Here is a question to the blog clinic from John (not his real name) who is a tenant.
We have been living in a rented property for 2 years (12 months AST) and the landlord considers us to be excellent tenants. We have renewed each year, signing up for the whole year. The landlord lives overseas and has commissioned a local agent to manage the re-letting of the property.
The landlord gave us notice of renewal and we advised that we were seeking to purchase a property and were therefore not in a position to commit to a full year.
We advised the landlord that we were in the process of purchasing a new-build property and asked that we remain in the property for an additional 10 days after the end of the fixed term (based on the projected completion date) and that we were willing to pay for the entire month in advance.
The landlord refused stating they prefer yearly commitment for tenants and were therefore unwilling to allow the tenancy to roll onto a monthly periodic. The deposit is protected and all the tenancy / notice documentation is in order.
The landlord subsequently served us a Section 21, we acknowledged its receipt accordingly. We then made arrangements to move into temporary accommodation for a 10 day period at the end of July and to place all of our possessions into storage.
The developer has subsequently advised that the likely completion date has slipped until 1st September. We are unable to remain in the temporary accommodation for the remainder of August and our storage costs will double.
It has been suggested to us, that we stay put in the current property and advise the letting agent and landlord of our intentions. We are willing to pay full rent in advance and as goodwill gesture we can offer to pay an additional £100 (this being the increase in new rent the property is being advertised at)
We are confident that the revised new-build schedule is accurate and that the landlord will not be out of pocket due to our actions. We have also been advised that there has been no firm interest from prospective new tenants. We are eager to balance the risk of being homeless with causing problems for the landlord and letting agent, although other than a delay in the agent getting their admin fee we can’t see any other impact. The local authority are under no duty to temporarily house us and we are unable to afford B&B accommodation for a month.
All of our research suggests we can just “sit tight” and as long as we are honest about our intentions and continue to pay the rent, the landlord will have to apply for a possession order. A lengthy search of the net leads us to believe that even with an accelerated possession order, we would still have more than enough time to move into the new property.
1. Are we correct in our interpretation of the situation.
2. If an accelerated possession is applied for and the vacation date falls before our completion date, can we apply for exceptional hardship on the grounds of being made homeless (albeit temporarily)
3. What notice would we be required to give the landlord once we are into a “periodic” tenancy and staying beyond the section 21 date.
4. If we pay full rent in advance, can the landlord choose to deduct anything from our deposit (held in bond) as a result of our actions.
John, you underrate your rights as tenants.
1. Yes, you are fully entitled to stay in the property under a periodic tenancy (explained here) until the landlord obtains a County Court order for possession. If he has served a section 21 notice then no doubt he will succeed if he brings a claim, assuming of course his paperwork is in order. You will probably be ordered to pay costs (if the order is made), but this will be fixed costs and is unlikely to be more than about £300 – so it will probably be more cost effective than moving out into B&B.
You don’t actually have to tell the landlord anything if you don’t want to – although once the tenancy runs on as a periodic tenancy you will need to give your landlord notice to vacate – see below.
2. Yes, but the Judge cannot give you more than six weeks from the date of the court order. So if the Court Order for possession was made on 1 September, then the possession order will normally require you to vacate within 14 days, but the Judge has the power to delay the order for possession until 12 October.
However you do not actually HAVE to move out until the landlord makes an appointment for the court bailiff to physically evict you. Which will probably take some weeks, depending on how busy the bailiffs office is. The landlord will not be able to apply for a bailiffs appointment until after the date for possession in the order so in reality you will get a few weeks more than the actual possession date anyway.
3. For a periodic tenancy you need to give notice of at least one ‘period’ and the notice period must end at the end of the period.
So if your fixed term tenancy ended on 16 July, then assuming the rent is payable monthly, the periodic tenancy would start on 17 July and would run from the 17th day in the month to the 16th day in the month. So you would have to give notice to vacate on the next 16th day of the month after one month after you give notice and the notice period you give will therefore be between one and two months – depending on when in the month you serve it.
The period is linked to the payment of rent, but in most cases rent is paid monthly so the periodic tenancy is a monthly one.
You can actually vacate the property before this, but you will still be liable for rent until the end of the notice period. Or if you don’t give notice, you will be liable for rent in lieu of notice.
4. Your landlord cannot deduct anything from your deposit as all you are doing is exercising your statutory rights to stay on after the end of the fixed term.