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Ash
Ash, Solicitor
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 10916
Experience:  Solicitor with 5+ years experience
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My question is in regard to a tenancy of a residential property.

Customer Question

My question is in regard to a tenancy of a residential property. My tenant who rented the house unfurnished has given notice. She has no break clause until April 2015. She has removed her furniture and cleaned the house and she would like me to remarket the house with a view to hopefully finding a new tenant therefore allowing her to terminate the contract early.
What is the legal position. She still holds keys. I would need some of these sets of keys make to give to agents to market. From memory she has 5 sets. In order to market successfully i would also have to put my furniture back in. What about the insurance (property must not remains unoccupied for 28 days) , what about the inventory? If is it done later when i find a new tenant she could argue the agents damaged the house, but if it is done now and she still holds keys she could have done the damage. If she returns all keys i believe that invokes determination of the tenancy. I want to be helpful but not shoot myself in the foot doing it.
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Property Law
Expert:  Ash replied 3 years ago.
Alex Watts : Hello my name is ***** ***** I will help you.
Customer:

Hi Alex, am i missing something as i cannot see an answer from you, just a message saying i will help you?

Alex Watts :

Oh sorry! It doe snot appear to show

Alex Watts :

Has the tenant actually surrendered it please?

Customer:

Hi Alex. This has gone into some sort of live chat format, which obviously does not work unless we are both on line at the same time. Is it possible t go back to the normal question answer format, or do you want to make a time we can both be online?

Customer:

The tenant has not said she has surrendered the property yet, and says she has emptied the property, and that her cleaner is living there at the moment.She has not returned keys and so far has only asked if she can terminate the contract early.

Customer:

It is a two year tenancy. The tenancy agreement says for a term certain until February 2016, and in year two the tenant can give a 90 day notice to quit no earlier than 20 February 2015. These were terms the tenant specifically insisted on.

Expert:  Ash replied 3 years ago.
Is this better?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Yes much better!Laughing

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

One last bit of information that may be helpful, is that the property was marketed as a furnished house with high quality furnishings, and was let with furniture, equipment and curtains, and a stipulated clause was that the landlord would remove all items of furniture except for machines, curtains and a bed, prior to the tenancy starting, so that the tenant could use her own furniture.

Expert:  Ash replied 3 years ago.
Ok so you removed the furnishings ?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Yes, at tenants request we removed the furniture, apart from a few items she wished to keep, a single bed, roof furniture, a few mirrors.

Expert:  Ash replied 3 years ago.
But she still holds the keys?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Yes she still holds the keys and apparently her cleaner is living in the property. Which leads to the question if another problem is created by the cleaner living in the property. The tenancy allows for the occupation of the named tenant, their family and their staff, however it says nothing about their staff on their own.

Also the cleaner is probably not on a proper UK employment contract and not under the supervision of the tenant who has gone back to the USA. Fortunately the husband is quite famous and so averse to negative publicity if they try and skip off without paying. She has been difficult to date and so i am not expecting a sudden change.

Expert:  Ash replied 3 years ago.
Ok - until she gives the keys back I don't think you can properly claim possession. She needs to hand the keys back to give up possession.
Whilst she has them she could stay there at any time, if you entered the house etc she could claim unlawful eviction.
I think you have to keep out and charging rent etc until she hands the keys back. Then once the property is rented out again, you know what she owes in terms of bills etc.
Can I clarify anything for you about this today please?
Alex
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

The tenant has a non breakable contract until at least April 2015. In order for me to let the property, firstly i would need to refurnish it with the furniture I took out, then i would have to go to a great deal of inconvenience to show the property and find a new tenant.

This tenant insisted that she wanted to rent the property for two years or nothing, and we went to a great deal of trouble, cost and changing of plans to secure the deal. now just a few months later she is being equally cavalier and wants to just walk away.

I think i am in a better position to insist that she either buys herself out from the remainder of the contract or leave her in place and let her just keep paying rent until April?

If she sends the keys back can she terminate the contract at that point regardless of what the contract says?

Expert:  Ash replied 3 years ago.
Well this is the position. If she buys out for the remainder and you get another tenant, you are profiting from that which you can not do.
All you can do is allow her to surrender, get someone in and charge her any costs for the vacant period and additional cost of relet.
What you can't do is make a profit from the breach.
Can I clarify anything for you about this today please?
Alex
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Relist: Answer quality.
We need a solicitor who actually knows contract law or landlord and tenant law.