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LadyEarth

Ending AST early without comeback from dodgy landlord

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OK, a really long story here but the crux is; our landlord is in the process of selling thehouse to private buyers who want to move in by Christmas. We have an AST with seven months outstandingbut are happy to leave early so that we can move to somewhere permanent and getcomfortable (rather than waiting for the axe to fall). We have found somewhere that is available (ourkind of property is v hard to come by and we feel lucky that we have an out)but need to move in ASAP. LL will onlyend our tenancy at the point of exchange which may happen in a few weeks. We want to end the tenancy regardless ofexchange so that we can settle our family.

As the landlord did not treat our deposit appropriately wehave grounds to sue him and have suggested that if he ends our tenancy formallyby 30th we will not sue. Heis now trying to bring forward exchange etc.

My question is, our rent falls due on Saturday. If I pay only what would be due until 30thi.e. 6 days worth, would it reduce our leverage or make us vulnerable in anyway?

If payment is held until Monday (it would be paid thennormally as the SO for Saturday would prob go out Monday any way) would thatmake us vulnerable? Should I pay rent a day early to be sure of being on time?

Any other suggestions on how to emerge from this tenancyunscathed would be very welcome!

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Blackmail is a bad way to start any negotiation. Take the threat off the table. You can still proceed later if mutual agreement not reached. but a claim for non-protection could cost you £1K+ in up front Court fees and pot much more in defence costs if you are wrong plus your own legal costs for solic/barrister to prosecute your action.

Has LL served you a s21 Notice during T? If yes then invalid if deposit not correctly protected etc.

LL could refund full deposit and re-issue s21 . This does not however protect him from action for non-protection, but it is Judge's decision to assess level of penalty.

You mention little about your T other than it has 7 months remaining on fixed term? and LL wishes to complete sale by Xmas

You are under no obligation to vacate without a Court repo order, in which case new owners become your new LL on completion, suggesting sale would fail if new owners wanted vacant possession.

On the reverse, when rent in advance is due, full rent for that T period is due, a T cannot unilaterally pay less pro-rata. Equally a LL should expect a temp rent void to ensure vacant possessioon

My advice: Xmas is only ~4 wks away, allow next month SO payment in full and negotiate your T surrender date as last day of T period, signed by Deed of Surrender. otherewise LL may have claim on rent fore remaining fixed term

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Landlord really needs to compromise in this scenario.

 

If the new owners are wanting to move in, their solicitor should really get you to sign the contracts to say that you will leave. Their solicitor will be fully aware that LL cannot guarantee that you will move out otherwise.

 

Put it in this way to LL: "We have agreed in principle to allow you to sell your property despite being within a fixed term contract. We have a property that we can take now. If we are expected to work to your timescales, we cannot guarantee that we will find a property. If we cannot find a property in your timescales you must understand that we would be unable to move out. You have to see this from our point of view and not just from your point of view."

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With any normal person just such a reasonable argument would work. Unfortunately our LL isn't reasonable... Since moving in we have heard all sorts of stories about his dubious business practice. We have spent the last four weeks bending over backwards to try and make a solution and he has ignored our emails and avoided our calls. If this were purely a business deal we would stay until the end of our AST and then find somewhere else. However it is our home and now feels like it isn't, we are unwilling to invest in carpets, curtains etc in a house that we will be leaving soon which means the next 7 months will be uncomfortable. We have personal and business plans that will have to be put on hold until we have a secure home. For these personal reasons we are prepared to take some risks, but of course we don't want to end up with massive bills and a CCJ!

 

Interestingly the purchasers (who are unable to complete without vacant possession) are prepared to take over our tenancy immediately so that the landlord has no losses. He is refusing because it will reduce his leverage on an early sale. If we leave can he sue us for losses if he has refused an alternative tenant?

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