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F E Smith
F E Smith, Advocate
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 10259
Experience:  I have been practising for 30 years.
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I (and three other named) tenants are moving out of our

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I (and three other named) tenants are moving out of our rented accommodation midway through the tenancy year following our activation of a break-clause.Our current AST has a commencement date of 11 August 2017 and expiry date of 10 August 2018 and we are moving out on the 10 March 2018 (7 complete months). The rent for this period has been paid in full but now the management agency claims that the calculation for rent changed in Aug 2013 (when two of the existing tenants were replaced with two news ones, who have in turn be replaced) and that we owe rent from the 1st to the 11th.Looking back at the amounts paid in 2013 there is indeed a short-fall for that AST of c£990, due to the contract change over; however, that was never communicated to us either at the end of that contract year or since; until now. It is also worth noting that since 2013 the other three tenants have been replaced and it is just me originally from the 2013 contract.My questions are thus:
1. Do they have a right to pursue rent shortfall nearly 5-years after the fact given they have failed to reserve their rights and notify us that there were rent arrears in 2013?
2. How strong is my argument to pay the original shortfall rather than their current valuation (c£1.2k)?
3. Would failure to pay impact our held deposit?
4. What recourse would they have beyond withholding part of the deposit to us the tenants?

Hello for clarification - did you owe some of this short fall or was it the tenants who left?

Customer: replied 29 days ago.
Both myself and the three tenants who left. Does them leaving make a difference? They were replaced one by one so I do not believe it triggered a 'new' contract as per Aug 2013.

Thank you.

{C}1 Yes, they have a right to pursue the shortfall and indeed, it could do so for 6 years under an ordinary type of agreement or 12 years if the agreement is expressed to be a Deed.

{C}2 Depends whether you agree on the amounts. It doesn’t matter that the amounts are different, they are entitled to pursue the correct amount whether it’s the earlier amount or the later amount. It is the accuracy of the calculation which is relevant.

{C}3 It would not be unreasonable for you to repay the amount of underpayment over a reasonable period of time, and if that is about £1200, my suggestion would be to pay it over 12 months. No doubt they will say it’s not acceptable, but just keep paying it. By the time it gets to court, (you are leaving the property anyway) you would have repaid the amount in any event. Rather than have the argument, they may agree to accept a reduced lump sum now rather than have it on the drip over a protracted period so it would be worthwhile negotiating.

{C}4 They are likely to withhold your deposit and then you would have to file a dispute with the tenant deposit scheme.

Can I clarify anything else for you?

I’m happy to answer any specific points arising from this.

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Best wishes.


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