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Thomas
Thomas, Lawyer
Category: UK Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 6445
Experience:  BA (Hons), PgDip, Practising Solicitor
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Hello, we broke our tenancy contract early after talking with

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Hello, we broke our tenancy contract early after talking with the landlord and giving ample n otice, they agreed that we could vacate the property so long as a replacement was found etc. This was all done and we had the place professionally cleaned and handed back the keys, which were accepted. A day later - after the checkout inventory was supposed to be done we were told that the tenants had pulled out and we were liable for the rent. The estate agents also said we owed them an early vacation fee and we also know that they will have taken a �500 holding deposit for the property. We have argued that they failed to tell us that the tenants had decided not to move in, in a fair time. Did not return keys to us, which we feel is deemed acceptance of end of tenancy and that the holding deposit would cover the outstanding rent for nearly 2 weeks. The estate agent also lied that he made contact with us, which we have all in email. our deposit has still not been returned
Submitted: 2 years ago via Tenancy Agreement Service.
Category: UK Property Law
Expert:  Thomas replied 2 years ago.

Hi
Thanks for your question.
To enable me to answer your question could you please respond to the following using the same numbering:-
1. What was the rent under the tenancy?
2. How much longer of the fixed term remained at the point at which you vacated?

Kind regards.
Tom
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Hi, many thanks for coming back to me.
The rent was £1430pcm under the tenancy.
We had 1 and 3/4 months left.

They have charged us a £370 vacation fee, which is based on the remainder of the outstanding rent. Which is an unchanged invoice.

The estate agents told us they tried to call us to let us know of the cancellation of new tenants, but actually lied and made no effort to call us, instead they emailed later than afternoon. They have made no effort to return the keys to us either.
Expert:  Thomas replied 2 years ago.
Hi,

Thanks for your reply.

The first thing to say is that the agent acts for the landlord, not for you. You cannot rely on them to do anything in your best interests.

The position is that if a tenant vacates a property any earlier then the fixed term then they remain liable for the remaining rent under the tenancy agreement UNLESS and new tenant occupies the property as their replacement.

If the agents agreed that you would remain liable for the rent until the property is occupied then this is no more than the position at law. If the tenants did not occupy the property then you would remain liable for the rent unless the agents agreed to release you from the rent irrespective of whether the tenant actually occupied. They are under a duty to mitigate their loss, which in practical terms means that if they sued you for the rent then they would only get judgement against you on the amount of rent you would have paid up till the point at which the property was or could have been relet.
Really, they should have told you that the property was not reoccupied, but you have not helped yourself by not contacting them constantly since vacation to confirm completion, so – although you will certainly feel this is unfair – i think the blame is to be partly shared here.
If the rent was that high and you had 1 ¾ months left then there’s potentially a sizeable judgement that can be obtained against you. It’s reasonably common for landlord’s to get judgement of between 1-2 months depending on local conditions, so it’s conceivable that they could get judgement on the whole of the rent from when you left up to the end of term.
If they are charging £370 total as a result of your leaving early then that’s probably not too bad a deal. If they are attempting to take the whole of your £500 deposit on top of this then it’s less of a good deal but still within the range of money judgements they may get at county Court. I would attempt to negotiate this down as much as you can before agreeing and making sure that you have it in writing from them that the money they claim is in full and final settlement and discharge of their breach of contract claim against you for the early vacation.
I am sorry it could not be better news and appreciate that you consider their conduct to be underhand but if they made your vacation subject to successful reletting then they still have you on the hook unfortunately.
If this has been useful please kindly click accept so that I may be rewarded for my time. If you do not click accept your money stays with the site and I do not receive any credit for the time I have taken to answer your question. You will not be charged any further money for clicking accept.

If you wish for me to provide you with further guidance on any question you may have in the future then please submit a further question to the board requesting me either by my profile or by marking your question. “FAO Tom”.


Kind regards,


Tom
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Hi Tom,

thanks for this. I am not sure I was 100% clear. The re-letting was successfuluntil 3 hours until after the check out was done and 24 hours after we moved out and returned the keys. As far as we are concerned we did everything we could have done and fulfilled the contract and agreement.

The £370 is a fee charged ontop of the full amount of rent as a 'fee for early vacation' we have consistently tried to get a breakdown of where this goes, but they fail to respond. The £500 will have been taken as a holding deposit from the new tenants who pulled out. It will have been kept by the estate agent. This means that they are asking us for nearly £3500 if we are to pay rent.

I add to this that we have just bought a new house and are getting married in 4 months. I am just not sure

I should also add that during teh tenancy we sorted out and paid for - at massive inconvenience - to ourselves several issues with the property that couldn't be fixed by the landlord - who we were in direct contact with - because they live in Australia. E.g. having an electricity meter put in as they were getting electricity from the mains. Bringing in a new fridge (having previously paid for several fixing attempts) because it kept breaking, which was a problem the LL had before we moved in and had failed to fix when they moved to Australia.

The £370 is the early vacation fee taken from April 3rd when we were deemed to have moved out. They are still requesting this, which appears to me that if we pay that then essentially it is deemed acceptance of our vacation.

We have no problem paying this or reasonable monies, but the full rent on the basis that the estate agent has failed to do their job and notify the persons responible for the rent, seems to breach any duty.

Many thanks

Rebecca
Expert:  Thomas replied 2 years ago.
Hi Rebecca,

I'm afraid that a tenant either signs a tenancy agreement or they don't - this is the test for whether a property has been relet. I accept that you consider you have done your utmost but it's a question of whether the property was actually relet, not whether you have made every effort to get it relet.

So, in total they are asking for £3500 from you because of your early vacation. Correct?

What has actually happened to your deposit?

Has the property actually been relet since the original failure at reletting? If so, when after your vacation was this?

Tom

Customer: replied 2 years ago.
They haven't relet it yet. It is currently empty.

They have just invoiced us for this months rent and next months - which is weird as the LL and us agreed it was fine to leave the contract early so long as they found someone, which Dexters would do and were being paid to do. The fact they are now invoicing us for that seems to me like they are not even bothering to let it.

Ultimately we don't have the money to pay this £3500.

They still have out £2000 deposit.
Expert:  Thomas replied 2 years ago.
Hi Rebecca,

If they have not relet the property then they can seek to claim the remaining rent on the property and can propose to deduct this from the deposit.

If you do not agree with the deduction then you can initiate the dispute resolution process run by the Tenancy Deposit Scheme provider. You can request details of the relevant scheme from the agent.

Ultimately, it is your responsibility to see that the property is relet because you are the breaching party. There is nothing to stop you being in constant contact with them and/or attempting to find a replacement tenant for the property yourself.

If they have not put any great effort in to reletting the property then it may be that the landlord has a claim against them for their lack of service under the Supply of Goods and Services Act, but you do not have contract with them for them to find another tenant.

If you paid for items that the the landlord should have provided under the tenancy agreement and gave the landlord adequate notice that he needed to repair then you can attempt to use this as an argument for why the amount of rent you owe should be reduced but they may not accept this and then you will have to fight it out in litigation.

Sorry it could not be better news but you vacated early without a replacement tenant taking over the tenancy. Tenant's are never advised to leave without a replacement tenant have signed a tenancy agreement, if they do then they leave themselves exposed to liability, which is - I regret to say - what we have here. I'm very sorry.

I trust this clarifies, please click accept.

Kind regards,

Tom
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
So what exactly is the £370 and the £500 that the estate agent are charging? I mean, our LL pay them to rent the property. They don't manage the property. Why are we being charged for so much and also, where do they expect us to get this money from?
Expert:  Thomas replied 2 years ago.
Hi,

I'm not sure what those fees are for. Under contract law (ie. your tenancy agreement) then the landlord would be permitted to sue you for the remaining rent.

If the contract also specifies that you shall pay the reasonable fees of the agents in checking the property once you have vacated then you will have to pay these as well, but they can't be extortionate, they must be reasonable. If they are claiming a checkout fee then this would certainly be less than £370.00. If they are claiming further monies simply on the basis that you have vacated early then this could potentially be a penalty if they are claiming the whole of the rent aswell. Penalties in these agreements are not lawful.

If they were claiming a vacation fee instead of the remaining rent on the contract then they would be able to claim this, and presumably you would be okay with it because it's less than the total rent remaining.

Please click accept.

Kind regards,

Tom
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Ah, this makes sense. thank you.

The problem we have is with the estate agent. not the LL, who we have always dealt directly with and have had a good relationship with sorting many of the flat issues out, out of good will.

They are now not replying to us and the estate agents are not only actively lying to us (Which we have caught them out on, on several occasions), but are charging us unreasonable fees.

They have also just asked us for May's rent, which is odd because even if we still had keys to the property and lived there, it would be asked for until May 1st.

So, can we ask for the keys back then if we are still paying rent?
Expert:  Thomas replied 2 years ago.
Hi Rebecca,

To be quite honest I'm not 100% on the keys issue. If you had surrendered the keys subject to the property being relet then I would say yes if it has not been relet.

If you have surrender the keys without mentioning reletting it's much less clear. I say this because I obviously can't comment on the conversations had with the agent.

If you are simply relying on the agents word that the property has not been relet then I should think it would be prudent to actually physically check the property yourselves, more so if you consider they have lied previously.

Please click accept. I think I've answered your original question.

Tom
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Do I rate the answer on your service, or on the actual favour of advice?
Many thanks by the way.
Expert:  Thomas replied 2 years ago.
On my service and attention provided to you, not on whether the answer was the one which was actually favourable to you.

I'd hope you'd have a different answer depending on whic was being asked!.

Tom
Thomas, Lawyer
Category: UK Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 6445
Experience: BA (Hons), PgDip, Practising Solicitor
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