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Hello and thank you for your question. I will be very pleased to assist you. I'm a practising lawyer in England with over 10 years experience.
May I clarify the tenant holds an assured shorthold tenancy agreement with you as landlord or is the tenant a lodger living with you in your home?
Thank you. May I clarify has the tenant served notice to quit the property on you initially or have they signed something that you have asked them to sign to confirm that they will move out on completion and this was something instigated by you and not the tenant?
Thanks. This won't have any legal effect I regret to report. The Housing provides that a tenancy can only be brought to an end in two ways: 1) by surrender by the tenant or 2) a court order being obtained by the landlord. What this provision provides is that the tenant will not be in breach of contract and liable to you for loss unless and until one of the two above has occured - this is despite anything else they have signed that says different.
There is a very old piece of legislation called the Distress for Rent Act which provides that if a tenant gives you notice to leave and then doesn't you can charge double the rent for the period they remain in occupation but this will not apply unless they have given you notice to leave and the above will fall short of that from what you say.
A landlord should be very careful in selling a property with a tenant still in occupation. The only safe way to proceed is to ensure that the tenant moves out before contracts are exchanged. To do otherwise could leave you in breach of contract to your buyer if the tenant refuses to move out which could take 2 months or more to resolve. In te meantime you could find yourself liable for potentially significant costs under your contract for sale. This could be magnified if there is a long chain. If you exchange with the tenant in situ you are putting all of your faith in your tenant and if he lets you down you will be the one left holding the bill for damages from your buyer and any associated chain with no ability to pass this on to your tenant. I would recommend not exchanging until you have obtained vacant possession of the property back from you tenant.
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