Renting in London: What You Need to Know

London is one of the world’s great cities and has something for everyone. Living in this city is an ambition of many people; however, with the cost of buying a home in the capital is more than many people can afford; therefore, renting is the best option. However, once you have made the decision to rent, how on earth do you find somewhere suitable? London is a huge city and if you are not familiar with the various boroughs, finding a nice property in a good location can prove virtually impossible. Fortunately, we are here to help, so here’s what you need to know about renting in the capital.

Finding a property

London_Big_Ben_Phone_box

London has an abundance of houses, flats, apartments, and bungalows available to rent, so you don’t have to worry about finding something that suits your tastes. What is trickier is finding the ideal property in an ideal area; to do this you will need to consider several factors:

  • Time to central London – the chances are you will not find a place right in the centre of the capital, so instead you will need to look for something within close proximity.
  • Transport – driving in London is a pretty stressful task, so you will probably need to look for somewhere that has good transport links.
  • Green areas – life in the city is not for the faint-hearted, so having parks and open spaces close by will be beneficial.
  • Safety – some areas of London have higher crime rates than others. Safety is paramount.
  • Cost – the most important factor. Ideally, you’ll want to find a property that meets all of the above preferences at the cheapest possible price.

Recommended locations

With those factors in mind, you can narrow down the search to several areas.

Highbury
North London is considered an established and trendy area to rent. Within 10 minutes of central London is Highbury, in the Borough of Islington. The transport links here are excellent and there are plenty of restaurants and bars with a real multicultural mix of people. Average rental in this area is around £310 per week.

Battersea
Battersea (home of the power station and famous dogs and cats home) is south of the River Thames and is considered an up-and-coming place to rent, making it more affordable. This ‘urban-cool’ area is a buzzy place to live and has plenty of pubs and bars to enjoy. Average weekly rent is around £310 per week.

Shoreditch and Bethnal Green
Over in east London, Shoreditch and Bethnal Green blends corporate lifestyle with bohemia, as bankers and arty types live side-by-side in one of the London’s trendiest areas. Given its location, Shoreditch and Bethnal Green is one of the most in-demand rental areas in the capital, with average weekly rent somewhere in the region of £380.

Renting a home

view london

Before you rent a home in the capital, it is essential that you view the places that you like before moving in. With rental and deposit significantly higher than most other places in the UK, it is also wise to request that the landlord carry out a property inventory, or else have one done yourself. There are several property inventory services in London that can provide you with an in-depth inventory, ensuring that any pre-existing damage is flagged.

While we are on the subject of inventories, you should make sure that one is carried out just before your tenancy ends – this will prevent you being blamed for any damages that are not your fault and will simplify the exiting process.

The final thing to do before you move in is sign the rental agreement. A property inventory will also be part of the agreement, so that will need to be signed too. A tenancy agreement should include:

  • duration of tenancy
  • rental cost
  • your responsibilities
  • your rights
  • the landlord’s responsibilities.

Remember to always read the agreement carefully and do not sign it until you are happy.

With all of the paperwork in place and the property inventory signed, you will then be ready to move in to your perfect London home!

 

Photo sources:  Julian Osley

You Break It You Pay For It: Student Housing Advice

student break

As a student leaving home for the first time the thought of going to live with other students is an exciting one. Living with other like-minded individuals, staying up until the small hours of the morning and bonding over Pot Noodles are all part of the student lifestyle and some of the most enjoyable years of your life will be spent in student accommodation. However, living in rented property isn’t all fun and games and it’s important to remember that the house or flat is not owned by you or your fellow students. There are rules that must be adhered to – rules laid out by a landlord when signing a rental agreement and national flat inventory.

Getting back your deposit

When you move into a rented property, the landlord will generally ask for a deposit. This maybe to the sum of one month’s rent, maybe two months’ rent – either way, you are going to be handing over a significant amount of cash.

The idea behind taking a deposit from the landlord’s point of view is that it gives you as the tenant an incentive to look after the house. What it also does is provide the landlord with some financial collateral should any damage show up in the end of tenancy inventory report.

To ensure that everyone is able to have their deposits returned without dispute, you should lay down some ground rules before moving in.

First, every person living in the property should be clear about the rental agreement and what is and is not allowed. Establish how much rent each individual has to pay and when. It can be a good idea to have each member of the household pay their share of the rent by direct debit, this way everyone can avoid lending money and the risk of jeopardising a friendship over disputes.

There should also be a common understanding that whoever breaks something pays for it. That way bills will not end up falling in the lap of other students.

Try to spend as much time together as a group as possible, that way you can all pull together to abide by the rules of the landlord and air any grievances without causing too much tension.

UK property inventories

UK property inventories are an essential part of the rental agreement and something that should be done before you move in and after you move out. Generally, the landlord will compile a property inventory and you will be required to sign it, declaring that the condition of the home and its contents is as the document says. If the landlord does not provide you with an inventory report it is well worth investing in rental inventory services. UK companies carrying this type of report are comprehensive in what they do and will check the house top to bottom for damage, ticking off items down to the last piece of cutlery.

It is also worth carry out regular inventories yourself during your tenancy, just to ensure everything is as it should be.

An inventory report will help prevent disputes over damage and the general condition of a home (usual wear and tear is allowed) and should be signed by all parties involved in the rental agreement.
Before moving out of the home, you should give yourself a few weeks to carry out any cleaning and minor repairs. Schedule an appointment with the landlord at least a week before you move out. This way, anything that is flagged can be rectified. As long as you have kept to the inventory checklist, there will be no dispute over the returning of your deposit.

Living in rented accommodation with fellow students should always be an enjoyable experience that results in you receiving your deposit back and the end of the tenancy. The arrangement of UK property inventories will help ensure that you do get your money back, and we all know how much you’ll need it!

Tenants – Protect You Deposit; Know Your Rights

Before renting a property in the UK, the landlord you are dealing with will ask you to pay an up-front deposit. This will usually be to the total of one or two months’ rent. The general reason for taking a deposit is to give the tenant an incentive to look after the property; however, while most landlords are trustworthy, as a tenant, handing over such a large amount of money to someone you don’t know has to be seen as a risk. Therefore, it is essential that you know your rights and responsibilities.

Here are some tips on how to protect your deposit when moving into a rental property.

Make sure the landlord is a member of a Tenancy Deposit Scheme

As of 6 April 2007, all deposits taken by landlords must have been safeguarded by a Government approved Tenancy Deposit Scheme. There are three schemes available and landlords are free to choose which one to use; safeguarding each deposit and informing the tenant of the scheme used within 30 days or receiving the money.

Before handing over any money to a landlord or signing any home inventory, UK residents are urged to check that the landlord is part of a Tenancy Deposit Scheme. It is also essential to keep a receipt of payment as evidence.

Understand the tenancy agreement

tenancy agreement

Tenancy agreements may seem overly wordy and tedious, but they contain essential information about what you can and cannot do while renting a home. Rental agreements often contain clauses related to the keeping of pets, and certain aspects of the home; if you do not clearly understand these clauses and do not abide by them, you may lose your deposit.

Also essential is a full home inventory. UK-wide inventory company services specialise in providing comprehensive reports into the condition of a property and its contents before a tenant moves in to a home and after they move out. A landlord will generally provide you with such an inventory and it is important that you read and agree with it before signing, otherwise you may be accused of causing damage that was pre-existing.

It can be wise to hire a home or flat inventory company of your own to carry out a report before moving in and out of a property. This will help protect you in a dispute over deposit.

Don’t make changes without permission

If you wish to make any changes to a property, such as replacing doors or painting walls, make sure that you get permission IN WRITING before doing so.

Look after the property

Remember, as a tenant it is your responsibility to look after a property. This means causing no damage and returning it to its original state at the end of the tenancy. Most disputes between landlords and tenants are over the general state of cleanliness. Not keeping a home clean is a silly way to risk losing your deposit.

Only use regulated agents

To avoid rogue landlords, only rent from agents that are regulated by one of the following professional bodies:

  • National Federation of Property Professionals (NFoPP)
  • Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS)
  • National Approved Letting Scheme (NALS).

When hiring a home or flat inventory company, it is recommended that you use a member of the AIIC (Association of Independent Inventory Clerks).

Court action

If you believe that a landlord is wrongly holding your deposit and they cannot be convinced to give you it back, it is possible to have a court settle a disagreement. The court will look at all of the evidence in the case and make a decision on whether a landlord should return part or all of the deposit.

In the event of a dispute, a home inventory will be vital in helping a court decide a case, although it should be said that the evidence contained within inventories often prevents disputes reaching court.

 

Photo sources: ohmyapt.apartmentratings.com

Are Photos Worth A Thousand Words During Inventory Checks?

Photos-Property-Inventory-NoLettingGoWhether you are a landlord or a tenant, letting inventory services in the UK are an essential part of property rental. The idea of an inventory is to catalogue the contents and condition of a property recording details of the home and any items that are included in the tenancy. The compiled report is then used as part of the legally binding contract between landlord and tenant preventing disputes over possible damages between both parties and aiding in a smooth transition from one tenant to the next.

Over the years, inventory reports have traditionally been compiled in writing, text still rules the roost; however, as technology advances and many people now have access to cameras in smartphones and tablets, there are an increasing number of landlords incorporating photos into inventories. There is an old saying that ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ and it’s hard to argue with this; but, can this saying really be applied to property inventory in the UK?

Finding the right balance

A picture can add a lot to an inventory, and photographs of large areas of damage such as holes in doors, carpet burns, and damage to worktops will go a long way in building a solid case against a tenant. However, when it comes to providing the perfect inventory report, a photo is only worth a thousand words if the right balance is found.

According to the Association of Independent Inventory Clerks (AIIC), an overseer of excellence in rental inventory services in the UK, photographs are being used more regularly in inventories. However, they are at the expense of written descriptions and this is leaving landlords exposed to costly disputes with tenants over damage.

In many reports, the AIIC has found that photos no bigger than thumbnails are being used as evidence. Naturally, with a picture being so small, detail is hard to see. Photographs of a decent size and quality though, can be very useful and many of today’s modern smartphones have the capability to produce detailed images.

Only quality photos will do

NoLettingGo-Inventory-ReportThe comprehensive nature of inventories means that it photos must only be provided if they are backed up by a written presentation. The most common disputes between landlords and tenants are over small damages, such as chips in cupboard doors, scratches in sinks and baths, and knife marks on worktops. Such damages, while minor, can result in financial losses for landlords and tenants if negligence cannot be proved and a photo alone is often not sufficient evidence as details are so fine.

In order for property inventory services in the UK to help landlords win disputes for either side in a rental agreement, it is essential that photos are of a high quality and printed in A4 or even A3. In addition to this, the photo should be dated on camera and only be used to make up part of a written report.

The written inventory may still rule the roost, but the use of photos is definitely here to stay.

Photo source: Paul Reynolds

Superstrike v Rodrigues landmark decision in lettings industry?

By now everyone has heard of the landmark decision of Lord Justice Lloyd on 14 June in a case that has sent shockwaves through the lettings industry. Put simply, the Court of Appeal decision in Superstrike v Rodrigues states that where an AST started before the advent of the deposit registration regulations but rolled over into a statutory periodic tenancy after 6 April 2007, any deposit should have been registered and prescribed information served. The implications of that decision are significant for the thousands of landlords and their agents who still have statutory periodic tenancies that arose in the months after April 2007. The decision is also a worry for all of those tenants who may have been evicted since then on the basis of an “unlawful” section 21 notice. After all, if the deposit was not registered and prescribed information not served, their landlord was not able to serve a valid section 21 notice to bring the AST to an end.

Since April of 2007 official sources suggest that over 1 million individuals have been forced to relocate in circumstances where, thanks to the Superstrike decision, a possession order was made on an invalid section 21 notice. The implication for landlords, managing agents and the judicial system is troubling. It is doubtless causing sleepless nights for those in the Department for Communities and Local Government charged with bringing some order out of the chaos.

Accordingly, it will come as no surprise for readers to learn that over the last few weeks there have been a number of meetings at a fairly senior level between representatives of the lettings industry, including ARLA, the principal deposit registration organisations and government officials to map out a way forward. Whether Mark Prisk, the current housing minister, will table new legislation to effectively overturn the Superstrike decision remains to be seen. However, with Parliament about to recess as I type this blog, it looks highly unlikely that there will be any significant change in the current position until October 2013 at the very earliest.

In the circumstances what should agents and landlords do if they have a pre-April 2007 AST which is still running on as a periodic tenancy?

The short answer is to refund the deposit as soon as possible to the tenant. Sadly, with the implementation of the Localism Act 2011 last year, it is no longer an option simply to register a deposit late if one wants to serve a section 21 notice. The deposit must be refunded in full.

To make matters worse, even if a deposit was registered on time – and remember time limits changed with effect from 6 April 2012 – if the prescribed information was served late, that now triggers a penalty of between 1 and 3 times the deposit plus the return of the deposit itself.

One intriguing aspect of the Superstrike decision concerns comments by Lord Justice Lloyd which suggest that when an existing AST lapses from a fixed term into a statutory periodic tenancy, it may be necessary to re-register the deposit, or at least re-serve the prescribed information. Logically this must be correct as the effect of the Housing Act 1988 is to create a “different” type of tenancy when an initial fixed term comes to an end. As a purely precautionary measure, therefore, we are now suggesting to all our clients that at the end of a fixed term, prescribed information is indeed re-served. Individual landlords and managing agents should also check with their deposit registration provider as to what else might need to be done to avoid their tenancy becoming a future test case!

One area which is being actively explored by some of the larger national chains is whether the entire problem of re-registration/re-service might be avoided by changing the definition of the fixed term. To avoid a statutory periodic tenancy arising at the end of, say, a twelve month AST, consider adding a rider to the definition of the term. This might provide that the tenancy continues “thereafter on a month by month basis until terminated by two months notice on either side”. Arguably this could prevent the tenancy changing from a contractual to statutory tenancy in the way that Lord Justice Lloyd mentioned in his judgment.

Clearly this has implications for renewal fees and flexibility. Accordingly, landlords and agents should seek professional advice both on the efficacy of adding such a clause and its exact wording.

As always, subscribers to our telephone helpline can receive “free” advice by calling the dedicated line provided. If you are not already a member of the Dutton Gregory telephone helpline service, please telephone one of our team on 01962 844333 for further details.

ROBERT J BOLWELL
Head of Landlord and Tenant Department
e-mail: r.bolwell@duttongregory.co.uk

Landlord won’t make repairs? Here’s some legal advice

Mention the word ‘landlord’ to some people and it will yield a reaction of dread or intense anger. Stories of landlords from hell are all too common, and while most are genuine and responsible, a small number of landlords ignoring their legal duties have allowed the few to tarnish the name of the many. If you find yourself in a situation whereby a landlord is refusing to carry out repairs that you feel are his or her responsibility, there are steps you can take.

Build a case

Home-Inventory-NoLettingGoIf a landlord is flat out refusing to do repairs or is ignoring your repeated requests, it may be that you have to take legal action; but before doing this you will need to build a strong case, which requires the help of a home or flat inventory company.

An inventory report is generally carried out before a tenant moves into a property and after they move out. However, it is possible to have in-depth reports quarterly, yearly, or at the mid-point in a tenancy agreement. By compiling a report, home or flat inventories can show clear evidence of damage and how a property has deteriorated since a previous report.

In addition to this, you should compile your own portfolio of evidence, by taking photographs of required repairs, copies of medical notes showing proof of your health being affected by the problem, receipts for any money spent on trying to fix the problem, and copies of letters sent to a landlord in relation to repairs.

While building a case, you should continually write to your landlord about the issue.

Contact Housing Standards Team

The next step is to contact your local council housing standards team. Housing standards are committed to ensuring all properties within their borough meet acceptable living conditions. Housing standards will ask for details and evidence of disrepair as well as name and contact details of the landlord. They will then arrange to visit the property and inspect the damage. At this time, the landlord will be contacted and given the opportunity to undertake all repairs. If he or she fails to do so, the council may serve statuary notices, followed by court action.

Taking legal action         

House-Repairs-NoLettingGoIt may be possible to take your landlord to court where an order can be given for necessary repair works to be carried out and possible compensation paid to you for inconvenience, damage to personal property and health caused by repairs not being done. Before taking this step though, you should be aware that court action can be a long and expensive process and should always be a last resort.

It is essential that you speak to your solicitor or to Citizen’s Advice before making a decision on legal action, and find out if you are eligible for legal aid. The evidence compiled by a home and flat inventory company and yourself will ensure you stand a good chance of winning in court; however, only ever proceed after having received comprehensive legal advice.

Photo sources: roaringapps.com – everythingsimple.com

Demanding Tenants

I received a call from a tenant the other day; he had moved into a property with his partner and had sent the landlord a long list of issues on day one. The landlord kept his response simple, “Sorry, sold as seen” and as far as he was concerned that was it. The tenants subsequently sent me the list and asked for my advice on their position. Here’s the list:

  1. Lounge walls have lots of scuff marks and needs an immediate re-paint
  2. Chest of drawers in second bedroom not opening smoothly and needs repairing
  3. Mould in sealant around the bath needs replacing
  4. Cushions on the sofa are very flat and uncomfortable
  5. Only 3 dining room chairs at the table which should have 4
  6. Lock on the master bedroom door doesn’t work

I can see the landlords point;the tenant saw the house online, viewed the property with the estate agents and wanted it as it was. Yes there are a couple of understandable points within the tenants list, but I imagine on reading it the landlord had the sudden realisation he had some rather pedantic tenants on his hands for the next year! Then I thought are these tenants pedantic or are they just house proud? They have gone through the flat and are not happy about scuff marked walls and mould around the edge of their bath.

I once had two male tenants,professional sharers just out of uniin one of my flats. At the first maintenance inspection three months in they had not even unpacked their moving boxes and it was pretty evident they didn’t clean the bathroom or kitchen either. At the end of the tenancy the mould on the shower and bath seals was almost coming alive!

What I am saying is, is it so bad that you have picky tenants? Are they just trying to make a home for themselves? Surely landlords can be safer in the knowledge that they are taking pride in looking after your investment property as if it was their own rather than using and abusing it leaving you a royal mess to deal with before you can find tenants when they vacate.

As a landlord it’s worth being reasonable when it comes to these kind of demands, maybe give in a little at the start, a couple of hundred pounds on a handy man putting a few things right to get off on the right foot could well be a good investment. Let’s be honest it’s your property and furniture you are improving and tenants who complain about things like scuff marks will probably look after their newly painted walls leaving them in a good state of repair for the next tenants. But be firm and set out exactly what needs doing and what they can expect from you with regards to maintenance in the future, taking this approach should avoid to do lists every month or so!

At the end of the day if your tenants are happy in their rental home they will treat your property with care and respect, they are also far more likely to want to extend their contract if they are happy and along with rental payments being made on time that’s all you want as a landlord isn’t it?

We know that you can’t rely on the luck of having caring tenants when it comes to your flat: take a look at our national property check services.

What is Clean?

By Nick Lyons, Managing Director, No Letting Go

Whilst it may be of no surprise to many long time property managers, the introduction of the deposit schemes (TDS) has highlighted an area that causes a great deal of time-related cost in the industry. It seems that the most common cause of complaint is, and has been, cleanliness and from my various discussions with property managers and adjudicators over the previous few years, the most difficult element to determine is “What is Clean?

cleaning products

You’ve got the cleaning products – but what constitutes ‘clean’?

It is fair to say that what one person calls clean, is not what another person calls clean and therefore as an inventory management company, property manager, landlord or in house inventory clerk, how do you benchmark standards and determine levels of cleanliness so that we all know what we are talking about?

In the early days of the deposits schemes, the first statistics to come from all three adjudications as published by Mortgage Trust in 2009 showed that 43% of disputes were related directly to cleanliness.

The TDS scheme at the time was reporting figures in the region of 50% and recent figures released by a landlord survey carried out by mydeposits.co.uk showed that 88.5% of disputes were related to cleanliness, 53.8% were related to wear and tear and 23% related to gardening.

No Letting Go carried out an analysis of all check outs at its various UK offices in 2010/11 to ascertain which areas of the check out were causing most disputes. Cleanliness was (not surprisingly) the biggest area – registering around 78% of the negative comments, closely followed by rubbish, damage and to a lesser extent general maintenance.

To back up the No Letting Go survey on check-outs we went further and carried out an analysis of 100 inventories from various sources including inventory companies, agents and landlords.

Surprisingly we found that only a few companies stated what they determine as clean, most in fact had such a vague explanation that I was amazed that any property manager could make a decision on the level of cleanliness required for the property without having to make a visit themselves! However more companies did make a determined effort to define levels of condition.

As part of a review of No Letting Go inventories following our research we introduced a list of definitions or parameters to state what we meant by clean. We found at the time that we spend an enormous amount of time explaining how dirty or clean a property was.

Inventory companies are in the business of independently registering facts in a subjective area of the property business, thus we needed a way to say to our clients what we meant by the various states of cleanliness. And by that, we mean:

What is a professional clean?

What does cleaned to a professional standard mean?

What is the difference between a good domestic clean and average domestic clean?

What does not clean actually mean and so on.

For example, No Letting Go define Professionally Clean as:

Everything immaculate, sparkling and dust free. Appliances and sanitary ware spotless. Carpets steamed cleaned, vacuumed. Floors swept. All furniture in order and clean. Linen freshly laundered. Cleaned to a high professional standard by a professional cleaner, receipt seen. Name of the company and date carried out.

The key here is not about our own opinions and differences on what we all call clean. It is about clearly telling a property manager or landlord (or adjudicator) what the benchmark is and therefore provide detailed and clear information to be able to make decision on the levels of cleanliness required to get a property ready for the next tenancy or to make it easy to calculate a deposit deduction.

Furthermore, with the increasing importance of the check-in procedure by gaining tenants’ agreement to the inventory and the schedule of condition at the start of the tenancy, clearly defining a level of cleanliness (whether in the inventory and schedule of condition and/or in a separate check in report) is critical.

Knowing that such a high proportion of issues relate to cleanliness, explaining to your tenant what is expected of them before and at the end of the process will mean less ambiguity which in turn saves time and money.

The best inventory management condition reports are not only the most detailed, but the clearest.

For further details on the No Letting Go cleanliness parameters call us on 0800 8815 366 or simply visit our website at http://www.nolettinggo.co.uk/property-inventory-articles.html and look at any of our inventory, check in or check out reports. We define both cleanliness and condition parameters to make it easy to make a decision.

How is the shortage of new properties affecting the buy to let market?

From all the media stories, no-one is quite sure whether the property market is booming or not!

How is the shortage of new properties affecting the buy to let market?

A shortage of new properties is affecting the UK rental market

The simple answer is that the buy-to-let sector is doing very well but it would be doing even better if there were more new properties to buy. There’s an increasing market in the number of people looking to rent which means that demand is pushing up rents.

Indeed, the Council of Mortgage Lenders recently said that investing in houses and flats to rent is growing in popularity once more.

They say that the number of buy-to-let properties soared by 84,000 last year – with buy-to-let mortgages now accounting for nearly 13 per cent of the total outstanding value of home loans in the UK.

That means that investing in property to rent is a worthwhile proposition once again.

But let’s not kid ourselves about the current situation for prospective investors. While the buy-to-let market is picking up, it’s nowhere near the heady heights of the 2007 property boom. And most of the investors picking up properties for their letting portfolios are cash-rich investors.

It makes sense really: property prices are relatively low and rent prices are still fairly high which means that there’s a good return on your investment.

And the market for renting a home in the UK is continuing to grow.

Estate agents Countrywide say that last year, more than 275,000 new tenants registered for private rental accommodation – a 24 per cent increase on the previous year.

Across most of the UK there is a shortage of property to rent which means rental prices are remaining high and increasing in some areas.

Potential landlords can still buy property to enjoy the rental market using buy-to-let mortgages from many lenders. In fact, there’s so much competition for a potential landlord’s business that the average borrowing rate on a buy-to-let mortgage has fallen in recent months.

The headline of this article is: How is the shortage of new properties affecting the buy to let market? However, it would be wiser to read this as: How is the shortage of new good quality properties affecting the buy to let market?

That’s because the population of the UK is growing and it’s a relatively transient one – people are moving to where the work is and they are willing to pay for a good quality home.

Though there is no doubt that underpinning the buy-to-let market is the fact that not enough new homes are being built and people are living longer as well as the fact that there are more single person occupied homes.

For more information and advice on the current state of the buy-to-let market, contact the UK’s premium provider of landlord services NoLettingGo.co.uk or call 0800 8815 366.

No Letting Go are the UK’s leading provider of inventory management services, providing check in and check out services, property inventory and condition reports and specialist on site services to landlords, lettings agents and property professionals.

How should we deal with one tenant leaving during a tenancy?

It’s always a situation you hope, as a landlord, you don’t have to deal with – when a tenant leaves early.

What to do when a tenant leaves a tenancy early

Handing back the keys: What to do when a tenant leaves a tenancy early

Not only do you have the issues of finding another tenant you also have the potential legal issues to deal with surrounding the tenant’s leaving.

First things first: you should have in your tenancy agreement a clause that covers such an occurrence.  This is vital – especially if the tenant’s leaving turns into a legal dispute.

When a tenant puts in a request to terminate and leave early from a fixed term tenancy it is essentially a negotiation between them and the landlord. (The issue is clouded if there is one tenant leaving, leaving others behind and this would be covered by ‘Surrender in Part’ and is a slightly different issue).

A landlord is not obliged to let a tenant break the terms of the tenancy but it’s often common sense to negotiate. You need to calculate any loss of fees you may incur – which in itself may be disputed -  or whether your clause for early termination has an actual penalty value to cover the costs you will have to carry and is one agreed by the tenant when s/he signs the contract.

A leaving tenant may also find the landlord a replacement tenant. Do not at any point say yes to the new tenant without carrying out your usual vetting procedures. They may be a perfectly good tenant but they aren’t taking over the tenancy as theirs will be a fresh contract.

This situation is going to occur so it’s more of a situation of how you handle the transition. By working with the leaving tenant you will part on good terms and avoid any missed rent payments.

It’s always wise to talk since any costs you incur funding a replacement will have to be borne by the leaving tenant (or, if you have a penalty clause, the costs will be covered by that).

When a tenant decides to leave a property is something of a legal grey area.

There is no legislation covering this eventuality and landlords need to set the terms for early termination, notice of termination and how the notice is served. This is purely a contractual matter between landlord and tenant.

This termination date needs to be agreed. You should get a proper ‘Surrender of Tenancy Letter’ which will act as a written document and which will then be proof that the tenant has given up possession of the property to the landlord.

If the tenancy agreement between landlord and tenant does not have a break clause and the landlord refuses to accept the termination notice then the tenant is contractually liable to pay the remaining rent balance for the fixed term tenancy.

This is where the art of negotiation is necessary. If there are seven months remaining on the tenancy then you could both settle on four months rent as a settlement to quit.

For more information and advice about how to deal with one tenant leaving during a tenancy, contact the UK’s premium provider of landlord services NoLettingGo.co.uk or call 0800 8815 366.

No Letting Go are the UK’s leading provider of inventory management services, providing check in and check out services, property inventory and condition reports and specialist on site services to landlords, lettings agents and property professionals.