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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 69355
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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Hello, I have a question regarding my tenancy agreement. Here

Customer Question

Hello,
I have a question regarding my tenancy agreement. Here is the background:
In June last year I signed a one year contract to rent a property in Basingstoke. At the beginning of May this year two things happened: the agency sent me a renewal contract until October and at the same time I agreed to a job offer in another country. So, I never signed the renewal contract and I told the property agency of my relocation plans on 15th of May. I have informed them consequently that I will be vacating the property at the end of this month. However, they have now sent me a letter for break of contract which states the following - "because the end date of the tenancy agreement is 29th of November you are legally responsible for the rent until a new tenant is secured and you owe us half a month rent fee for breaking the contract". When I asked the property agent how am I legally responsible for this fee and for the rent they told me that this is in the terms and conditions that I have signed. I read the terms and conditions and the fee is stated there but not the obligation for the rent until they find a new tenant. Now, my question is - do they have any legal right to impose me to such responsibility with just a letter in case this hasn't been agreed in the contract. Second, in case that I haven't signed the contract do they have the right to request this fee, having in mind that I have given them three months notice.
Best regards,
Alexandra
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
HI.

Thank you for your question . My name is Jo and I will try to help with this.

What is the end date of your original contract please?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi,


the end date of the original contract was 31st of May.


Best regards,


Alexandra

Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
Thanks.

I'm sorry if I'm missing the point but if you didn't sign the new agreement is there any reason that you seem to accept that you are bound until November?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi,


I don't accept to be bound until November but here is a copy from the letting agent.


 


Dear Alex,


 


 


RE: VACATING DURING A FIXED TERM CONTRACT -

 


We understand you wish to vacate the above property early, but as your contract does not expire until the 29TH NOVEMBER2013, you need to be aware of the following points:


 




  • The landlord is happy to release you from the contract, SUBJECT to finding a replacement tenant.




  • You are legally responsible for the rent until a new tenant is secured




  • You are liable for a Break of Contract fee of £337-50 + VAT = £405-00




  • You are also responsible for all utilities until the start date of the new contract




  • We agree that the above amount can be deducted from the deposit held




 


Please confirm the date you wish to leave the above property, subject to the above.


If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact our office.


 


SIGNED:……………………………………………………..DATED:…………………


 


SIGNED:……………………………………………………..DATED:………………...


 


PLEASE NOTE WE WILL NOT ADVERTISE THE PROPERTY UNTIL THIS LETTER HAS BEEN SIGNED AND RETURNED.


 


 


Yours sincerely,


For OLIVER THORNE


 


 


 


When I tried telling the letting agent numerous times that I haven't signed the contract and that I do not agree with this letter here is what they said.


 


"It states that you are liable for the rent on the break of contract letter, the reason for this is because you have signed a contract to state you will be at the property until November and the landlord has agreed to rent to you until November. Due to your change of circumstances the landlord shouldn’t be out of pocket, hence the reason you are liable for the rent."


 


Best regards,


Alexandra

Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
And just to confirm, in fact you have not signed it ?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I have not signed it.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
Thanks

I just need about 10 mins to type out an answer if thats ok?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Yes, thank you very much.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
Thanks the information

If you didn't sign the renewal then it seems to me that they cannot rely on it. With ASTs they needed a signed renewal to argue you are bound by a subsequent one. I suppose they could try to rely on it but its not likely to succeed.

In any event though, it makes very little difference. If you are on an AST then you are locked in until November but they are under a duty to mitigate their loss by finding another tenant which will not take them until November. Usually where an agent is acting diligently they can relet within a month.

If you are not on an AST though you cannot just walk out. You will be a fixed periodic agreement and you need to give no less than one months notice on or before the rent date. If you gave notice on the 14th then that would cover you until the end of July.

Furthermore, if you are moving to another country they are not going to pursue you there. Its not worth the manpower to sue cross border.

Can I clarify anything for you?

Jo

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