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JimLawyer
JimLawyer, Solicitor
Category: Law
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Experience:  Senior Associate Solicitor
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I have a fixed term shorthold tenancy agreement for 24

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I have a fixed term shorthold tenancy agreement for 24 months starting in December 2018, with no break clause included.I rent from a private landlord, it is a sole tenancy. I would like to leave my tenancy early, but do not have a break clause. So was wondering what my options were. I have been advised that my only option is 'speak with the landlord and ask to end the tenancy early'. I have done this, but the landlord has refused. I am happy to lose the deposit. Can I just leave?

Hello, this is Jim and I am a dual-qualified lawyer (UK and Republic of Ireland) and happy to help you today.

The tenancy is a binding contract and if there is no break clause then it ties you in to the end of the term. The landlord doesn't have to let you end it early - some do if there is a prospect of finding another tenant to take your place. If you leave early and do not pay for the rest of the agreement then it would be breach of contract unfortunately - this means the landlord can pursue you for the amount lost (they need your forwarding address to be able to sue though). All this assumes the landlord has done nothing wrong. If there was a problem with the property and the landlord didn't fix an issue or let the property fall in to disrepair then potentially they are in breach and you could leave early.

As such if you propose that they market the property and find another tenant, this may mean you can leave early if another is found. If not then as I say, unfortunately, you are tied in. If you do leave before the 24 month period ends they would likely pursue you in a civil claim for their rent loss.

I hope this helps – if you can please give a positive rating by clicking 5 stars (at the top of your screen), I can answer any follow up questions at no extra charge and I will be credited for helping you today.

Many thanks,

Jim

Customer: replied 15 days ago.
Hi Jim,

Many thanks for your speedy response. Obviously it isn't the response I wanted, but can't be helped.

It should be noted that there are issues with the property, it has a bad case of mould in the en-suite bathroom shower which in-turn has lead to an infestation of little mites. I have informed the landlord, who (after months of chasing) sent someone in to fix the problem, the problem still persists and I have chased for a fix again but with no luck. There is another bathroom, so it isn't uninhabitable, but more annoying than anything else. There is also no up to date EPC and the electrical test and inspect has lapsed (which I understand from Shelter, isn't a legal requirement).
Customer: replied 15 days ago.
Many thanks for your speedy response. Obviously it isn't the response I wanted, but can't be helped.

It should be noted that there are issues with the property, it has a bad case of mould in the en-suite bathroom shower which in-turn has lead to an infestation of little mites. I have informed the landlord, who (after months of chasing) sent someone in to fix the problem, the problem still persists and I have chased for a fix again but with no luck. There is another bathroom, so it isn't uninhabitable, but more annoying than anything else. There is also no up to date EPC and the electrical test and inspect has lapsed (which I understand from Shelter, isn't a legal requirement).
Customer: replied 15 days ago.
Many thanks for your speedy response. Obviously it isn't the response I wanted, but can't be helped.

It should be noted that there are issues with the property, it has a bad case of mould in the en-suite bathroom shower which in-turn has lead to an infestation of little mites. I have informed the landlord, who (after months of chasing) sent someone in to fix the problem, the problem still persists and I have chased for a fix again but with no luck. There is another bathroom, so it isn't uninhabitable, but more annoying than anything else. There is also no up to date EPC and the electrical test and inspect has lapsed (which I understand from Shelter, isn't a legal requirement)

Yes, sorry about that - I have to give you the correct response even if it isn't great news. However, what you have said now leads me to say you have a valid reason to terminate with there being no comeback. I will elaborate in my next message..

Where is the property located by the way?

Customer: replied 15 days ago.
London, E14, Docklands area.

The mould is an issue - as is the infestation of mites. The EPC is valid for 10 years.

By law, landlords must ensure the property is in good repair under S.11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985.

If they do not, they face prosecution by the local council and can be fined. It would also be breach of contract on their part and you would be within your rights to terminate the tenancy agreement.

The Local Authority Environmental Health Officers have powers under the Housing Act 2004. They have a duty to ensure that properties in their area are in a habitable condition, and will serve improvement notices on landlords of properties which are assessed, under the new Housing Health and Safety Rating System as having ‘category 1 hazards’.

Similar powers are available to Local Authorities under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 if the property is considered a threat to public health.

I would therefore contact your local council (the housing department) in the first instance to report the matter - you can do that here: www.towerhamlets.gov.uk/lgnl/housing/Private_housing/housing_advice/housing_advice.aspx

You should tell the landlord you are not willing to stay and that you will report them to the council unless they voluntarily agree to let you leave with no repercussions. The mould is a health issue so you can use that as an excuse. If you do contact the council they will send an inspector to the property to assess - they may then contact the landlord about this. I am not sure the landlord will want that to happen.

Customer: replied 15 days ago.
I am worried that the agent and landlord will just offer to fix the issue (even though I have previously given them a couple of months notice to do so). Will I have to give them a fixed period, i.e. 7 or 14 days to rectify the defects or can I just give them a months notice due to lack of communication etc. Ideally, I do not want to get the council involved as it would take more of my time etc.

I understand. They are supposed to repair faults in a timely manner. They have failed to do that. If you want to leave then I would put them on notice you consider they have breached the law by not making the repairs and you are therefore moving out.

Bear in mind breach of contract means no notice is required either.

Customer: replied 15 days ago.
Ok, thank you. And this is DEFINITELY a breach of contract? The EPC lapsed last year, it was completed in 2009. Does this hold any weight?
Customer: replied 15 days ago.
Should I have solicitor undertake a letter for me? And send it 'Without prejudice'?

The EPC would need to be in date before you signed up. You can send it "without prejudice", yes. A solicitor's letter is optional - if you want to instruct one then try of of these firms :

With the mould and other issues and the fact the landlord still hasn't repaired then on the fact of it yes, it's a breach. I would recommend you run it by the council to see what they say too.

I hope I have answered your question. Let me know if anything requires clarification. In the meantime if you could either leave a star rating, or reply “yes”, I would be very grateful.

Many thanks,

Jim


JimLawyer and 3 other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 15 days ago.
Thanks Jim, much appreciated.

No problems, thank you for the question and have a good day