I'm one of two tenants (spouse and I) on an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) agreement whose fixed term ends at the end of the month. The agency recently proposed a new fixed term agreement, but we now want to continue on a Statutory Periodic Tenancy. We are aware of the risks, and are willing to take them. We made it absolutely clear that we are not signing another document (so no agreed periodic tenancy). However, the agents still want to charge us £70 per head (£140 in total) for every six month period of the SPT. They justify this with our tenancy agreement which reads among the obligations of the tenant: "To pay £70 inclusive of VAT per tenant & guarantor for each extension of the Tenancy."
When pressed that this would be for no work at all, they replied:
I've read a number of posts like 218974-Fees-charged-for-going-into-Statutory-Periodic-Tenancy or 395672-Rollover-To-Periodic-Tenancy (links removed due to insufficient privileges), but I think our case is marginally different:
Our lease does not specify what an "extension" is.
The agents claim it's not for them. However I cannot see that this actually in my (and not the landlord's) interest to "renew the tenant references" and to "ensure their insurance is still in place".
The question is now: what can I do about it?
We will definitely contact the Landlord and see if we can work it out with him directly (this may take some time, as I only have postal address). But with respect to the agency - is there a good strategy to move on?
Play the delay game: Just do nothing.
Is there a fixed interpretation of the term "extension"? (* see footnote)
Dispute the fee as unfair (are there precedents)?
What are the consequences of non-payment?
I mean £140 is a significant amount of money, but probably not enough to being sued out of the house for breach of contract (I can live with two months' notice, or I would not be going for a SPT, but anything shorter would be a pain. Same holds with any kind of legal proceedings).
Thanks in advance!
(*) Ha. Just found the following at the end of the tenancy agreement:
This would imply, that a SPT is NOT an extension. But unfortunately I am not a lawyer.