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Hello,

 

I was referred to the CAG by a friend.

 

I have been renting my current apartment since November last year (as a joint tenancy). However,my partner has asked me to move in with him, and coupled with the wealth of problems that we have had, hand in hand, at my current place, I'd like to move out before the end of the tenancy.

 

Our contract states a two month notice period (break clause), which I'm more than happy to give, but when I went to clarify this with the letting agent, they informed me that as I was just moving out, I wouldn't need to hand in my notice (but would need to find a tenant - again, that's fine).

 

They then added that I would be solely responsible for paying a £250 charge, plus VAT, which when pressed, they clarified was a penalty and administration charge lumped into one. I have yet to get them to clarify quite what I'm being penalised for - as far as I can see, I'm not breaking the terms of the contract, and they (or the landlord) won't be losing rent if I provide a replacement.

 

Can they actually charge that amount? I'll have to double check the contract (as it may be wishful thinking on my part here), as I'm half-certain that it makes no mention of a penalty charge for moving out.

 

Thank you in advance.

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need more info. what sort of agreement did you sign, how long was it for 6 months/year etc. any deposit involved?

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Need to know the terms of the agreement, but unless you have agreed to these charges in advance, you do not have to pay them. I think this is a typical agency try-on.

 

Also, if there is a break clause in your contract and you are acting within the terms of the contract, you do not have to find a tenant either. That is the point of having a break clause - i.e. so one or other party to the contract can break it after a certain point (usually 6 months).


Kentish Lass

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

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Hello,

 

Thank you for your replies.

 

It was a joint tenancy shorthold assured agreement, for a year. I can't remember if there was anything about penalty charges - I think there was with administration (a check out fee, but for an unspecified amount - although we asked for them to specify this), but certainly not penalty.

 

I don't have the contract in front of me at the moment to double check this, but shall do so when I get home after work.

 

Is there any way to refuse to pay it? Or to ask them to justify it? I thought I had read somewhere that for penalty charges they had to be able to justify the cost of the penalty (for example, it would be unjust to charge £50 to send out a letter). I may be wrong in this.

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A quick update:

 

The letting agent have sent me a copy of an agreement that we signed before the contract (when giving the deposit). It says that any change of tenant or amendments to the tenacy will result in a fee (once agreed with landlord) of £250+VAT. So I presume that this is where the fee comes from - I feel that is still an unjust amount (especially for an individual).

 

It also seems there is a further charge of £75-250 for an inventory check out, which is taken straight from the deposit.

 

In all likelihood, is this a cost I'm going to have to swallow up?

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These charges seem absolutely outrageous. I would resist them, and certainly refuse to agree to any deductions from your deposit. It should be protected, and they can't just help themselves to it without your agreement.

 

Difficult when you have signed your agreement though, without knowing actual costs etc.


Kentish Lass

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

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I'm glad that it's not just me then! At the time of signing, the assumption was that this would be a split cost, so that I've now been told that this is an individual charge, I'm quite shocked.

 

I've told them that I'm shocked by the amount, and asked once again for what the penalty is (they keep telling me that it's a penalty fee, but there is no mention of a penalty fee within the document).

 

And ah, within seconds of writing that, he has amended it to say that it is the cost of redrafting the agreement and the deposit. Again, given that I am giving the notice, should this cost not fall on everyone (or the new possible tenant)?

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And ah, within seconds of writing that, he has amended it to say that it is the cost of redrafting the agreement and the deposit. Again, given that I am giving the notice, should this cost not fall on everyone (or the new possible tenant)?

 

You had a legitimate break clause within the contract which you have used. You have given the correct notice.

 

Redrafting the agreement - is he having a laugh - 5 minutes to change the names and press print. And the new tenant will be paying that. Didn't you pay an admin fee for your agreement when you moved in??

 

And what about the deposit? The DPS is free to use! Tell this agent you are prepared to pay £75 for the check out (no more) and that you will seek legal advice regarding the other charges which you consider to be unfair and extortion.

 

Is this agency a member of anything like ARLA? You could complain to any professional body that they are a member of.


Kentish Lass

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

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They wavered the administration fees when we moved in, mostly because it looked like we were walking away from signing up to the property, and they thought it would entice us.

 

The penalty charge isn't in the contract, but in the terms and conditions that we signed to the agent after we had paid a holding deposit (so again, an unfair term to sign, as they already had some of our money without us fully understanding the outcome). I suppose the worry is that we did sign to it - but it also is extortion.

 

They ARE a member of ARLA, so I've sent an email to them raising my concerns. We're also going to draft out an email to them about other issues, as they've broken quite a few of ARLA's rules, from the looks of things.

 

Worst comes to the worst, I can stay at my current place for a bit longer - the contract expires in November, so it would only be another month and a half (my other flatmates want to move out then in light of this).

 

Thank you.

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Playing devils advocate here and I will make a number of assumptions (correct them if they are wrong because it is important!);

 

From your first post I take it that its a joint tenancy agreement i.e. your both named on the same agreement?. Can I also take it that the other tenant is remaining in the property?

 

If so, then how exactly do you think you have exercised the break clause? Post the exact wording of it on here, but as its a joint tenancy I would expect that the break clause requires BOTH of the tenants (legally one tenant) to exercise the breakclause and leave, not just one of the joint parties.

 

While the fees you have been quoted do seem 'expensive' if one tenant is remaining then your not actually exercising the breakclause, your asking to be released from your tenancy agreement early - they could turn around and say 'No, you are liable for rent until the end'.

 

Just play it carefully, It appears from first reading that you hold all the cards, BUT it might only appear that way.

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How long was the agreement for; six months or a year?

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Hi.

 

I can see your point of view - and perhaps I should have also added that there was another clause for when just one tenants moves out - and that was just that they notified the letting agent and found a replacement tenant (all of which is en par with previous properties I have rented). My original email to the letting agents was just to clarify whether I needed to exercise the breakclause - which was where they told me that I did not have to give my notice, but replace myself.

 

You are correct - it's a joint tenancy agreement between three people (and yes, we're all named on the same agreement). The other two tenants would be remaining (although one was looking to move out a little later this year before the contract expired).

 

Thank you though - I can see your point, and as of the moment I'm staying put for now, as this makes moving out more expensive than staying ;).

 

ETA: It was a year long contract - we're 8 months into it.

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Hi.

 

I can see your point of view - and perhaps I should have also added that there was another clause for when just one tenants moves out - and that was just that they notified the letting agent and found a replacement tenant (all of which is en par with previous properties I have rented). My original email to the letting agents was just to clarify whether I needed to exercise the breakclause - which was where they told me that I did not have to give my notice, but replace myself.

 

You are correct - it's a joint tenancy agreement between three people (and yes, we're all named on the same agreement). The other two tenants would be remaining (although one was looking to move out a little later this year before the contract expired).

 

Thank you though - I can see your point, and as of the moment I'm staying put for now, as this makes moving out more expensive than staying ;).

 

ETA: It was a year long contract - we're 8 months into it.

 

Okay.

 

It could be cheaper, like you say, to stay to the end. Keep in mind that as you have signed a joint tenancy agreement you will ALL have to agree to leave at the end of the 12 months. If one or two of you want to stay and they dont sign a new fixed term, the tenancy will become a periodic tenancy with you all still liable for the rent. If that happens, you wont be able to leave until the end of month 13 with correct notice.

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Ah, thank you - I hadn't realised that. I think we were all planning to leave in any case, but I'll pass this on.

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