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LondonlawyerJ, Solicitor
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 823
Experience:  Experienced solicitor
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Property Law
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My landlord has changed the locks on a house that we still

still have a tenancy contract... Show More
still have a tenancy contract until March next year. We moved out of the property on 24th October as we bought somewhere, but held the rent due on 30th October because the landlord has not provided us with a gas safety certificate. We want to know where we stand on having to pay rent, council tax and utilities on a property that we don't have access to. The landlord says they will only change the locks back if we move back into the property, which we're not going to do but they refuse to surrender the tenancy and are still demanding rent etc
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Customer reply replied 2 years ago.
This is an assured shorthold tenancy fixed date from 1/4/14 for 24 months
Hello, I am a lawyer with 20 years experience. I will try to answer this for you.
The basic position is that you have an obligation to complete your end of the contract by paying rent. The landlord has a duty to mitigate his loss so must take reasonable steps to relet the property. But you are responsible for paying the rent until he does so and to make up any shortfall if he has to let it at a reduced rent.
If you can find a replacement tenant who it is reasonable for him to accept then if he refuses you may be able to avoid your rent obligations.
However this situation has been complicated by your landlord changing the locks. This would normally be taken as an eviction or perhaps evidence that he considers the tenancy forfeited.
Have you moved out completely yet? Are there any of your belongings left in the flat.
The gas safety situation doesn't remove your duty to pay rent.
You might think that a way of dealing with this is to pay the rent for October which you are obviously responsible for and to write to your landlord stating:
1) you have paid the rent until he end of October,
2) state how much notice you gave him about moving out
3) that he has changed the lock
4) you regard that as an unlawful eviction which removes your obligation to pay further rent to him
5) tell him that without prejudice to the points above he has a duty to mitigate his loss and to seek to let the property ASAP.
6) remind him of of the failure to carry out gas safety checks.
7) tell him that if he agrees to not take action for rent allegedly owed you will not take action for unlawful eviction and gas safety breaches (if there is any other disrepair throw that in as well here)
8) Invite him to respond within say 21 days.
This may be effective but there is an element of bluff in this as you probably can not take action for either of the threats made above. He may not know this though. You might want to offer him a bit more money say next month's rent just to be ultra reasonable and bearing in mind the fundamental weakness of your position here.
Customer reply replied 2 years ago.
Hi thanks for your reply. I've never said that I wouldn't pay the rent just that I thought it unfair that they don't keep up their side by doing a gas safety check which is the law. The rent for October has been paid as I pay in advance, so the rent due on 30th October is for November. The locks were changed on 6.11.15 so I'm willing to pay for the 5-6 days if this looks better on our side that we've paid up until the unlawful eviction. The Landlord has no intention to re-let the property, they plan to put the property on the market for sale but just not yet or would rather still have money coming in from us.We moved out completely on 24th October so we don't have any belongings left there. There's also the complication of the utilities, we're still paying for electric at the property and council tax.Also where do we stand on keys? surely if they want the keys back then it's ending the tenancy, not sure why they want them back if the locks are changed!I've not provided them with a forwarding address but this is due to us not wanting to be harassed by my Landlord.They are also trying to say that we left the property unlocked and windows open, immersion left on but I know these are lies and I took photographic evidence of everythng before I left. They also say they have to secure the property for insurance purposes, which is why they've changed the locks.Apart from the fact we've bought a property, another reason for us leaving early was down to how cold the house was, the boiler was so old we hardly had any hot water, plus when it was being repaired, the boiler set on fire and it's lucky my husband was in the basement when it did! My Landlord tries to say this was our fault. We also note that there is no carbon monoxide alarms in the property and the downstairs basement has no smoke alarm fitted. We've already reported my landlord to HSE regarding the issue of no gas certificate as we're really not happy that they refuse to do this because they want us to pay for a new gas bottle!
In that case throw in that they had a duty to ensure that the facilities for space and water heating were not in working order as they have a duty to ensure that they are and the Carbon monoxide issue too.
Hopefully the partially bluffing letter will do the trick.