a shed or a garage where the dog could be left for
a few hours? Is there anybody who would look after the dog
in the afternoons, to allow the agent to enter the property
(although by arrangement and with your permission).
I have recently signed
a six month assured shorthold tenancy agreement. This is for
a furnished room in a shared house with a letting agency in
When I viewed the
house I must admit I was in a hurry to get to a meeting at
work and didn’t take too much in, just the general dimensions.
On attempting to move in, none of the keys supplied to me
by the letting agent would fit. Upon knocking on the door
someone let me in. He didn’t challenge me as to who
I was and walked back to his room.
I found the whole
house to be totally disgusting, including the communal areas.
It is unsanitary (I would go as far as to say a health risk),
and untidy. The ‘furniture’ is falling apart and
is certainly not useable. There is also a smell of damp in
I turned on my heels, walked straight back out and booked
into a local bed and breakfast. There is no way on this earth
I will go back there and I really need to know if there is
any kind of a cooling off period with tenancy agreements and
how much money I am likely to lose as a result of not moving
in? (I have paid a security deposit and two months rent).
I have never
heard of a cooling off period in housing law – properties
are usually in such high demand (yes, even the bad ones) that
the landlord could have lost three, four or more prospective
tenants, believing you had accepted the room.
You state quite
firmly you will not go back, which makes it difficult as the
situation should be addressed. I suggest your clearly and
briefly write down your concerns: security, damp, unsanitary
communal areas, poor state of furniture, where possible giving
examples. Take a copy of this list and arrange a meeting with
the landlord. Discuss it, along the lines that it was not
the place for you, that you realise this is an inconvenience,
but that you would expect the rent (less one week, say, to
allow for a new tenant being found) and the security deposit
to be returned.
If you have no
success, it may be worth discussing with Environmental Services
– they would normally only discuss with a tenant, rather
than an ex-tenant, but may be able to take some action. You
could also take up your case with the local Trading Standards
department. Otherwise, you could try the small claims court,
but you need some support for this (which Environmental Services
may be able to provide).
In private renting,
more perhaps than any other area, the phrase is ’caveat
emptor’ – let the buyer beware’ –
should be headed by both landlords and tenants. Don’t
ever do things in a rush, ask the right questions, and make
sure you understand what you are signing.
rights and wrongs
My partner and I have
been renting a flat for almost two years (agreement renewed
twice) through reputable letting agents. The latest period
is due to expire in late June this year and we have indicated
that we are unlikely to be renewing for a further period as
we are expecting to buy a property of our own in the near
In December last year
we were advised by the agents that unless we committed to
renewing for a further 12 months in June, they would commence
marketing the flat and start bringing prospective tenants
in to view (they do give notice of this in advance). We protested
at this, on the grounds that the current period (12 months)
was less than half expired and as an interim measure it was
agreed on all sides that we would wait until mid January and
review. We told the agents then that we would not be committing,
and that the property could be marketed.
We want to be reasonable
and understand the landlord needs to protect his investment,
but would like to know what the statutory position is with
regard to our right to enjoy the use of the flat - we are
now facing the prospect of up to five months of prospective
tenant visits to the flat. The agents are not above proposing
visits at 10.30 on Sunday mornings, and my partner suffers
from multiple sclerosis and is therefore, from time to time,
confined to bed.
I cannot see that
a possible five months of viewings will allow you to have
‘quiet enjoyment’ of your home. As you do not
appear to have a great desire to leave before June, I think
you should state that whilst you (perhaps) do not object to
a board outside from March, viewings can only take place May
onwards. I think this is fairer on prospective tenants also.
‘Sell’ your position to the agents – from
May, you are happy for viewings whenever required, though
I would be inclined to specify particular days.
I use a licence agreement for my tenants and want to
know if as a result I would have difficulty getting possession
from a court.
I really need more information to
answer this – do you use licence agreements because you
share your property with lodgers? If this is not the case, and
your ‘tenants’ have exclusive use of properties,
they may very well have tenancy rights, and therefore have greater
security than would be indicated by a licence.
Of course, whatever their
status, when you give notice they may accept this and leave
anyway. The difficulty arises if you need to go to court and
a ‘tenant’ makes consults Citizens Advice or Housing
Aid Service and decides to argue the point.
In the case of lodgers, it is correct to use licence agreements,
and there should be no problems if it went to court.
My agents have found a respectable blue chip company as a
tenant, but it wants to rent on a premium lease whereby it
will pay 13 months rent as a premium and £100 per year
as a rent. I have never come across this in nearly 40 years
of renting, and I am very uneasy about it. Do you know anything
I am afraid I have never heard
of this before, though have an idea that this may be some
form of tax arrangement. I would suggest consulting a solicitor
who has a knowledge of both housing law, commercial law and
tax. I think where anything makes you uneasy the answer is
to get the best help you can find. Hope it works out.
Ended by interim order
On September 1, my wife signed a six month assured shorthold
tenancy agreement running until 28 February 2006. She paid
6 month’s rent in advance and £865 by way of security
deposit. On 16 September 2005 Halifax Plc were granted an
interim possession order against the property as the landlord
was in arrears by several months with his mortgage repayments.
On 31 October 2005 Melbourne Mortgages were also awarded an
interim possession order against the property for the same
reason. We have had no real feedback either from the landlord
or his letting agent.
There have also been several other issues with the property
(gardens not brought to a usable standard before moving in,
landlord’s junk filling the garage, rat infestation
in the garage) that have not been addressed by the owners
or his agents.
On 1 December 2005 we issued a notice to the letting agent
of our intention to vacate the property on 31 December, as
my wife could no longer live with the threat of eviction notices
landing at any time. We have been told by the agent that as
there is no break clause in the agreement, we will not get
back any monies, namely two month’s advance rent and
the security deposit (equating to £2,115.00). The letting
agent told us verbally, but refused to confirm in writing,
that it held the advance rent payments in a ‘client
My understanding is that once an interim possession order
has been granted, an AST ends, meaning that after 16 September
we were under no further legal obligation. Also we were not
given any notice that the property was mortgaged, moreover
that the property was in mortgage repayment arrears prior
to signing and taking possession.
Is my understanding correct? Does the AST end upon the granting
of interim possession orders?
You deserve a prize because it is
very rare that I am completely stumped on a question. I have
checked my usual sources and no joy. I think I would see a
solicitor and discuss this with him or her. Then it’s
the small claims court.
It sounds like you have a reasonable case. I’d get whatever
support you can from the mortgage companies that have issued
notices to show that it is not reasonable for you to stay.
Very good luck.
I am currently looking
to let one of the rooms in my own home. I need to know what
legal documents I have to follow to do this. Do I just have
to write a document and then get the tenant to sign it?
You will need to devise a licence
agreement. A lodger has minimal rights – the essential
one being the right to reasonable notice, which could be one
week – but this is something to negotiate with your
lodger. You should ensure the agreement states the rent, payment
arrangements, how utility costs are to be divided, whether
the lodger is allowed visitors, any prohibitions (like smoking
in the house), which rooms the lodger may use. Make two copies,
one for your lodger, one for you, and both of you should sign
both copies. I would suggest you buy a rent book.
husband and I are first time landlords and would like to know:
1 If the tenant wants access to the property before he moves
in, at what point should the tenancy begin?
The only access the tenant
should ask for before commencement of the tenancy would be
in viewing or measuring up the property. If you are prepared
to allow him to do this, fine, but have him do it in your
presence. The tenancy should begin on the date you hand over
the keys, having completed the tenancy agreement and received
references and a deposit.
2 The property was fire
damaged and was inspected by a Corgi registered engineer and
I have a copy of the gas safety inspection certificate from
the previous owner’s solicitor. It is dated April 2005
– does this cover me (is it transferable because it
relates to the property and not the owner or do I need one
of my own?)
Not quite clear on what stage
exactly the fire and the fire safety inspection occurred.
I would say that you need to get your own gas engineer to
inspect and issue a safety certificate. Your new tenant has
a right to see the certificate and it should be re-issued
every time the tenant changes.
3 I advertised the property
with a weekly rent but the tenant wants to pay by standing
order every four weeks. How do I show this on the tenancy
agreement - I have an agreement from a law pack but it only
allows for weekly and monthly - can I alter the agreement
with the tenants consent, to read every four weeks?
Yes, just alter it –
I have seen many agreements where this is written in. Four-weekly
creates no problems – it is the difference between weekly
and monthly that some people find confusing.
4 Am I still required to
provide a rent book if the rent is being paid by standing
order every four weeks?
No you are not, but I believe
it is helpful to have a very clear record of what you receive,
when. If rent arrears accumulated, it can be helpful to have
the details in a clear, separate record from bank statements.
5 In the law pack there
is a notice of possession. Do I fill this out and give it
to the new tenant at the beginning of the tenancy?
You can do so, and many landlords
find this the easiest thing to do. My own view would be that
this may make a tenant feel insecure and obviously, you have
no weight if your tenant misbehaves – he may feel he
is already bound to be evicted. However, many landlords feel
that serving notice at the outset enables the process to be
speeded up if problems occur.
6 Should I make a note that
the deposit can be used to recover any losses including unpaid
Yes, add a clause stating
exactly what is covered by the deposit.
We have a six months
lease (in Scotland) which is due to expire in February. The
landlord has just issued us with a notice to quit but claims
that we should not worry as we can renew the lease in February
with no problems. However, if this is the case why would he
issue us with a notice to quit?
Scottish Law is different
to English law, but I cannot see why, two months before the
end of the tenancy, a notice would be issued if the tenancy
could be renewed without a problem. I would suggest you contact
a Scottish Housing Aid, Citizens Advice or a solicitor to
be sure about your position, which to me looks a little uncertain.
We let a flat via
a letting agent on a short tenancy agreement. The flat has
one parking space and the possibility of parking another car
within the boundaries. The present tenant has two cars and
two works vans, one of which is used to store plaster and
Whilst we understand that the issue of additional cars will
need to be resolved by reference to the tenancy agreement,
we are unsure of how to go about enforcement of the agreement
and removal of the untaxed vehicle (which is parked on private
property belonging to all of the flat owners).
Enforcement of the agreement
is generally by evicting at the earliest opportunity. I think
you need to discuss this with a solicitor. If the untaxed
vehicle was on a public road, the police could have it removed,
but this is private land. Your agent should surely be addressing
the issue – they let the property to someone who clearly
needs far more land than the flat has. You do need to address
this, before residents’ groups start to raise concerns.
I recently let a one
bedroom flat to a tenant who now says she would like to leave.
The tenancy agreement was to have run until next May. Where
do I stand?
The difficulty is always
– how do you make someone stay who doesn’t want
to? I think you would be better trying to get her to give
you notice which would allow you time to get a new tenant
than trying to hold her to May. You could try taking her to
the small claims court, if you know where she is moving to,
but it would want to know why you were trying to hold her
to May, and what steps you had taken to get a new tenant.
Cutting your losses is your best option.
I own a property which
was previously used as a commercial property but has now been
converted to residential use. I have found a tenant who wants
to use it as her main residence but because she is also a
fully qualified therapist, she wants to practice reflexology
treatment from the premises. Can you please advise me whether
this would be allowed, or should be allowed by me, and if
so what sort of tenancy agreement would be needed?
Check with a
solicitor, as this could be considered a hybrid housing and
commercial tenancy. If it is on a lease, the leaseholder may
not be happy about a business being carried on. Better to
get a solicitor to look at it.
you have a best practice template for a rent increase letter?
You can use the
formal procedure on form Landlords notice proposing a new
rent under an Assured Periodic Tenancy of premises situation
in England (or Wales). Otherwise, write a letter (two copies
– one for you and one for the tenants) with simple wording
along the lines of:
Dear………., As you have lived in the property
since………… and the tenancy has converted
to a statutory periodic tenancy, I would like to propose an
increase in the rent from………to………
,to take effect from………….(at least
If you claim housing benefit, you should make a new claim
noting this proposed increased.
And attach an acceptance slip saying: I, …………..
,accept the rental increase proposed by my landlord. Signed:…………………..Tenant
Make sure the letter is dated, and if the tenant is in agreement.
If the tenant agrees and signs the acceptance slip, keep a
copy. If the tenant does not agree, he or she should ask the
Rent Assessment Committee to decide what the rent should be.
This must be done before the date on which the new rent is
We have been offered
a tenancy on a large house we own in Virginia Water, Surrey.
The monthly rent proposed is £2,750 per month.
Is an AST the correct form of tenancy? I believe there are
monetary limits that may apply.
I am afraid it cannot be
an Assured Shorthold Tenancy as the maximum rental value is
£25,000 – your property is considerably more.
I would see a solicitor to ensure the correct agreement is
use of property
In July this year
I moved into a student let. We knew that the landlady's daughter
was still living in one bedroom (mine) but were told this
would only be for a short while. Until she moved out I agreed
to share a room with my boyfriend. A third student taking
another room did not want to move in until October but agreed
to pay a retainer of half rent.
The landlady's daughter did not move out until the end of
September. During the period I could not use the bedroom I
intended on moving into, and we had to use the unoccupied
other bedroom to store our belongings (the girl who had reserved
the room also had her belongings in the room).
The landlady has demanded that my boyfriend and I both pay
full rent for the months in which we were obliged to share.
Her argument is that we do not pay for specific rooms, and
that we had full use of the third bedroom.
This appears totally unfair, as the landlady was receiving
rent for the third bedroom, meanwhile her daughter remained
living in the house, restricting our use of the property.
Are her demands acceptable? We are on a 12 month shorthold
tenancy, can we end this sooner if we so wish?
I am sorry, but the answer
to this rests on your agreement. Without seeing it, I cannot
be exact. However, I would say that the landlady quite probably
is being unreasonable. The difficulty is that if you refuse
to pay, she will deduct it from your deposit, though you could
go to the small claims court to recover the amount involved.
With regard to leaving
before the end of the 12 months, your landlady could take
you to the small claims court to hold you to the tenancy.
She would have to take reasonable steps to find other tenants
for your rooms – but here is the problem – how
easy will it be for her to get new student tenants in the
middle of the academic year? If she can successfully argue
she can’t, then you could be held liable. I know that
does not seem fair.
Two potential tenants
are interested in renting my two bedroom flat. They are happy
to share the house but each wants a separate assured shorthold
tenancy agreement. Are there any problems in this?
I cannot see a problem, as
such. Each would have a tenancy agreement, presumably charging
them half the rent each. If they had a joint tenancy, and
either of them moved out, the other would be liable for the
whole rent, as they would be ‘jointly and severally
liable’. If one moves out with an individual tenancy,
they would still only be responsible for their half of the
rent. However, have you considered how you would get another
tenant, should one vacate? The remaining tenant may make it
difficult to let to someone else. Discuss this with them both,
My partner and I have
been renting a maisonette for 12 months. At the end of this
time the landlord urged us to sign an agreement for a further
year, so we did. However since then we have had continuous
problems from noisy and unruly neighbours. We have therefore
decided to move. We have obtained a mortgage and have found
a nice quiet flat to buy.
However, when we contacted our landlord and told him of our
situation he became very uncooperative. We have asked him
if four month’s notice would be acceptable and give
him enough time to find new tenants. But he says that because
we signed for 12 months we have to pay for 12 months.
The landlord does not understand the reasons why we want to
move or why my partner is getting very upset and feeling unsafe
in what is meant to be her home. Any advice would be appreciated.
I think you need to discuss
this with him fully. He needs to know, because his next tenants
may also decide to vacate early because of the nuisance. Whilst
I understand his wish that you remain 12 months, should you
move out his only option would be to take you to the small
claims court, when he would have to prove that he had taken
reasonable steps to find a new tenant before the expiry of
the 12 months. He may prove more amenable when you explain
the circumstances, and also offer to do whatever you can to
help him let the flat – by allowing viewings and/or
having carpets cleaned, for example.
My landlady, from
whom I have been renting for three years, is great and does
not interfere at all. For my part I have been personally responsible
for all maintenance and redecorating costs and have looked
after the property as if it was my own.
However, I am a little concerned because my landlady’s
circumstances have changed - she has remarried and moved away
to another area. I’m afraid she may decide to sell up.
When I first started to rent the property I downloaded a short
term tenancy agreement from an Internet site and signed and
sent this off to my landlady. I have never received a signed
copy back. We have agreed verbally that I can stay as long
as I like, but as I do not have a written agreement I feel
a little secure.
What are my rights? Can the landlady end our agreement at
any time? And can I?
Your tenancy is almost certainly
an assured shorthold tenancy that has converted to a statutory
periodic tenancy. This gives you the same limited security
as an assured shorthold. You do not, at present, need a tenancy
agreement in writing. Unfortunately, the landlady can evict
you at any time, provided she gives you two months notice.
You have the same right to give her one months notice.
You sound like you have been a model tenant, as really, decorating
and maintenance are her responsibility. I would be inclined
to write her a very nice letter, perhaps suggesting that as
her name will have changed, she may like to issue another
tenancy agreement, perhaps after this length of time and such
a satisfactory arrangement, issuing it for two years. There
is always the risk that this may make her and new husband
reassess the situation and decide to sell up, but you are
clearly feeling very unsettled and insecure anyway. Knowing
what she intends will probably be no worse than not.
asking for extra week
tenants have asked if they can stay an extra week after my
section 21 notice expires. They have given me a few problems
but lately everything has been going well. If I grant them
the extra week, does this invalidate the Section 21 notice
and would a new one have to be issued with a further two month
deadline? To avoid this could I agree with them informally
(nothing in writing) that they may stay, making it clear that
the section 21 notice period has expired and they need to
leave otherwise I will apply for accelerated possession? Do
I have to apply for possession immediately?
There should not
be a problem about them staying an extra week. Obviously,
it is a saving if you don’t need to go to court. The
notice should not be invalidated – after all, a notice
can expire whilst a landlord is on holiday! What matters is
that the notice has been issued correctly and has expired.
Leaving it a week or so before you go to court should be fine.
Ask them why they want to stay – have they got another
property to go to? If it is that they have nowhere, I would
be very careful about how long you hold off going to court
– a week at the most, as this could just be a delaying
tactic and you end up with the costs of going to court anyway.
After three years
I am coming to the end of my current tenancy agreement. Out
of the blue my landlord has indicated that he requires the
property back . I am taking the residents’ association
to court over the illegal removal of my vehicle and it appears
there has been some correspondence between the association
and my landlord. My car was in my parking space and off the
road however the residents association got the council to
remove the vehicle without my permission.
I also suffered a major flood in the flat, caused by faulty
external plumbing, which damaged my property (I didn’t
have contents insurance). Subsequently the bathroom and kitchen
were half replaced but to a lesser standard than when I moved
I would like to know whether, as I have not received official
notice to quit, do I have any rights especially as I did my
landlord a favour by not taking him to court over the loss
of my car?
Should I now also
pursue the landlord over this and, should my landlord take
me to court, can I counter claim for my losses from the flooding?
You must have legal notice from your landlord. I would expect
him to use the Accelerated Possession Procedure, which requires
a two month’s notice in writing.
I am afraid the other issues probably do not have any bearing
on your security as a tenant and your rights to notice and
I suggest you see a solicitor about these.
to hold photo shoots
Our agents have asked
us to sign the tenancy agreement for a flat we are letting.
This had already been signed by the tenants who have moved.
However, they have added a handwritten clause giving them
the right to use the flat ‘without payment of any royalty’
– the tenants’ words – for occasional photo-shoots
needed to create advertisements for their fashion jewellery
We find this clause unacceptable and have not signed the tenancy
agreement pending advice. Should we delete this clause and
sign the agreement and ask them to approach us separately
with more details of their proposed photo-shoots? Also, would
these photo-shoots be considered commercial use of our private
flat and, even if we were to agree to this, would permission
have to be sought from the landlords of the block of flats?
This seems very
odd and your agents should, surely, have advised the tenants
that the agreement cannot be amended by them in this manner
– you would not expect to change an agreement at the
signing stage after a tenant had agreed to the property, why
In the circumstances,
I would not expect the agent to have given them the keys.
However, if he has and they have moved in, a tenancy has probably
been created. In that case, evicting them before the end of
the initial tenancy could be difficult. As ‘royalty’
has been mentioned, it appears to me that quite probably the
photos are being taken for commercial purposes, and yes, in
that case, you probably would need to ensure that your own
landlords would need to give permission.
I am a terrible cynic, but having lived in a property where
the previous owner had ‘photoshoots’ of a questionable
nature, I never quite believe situations are as innocent as
they appear. Speak to the agents – if they have given
the keys, contact ARLA, as I don’t believe this is acting
in your interests. Speak to your tenants – you may be
prohibited by your lease from carrying on any business from
the flat, in which case they must stop the photos. Advise
the agent that you are happy for them to leave before the
end of the tenancy.
on occupation and usage
I am a private landlord
with nine properties. Within the terms of my tenancy agreements
are the following terms, under the heading of 'Limits on occupation
and usage: ‘1) to use the premises only as a single
private residence for occupation by the tenant personally
and no other person whether members of the tenant's family
or not; and 2) not to assign sublet or part with or share
possession or occupation of the whole or any part of the premises’.
I was successful when a couple of years ago I relied on these
clauses to obtained possess. However, I have been told that
they may now be considered to impose unfair terms because
they could be said to prevent a tenant having guests stay
and to have quiet enjoyment of the premisey.
As far as I could understand, when my solicitor drew up the
deed these two clauses were included to prevent tenants allowing
other parties to live at the rented address and thereby obtain
rights of occupancy.
Can you say whether
in your view these terms would be deemed unfair and whether
a person living with a tenant [but not named on the tenancy
agreement] can obtain rights of occupancy?
If your tenants are assured shorthold tenants, I cannot see
how anyone could gain any right of occupancy. Someone may
decide to stay after the tenant has left, which would mean
you would have to get a court order to evict an illegal occupier,
but not, as far as I can see, anything greater than this.
I think it is possible that the Office of Fair Trading may
deem these, as they stand, to be unfair terms – I think
it was the Human Rights Act which brought this sort of discussion
about this type of term. You could perhaps extend clause 1,
to say ‘other than visits of a reasonable length by
friends or family members’ or something of this kind.
This widens it so it is clear that you are not trying to stop
someone having visitors, only to ensure that tenants only
live there from the beginning to the end of the tenancy.
No written agreement
I moved in with my
new partner and let a friend of a relative rent my property.
She has no tenancy agreement and is now three months in arrears
with the rent and refusing to leave or answer the door. Three
months ago I sent her a letter (handwritten) giving her 28
days to leave.
She has told me by phone that she has applied to the social
services who have agreed to pay her rent (both that owing
and future rent). She also said that the council has advised
her that we cannot evict her.
Can I apply to the courts for possession because of the rent
arrears and have a bailiff remove her?
At present there
is no legal requirement to have a written tenancy agreement,
though it is coming. The fact of her moving in and now having
applied for housing benefit would indicate a tenancy has been
established. I am afraid that the tenant is right, you cannot
serve her notice by giving 28 days.
You need to ask a legal stationers for a notice to evict her
using ground 8, that she owes eight weeks or more rent both
when the notice was served and when it goes to court. This
is a two week notice. You would then go to court for an order.
If she still remains, then the bailiffs would go in.
Ground 8 a mandatory ground, so there should be no argument,
but sadly, some magistrates are not aware of the law and may
allow her to make a defence – in which case, if her
housing benefit comes through, or she can provide evidence
that it will, you may not win - though as I say, you should
With my partner I
am thinking of relocating to the north of England to take
up a job opportunity. However we have only been living in
our present flat for one and half months of a 12 month tenancy
agreement (with opt out after six months with one month’s
Can we serve notice prior to the end of the six months so
that we can leave at the end of the sixth month, or could
we leave earlier still?
There should not
be a problem about serving notice to end at the end of six
months, as there is an opt out clause. Leaving earlier would
really depend on the landlord. Some will be helpful in the
circumstances outlined, others less so because of the hassle
about getting a new tenant when they thought they had a settled
tenant for six or 12 months. Discuss the matter with your
landlord, be as helpful as you can, offer to pay for the advertising.
My daughter is renting a shared house on a joint
The agreement, set up by a letting agency, is for an initial
six months, thereafter becoming a 'rolling contract' of two
After nine months my daughter, who is unable to meet the high
rent, has decided to move back home. She has written to (faxed)
the letting agent giving the required two month’s notice.
She rang up the next day to ensure that they have received
the fax and to ask if there was anything else she needed to
do. She was assured that it was fine, and there was nothing
else she needed to do and the notice had been accepted.
The letter she wrote was in the singular – she said:
‘I will be moving out’. And at no time did the
letting agency ask her if this letter was on behalf of both
It then became apparent that the agency had 'assumed' she
was writing on behalf of both tenants because they visited
the property to make an assessment with a view to re-letting
the whole property. The remaining tenant thought this was
quite funny and decided to play along with it for a while
but after a couple of weeks told the agency that she wasn't
moving out at all.
My daughter was then told that the remaining tenant would
have to sign another six month contract with a new joint tenant
or she would be responsible for replacing my daughter with
another joint tenant if she wanted to stay on. The other tenant
is reluctant to sign a new six month contract because she
may want to move out within a couple of months herself and
has not been able to find anybody 'she likes' to move in.
The letting agency called my daughter – one week before
she is was due to move out – saying that it is now her
responsibility to find someone to move into the property and
that her notice letter is void unless and until she does.
Neither her rolling contract or the previous six month tenancy
agreement mention anywhere that it is her responsibility to
Where does she stand?
I am afraid the
agents are in the right – legally her leaving a joint
tenancy invalidates the whole of the tenancy. In a joint tenancy,
the tenants are jointly and severally liable – therefore
if the tenancy continues, the remaining tenant becomes responsible
for the whole rent. The only question for me is whether they
confirmed acceptance of the notice from her in writing (in
a provable manner). If they did, then the issue has to be
with the remaining tenant, not your daughter. If not, your
daughter may find herself taken to the small claims court
for any debt which accrues. She perhaps needs to discuss this
with a solicitor.
rented a one bed ground floor flat in Fulham for two years
and moved out on 31 August last. For the last six to eight
months of the tenancy, the landlord was refurbishing the upstairs
flat, which he also owns. This involved erecting scaffolding
in our garden (of which we supposed to have sole use) and
at the front of the flat (in front of our sitting room window).
The scaffolding in the garden meant that we could not use
The workmen undertaking the work were present on numerous
weekends and on one Saturday came into our flat (while we
were there) to link the electrics to upstairs. We had no notice
of their arrival and they were there for roughly 45 minutes.
On weekday mornings we let workmen in to look at ventilation
shafts before we left for work.
We were only aware that the work was likely to be undertaken
when we received a planning notice from the council. We had
no verbal or written notice from the landlord that he wished
to affect our enjoyment of the property in this way.
I cannot find any wording in the tenancy agreement that would
allow him to enter the property for anything other than emergency
repairs or for non-payment of rent.
When we complained about this breach at the time and also
telephoned the agent at the time the electricians wanted to
come into the flat on the Saturday mentioned above. He denies
workmen were present at weekends excepting one occasion.
Can we initiate proceedings in the small claims court for
compensation of rent, and if so how should we calculate the
compensation? Does that fact that we did not complain at the
time about the breach of enjoyment covenant prejudice our
I think you need
to discuss this with a solicitor who would be better able
to advise on the likelihood of success. I can understand that
this spoiled your summer in the property and why you would
be thinking of compensation, but I think winning this may
be difficult The argument could be made by the landlord that
you allowed access, and that when the agent denied how much
access had been at weekends, you did not put your complaint
in writing. I think a stiff letter from you at some time whilst
this was going on would have helped any case in the small
on the premises
We own three self
contained flats in a converted house. We live in the ground
floor flat and rent out the two others.
We need our tenant
to renew her rental agreement but have read that the standard
assured shorthold tenancy agreement from a self help pack
is not suitable if the landlord resides in the same property
as the tenant (and the definition of property includes living
in self-contained accommodation in a converted house).
What type of agreement
should we use?
I think you need
a solicitor or the Citizens Advice Bureau to advise you. It
would depend how much of the accommodation was actually shared
– though self-contained flats sound as though there
may only be a common entrance. If the Assured Shorthold Tenancy
was not appropriate, it sounds as though the ‘tenant’
is actually there on licence. I would see the solicitor that
did the conveyancing when you bought the property –
he should know on what grounds the tenants are living there
and be able to point you in the right direction for the correct
tenancy agreement. If it is not an assured shorthold tenancy
I would draw up my own agreement.
is the difference?
Could you please advise
whether a periodic tenancy or a new tenancy agreement safeguards
the landlord most when a tenant stays on after a six month’s
shorthold tenancy agreement has run its course, and how long
statutory periodic tenancies can continue safely?
This really depends
on the stand point, do you want to safeguard your ability
to evict quickly or encourage tenants not to move on? I always
feel that if I was a tenant, I would want a new shorthold
tenancy agreement, so I would have the security of knowing
that provided I paid the rent and did not break the tenancy
agreement , the landlord could not get me out in less than
six months. On the other hand, as a landlord I would like
a statutory periodic tenancy since I would know that provided
I served two month’s notice correctly as required by
law, the tenants could be evicted fairly quickly. Then again,
if you are a landlord who is likely to be away for a few months
and want to make sure your property is safeguarded, a shorthold
tenancy agreement may mean that tenants are more likely to
stay for the full term of the agreement.
There seem to
be no restrictions in law on how long a periodic tenancy can
run, provided an assured shorthold tenancy was issued to start
with. Even so, I think I would want to review the agreement
perhaps every year or every two years, simply because the
rent would need to rise. I would re-issue a shorthold when
the rent rises – though remember there is a legal procedure
rights and wrongs
I have a lodger in
my house who I believe has stolen money and IT equipment.
Obviously I cannot prove this but when I mentioned to her
that I had informed the police because of insurance purposes
she totally hit the roof. This irrupted into a very abusive
and volatile argument in which her boyfriend became involved
and the police were called. All the argument and abuse was
in front of my five year old little girl.
I told the police I wanted her out of my house that evening
because of her bad behaviour and abuse. They told me even
though she had shouted and caused distress to my little girl
they could not advise her to leave. Unfortunately I had typed
up something on paper which she has signed and have given
her rent book, this unfortunately prohibits me from throwing
her out as she has rights.
Please can you inform me of where I stand, what are my civil
rights for removing her from home?
This is very difficult
to answer without seeing exactly what you have put in writing
to your lodger, but lodgers have very few rights in civil
law – basically the only to be given reasonable notice.
I don’t know what you put in the lodging agreement,
but I would be inclined to write this lady a courteous letter,
giving her what is reasonable notice – say, one week.
Advise her that you are happy to give her a reference to enable
her to find other accommodation and apologise for the misunderstanding.
I hope that nothing you have written would change what is
the normal procedure for a lodging agreement.
My six month lease
is expiring in one month. I have been in the property for
two years and have previously extended the lease at six monthly
intervals. I would like to stay on longer, but only on a month
to month basis, because I'm waiting to move in with a friend
who is in the process in buying a house. This could take up
to another month or maybe two.
Now I read that I
don't have to sign a new contract and that it goes on automatically
as a periodic tenancy. Is this correct and what happens if
I move out and the landlord says he will not give back my
deposit because I didn't sign a new lease?
You are correct
– a statutory periodic tenancy runs on without an agreement.
If your landlord agrees to this, which by virtue of the fact
he has either not issued a new tenancy or served you notice,
I cannot see he has grounds to withhold your deposit. I’d
discuss it with him. If he refuses to return the deposit,
take him to the small claims court.
In my experience
most landlords want to help their tenants and are not unreasonable.
However, bear in mind that it makes it difficult for the landlord
to find a replacement tenant if he is unaware when you are
leaving. Give him as much notice as you can and be flexible
when it comes to prospective tenants viewing.
My mother has been
a sitting tenant since 1943. I lived in this house from 1951
to 1976, and came back to care for my mother (who is 94) in
October 2004. I have now placed her in a home but want to
stay in the house. I have been told that since my mother is
a sitting tenant, the tenancy will be passed on to me automatically.
Do I have a legal
right to stay in this house once my mother is in a home permanently
or do I have to negotiate a new tenancy with the landlord?
You need to see
a solicitor to be quite sure about your rights. I think you
would have a right of succession had your mother lived in
the house until her death. But she has not, she has been moved
– it is no longer her home. You have lived there less
than a year and it is unlikely that the 25 years that ended
30 years ago will have much bearing – though I could
be wrong. The landlord may look on that period as a reason
to give you a tenancy, but that would almost certainly be
an assured shorthold tenancy, with rent at or near the full
Property for sale
We entered into an
assured shorthold tenancy for 12 months commencing mid July
2004. Two months ago the landlord told us he was selling the
property when our tenancy ended and had placed it with an
estate agent. There has been little interest and he has now
had a change of heart. He rang us to ask if we would be prepared
to continue to rent the property if he took it off the market.
We agreed verbally to extend our tenancy for a further 14
months at the same rent.
We have now been waiting for a new rental agreement for some
weeks. Although the existing agreement lapsed we were not
concerned, as we believed we had a statutory periodic tenancy
until the new agreement was in place. But now the landlord
has changed his mind again and says he intends to put the
property up for sale – again. However, he does not want
us to leave until the property is sold. The term ‘having
your cake and eating it’ springs to mind.
Am I correct in believing that the landlord must give us two
month’s notice to quit but we can give him one month’s
notice? Does this notice period run from the day in the month
that the original tenancy agreement was signed – so
if this is, say 14 June and the landlord gives notice on 16
June would we in effect have three month’s less two
days to move out? And do we have to allow viewings for potential
The answer to all your questions
is ‘yes’. Whilst I understand why the landlord
is acting like this, I am afraid that it appears he wants
his cake and his halfpence. Notice must follow tenancy dates,
and must be for a minimum of two months. He only has the right
to one month’s notice from you.
I would say viewings
in the last month of the tenancy are all you should be expected
to agree to – but he is unwilling to give you notice
to end the tenancy as he wants you there paying the rent until
he has sold. Explain that your quiet enjoyment would be affected
by viewings and refuse access unless you have had legal notice.
am renting a property in which I have lived for three years
and which has recently changed owners. At the outset I signed
a six month agreement but this has never been updated.
I believe the new owners want me to remain as a tenant but
I am unsure about what to do about signing a new tenancy agreement.
Do I have any extra rights because I have lived in the property
for three years, and would I lose these is I signed a new
You should sign a new tenancy
agreement to ensure you have the landlord details for repair
enquiries and the like. There have been no new rights enacted
over the last three years and therefore you would lose nothing
by signing a new agreement.
I have rented a room
in a house for a short period and I want to move out. I took
the room on a verbal agreement only and did not pay a deposit.
There was nothing said about notice periods.
Now my landlady is saying I must give at least a month’s
notice. Is there anything in law which says I must give such
I would prefer more details.
Are you lodging in a property with a resident landlady? If
so, only ‘reasonable notice’ on both sides is
required – I would think one week would be reasonable.
If you are in a house
without a resident landlady, but are a tenant in a house in
multiple occupation, you are still bound by law which says
she must give you two month’s notice (if no reason to
evict is given) and you would be expected to give one month’s
notice, though many landlords accept less.
a contract for a minimum of six months which ends on 31 August
2005. The contract states that I have to give 12 week’s
notice, but the landlady only has to give me one month’s
notice. The contract also states that there are only three
‘move-out’ dates per year. If I chose to move
out on one of these, say 31 October, I would have to give
notice by the first week in August, for example.
Although as it happens I do not have a problem meeting this
requirement, it seems rather restrictive to me. Is it legally
The landlady here has switched
things around! The Housing Act 1988 (amended by Housing Act
1996), which brought in assured shorthold tenancies, sought
to give landlords maximum repossession rights, whilst giving
tenants a clear warning of when landlords required possession.
They did this by saying landlords had to give a minimum of
two month’s notice and tenants should give landlords
one month’s notice. You cannot sign away your rights,
so the fact you have an agreement saying you can be given
one month’s notice by the landlady is irrelevant –
this would be an illegal eviction. The three months notice
on your part and ‘move-out’ dates appear to me
to be unfair contract terms and I would contact the Office
of Fair Trading, if you have a problem, though hopefully,
negotiation would clarify the situation with the landlady,
who may not be aware she is acting in what appears to be an
My landlady wants me to sign what she is calling a ‘seamless
replacement contract’. This states that we can move
out of the room we rent at any time provided we have a replacement
to fill the room who will to pay the same rent. I do not find
this acceptable and haven’t signed anything to say I
agree to this contract.
In the meantime the landlady has sent us information on where
to advertise the room.
This sounds ridiculous to me and I would be interested in
Never heard of this one before.
The landlady is obviously trying to make her life easier whilst
at the same time saying she is happy to release you from the
agreement early. This would be a very foolish thing for her
to do – how does she know that the tenant you would
happily take on would be a good tenant, someone she would
be comfortable to talk and the like. Who takes up the references
– you? Whilst as a prospective tenant I may be happy
to give my future landlord details for reference, I am not
sure I would be happy to give them to you! By all means, tell
her you would assist by allowing viewings, putting the word
out to friends, but the decision (and sorry, some of the work)
must be hers.
We have a property
comprising a number of buildings, one of which is occupied
under a protected tenancy, which we need either to sell or
refurbish. We have had informal discussions about this with
the tenants who have indicated they may be willing to move.
In such circumstances we understand that we have to find 'suitable
alternative accommodation' but we are unclear of the precise
meaning of this. Does it mean like for like, which would be
another flat that has a protected tenancy. The couple are
elderly and we want to find a solution agreeable to all parties
rather than end up in court. But so far all the local authority
has said is that we have to issue a notice to quit before
it will do anything.
'Suitable alternative accommodation’
means a property of a similar size and security as the property
of which you are attempting to gain possession. The description
can also embrace location and distance from facilities. So
a property in an area which is relatively flat could not be
replaced by a property at the top of a hill, unless the tenant
actually wants to live on the top of a hill (some people do!).
The local authority should not need to get involved unless
the couple are, because of their age, in need of a property
which provides better support for them – say, sheltered
or residential care accommodation. If that is the case, you
should not need to serve them notice for their case to be
considered for help.
I recently split with
my partner, to whom I was not married, but with whom I had
a joint tenancy. Although I informed the landlord that I had
left because I was scared for my safety he refuses to take
my name off the tenancy agreement.
Meanwhile, my former partner has no job and the housing benefit
he claims does not cover the rent in full. The landlord has
now telephoned me to say I am liable for the shortfall since
my former partner will not pay the difference between the
benefit he receives and the rent.
Please tell me if I am liable for any debt incurred since
I left and if the landlord has the right to refuse to remove
of my name from the agreement?
You need to put it in writing that you
are relinquishing your part of the tenancy, keeping a copy
yourself. The landlord can pursue you for the outstanding
debt (as you are jointly and severally liable) until the date
the tenancy is relinquished plus the notice period.
To force you to pay
the landlord would need to take you to the small claims court
– but if you have your letter of relinquishment and
any evidence you have that you were in fear (for example police
reports, presentation at Homeless Welfare, your doctor or
hospital statements), I think it unlikely that in practice
he would get very far.
My tenant gave one
month’s notice to terminate a statutory periodic tenancy
and paid the rent for the notice period but left two weeks
before its expiry. The property was immediately re-let to
a new tenant who moved in straight away. Is the first tenant
entitled to a refund of rent paid for the two week’s
he did not live in the property or does his leaving and returning
the keys make the tenancy null and void?
The notice period is supposed to cover the time needed to
find a new tenant. It would therefore seem a little unfair
on your last tenant to have payment from both him and the
new tenant for the same period. You can, of course, deduct
any costs associated with getting the new tenant – for
example the cost of advertising and drawing up a new tenancy
in the lurch
I have let my flat on a six month assured shorthold
tenancy to a couple (not married). They both signed the agreement
but the woman has since telephoned me (when the first payment
was due) to say they had split up and he had moved out. However,
she wanted to keep the flat going on her own.
Knowing she had no income (her boyfriend was the worker) I
said ‘no’; I didn't want a tenant reliant on housing
benefit. However, she assured me she would get the money some
other way and I allowed her to stay on.
I have not received rent for six weeks now, and have heard
from the neighbours that there is heavy drug usage in the
flat. Meanwhile the woman keeps fobbing me off with promises
that she never keeps. Her former partner still has the main
set of keys, but nobody knows where he is.
I've had enough. What can I do?
‘Heavy drug useage’
would almost certainly constitute some criminal activity,
otherwise how would the neighbour be aware of it? You should
involve the police.
With regard to
what you can do, the answer is probably not too much at present
unless your tenant is convicted of using the property for
illegal purposes or is causing neighbours nuisance (which
would probably take some time to get to court). However, as
soon as the tenant is eight weeks in arrears, serve a notice
using ground 8. It is a two week notice, at the expiry of
which you would go to court to obtain a court order.
As you will be
using a mandatory ground there should be no argument about
possession being granted. Remember that as the tenancy is
still valid as a joint tenancy (you have had nothing in writing
from the male to say he is relinquishing the tenancy), the
notice should be issued to both of them. You can also still
pursue the man for the debt as they are jointly and severally
Did you get referees
for him, or any contact details for next of kin? You should
not disclose information to anyone, but a courteous letter,
asking if they know where the tenant lives and would they
ask him to contact you, should be acceptable. You may find
that if you point out to the woman that he is still liable
as well as her, she may suddenly discover how he can be contacted.
of the tenancy will also effectively void it for her, in which
case, she would become an illegal occupier.
I wish to let a house
to my sister and brother in law on a lifetime guaranteed agreement,
with the property reverting back to our estate on the demise
of the surviving partner. I have a 'tenancy agreement' form
but it appears to be for short term lets. Can you please advise
me as how to proceed?
It sounds as if you are simply passing
over a lifetime interest in the property. A lawyer would advise
more fully, but I think the way to proceed would be to put
the property into a trust in which your sister and brother
in law have a lifetime interest with ownership reverting on
I have had the same tenant in my property for four
years, her 12 month shorthold tenancy agreement having been
renewed annually. My tenant has done a fair bit of internal
decorating at her own expense and I am happy for her to stay.
However I am concerned that if the tenancy continues for much
longer the tenant may gain rights that I am not aware of.
Do tenants gain specific right to a property if they have
lived there for a specific period? And can they demand that
the tenancy to be renewed?
If you continue as you are doing,
issuing new tenancy agreements, I cannot see that the tenant
will gain additional rights. As the tenancy was set up in
2001, it is unlikely to be anything other than an assured
shorthold tenancy, which was intended to allow landlords to
have maximum repossession rights. Your tenant cannot demand
a new tenancy, as failure to provide one would just result
in the tenancy becoming a statutory periodic tenancy. However,
whilst I think I as a landlord may feel that is convenient,
if I were a tenant I would probably require more security.
The best option is to discuss it with the tenant and ensure
that you are both happy with either a new tenancy or a conversion
to a statutory periodic tenancy.
I am in the third month of a one year assured shorthold tenancy.
In a routine inspection by the agent, he told me the landlady
wishes to evict me after the fourth month.
The reasons given were that there had been complaints about
the noise I make – I am a video producer so admittedly
there has been some noise but nobody has complained directly
to me, only to the landlady without giving me the opportunity
Since the visit I have been very careful to keep the noise
to a minimum.
According to the agent another reason the landlady wants me
to leave is that she has seen letters addressed to friends
in my post (these friends use my address when they are out
the country) and believes I might be subletting. I am not.
The agent was clearly able to see that the one spare room
in the flat only gets used by my daughter at the weekends.
I have now found out
that the landlady has only shared ownership of the flat. The
housing association which is the co-owner does not allow her
to sublet. It seems she is scared that her letting of the
flat to me will be discovered because of the noise complaint.
I have just settled in, I have done nothing wrong, the flat
is spotless, and rent is paid on time. I am unwilling to move
out before the 12 months is up. What rights do I have and
what can the landlady really do?
This seems to be a very unfair situation.
Before we go into what the landlady can do, we should consider
what the housing association can do, which I think is the
concern of the landlady.
The landlady must be breaking a covenant but without seeing
what agreement she has, it is difficult to know what penalty
could be imposed on her.
Regarding your own position, even if the landlady were to
use the ‘accelerated’ possession procedure the
tenancy would still have to run to the end of the 12 months.
The landlady can try to evict using a discretionary ground
for possession, when a court would have to decide whether
it was reasonable to evict you.
With regard to the noise complaint, have you thought of sending
a courteous and apologetic letter to your neighbours, saying
you were unaware of the nuisance (because they had not contacted
you) and reminding them that you have tried to keep the noise
down since you became aware of their complaints? You can say
that they can contact you any time to advise you that the
noise is unacceptable and you will try and reduce it. Keep
a copy of the letter. Eviction on ground 14 (nuisance to neighbours),
generally requires a huge body of evidence and if you show
you are trying to behave in a reasonable manner, I don’t
think you will be evicted.
Lodgers or tenants?
We let two rooms in a flat where my partner also stays when
she is working in a third room. All the facilities are shared,
as are all the utility bills.
We now wish to let the third room, meaning my partner will
no longer be in residence. Our question is, how will letting
all the rooms in the flat change the tenancies of the existing
tenants – will they change from excluded to shorthold?
You are correct – currently
the people living in the flat are lodgers. If your partner
is not in residence, they would become tenants and should
have assured shorthold tenancies issued. The other implication
though is that the house would become a house in multiple
occupation, which may mean additional facilities (such as
fire alarms and fire doors) will have to be fitted. You must
discuss this with your local environmental health department.
I have been renting
my flat for two years and my assured shorthold tenancy has
just run out so that I now have a statutory periodic tenancy.
As I know that I will be living in the area for at least another
year I would like to renew my contract and move back to an
assured shorthold tenancy because of the added security this
would provide. Do I have any way of doing this without moving
This really by negotiation with
the landlord. If he has renewed it previously, is it an oversight
that it has not been renewed this time? Or is he perhaps not
willing to tie himself into another year’s tenancy?
I can understand your desire for the additional security,
so try and discuss it with the landlord.
Wording of guarantee
We are letting a property
to three young men – one of whom has been recommended
to have a guarantor. What kind wording do I need to use in
the agreement to ensure that if the tenant defaults on the
rent the guarantor will be legally obliged to take over the
You would add a clause to your tenancy
agreement that ‘failure to pay the rent due will result
in action being taken against the rent guarantor to recover
the debt’, and you would draw up a simple guarantor’s
agreement saying something along the lines of ‘I…………..
agree to act as rent guarantor for…………………
and understand that should …………….
not pay the rent agreed, the landlord………………
will pursue me for recovery of the debt.
It is worth down-loading
the free tenancy agreement from this site which may have some
alternative appropriate wording.
The guarantor may wish to insert a limit for which he is liable,
and remember that a joint tenancy would make each tenant ‘jointly
and severally liable’ – I think I would be unhappy
as a guarantor if only one tenant was asked for a guarantor
and I could be held liable for the whole debt.
Residential Landlord has a wording that can be used. You can
obtain this by downloading the free tenancy agreement (see
Creating a business tenancy
My father has a dilemma.
He rents out garages/lock ups to individuals on a monthly
basis. He uses a very simple tenancy agreement setting out
the rights and obligations of each party. He is he is thinking
of selling one garage but is concerned he has inadvertently
created a business tenancy and will have to pay compensation
to the tenant.
Basically the tenant has been renting the garage for about
10 years and during this time has been using it to run a successful
business. My father has known about this for a long time.
The tenant runs electricity into the garage from his house
and we believe he may not have been paying rates on the garage.
The tenancy agreement states that: 'the tenant agrees with
the landlord as follows: to use the garage only for the purpose
of housing a private motor vehicle and personal chattels and
not to keep or store in the garage any materials or substances
of a combustible explosive or otherwise dangerous nature or
do anything whereby the premium for insuring the garage may
be increased or the insurance covering the garage may be vitiated'.
As you can see my father is concerned he has allowed the business
to continue without bringing the tenancy to an end. What is
I cannot help here as my
field is housing and a garage, unless properly converted,
is not housing!
As a solicitor would be required for any sale of the garage,
I would consult him or her early and find out what the position
The garage was clearly not let as commercial premises. However,
your father knew it had become so and I am unsure where this
would leave him regarding responsibility for council tax.
Has he discussed the situation with the tenant? Has he said
he is unwilling to move? Has your father offered the sale
to him? A solicitor will be aware of all the implications
and will advise what the best step is.
My current tenant,
who has a fixed term tenancy agreement, has been in my property
for nearly 12 months. If I issue another 12 month agreement
would I have to wait for the end of that period before I could
issue notice if it became necessary, say, because the rent
had fallen into arrears?
Also, I need to increase the rent, which the tenant has agreed
to, so what type of tenancy agreement should I issue and how
should I serve notice of the rent increase?
Under your current tenancy,
or a new one, you can always take possession proceedings if
the tenant falls into rent arrears. The safest way to evict
is to use a section 8 notice when the tenant has fallen eight
weeks or more into arrears – this is a mandatory ground
8 notice so there should be no argument. You would also include
grounds 10 and 11, which always apply if there is a ground
8 and are a safeguard, in case some rent is paid in the meantime
so as to make ground 8 invalid (though not enough to reassure
you that the tenant will remain in credit).
If you issue a new 12
month tenancy, you could not use a section 21 accelerated
possession procedure although you may think it is worth issuing
this at the beginning of the tenancy with the new tenancy
As the tenant has agreed to the rent increase, there is no
real need to issue a new tenancy agreement, it could become
a statutory periodic tenancy. However, issuing a new agreement
safeguards you should an argument about rent occur in the
future. Write into the tenancy agreement that the rent will
be increased yearly or biannually. At the expiry of the this
tenancy agreement, you could let it run as a statutory periodic
and notify the tenant of the increase on a Landlord’s
notice proposing a new rent under an Assured Periodic tenancy
of premises situated in England (same form, but ‘Wales’
instead of ‘England’ if you are in Wales), obtainable
from a legal stationers.
Stick with an assured shorthold tenancy as you do want to
obtain possession at some time and this is the normal tenancy