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Matt Jones
Matt Jones, Solicitor
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 671
Experience:  I am a qualified and practicing Solicitor with over 7 years post qualification experience
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, I have lost my job and can no longer pay the rent. I informed

Resolved Question:

Hi, I have lost my job and can no longer pay the rent. I informed the letting agent 1.5 months before the rent was due of my situation. I advised them that I would need to move back to my parents house as I cannot afford to stay in Swansea and need to find work closer to London as there is no work here that would cover the rent. The letting agent and Landlord informed me that to leave the tenancy early (12 month assured shorthold tenancy - expiring in Sept 2015), I would need to pay for re-advertising the property, and that I would be liable for the rent until a new tenant moves in. I agreed to this, but explained that I have no further monies to pay rent after moving out as I have no income and 2 children to look after. Subsequently, I enquired about the return of my deposit. I was told over the phone, that I would not be receiving my deposit back, but no reason why was given. Since I needed the deposit to pay for removals, transport etc back to London, I emailed the letting agent to explain this, and that I would need to with-hold the rent due for February unless they could assure me that I would receive my deposit back under the normal contractual obligations. I made sure I emailed this to them before the rent was due to give them time to respond accordingly. They did not respond for 18 days (12 days after the rent was due). Their response was the demand the rent. I again explained that I was informed by the letting agent that I would not be receiving my deposit back and therefore had to mitigate the risk of being homeless by withholding funds that I need to return home.
I have today received a letter from a solicitor acting on behalf of the landlord, stating that the deposit will be returned after the tenant moves in (they have a tenant who has made an offer, but no firm move-in date has been set), but I will need to pay for Februarys and March rent. Similarly there has been an ongoing catalogue of issues at the property which have affected my right to living here comfortably (boiler has broken down several times including Christmas day, Pest infestation, broken front gate/door etc).
What are my rights in this situation? Do I have any way of exiting this contract given I can only possibly pay February's rent, but at the risk of still not receiving my deposit back as I have no funds to pay March rent due to not having an income.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Property Law
Expert:  Matt Jones replied 2 years ago.
Matt Jones :

Hi I will try and help

Matt Jones :

do you know where the deposit is held?

Customer:

Hi Matt,

Customer:

The deposit is held in tenancy deposit scheme

Customer:

the funds are actually held in the letting agent bank account

Matt Jones :

thanks

Matt Jones :

so it seems like they have the "insurance" option and are holding it

Matt Jones :

so if I understand this correctly you currently owe Jan and Feb rent, is that correct?

Customer:

No just Feb rent at the moment

Matt Jones :

ah, ok

Matt Jones :

and the new tenant has not signed as yet?

Customer:

The new tenant hasn't signed an AST. She has taken the property off the market by paying a small holding deposit and her reference checks have completed. However they don't have a move-in date for her yet as she is selling her property.

Customer:

So I don't have a date for which my liability will end.

Matt Jones :

I see

Matt Jones :

and the repair issues, were these fixed after you notified them or was there any delay after notification?

Customer:

The boiler has been repaired several times and it was advised by British Gas that they should be replaced. They still are not working properly at the moment, and the letting agent has been informed. The security gate and buzzer have not been fixed. No repairs have taken place since I gave notice in January.

Matt Jones :

Thanks

Matt Jones :

This is a difficult one. The starting point is that you are liable for all rent due under the Tenancy agreement until it expires or is mutually surrendered by the new tenant taking a tenancy. The return of the deposit is a matter for after the tenancy ends. I can see the Landlords issue at this point; if they say that the deposit will be returned now then, if there is any damage caused between now and the end of the tenancy they may have risked claiming anything from the deposit. A tenant is obliged to pay rent, notwithstanding any disrepair to the property, but could make a claim for the "diminution in value" of the property during their tenancy after it ends (i.e the difference in the rent you did pay and the reduced rent).

Matt Jones :

I am afraid that I cannot really see a way, legally, that you can exit the agreement

Matt Jones :

I am sorry this is not great news, but I hope I have clarified matter.s Do please ask any follow up questions.

Customer:

Not even disrepairs? (i.e. boiler not working for a considerable amount of time - no heating, hot water for kids etc)

Customer:

And that we paid rent on time previously and gave advance notice of the changes of situation

Matt Jones :

As to paying rent on time this is obviously something you had to do anyway, and giving advance notice this doesn't really change anything as unfortunately you are contractually obliged to pay the rent until Sep 2015 regardless of your sitution

Matt Jones :

as to the disrepairs, when you say a considerable about of time, how long exactly was this?

Customer:

If it did go to court for the outstanding rent, would the judge take my personal circumstances into consideration? The boiler was unusuable (at its longest period) over the entire Christmas period and I had to take lots of time off work at that time, to see the engineer.

Customer:

Hi are you still here?

Matt Jones :

You would have to make a counter claim for the disrepair. A Landlord is obliged to keep the property in good repair (including heating lighting etc), under s11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985. However they are onyl obliged to repair those broken items they are notified of, and they have a "reasonable period" of time to repair them. SO it really depends on what the Court sees as reasonable. It may be that they say that it was difficult to get a plumber to repair the boiler over the christmas period ad so it was repaired as soon as reasonable possible. It is a difficult one to call without seeing all of the facts.

Matt Jones :

Does this help further?

Customer:

Hi, yes this helps

Matt Jones :

I am sorry that there is no ease answer on this one. Sometimes its just not possible

Matt Jones :

the good news, and without trying to sound trite, is that you have a new tenant. The Landlord doesn't have to find a new tenant There is no obligation on him to do so. But you have someone who, when they sign, will reduce your liability to pay the rent considerably.

Customer:

Final question! Is it normal for an estate agency to take the property off the market knowing the potential tenant is not guaranteed to take the property? Since although shes paid a holding deposit, its not being advertised (as far as I can tell) anymore, and therefore its leaves me exposed as I need a new tenant in, to end my liability?

Matt Jones :

well as I say above there is no legal obligation on them to find a new tenant at all. As you have signed a lease a landlord is entitled to rely on you for the rest of the term (there is no obligation for them to "mitigate" their loss as in most other contract cases). So whilst it is unfortunate they have done this they are at the instruction of the Landlords.

Matt Jones :

In any event there may be an agreement with the "new" tenant not to market the property as they have paid the holding deposit so this is probably the reason.

Matt Jones :

I hope this has helped. If so please leave me positive feedback so I can be paid for my time. the question wont close and if you think of additional question in the future you can ask them.

Customer:

Letting agency and landlord want me to pay for advertising the property and they are going to take this fee out of my deposit is this right.

Matt Jones :

Well i have seen this before, and I am not sure I agree with it. If the Tenant ran all the way to the end the Landlord would be responsible for the advertising costs so I cant see why, just because the tenancy is ending early, they should charge this to you. If they try and take this from the deposit you can always as the DPS on an adjudication on the matter.

Customer:

Thanks for your help I will leave feedback

Matt Jones, Solicitor
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 671
Experience: I am a qualified and practicing Solicitor with over 7 years post qualification experience
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