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Joshua
Joshua, Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 26070
Experience:  LL.B (Hons), Higher Prof. Dip. Law & Practice
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In May 2013 we moved into a house on a 36 month contract. We

Customer Question

In May 2013 we moved into a house on a 36 month contract. We were told by the letting agent that the landlord wanted someone who could commit to 3 years as he was moving to Kuwait for work.
We did ask what if he wanted to come back and were verbally told that it is a 3 year contract and it was a long term commitment from both parties (unless we didn't pay rent). Our landlord (through the letting agent) has sent us an email stating that the landlord wants to return (claiming he's been made redundant) and i quote "I have attached a copy of the tenancy agreement for your reference. The Landlords are incredibly keen to reach an amicable agreement with you to end the tenancy early. They have also said they will have to seek legal advice with regards XXXXX XXXXX open to them, principally with regards XXXXX XXXXX 1 of the housing act which is outlined at the top of page 13 of your tenancy agreement."
We did sign the contract but didn't initial each page and I can't believe that it can be a fair contract if we cannot break it at anytime however the landlord can?
We are settled and have long term plans (3 children in local schools/nurary) due to our commitment to the contract.
Will we be forced to leave do we have rights to fight their course of action?
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Joshua replied 3 years ago.

Joshua :

Hello and thank you for your question. I will be very pleased to assist you. I'm a practicing lawyer in England with over 10 years experience.


Joshua :

Do you consider that the agreement you have been sent is what you signed or do you consider it has been altered in some way please?

Customer:

I do not believe the contract has been altered hoiwever I did ask the letting agents on more than one occassion what would happen if the landlord wanted to come back and no mention of this clause was ever given in fact the opposite. It's a long term agreement.

Joshua :

Thank you. With your permission I will be with you in just a few moments...

Joshua :

Sorry for the short delay. Could you advise what the relevant section of page 13 of the tenancy says please?

Joshua :

Do you have any of the assurances that the landlord had no intention to want the property back during the tenancy and so in in writing or was this just verbal?

Customer:

The landlord gives notice to the tennant that possession of the premises may be sought under ground 1 of part 1 of schedule 2 of the housing act 1988 in that;

Customer:

At some time before the beginning of the tenancy the landlord, or in the case of joint landlords at least one of them, occupied the premises as his only or principal home; or in the case of joint landlords at least one of them, requires the premises as his or his spouce's only principal home

Customer:

The above is related to page 13

Joshua :

Thank you. Does the agreement describe itself as an assured shorthold tenancy or a non shorthold assured tenancy?

Customer:

No assurances in writing but we did ask on more than one occasion what would happen if they wanted to come back, I was told verbally that it is a 3 year contract so the long term commitment is made from both sides and cannot be broken (unless we don't pay our rent). I would have never signed the contract without those assurances from Dexter's the letting agent, however stupidly I have not got that in writing

Joshua :

Are there any break clauses in the tenancy giving either of you a right to end the tenancy early - aside from the ground 1 provision?

Customer:

assured shorthold tenancy

Customer:

It states that we might be able to leave the property early if agreed by the landlord and suitable replcement tennants can be found

Joshua :

Thanks.

Customer:

Actually it states -

Customer:

Strictly with the landlord's or his agent's prior written consent and subject to certain conditions that may include the landlords reasonable costs associated with the re-letting of the premises, the tennant MIGHT be allowed surrender or give up this tenancy before it could be lawfully ended.

Joshua :

Thanks. This would appear to be a classic case of the agent telling you (reassuring you) of one thing whilst putting something entirely different in the tenancy agreement. To start with the legal position. s8 Housing Act provides a number of grounds which a landlord can use in order to end a tenancy during the fixed period. These can be seen here (you only need look at ground 1):

Joshua :

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1988/50/schedule/2

Joshua :

It is possible for a landlord to seek to recover possession of a property before the end of the fixed tenancy period using ground 1 if either he or his spouse have lived in the property as his main home and if he gives notice to the tenant that he may seek to recover possession under ground 1 unless the court allow the requirement for the notice to be dispensed with which is rare.

Joshua :

The landlord will argue that he has given you the required notice which on the face of what you say he has. If you believe the tenancy agreement has been changed and the notice added then you can put the landlord to strict proof that he gave you notice claiming that you do not believe the notice was in the original agreement. If you have not initialed each page it may be less than straightforward for the landlord to prove as much but it would be up to a judge ultimately who he believed on this point.

Joshua :

Had you obtained any of the agents assurances in writing this would be a simple matter as there would be very little chance of the landlord being able to recover under ground 1 if you had evidence of such assurance despite the notice. That you have not will mean if you choose to defend your position you will need to consider your and any other statements as to the agents reassurances on this point. You could ask the agents to confirm what they told you but I would very surprised if they did so.

Customer:

They informed us yesterday and are wanting to return in April, can we argue that we need more time as to not panic rent but get the right property in the right area for our childrens schools?

Customer:

Or claim compensation for removal costs etc.

Joshua :

In terms of where you go from there, notwithstanding the above arguments, you have a right to two clear months notice under ground 1 of section 8 and can refuse to leave even then. The landlord would need to issue possession proceedings to evict you which will take several months to conclude which you can defend using some of the above arguments. Whether or not your defence would be successful would principally turn on whether you can argue a) you were not given notice under ground 1 in the tenancy and it has been changed and/or whether you can convince a judge of the assurances you sought and were given.

Joshua :

Alternatively you could dispense with the above and negotiate an agreement with the landlord that you can live with.

Joshua :

It is one of many lessons we all learn to get anything of importance particularly from a lettings agent in writing and not to trust anything they tell you verbally unless they commit it to writing.

Joshua :

However you do have rights as above and you need not necessarily simply concede if you consider you can successfully make some of the above arguments.

Joshua :

Is there anything above I can clarify for you any further?

Customer:

No thank you for your time

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