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Thomas, Solicitor
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 7660
Experience:  UK solicitor holding an England and Wales practising Certificate.
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An agent dealing with a rental property in Egham

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An agent dealing with a rental property for students in Egham has threatened to serve a "section 21" notice because the girls had an argument with her about signing a new contract at an increased rental. She gave them no notice and intimidated them threatening to get them removed and she had "lots of others" waiting in line...What can they do to protect themselves? Rental has always been paid on time except for the first month when there were some delays but everything was settled and they have been living there for 7 months now.
Thanks for your question.
When does the fixed term of the tenancy expire please?
Kind regards.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

30th June 2015 (it started on 1st July) it is an agreement between the landlord and 6 students and is joint & several.

Is there any break clause giving the landlord the right to terminate before 30/06/2015?
Kind regards,
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

There is a break clause which states that after a period of 60 days the landlord may terminate the agreement by giving 90 days notice to any particular tenant who has shown him/herself to be conducting his responsibilities within this agreement in a negligent manner. Aside from this, there is the usual ending tenancy clause for non payment of rental, failing to comply with the agreement/obligations or if any of the grounds in section 2 of the 1988 housing act are made out as well as leaving the house vacant without notice for >30 far as I am aware, none of this is valid in this case. It was merely after the argument they had yesterday and after they wrote an email saying they were sorry the matter had gotten out of hand but they had felt intimidated and upset that the agent was demanding an increase for the renewal of the agreement without giving them proper notice before hand.

Thank you for your question and patience, I’m Tom and I’ll try to help you.
The landlord cannot evict them on the basis that they have not signed a renewal of tenancy at an increased rent. The tenancy gives them right to stay in the property provided that they pay the current rent stated in their tenancy and otherwise comply with the conditions of the tenancy.
A section 21 notice is the notice which the landlord/agent must serve in order to be able to evict them at the end of the tenancy, which is obviously completely fair enough but it cannot be used to evict them until the fixed term of the tenancy has expired.
If they wished to attempt to evict them during the fixed term of the tenancy then they would either have to exercise a valid break clause (the one you stated appears VERY shaky and may not actually be enforceable) OR serve a s8 notice on them stating one of the s8 ground for evictions. Provided that they only paid rent late once and have otherwise remained in compliance with the conditions of the tenancy then they won’t be able to get possession earlier than the fixed term.
If they don’t want to sign a renewal tenancy at a higher rent then tell the agent that and state that they may serve their s21 notice (as is their right if they wish) to get possession at the end of the term, but that they must otherwise let them have quiet enjoyment of the tenancy (as is your daughter’s right).
State that they will keep a diary of all actions which they consider breaches their quiet enjoyment by the agent/landlord and shall claim for loss of amenity/breach of contract if such behaviour persists.
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,
Thomas and other Property Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you - one last point. If they agree to the higher rent for the next years agreement (which they have) can the landlord still serve the section 21? It seems the agent has an "agenda" and wants to create difficulty for them after the argument. The girls signed the new lease and gave it back but it seems that the offer has now been withdrawn. Is there anything we can do about that or is it the agent/landlord's prerogative to withdraw?

If the girls have signed the new tenancy AND the landlord has signed the new tenancy AND the tenancy has been dated THEN the new tenancy would be binding so that they could stay in the property for the new tenancy term.
If either the landlord has not signed or dated the agreement then the tenancy is not binding and the agent/landlord can serve a s21 notice to evict them at the end of the current tenancy
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you.

You're welcome