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Hi, all

 

I have a break clause in my 12-month tenancy agreement which states:

 

‘It is agreed that {after an initial period of four months} two months’ notice in writing may be served by either party to terminate this agreement. After 6 months if no notice has been served the contract will revert to a fixed term for a further 6 months’.

 

I believe that the letting agent intended the clause to say that I could end the tenancy after 6 months as long as I had given them notice before the end of the 4th month. Hence, giving them 2 months to find a new tenant. However, to my mind, the break clause is stating that I can give two months notice any time between 'an initial period of four months' and '6 months'.

 

Your thoughts are most welcome as I am currently in discussions with the letting agent on the subject.

 

Many thanks,

 

Adam.

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It is agreed that {after an initial period of four months} two months’ notice in writing may be served by either party to terminate this agreement.

 

So far so good and quite clear.

 

After 6 months if no notice has been served the contract will revert to a fixed term for a further 6 months’.

 

Not so clear, although we can guess the intention - you only have a two month window to serve a break notice. "After 6 months" presumably means within 6 months of the start date. But what happens after the first 6 months? The contract "reverts" to a further 6 months. The words "reverts" and "further" do not sit easily with each other and in any event how can what starts off as a 12 month term revert to a 6 month one? So, all it seems to be saying is that the tenancy carries on. However it does not say that no notice can be served which means you can go back to:

 

It is agreed that {after an initial period of four months} two months’ notice in writing may be served by either party to terminate this agreement.

 

So we have a problem that whilst the intention can be guessed it is not expressed.

 

Which way do you want to argue it? :)

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Hi, Aequitas

 

Thank you for your reply.

 

I want there to be a two-month window (from the end of the fourth month of the tenancy to the end of the sixth month) in which I can give two months notice. I also strongly believe that the clause gives me such a window. It would appear that you are in agreement.

 

However, the letting agency inform me (via email, they don't seem to want to answer their phone!) that I needed to give my notice at the end of May (being the fourth month) in order for the break clause to bite. It is almost as if they believe that 'after an initial period of four months' applies to a single date (at the end of May). And I had a 1-day window in which to hand in my notice. Though, if this had been their intention, why include the 'after 6 months' part?!

 

Adam.

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Whilst there are some doubts about the wording I do not think it can be doubted that at the very least there is a two month window during which notice can be served. We know notice cannot be served until four months has elapsed. There is no express indication of the last date a notice can be served. To the extent there is a suggestion of the last date a notice can be served it is when six months has expired. There can be no justification for asserting that notice can only be served on one day. "After" means, well...after and not "on".

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Aequitas,

 

Thanks again for posting a response.

 

My very strong suspicion is that the girl who drafted the break clause has made a mistake. The statement 'after an initial four months' is paranthesised which leads me to believe that these words were added in to the clause at the final hour. I'm not sure what the wording should have been, but I suspect that the break clause which I have been given is not the standard one offered by the agency. So, the agency are 'trying it on' in the hope that I will accept that I have 'missed the boat'. However, they are very much mistaken!

 

I will ensure that I post the final outcome of my discussions with the letting agency.

 

Cheers,

 

Adam.

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