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F E Smith
F E Smith, Advocate
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 10225
Experience:  I have been practising for 30 years.
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My daughter signed a tenancy agreement for student

Customer Question

My daughter signed a tenancy agreement for student accommodation in May of this year for her 3rd year at University. Her course is a sandwich course and she had been trying without success to find a year long placement. As nothing had come of her applications, she decided that she would complete her final year and so began looking for accommodation. She was offered a work placement very late into the year, at the beginning of August which was not within commuting distance of the flat she had signed up for so would have to find alternative accommodation which we did. We informed the original letting company that she would no longer need the flat. We expected to lose the holding deposit but when we contacted them we were told that unless we or they found another tenant, my daughter would be liable for the full years rent on the property and that she had signed a legally binding agreement to that effect. I rang and explained that we could not afford to pay for 2 lots of accommodation and they were adamant that if no other tenant could be found then the rental costs would be ours to pay. My daughter is 20 years old and would be living alone for the first time so we didn't want to leave finding somewhere near to university too long in case she ended up in an area we wouldn't be happy a single girl living in so that is why we made the decision so early after she had failed to secure a placement. I feel that the agency should have explained in "normal speak" that she had signed to say that if she gave back word on the flat and it remained un let then she would be liable for the years rent as she would have looked elsewhere. My daughter put information on social media and on the university accommodation website giving details of the flat and asking anyone who was still looking for somewhere to live to contact her. 4 people did so, one of whom wanted to go into the offices of the letting agent and fill forms in there and then. People are still ringing my daughter asking if the flat is still available so we are certain that if they had taken the details from these people then all the papers would have been completed and it would have been rented out by now. However when my daughter contacted the agency to give them the details of these people, she was told that someone had already put a holding deposit on the flat and they were just waiting for them to come in to sign the papers so there was no point in them contacting anyone else as they were certain that the matter would be sorted very quickly. This was over 2 weeks ago and we have heard nothing to say if this person is now the new tenant of the flat so we contacted the agency again today to see what is going on. They have said that the person who has put the deposit down on the flat has until the 10th of September to come in and sign the forms which is too late for any of the people my daughter has been contacted by to take over the tenancy as they will need to have their acccommodation for next year sorted by the end of this week. I feel that under these circumstances (and the fact that my daughter had a person who was definately interested and would have signed up straight away but she was told by the company that they had found someone and were just waiting for the papers to be filled in), our contract with the agency can now be ended as we have done everything that they asked of us and it is not our fault that the person they found is dragging their feet regarding the paperwork. I would appreciate your comments as to what we can do to cancel the contract and have our deposit returned to us as after the agreement was signed the deposit became one to be held back in case of any damage to the flat and as my daughter has never moved in then she has not damaged anything so the deposit should be refunded to us. Thank you. *****
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Nicola-mod replied 1 year ago.
I've been working hard to find a Professional to assist you with your question, but sometimes finding the right Professional can take a little longer than expected.
I wonder whether you're ok with continuing to wait for an answer. If you are, please let me know and I will continue my search. If not, feel free to let me know and I will cancel this question for you.
Thank you!
Expert:  Nicola-mod replied 1 year ago.
I apologise as we have not yet been able to find a Professional to assist you. Do you wish for me to continue to search for someone to assist you or would you like for us to close your question at this time?
Thank you for your patience,
Expert:  F E Smith replied 1 year ago.

What you have been told by the agency with regard to the payment of rent until the end of the term is absolutely correct however if there is another tenant in the property, your daughter is only liable for rental until the new tenant takes over.

The landlord, either direct or via the agent, is under a duty to mitigate his loss and that means that he must try to get another tenant within a reasonable period of time. If the agent has failed to do that because they have turned down or simply ignored potential tenants introduced by your daughter, then she has a defence to any claim brought by the landlord on failure to mitigate loss.

Your daughter cannot actually cancel the contract, it only gets cancelled when there is a new tenant.

If the agent feels that she is going to be liable for the rent for the next 12 months or even the protracted period while they mess about getting a new tenant, and your daughter doesn’t pay, they are going to have to take her to court and she will have to defend it on the basis that she had a tenant and they refused to take it on in favour of their own tenant who either signed up much later or didn’t sign up at all.

Neither the agent nor the landlord are under a duty to explain the agreement or the ramifications of entering into it.

The thing with regard to the deposit is to wait until there is a new tenant and then ask for it to be returned putting the claim through the tenants deposit dispute process if necessary.

Can I clarify anything for you?

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Best wishes.