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Remus2004
Remus2004, Barrister
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 70416
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice.
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Hello, We recently signed a 6 month shorthold tenancy agreement.

Customer Question

Hello,

We recently signed a 6 month shorthold tenancy agreement. When viewing the property initially, we specifically stated and agreed with the agents that the property required professional cleaning before moving in.

However, when we moved in the house was filthy. We spent a long time cleaning the property and wrote to the agent with a comprehensive list of the filth found throughout the property and included photographs. We went on to explain that this was not acceptable and therefore we wished to exit the tenancy early.

The agents passed this information to the landlord who contacted us directly.

The landlord presented two options. 1) Leave almost immediately and pay the costs associated with finding another tenant or 2) leave in one month but pay for a further three months.

I offered to leave in one month and pay for a further two months. The landlord rejected this an came up with a third proposal - 3) agree to them remarketing the property and vacating when the new tenant moved in. We accepted this proposal but when doing so stated that it was on the understanding that whilst we would be liable for the rent up until the point at which the new tenant moved in, there would be no further costs associated with ending the tenancy early.

We got no response from the landlord but the next day the property was back online being marketed and within 24 hours I had a call from the agent looking to arrange a viewing for a prospective tenant. One week later I see online that the house has been let. I called the agent and agreed a moving out date.

Since reletting the property, my landlord is now trying to recover the agency costs for finding another tenant - in the region of £500.

To add to the complexity, when the landlord asked for this I rejected it and he then suggested that we could make a contribution. I chose to ignore for a few days to seek advice. Then, three days later I receive a letter from another gentleman stating that he is the new owner / landlord and that he intends to deduct the £500 from our deposit. To give the complete story; a little investigation has revealed that the new owner / landlord is in fact the brother of the original landlord - very strange.

So, two questions really...
1) Am I liable for the costs incurred by the landlord for finding a new tenant?
2) If so, is he able to deduct it from my deposit? (the deposit is held in a tenancy deposit scheme).
3) If I have a case for not paying the £500, how would you recommend I go about defending my position?

Thank You
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Property Law
Expert:  Remus2004 replied 3 years ago.
Thank you for your question. My name is Jo and I will try to help with this.

On your specific points above

1] You are liable up until a replacement is found. He will have to prove to a court that he has made reasonable efforts to find a tenant. In terms of the advertising costs, that is arguable because he would have incurred those costs anyway when you left at the end of the agreement. These agency fees seem rather high anyway.

2] He can make deductions from your deposit on proper grounds. You can complain to the scheme or sue at the small claims court if the deductions are not proper.

3] I'm not sure what you mean by this? Personally I would contest it on the basis that even if you had stayed the full term, he would have incurred agency fees at some point . It could go either way but its worth a run given the amount involved. You can either complain to the scheme or sue at the small claims court.

Can I clarify anything for you?

Jo