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Stuart J
Stuart J, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 22387
Experience:  PGD Law. 20 years legal profession, 6 as partner in High Street Practice
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Good afternoon, Could you please help me with the following?

Customer Question

Good afternoon,

Could you please help me with the following?

I currently live in a 2 bed, 2 bath house. The tenancy agreement (fixed term 26 months to June 2013) is under my name between the Landlord and me. I have given notice to my Landlord 2 months ago and I am vacating the property in 10 days (as agreed with the Landlord).

My contract stipulates that if I break the agreement before the end of the fixed term (26months) that I have to pay 10% + VAT "letting fee" of each month prior to the end of the tixed term. The letting agent sent me a letter for paying this fee before I leave ( £530= 10% + vat of monthly rent x 3 months). The property is meanwhile being marketted for the next tenant to move in right after my move out date.

Since the Landlord agreed that she was happy with me leaving, I have contested this fee but was told that it is in the contract that I signed(which is true).

Over the last 23 months, I have faced various challenges in this property, the heating not worlking properly (finally fixed by the landlord 6 months after 1st enquiery), damp in the bedroom (causing me to be sick), non hygenic bathroom (tiles in bathroom coming off, still not fixed) and this morning, electrocuted while taking a shower.
Regarding the latter, a maintenance man came in this afternoon and said that a water pipe was leaking, he patched it and said that I should not be using the bathroom as the electric wires may still be wet and that it could cause a fire.

I am now vacating the property on the 2nd of March and was wondering whether the above could give me ground to dispute the letting fee that I am required to pay per the contract that I signed.

Is it something that I can do?

Thank you for your help
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.

Is this an AST?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Yes it is

Expert:  Stuart J replied 3 years ago.

I have been asked to look at this for you. What does 10% + VAT "letting fee" of each month mean?

Is it 10% per month early?

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you Law, please see below the exact language.


"This is a fixed term tenancy agreement for the period specified (Please refer to clause 5.7). There is no provision for the
Tenant/s or the Landlord/s to terminate the agreement before the expiration of the fixed period. In the event that both
parties agree to vary this clause rent will be due up until the end of this agreement or when the Landlord or a new Tenant
takes possession of the said property. In addition the Tenant will reimburse the Landlord the letting commission (10% of
the rent + vat) from the date of early termination until the date that this contract was originally to expire."



Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi Law,


Thank you for looking at my case.


As you have read in the description of my case her above, I have been electrocuted in my shower this morning and the use of one of the bathroom can cause real health and safety issue.


My question is the following:


Could that whole wording I just sent you (about the letting comission) be overruled shall the Landlord notifies me and the letting agency that I need to leave the premises on the 1st of March because the property needs major health and safety refurbishment.


Could that work?



Expert:  Stuart J replied 3 years ago.

Thank you. That makes sense

I think you are bound to pay
the early termination charge.

However, I think you are
entitled to compensation in respect of the various problems.?

The difficulty you have is
valuing the worth of the various problems.

My suggestion would be to tell
them that (without prejudice) you accept that you are liable for the early
termination charge, but you will have been advised that the landlord is liable
to pay you compensation in respect of the various problems with the property.

I would tell them that your
compensation probably would work out more than the early termination charge,
however, you are willing to forego your compensation if they forego the early
termination charge.

I am very concerned about the
electrical shock you had. This should really be reported to the Environmental
Health Department at the local Council because this is a threat to life. It
might be worth while saying that you have been advised to do just that.

Can I help further?

Please bear with me today because I will be
online and off-line.

Please don't forget to positively rate my answer service (even if it was not
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get paid at all for my time and answer.

The thread remains open.

Thank you.

Stuart J, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 22387
Experience: PGD Law. 20 years legal profession, 6 as partner in High Street Practice
Stuart J and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you Law. Would you have an example of letter about how I could word that?

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you Law. Would you be able to provide me with an example of letter that I could use?



Expert:  Stuart J replied 3 years ago.

We are not allowed to draft
letters I am afraid.

I would probably have a quiet
word and then, if they agree, simply confirm what you have agreed.

If they don't agree, both you
and they are faced with court

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Good morning Law,


Thank you for your recommnendation.


I did pass the message to the Real Estate Agency who came back with the following; "Your litigation is between you and the Landlord, not us. We are afraid that you still have to pay the letting comission".


Could you please let me know what would be the best course of action at this stage?


The letting comission is due to be paid to the Landlord (as per contract). Can the agency be liable for anything that happened (as they are the one who marketted the property to me)?


Kind regards,

Expert:  Stuart J replied 3 years ago.

As I said, I think you are
liable for the letting fee, but by the same token, eligible for compensation.

I would wait until the
landlord chased me for the letting fee and then hit him back with a
compensation claim.

I wouldn't bother with the
agent, they are simply that, the agent

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you Law.


One last question. Can my deposit be withheld (by the agency or the landlord) until this is sorted? What should I do shall they decide to go down that road?


About the Landlord, so far, I have only spoken on the phone to the agent (she is at this stage not aware of those talks - as far as i know). Shall I have the same discussion I had with the agent with her or just wait that she asks for the fee?


PS: The agent has sent me an invoice (for the letting comission). The payment is meant to go to the same account to which I pay my rent ("ThamesView estate agent").


Kidn regards,

Expert:  Stuart J replied 3 years ago.

Yes, it can be withheld and landlords and agents seem to
use any excuse to withhold it whatsoever. Don't hang around, if they do that,
simply file a dispute.

I would wait till the landlord asks for the fee.

It seems somewhat surprising that the agent sent you the
invoice. If it is due to the landlord. I bet the agent would decide to take
some money out of it for some spurious fee or other!

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Good afternoon Law,


There has been further development on the same case. It is pretty difficul to put it all in writting. Is there a number I can reach you at? It would just take 5minutes.


Kidn regards

Expert:  Stuart J replied 3 years ago.

we are not allowed to have contact outside the site,
sorry. It is so that there is a complete and accurate contemporaneous note of
our exchange

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Sure, I understand, thanks.



I moved out of the property on the 03/03/2013 and dropped the keys at the flat today (04/03/2013) at lunch time.


The agent called this morning to say that:

1) They found a new tenant moving in 25th of March

2) The landlord needs to do 6 days of work in the house

3) I am due to pay the rent until the 19th (6 days before new tenant moves in). I argued that the landlord agreed since January that I move out on the 3rd of March hence do not understand why I should pay rent until the 19th and was told that there is a difference between moving out and end of paying rent date.

4) I still have to pay the 10% letting fee from the 25/03/2013 to the 05/06/2013


Total cost for me is about £1630 (rent £1200 + letting fee £430), they want to take it of my deposit.


As said before, I went to the property at lunch time and found the builders there. They started the work this morning. They said they agreed this date with the landlord 2 weeks ago. They are aware that I was electrocuted and told me they are changing the upstairds toilet that was leaking. As you understand, the agent lied to me this morning about the starting date of the work (he said on the phone this morning the Landlord would start the work on the 19th).


The contract says that "rent will be due up until the end of this agreement or when the Landlord or a new tenant takes possession of the property".


By lettting the builder the in the property today without telling me and making bith bathrooms unusable ( I have taken pictures at lunch time), is it right to say that the Landlord has "taken possession" of the property, hence I cannot be due to pay rent after my move out date (03/03/2013).


Finally, I have tried to speak to the Landlord and the agent and none recognises that various elements that created health and saftey issues in the apartment. Since I have to pay those 10% fees, I would like to be comissionned for all the hassles of disfunctioning items and the electrocution shock. What is the best way to proceed forward?


Thank you for your help


Expert:  Stuart J replied 3 years ago.

You have to pay rent until the day you move out unless
you have agreed something to the contrary.

You are not responsible for the rent if the builders are
in there and the landlord seems to want his cake and eat it. He wants rent
while he is having work done. Yes, I agree with you

The landlord has clearly taken possession of the

I can understand that you want compensation for all the
grief that you have had over the period and if they refuse to refund your
deposit, you are faced with issuing proceedings in the Small Claims Court.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.


Thank you Law.



The contract says


" No deductions can be made from the Deposit without written consent from both Parties of the Tenancy Agrerement"




" the Agent muslt tell the Tenant within 10 working days of the end of the tenancy if they propose to make any deductions from the deposit".


And finally


"Payment of the Deposit or any balance of it will be made within 10 working days of the Landlord and the Tenant agreeing the allocation of the deposit".



Since the Landlord has taken possession of the property today, am i still liable for inventory and cleaning? I did clean the flat this week end but the builders were in and it did not look that clean when I was there at lunch time.


I believe the tenancy agreement is now over, am I right? What procedure would you recommend so I can get my deposit back asap?

Expert:  Stuart J replied 3 years ago.

The inventory and cleaning should have been done before you moved out. If it wasnt clean, then he can charge you but he cannot send builders in and then charge you.

Yes, the tenancy is over.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you Law.


The agent is refusing that the landlord took possession of the property yesterday by starting the work there and want to keep the rent until the 19th out of my deposit.


Could you please let me know what is the best way to proceed?


Kind regards

Expert:  Stuart J replied 3 years ago.
I would tell them that if he deducts rent until 19th you will sue him in small claims court. Simples.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you Law.


From there different answers ( and the agent hanging up on me earlier), I beleive they are ready to go down this road. Can I ask you, what will be the cost for me to follow this path? How likely am i to recover my funds?


My deposit is due 10 days after end of tenancy agreement.


They are recognising end of tenancy agreement on the 19th of March, hence paying me back my deposit 10 days after that.


How can I enforce this payment before? When should I start to take action to claim back my deposit?


Sorry for all the questions but never been in this situation before and really not sure of where to start.



Expert:  Stuart J replied 3 years ago.

Court fees are here.

look on page 2. If you are claiming between £500 of
£1000 online, it will cost you 60 quid. If you turn to Page three. You will see
that there is an allocation fee of £40 if the claim is over £1500.

If you issue proceedings and he doesn't pay up,
there is a hearing fee which is shown on page 4. They are the only costs which
are at risk. You get those back if you win or lose them if you lose. Even if he
uses solicitors, he does not get those costs back.

I think it worth going for from the facts you have
given me and let a judge decide whether he is in the right or he is in the

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you Law.


Below is my last email to the agent, ccing the landlord, and the rent collector.


In order to start to take the matter to small court, how would recommend to proceed?





Email sent today (afternoon)


Dear Ben,


I just called your office and spoke to Jacob about the end of my tenancy agreement.


He hang up the phone without giving me full justication on the below.


Michaele said yesterday on the phone that the landlord would start the work on the 19th of March (see below email) and just now admitted that he gave the key to the builder yesterday so they can carry the work. Which one is it exactly?


Also, I am not sure I understand how I can be responsible for a property if your agency or the landlord gives access to third parties without notifying me.


Is there anyone else I can talk to as I still do not understand why I am responsible for the property?






Other email sent on 04/03/2013 (afternoon)


Dear Ben,


Further to the below email.


I am reluctant to pay any rent for the property at xxxxxxxxxxxxx after the agreed move out date of 3rd March (the Landlord agreed and you were fully aware of this date since January). I do not believe that I am legally responsible for the invoiced amount of £893.26.


The rent invoice initially stated that I will be responsible for the rent up until the 25th March, this has now been amended to 19th March. The reason behind this, as stated in your email and explained by a colleague of yours (Michael) on the phone this morning, is because this date is when the landlord takes possession of the property to start the work that is needed inside.


I went to the property at 12.30pm today as agreed to drop off my keys. You may then understand my surprise to find people in the house and the work to have begun in full force today. This means that therefore instead of taking possession of the property on 19th to start work, the landlord has in fact taken possession of the property on 4th March which fits in perfectly with my move out date of 3rd March.


The contract states that ‘rent will be due up until … the landlord or a new tenant takes possession of the … property’. The above therefore negates my responsibility to pay the invoiced amount.


As the landlord has taken possession of the property and agreed to receive my keys at 12.30pm today I believe that I am no longer liable for the rent or the property under the contract that has been signed.





PS: Attached are few pictures (of both the upstairs and downstairs bathrooms) taken today (04th of March) showing that the building work has already started. According to the builder, the job was agreed with the landlord to start on the 04th of March 2013, about 2 weeks ago.


Email sent on 04/03/2013 (in the morning)


Dear Ben,


As per our phone call this morning, I will be leaving the 2 set of keys for the property above at around 12:30PM.


The keys will be on the shelves opposite the entrance door.


NB: As indicated before, for safety and security reason, shall you need to do a viewing, please do not switch the light on in the downstairs bathroom.


Kind regards,


Expert:  Stuart J replied 3 years ago.
Ask the direcxt question, are you getting refund calculated to the day you gave the keys back or not? If not you will issue small claims court proceedings on X date unless you get paid everything due before then
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you Law.


One of my friend said he had a similar story and had to pay his landlord. Apparently the landlord allowing me to vacate the property does remove my responsability for the property nor to pay rent until the new tenant moves in.

Also, the landlord has the right to carry the work in the property but this does not mean that she took possession of it. He said that I am in breach of the contract (despite the landlord agreeing me to leave earlier) and that it should not occur any loss to the landlord. As a result I have to pay this rent.


Regarding the agent fee, he said it is the first time he sees it and that it could be an unfair fee but that I would have to get a sollicitor to dispute it.


I was wondering, do I still have any chance in small claims court if the law authorizes this?


Thank you

Expert:  Stuart J replied 3 years ago.

Agreed BUT the Lnaldord has taken possession. If that werent the case you could move back in. Clearly you cant, can you? It would depend if the landlord could move out immediately and you move back in.

Dont waste money on solicitors, let the judge decide.

I would still take this to court if it were my money, on these facts.

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