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Thomas, Solicitor
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 7672
Experience:  UK solicitor holding an England and Wales practising Certificate.
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My granddaughter has an Assured Short Term Tenancy Agreement

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My granddaughter has an Assured Short Term Tenancy Agreement dated 16th May 2014 for her flat in Epsom. The initial term is 12 months with a mutual break clause stating "Anytime after six months of the initial fixed term of the tenancy either party may invoke this break clause providing a minimum of two months written notice in writing". She has received a letter from the landlord dated 22 September 2014 stating- "please take this letter as confirmation we will be needing you to leave the flat after six months due to having to put the flats on the market for sale. We need access to the flats so the estate agent can take pictures".
My understanding is that the landlord can only give notice after six months and then two months written notice is required.
Thank you for your question and patience, I’m Tom and I’ll try to help you.
It’s a really poorly drafted break clause. It allows too much uncertainty by the use of the words “invoke”.
A clearer break clause would state that either party can determine the tenancy on or after [insert date which is 6 months after commencement] by giving two months prior notice. This would mean that they could terminate on the 6 months date provided that they had given two months notice before (ie. so notice before you got to the 6 month date.
This is the usual purpose and intention of break clauses, that you can terminate on or after the 6 month date.
The clause as constructed “. may invoke this break clause providing a minimum of two months written notice in writing” is ambigious in that it cannot be said with certainty whether notice prior to the break date is permitted or not. It’s a question of interpretation and it would be for a judge to decide.
The poor construction of the sentence is an argument on your side. The purpose, spirit and intent of the clause is probably on the landlord’s side.
I would do nothing for a bit and then inform then – if you don’t mind it going to court potentially – state that you dispute their interpretation of the break clause and will not be leaving, inviting them to apply to court for an order for possession if they are that confident on the construction of the clause.
You will then have to simply see how it plays out.
My goal is to provide you with a good service. If you feel you have received anything less, please reply back as I am happy to address follow-up issues specifically relating to your question.
Kind regards,
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Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Many thanks. Very helpful. I understand the tenancy agreement was drawn up by estate agents not solicitors!!

Yes, well, draw your own conclusions!
Kind regards,