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SS Legal Advisor
SS Legal Advisor, Lawyer
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 1027
Experience:  Senior Caseworker at DL Solicitors
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Our landlord asked if we could cut short our contract as her

Customer Question

Hi there, our landlord asked if we could cut short our contract as her circumstances had changed. We agreed and I have messages stating all of this. However now that we have arranged for somewhere else to live, she has threatened to make us pay rent until the end of the contract.
JA: What steps have you taken so far? Have you prepared or filed any paperwork?
Customer: No, it was all via text. It happened two weeks after we moved in, she asked if there was anyway we could look for somewhere else.
JA: Where is the property located?
Customer: Street, Somerset
JA: Is there anything else the Lawyer should know before I connect you? Rest assured that they'll be able to help you.
Customer: No, that's fine. Thank you.
Submitted: 11 days ago.
Category: Property Law
Expert:  SS Legal Advisor replied 11 days ago.
Hello,I am an experienced legal advisor and I am happy to answer your question.Most tenancy agreements have clauses that state that a landlord can give permission to end a tenancy early. If you have evidence of this and the fact they asked for it would be sufficient evidence for you to not have to pay them for the tenancy.This would be sufficient defence if they submitted a money claim.If they force you to stay having made you obtain another tenancy, this landlord could be made liable for the new tenancy you signed up for.You will need to write to them and explain your position.Kind regards
Customer: replied 11 days ago.
Okay, that's good to hear. I checked with citizens advice and they seemed to suggest that unless the messages explicitly said we did not have to pay after moving out, they wouldn't stand up legally.
Expert:  SS Legal Advisor replied 11 days ago.
It will all depend on your tenancy agreement and exactly what the clauses state.It will also depend what the messages state. From your wording it sounds as though she asked you to move out mean that either she needed the property or she had someone else renting. In those circumstances she is not losing out on rental income and therefore cannot reasonably claim for the tenancy period.
Customer: replied 11 days ago.
This is part of her first message: "I know it's a fixed year contract. But if you're kindly able to move out before then I would greatly appreciate it.
About four months later, she said that she no longer needed to move back, so I wrote: "I'm presuming we can still move out at any time before October [end of contract], as we thought that was what you wanted". To which she replied, "Yes, of course"
Customer: replied 11 days ago.
The reason she has threatened to make us pay now is because she is selling the house and we are having viewings here, however, we requested them to cancel some viewings for this weekend because we can't leave the house for the duration wanted and don't want to be in because of covid. She hinted that if we refused any more viewings, she would make us pay until end of contract whether we live here or not.
Expert:  SS Legal Advisor replied 11 days ago.
Right. So she no longer needed you to move out. That changes things somewhat. Because now she would be losing out of rental income. In that case, she may be able to enforce the tenancy.
Expert:  SS Legal Advisor replied 11 days ago.
That is an immoral reason to make you pay for the tenancy unnecessarily. That being said if her selling the place will prevent you for having to pay the tenancy out then you may have to take that hit.Whilst rude, that behaviour does not give cause to cancel the tenancy although admittedly it does infringe of your right to exclusive possession but it might be best to not raise that and let sleeping dogs lie.Kind regards
Customer: replied 11 days ago.
I don't mind her selling the place, but we have now bought a place of our own and will be paying a mortgage so will be unable to afford the rent. This was only done because she requested to end the tenancy.
Expert:  SS Legal Advisor replied 11 days ago.
I would opine that resolving this amicably by enabling the viewing is likely the best way to avoid dealing with the court. Legal costs are expensive, courts are stressful. If things can be resolved by allowing some viewings it might be the best solution.
Customer: replied 11 days ago.
Yeh, we were always letting them have viewings, it was just a one off occasion because we have a young child and can't go anywhere during lockdown. Is there any legal standing that we have with those text messages though, to show that we have not ended the tenancy unlawfully? The reason we accepted the offer to move out early is because she told us she had been beaten by her boyfriend and needed to move back home, so we just did it.
Expert:  SS Legal Advisor replied 11 days ago.
Ending the tenancy was at no point unlawful but the tenancy can bind you in financially. Having heard the content of the texts and the fact that she no longer needs the property tells me that you would struggle to avoid liability.
Customer: replied 11 days ago.
Ok. Even though the suggestion to end the tenancy was made when she needed it?
Expert:  SS Legal Advisor replied 11 days ago.
even then. Tenancies can allow for the landlord to end the tenancy early but even then unless explicitly stated the notice period would still be owed.
Customer: replied 11 days ago.
Okay, what would constitute an explicit statement from the landlord?
Expert:  SS Legal Advisor replied 11 days ago.
Them stating that you don't have to pay anything for the tenancy ending early.