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Joshua, Lawyer
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 26070
Experience:  LL.B (Hons), Higher Prof. Dip. Law & Practice
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I have a shorthold tenancy agreement with a tenant who has

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I have a shorthold tenancy agreement with a tenant who has died. I have agreed with the tenant's daughter that she will empty the house by the end of June. The tenancy agreement was for two years from 15th April 2015 and the tenant paid six months rent in advance. I have agreed with the Tenant's daughter that we will end the lease on 28th June 2015. I will keep monies paid up front in consideration for early termination. I will keep £500 of the deposit for cleaning etc and return the rest. Questions:
How do I put this in writing i.e who do I address it to (as the Tenant is deceased), what form should it take (a deed?). How can I be sure they are legally able to surrender the lease on their deceased Father's behalf?
Who should I return the deposit to?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Property Law
Expert:  Joshua replied 2 years ago.
Hello and thank you for your question. I will be very pleased to assist you. I'm a practising lawyer in England with over 10 years experience. Do you know if the tenant left a will please? The tenants daughter may be aware?Have you only so far had discussions verbally as opposed to in writing with the daughter?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Hello, the tenant did not leave a will (according to his daughter). I have only spoken the daughter on the phone, nothing in writing.
Expert:  Joshua replied 2 years ago.
many thanks. With your permission, I will first outline the legal position and then suggest some practical pointers. The legal position is as you know, the tenant has a legally binding tenancy agreement and the fact of the tenant's death does not invalidate that tenancy which continues as against the tenants estate. of course, being a short hold tenancy, the tenancy agreement is likely to restrict any other parties living in the property and therefore the tenancy has no value from the point of view of the estate as it is unlikely anybody else could live at the property but this does not follow that as landlord, you would have any right to end the tenancy unilaterally. It is however very likely that the estate would wish to end the tenancy as soon as possible due to the above. Assuming this is the case, as landlord, you do not have to agree to simply end the tenancy to death. You do have a common law obligation to mitigate your losses in respect of any early end to the tenancy and what this means in practice is that you must use reasonable efforts to remarket the property and find a replacement tenant to take over the remainder of the tenancy on the same terms. You can insist that the estate is liable for rent until such time as you are able to find a replacement tenant. The tenancy have to be offered on the same terms as the existing tenancy, in other words you are not able to offer the tenancy at a higher rental or a different length of term without permission from the estate administrators. Alternatively, there is nothing preventing you and the estate agreeing to end the tenancy early if you are both willing and in doing so, you simply agree when the tenancy is to be ended and able up to that point and any retention made in respect of the deposit and then the properties returned to you for you to do with as you wish, either to move back into the property or to remarket the property afresh as you prefer. If the tenant did not leave a will, then if the tenant was married, the tenant spouse has the first right to act as administrator; if the tenant had no spouse, then the tenants children have the right to act as joint administrators if there are more than one. if there is no will, it is important to ascertain how many children the tenant had because if it had had more than one child, you must deal with all of those children jointly because they have an equal right to act as administrator. If you do not deal with them jointly, then any ending of the tenancy may not be valid against the estate. Accordingly, you will consider asking the daughter to confirm in writing whether she has any siblings and if so, you will need their contact details and agreement from all of them in writing as to any proposed terms. Once you have an agreement between you and all of the tenants children as above, to end the tenancy, you will need a deed of surrender. This is a simple document which provides that the estate administrators surrender the tenancy back to you on such terms as you agree any release the estate in return from all the obligations under the tenancy. You can provide that the estate is responsible for the costs associated with preparation of the deed of surrender. A solicitor is likely to charge around £200-250 + VAT for preparation. If you prefer I can provide you with a draft for £80. Alternatively it is possible to agree by exchange of email to end the tenancy though such agreement will not necessarily be legally valid and potentially exposes you to a claim of unlawful eviction by the estate if not done by deed though it seems relatively unlikely that such a claim would arise. To be safe however a deed of surrender is the appropriate way to safely surrender the tenancy and ensure that you are delaing with all the necessary adminstrators to enable the tenancy to be lawfully surrendered. Any amount of deposit can be returned to the administrator(s) who are entitled to give good receipt for the deposit on behalf of the tenant undr the Administration of Estates Act. If the amount is significant you may wish to ask them for a copy of the grant of probate before refunding them or if none is being obtained due to the size of the estate, you may wish to ask them for a statutory declaration that they are entitled to the funds as the only administrator(s) entitled to act. I hope the above is of assistance? If you have no further questions for now I should be very grateful if you would kindly take a moment to click to rate my service to you today or just reply back to let me know if the above is helpful. Your feedback is important to me. If there is anything else I can help with please reply back to me I'd be very grateful
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