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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 70404
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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The flat that my friend are I are renting has rising damp in

Customer Question

The flat that my friend are I are renting has rising damp in one of the bedrooms. The issue has been on-going for 6months with no resolve and my friend and I now want to end the tenancy, however our contract does not end until May 3rd. Our landlords gave us the option of moving out, when we first became aware of the issue and now have refused to let us end the tenancy until 28th Feb, with the flowing additional terms:
From our perspective there are a number of considerations that mean in summary we would be ok to agree to this if the end date were end of February 2015 or later.
• In effect this means agreeing a 2 month notice period starting the beginning January 2015
• You would vacate the property on Feb 28 (saturday)
• Your acknowledgement that the situation could get worse (nobody knows at this stage) as we will be postponing the work from Kenwood until the end of your tenancy to avoid disruption to yourselves
• No further discussions on rent reductions (or reimbursements) covering the tenancy period
• We would still review the security deposit in the usual way at the end of the tenancy period i.e. relative to the condition of the property when you leave
To end the agreement sooner we would have to request that you pay the pro-rata difference in our estate agent fees paid on the condition of a full years tenancy.
Please could you advise what rights we have as tenants?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
Hi.
Thank you for your question. My name is ***** ***** I will try to help with this.
Are you asking if you can end the contract consequence free?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Relist: Incomplete answer.
Hi Jo,
Thank you for your help. Yes we are hoping to end the contract consequence free.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Hi Jo,

Yes we are hoping to end the contract consequence free, as we feel the issue has gone on for 6 months with very limited attempts to resolve the matter.

Thank you

Becky

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
I am sorry but its bad news although the liability may not be as bad as you think.
I know this isn’t going to be the answer you want to hear, and it’s certainly not what I want to tell you. However, I wish to be completely honest with you, so I feel obligated to not give you false hope.
Unfortunately ASTs are very hard to escape. You pretty much have to show that the property is gutted by fire damage or flooding and so you cannot live in it. Another acceptable reason would be that a person's life is in immediate danger like a gas leak.
I'm afraid that things like change of circumstances of the tenant or the fact that the premises is not salubrious is not sufficient.
You could try to negotiate with the landlord. Sometimes they will agree to allow tenants to leave as its in their interests too on occasions.
If that is not possible here then I'm afraid you will be acting unlawfully if you leave early. However the landlord is under a duty to mitigate his loss by seeking a replacement tenant and he will not get forever to achieve that. Realistically, if a landlord is really trying, most properties can be let to another tenant comfortably within a month. You will only be liable up until the time that the landlord is able to replace you which will be nothing like the remaining months due under the contract.
Of course, there is a risk that the landlord will not be able to find a replacement. If so, the Court will ask him to prove that he has looked for a replacement. If he is able to do so to the Court's satisfaction then you would be liable for that period but that is very unlikely.
That is not to say that you don't have a disrepair claim. If the landlord has failed to maintain the property properly then you do have a claim for a reduction in rent. What you do not have the right to do is cancel unless the property is literally gutted with fire damage for instance.
Sorry thats probably not the answer you wanted but it is the position that you have and I have a duty to give you truthful and accurate information even though its not what I want to say.
Hope this helps. Please let me know if you need more information