Patricia Pearl - Small Claims Procedure - A Practical Guide


An excellent guide for the layperson in how to use the County Court - a must if you are intending to start a claim.

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  1. #1
    Basic Account Holder Meowrenter Novitiate

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    Unhappy Please help! House in disrepair - Do I have the right to leave house before end of tenancy?

    Hello,

    I am hoping someone can help me?

    We are 9 months into our 12 month tenancy. The property is owned by a charity and managed by a letting agent. We have had nothing but problems since we moved in, some of which have affected my health and it is now clear that the landlords will not take all the steps necessary to resolve the problems.
    The tenancy is due to end in October, I want to leave August 30th but they say we would have to give 2 months notice. Properties do not come up often where I live and I canít afford to miss out.
    My question is surely if the problems are bad enough they have broken the contract and we should be able to hand the keys back without recourse?
    My local authority can insist that they carry out the repairs but in October the landlords could just end the tenancy, at which point there may not be another property available. And to be honest it has put that much strain on me and our relationship that we just donít want to live there anymore.
    I think they should be glad that we do this and not take legal action against them but they obviously donít agree.
    Any advice on how to get out of the contract quickly would be appreciated.
    Thanks!



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    Default Re: Please help! House in disrepair - Do I have the right to leave house before end of tenancy?

    Does anyone here have any advice on this or suggest where else I could go for help? Thanks...


  3. #3
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    Default Re: Please help! House in disrepair - Do I have the right to leave house before end of tenancy?

    May give you some advice here-Ending a fixed term agreement

    There are special rules on how you can end your tenancy if it for a fixed period (such as six months or one year), which has not yet ended. Your tenancy could be fixed term even if you pay the rent each week/month.
    Contents


    What if my landlord agrees that I can leave?

    It is possible to get out of the agreement at any time if you can come to a mutual agreement with your landlord. This is called 'surrender'. To be valid, both sides must agree, and it's always best to put what's been agreed in writing so everyone knows where they stand. If you have a joint tenancy all the joint tenants and the landlord must agree to the surrender.
    It's worth seeing if your landlord is willing to negotiate even if your tenancy agreement says you can't leave early. It may be convenient for both of you!
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    What happens when my agreement runs out?

    If your agreement is for a fixed term (eg six months), you can leave on the last day of the fixed term without giving notice. But you must ensure that you do not stay even one day over, or you will automatically become a periodic tenant and will have to give proper notice or come to an agreement with your landlord.
    If you intend to leave on the last day you are not legally required to give the landlord any notice, but it's usually a good idea to do so, to avoid any dispute about when you actually left. Good communication helps things to go smoothly. Remember that you may need a reference to get a new home and, if you've paid a deposit, you're more likely to get it back if you keep the landlord informed.
    If you stay for beyond the fixed term and your landlord doesn't give you a new fixed term agreement, your tenancy or licence will automatically become periodic, which means that it rolls from week to week or month to month. Most of your other rights will stay the same, but the rules on how you can end the agreement will be different.
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    Can I give the landlord notice and if so, how much?

    Many fixed term agreements (including some assured shorthold tenancies with private landlords) contain a 'break clause', which allows you to end the agreement before the end of the fixed term.
    Check your agreement to see if it includes a clause like this.
    • If it does include a break clause, it should also say how much notice you have to give and whether there are any special procedures you have to follow.
    • If it doesn't include a break clause then you cannot end the tenancy early unless the landlord agrees to it. If you leave anyway you can still be liable for the rent to the end of the period.
    Contact a local advice centre if there's anything you're not sure of - use our directory to find one.
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    Can I get someone else to move in?

    This may be possible if you have no choice but to leave early and want to avoid paying rent on more than one home. However, you have to get the landlord's agreement for the person you suggest to move into the property. The landlord may want to take up references for them. The landlord should give the new person their own tenancy or licence agreement - otherwise, you will still be legally responsible for the tenancy.
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    What if I just walk away?

    Walking away or posting the keys through the letterbox is called 'abandonment' and will not end your agreement. Your agreement with the landlord will continue even though you've left and the landlord can continue to charge you rent, so you're likely to build up rent arrears. If your agreement is fixed term, you can be charged rent until the term ends.
    The landlord can apply for a court order to make you pay what you owe. The court will decide whether you should have to pay your landlord the money or not. If the landlord has managed to let out the property they can't claim rent from you after the new tenant moved in.
    Doing a runner may also make it harder for you to find a new home. Most private landlords ask new tenants for references from previous landlords and are not keen to rent to anyone who has abandoned a tenancy or licence in the past or has a history of rent arrears.
    Similarly, it's important to make sure that you have somewhere to go when you leave. If you need to make a homelessness application in future, the council may decide that you are intentionally homeless, because you left a home that you could have stayed in.
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    What other options are there?

    If the landlord won't allow you to leave early and won't allow a new tenant suggested by you to move in, you may be able to negotiate to only pay part of the rent you owe. For example, if there are four months left on a fixed term agreement, the landlord might agree to only two months' rent instead while they look for a new tenant.
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    What if I have a joint tenancy or licence?

    You have a joint tenancy or licence if you share with a spouse, partner, family member or friend and both/all of your names are on the agreement.
    The actions of each individual person will affect all of your rights. For instance:
    • If one of you leaves without ending the tenancy correctly, the whole rent will still be due and the other(s) will have to pay the missing person's share.
    • If one of you has caused damage, the landlord may be entitled to take money out of your shared deposit.
    You can only end a fixed term joint tenancy if your landlord and all the other joint tenants agree or if there’s a break clause and the other tenants agree to use it. It’s a good idea to get any permission given in writing so that you have proof of what was agreed. If any of the joint tenants want to stay they would have ensure the landlord would grant them a new tenancy, if the original agreement ends.
    If you're thinking about leaving, be sure to discuss it with the other joint tenant(s) before you take any action. It may be possible for someone else to take your place, and/or for the landlord to give a new agreement to those who are staying.




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  4. #4
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    Default Re: Please help! House in disrepair - Do I have the right to leave house before end of tenancy?

    If you're going to have to remain in the property for now and it's in disrepair, your landlord has certain responsibilities to carry out the repairs. There are steps you can take to get your landlord to do the repairs, starting with reporting the problem to them.
    Unfortunately, you don't have the right to end the tenancy just because it's in a bad condition. However, it may be that your landlord would rather negotiate with you to leave the tenancy early than carry out repairs.

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    Default Re: Please help! House in disrepair - Do I have the right to leave house before end of tenancy?

    Who have you been in touch with the letting agency or the landlord,the charity.I would have thought the charity would be more understanding of your situation.Good luck,Tawnyowl.


  6. #6
    Basic Account Holder Kentish Lass Informative Kentish Lass Informative Kentish Lass Informative Kentish Lass's Avatar

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    Default Re: Please help! House in disrepair - Do I have the right to leave house before end of tenancy?

    Tawnyowl is correct in that you cannot just walk away from your fixed term contract, unless you come to some kind of agreement with your landlord and it will be on his terms. If they insist on making you stick with the contract, then there is little you can do. Remember though that as it is a fixed term contract you DO NOT HAVE TO GIVE NOTICE TO LEAVE ON THE LAST DAY OF THE FIXED TERM. You can just walk away!!

    Regarding repairs not being carried out, your best recourse is to do the following:

    Write to your landlord (via agent if you have to, but it is the landlord's responsibility) and list the repairs required, with the most urgent first. Tell them that you have repeatedly requested that these repairs be carried out and that unless action is taken within the next 7 days, you will arrange for the necessary repairs and deduct the cost from the rent.

    Then contact the environmental health people at the council and set things in motion. You have nothing to lose, and everything to gain as if they say the property is unfit, you can then walk away.

    You have not told us what sort of repairs we are talking about - it might be helpful to have some idea.

    Kentish Lass
    Information given is based on my knowledge and experience and is not to be considered as legal advice
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