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huppelkutje

Landlord now saying my tenancy is 12 months not 6! Help please

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Hello everyone,

 

I hope that you can help me. Sorry this is really long but I'll try to get all the info in. I have been out of the UK for a number of years but found a job this year in the UK. I found a studio flat advertised online and arranged to rent it. The property was advertised on spareroom by the landlord but I had difficulty arranging an evening viewing with him, so he suggested 2 other local companies that he works with to arrange a viewing. I believe they are letting agents. I originally thought they owned some of the flats but now I know that he owns them all and they act as agents.

 

I said from the beginning that I might not stay after 6 months (this was also the min. term advertised online) as my probation period was 6 months and I had a feeling I might not like the job! I signed what I thought was a tenancy agreement with the letting agent, and a form for a reference search, both of these state 6 months (but the form that I thought was the tenancy agreement has SUBJECT TO CONTRACT at the top). The letter that I signed states the fees required for referencing & moving in, the move-in date, 6 month term and amount to pay in advance to landlord which was 1 months rent and a deposit of the same amount. The bank details given were of the letting agent though (probably one of the reason I thought they were the landlord).

 

When I arranged to pick the keys up I went to the agents office & they then informed me that the actual landlord would meet me at the property. So there I met him, got the keys and he gave me a standing order mandate form with first payment due a month after moving in and last payment of "until further notice". This form gave the landlord's bank details which were different to the initial payment I made. There was no itinerary taken and he seemed like a relaxed, genuine guy. I can't remember if the min. term came up in conversation but I know if he'd said 12 months I'd have said I only agreed to 6.

 

After I'd been moved in for a week or two I received the protected deposit letter which I signed one copy of and sent back.

 

Fast forward 4 months and I decided to leave my job as I didn't like it. I contacted the letting agent to say that I'd be moving out and they then said my contract was a 12 month contract. They told me the landlord had agreed to let me leave early as long as they could find someone else and then I'd just have to pay the re-let fee (no mention of that in the paper I signed with the fees listed). They said they have a draft copy of the contract on file that states 12 months. I asked them to send it to me but they won't, they want me to send them what I've signed. Looking through all my paperwork I don't actually have a tenancy agreement! And on further inspection of the deposit protection letter, I can see that the end of AST tenancy is listed as 12 months after my move-in date. I didn't notice this at the time, and I've also seen that my name is spelt wrong. So I have 2 forms that say 6 months and one that says 12.

 

Can they make me pay for 12 months because I didn't notice that the date was wrong on the deposit protection letter? The letting agent say it's not their problem and I have to deal with the landlord but he hasn't answered my phone calls or email. The original listings on spareroom are now removed and messages are deleted after 2 months. I've managed to find an old ad of the place from the 2nd letting agent which states 6 months minimum term but I don't know if that's enough. There is absolutely no way I'd have rented a place if the minimum term was 12 months because I had a very strong feeling that I would be moving again. I've spoken to spareroom and they won't let me have the information from the expired ads because they say it's a breach of data protection!

 

I cancelled the standing order for the last month's rent because I'm worried that they will take my deposit anyway. I would have only had one more month to pay for before the 6 months was up. I am worried about the council tax because when I called the council to say I'd be leaving they said I was liable to pay tax for the full term of the tenancy agreement unless the landlord takes over.


:whoo:Officially debt free October 2011 after 10 years 11 months :whoo:

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Another T who signs a legally binding Contract without first reading/checking.

Resulting expected CCJ will be on your UK Credit Report for next 6 years, so obtaining credit/next rental will be difficult.

All your problems are of your own making, IMO

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Another T who signs a legally binding Contract without first reading/checking.

Resulting expected CCJ will be on your UK Credit Report for next 6 years, so obtaining credit/next rental will be difficult.

All your problems are of your own making, IMO

 

You sound quite bitter. Did you actually read my post properly? I signed for 6 months. There was no official tenancy agreement.


:whoo:Officially debt free October 2011 after 10 years 11 months :whoo:

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If anyone would like to help instead of just saying I get what I deserve.. seeing as my landlord doubled my rental term without asking me after I'd moved in. I also saw last night that the flat had been re-advertised online as immediately available and also with a 6 month minimum term.


:whoo:Officially debt free October 2011 after 10 years 11 months :whoo:

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I should think that if you signed nothing that said you was entering a 12 month contract, Then i don't see how they can hold you to it

 

I would be asking to see what they are trying to hold you to, If you never signed it, it can't exist

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Hi Colin. I asked them to show me the 12 month contract they were referring to but they wouldn't show me. They wanted to see what I've got on file first. It seems to me as though they know that I haven't signed a 12 month contract but they're trying to find out what I HAVE signed to see if they can force me into it.


:whoo:Officially debt free October 2011 after 10 years 11 months :whoo:

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It is the TA you need which will say what the terms & dates are, that were agreed upon. For example; On my TA it states along the lines, a period of 12 months start date 5th Jan 16 until 4th Jan 17. Signed & dated by both parties.

 

So have a good look around & see if you can locate yours. If you still can't find it then ask for a copy from the LA or the LL,both should also have a copy of the TA.

 

If neither still gives you a copy, then I would take a copy of all your paperwork & go see the LA in person & ask them to verify or not what your paperwork states with their own paperwork.

 

I do not advise with holding any rental money under any circumstances. As it can/may eventually lead you into more trouble & possibly end up with court action as Mariner51 states above.

 

Good luck!


I don't suffer from insanity, I enjoy every single minute of it!!

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Like you said, You never signed a 12 month contract, So they can't show you it

 

Demand to see what they do have

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Regarding the council tax, as long as you advise the council in writing that you're moving, they can't hold you responsible for council tax.

Tenancy agreement has got nothing to do with them: They charge council tax when you live in the property, as soon as you go away they're not entitled to ask you anything else.

Imagine this: If you moved at month 6 and kept paying council tax, then another tenants moves in the same property... Would the council get double council tax???

No way.

Notify the council in writing and forget about council tax.

I bet they will not put in writing the rubbish they told you about council tax to be paid even if you move out.

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Hello RainbowTears, thank you for the reply. I have been through everything 3 times and there is no separate TA. I have a signed form from the LA stating move-in date, 6 month term, monthly rental cost & deposit amount. The only form I got from the LL was a standing order mandate form for the monthly rent which gives the first payment date & says it will continue until further notice. And the deposit protection letter which came after I moved in. I wasn't sure whether to cancel the standing order but I thought I'd rather pay the last months rent with a one-off payment. I read on a landlord's website that a LL can't make a tenant pay the rent before the start of the month. I'm just worried that they'll keep my deposit & the deposit scheme will side with them because they've entered the TA as being 12 months. Can I be issued with a CCJ if the deposit is taken to pay the last month's rent?

 

Hi Colin, the LA told me that had a "draft copy" of the contract that the LL sent them. But they won't let me see it. There is no way I'd have signed it if he'd given it to me! The LL is ignoring me but I'm sure he's read my email, because the flat is now advertised as immediately available. He is the only one that I told the flat was empty & ready for viewings, not the LA.


:whoo:Officially debt free October 2011 after 10 years 11 months :whoo:

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If you haven't signed the TA there's nothing they can do apart from forging your signature (not uncommon)

The LA form stating 6 months is what you signed.

The dps won't entertain a "draft" TA, that's no good.

It would be mad if anyone could enter a contract based on a draft that was never signed.

Then if they forge your signature there would be more trouble, but let see.

In the mean time ask in writing to see this TA; they must give a copy to you, no doubt about it.

If the LA refuses, report them to the relevant scheme if they're part of any.

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If they only have a "draft" contract, it isn't a contract.

 

If you have not signed a contract then by default the minimum term is 6 months I believe.

 

However, you should make sure you give them at least one month's notice in writing (and keep a copy for your records) that you intend to move out, and make sure you leave and return the keys before the 6 months are up.

 

The deposit rules say that you should be given the opportunity to confirm that the information in the deposit certificate is correct. Did you sign anything to confirm this? If you did, I don't think it means that you agreed to a 12 month contract, but it would not be helpful!

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Hello King sorry I didn't see your first reply as I didn't refresh the page while I was typing my last message! I had another look and I think I'm liable for council tax for the length of the tenancy. I don't mind paying for the 6 months that I agreed to as that's only fair (although it would have been nice not to have to pay for the 2 months that I wasn't living there!), I just worry that the landlord will refuse to take over payments saying that my AST is 12 months.

 

I finally got a copy of the draft TA from the LA and as I suspected I'd never seen it before. It's 10 pages long and I definitely didn't sign it! The only thing saying 12 months (that I signed) is the deposit protection certificate which I didn't read properly.

 

Hi Steve. Thanks for the info, I hadn't thought to send letters as I usually do everything by email. Yes I signed the deposit letter and sent it back. Because I'm stupid and didn't read it properly! I guess because it looked like an official government scheme document rather than something from the landlord. Plus it was in very small print (not a good excuse I know), I'd already moved in at that point & I thought the paperwork was done and dusted. I'd also just moved countries, started a new job & was doing 3 courses with exams looming in the next 2 months. But hopefully the fact that I also didn't notice my name was misspelt will go slightly in my favour. It was a stupid mistake and I admit that, but probably not as stupid as the LL forgetting to give me a TA.


:whoo:Officially debt free October 2011 after 10 years 11 months :whoo:

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As I say, I don't think it means that you agreed to a 12 month contract, particularly as you agreed to it after you moved in - so after the tenancy had already started.

 

I would write a real paper letter :wink: to the agent stating that you have never seen nor signed the contract; that you orally agreed to a tenancy of 6 months as stated in the referencing documentation; and that you are not liable for rent, council tax or bills beyond 6 months, nor the cost of re-letting the property.

 

Tell the council you've moved out and the responsibility is back on the landlord after the 6 months. The council will likely pursue the landlord and not you as I don't see how they can take a view on a legal dispute between you and the landlord.

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As said, once you move out of a property for whatever reason, you're not liable to pay council tax for that property anymore.

The tenancy agreement has got nothing to do with the council whatsoever.

Once you move out, your landlord regains possession of the property and he's liable for any council tax from that point on.

If the landlord thinks fit, he could sue you for the council tax that he pays , but the council cannot come after you.

Again, and I cannot stress this enough, you are liable to pay council tax only if you live in the property.

Once you move out, rightly or wrongly, and the landlord gets the keys back, you are not liable anymore.

Don't get fobbed off by council or landlord.

Besides, if the landlord has got his eyes on the ball, he would know that most councils don't charge or charge a reduced rate of council tax when the property is empty.

Also, it sounds like you left after 4 months into the 6 months "agreement" (verbal it seems); in this case, the landlord would be right in asking for the other 2 months rent, but surely not council tax.

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Hello RainbowTears, thank you for the reply. I have been through everything 3 times and there is no separate TA. I have a signed form from the LA stating move-in date, 6 month term, monthly rental cost & deposit amount. The only form I got from the LL was a standing order mandate form for the monthly rent which gives the first payment date & says it will continue until further notice. And the deposit protection letter which came after I moved in. I wasn't sure whether to cancel the standing order but I thought I'd rather pay the last months rent with a one-off payment. I read on a landlord's website that a LL can't make a tenant pay the rent before the start of the month. I'm just worried that they'll keep my deposit & the deposit scheme will side with them because they've entered the TA as being 12 months. Can I be issued with a CCJ if the deposit is taken to pay the last month's rent?

 

Hi Colin, the LA told me that had a "draft copy" of the contract that the LL sent them. But they won't let me see it. There is no way I'd have signed it if he'd given it to me! The LL is ignoring me but I'm sure he's read my email, because the flat is now advertised as immediately available. He is the only one that I told the flat was empty & ready for viewings, not the LA.

 

Whilst it may appear 'harsh', Mariner's post is actually fairly accurate - it is your own fault. Notwithstanding that, your situation isn't as dire as you, or the others responding, seem to think.

 

Firstly, in the absence of a signed, written agreement, the verbal agreement is perfectly valid. The issue each party would have is proving that what they say is accurate is in fact accurate. In this instance, it goes in your favour, as the default position would be for a 6 month tenancy, which the documentation you have, and your version of the verbal agreement matches. So, you have a 6 month tenancy. The LL/LA would probably not waste time chasing after you without concrete evidence that you agreed to a 12 month term, because as experienced landlord/letting agent, they'd know it wouldn't be worth the cost of risking a court finding in your favour (which they probably would).

 

That said, you are not entitled to leave after 4 months with only a month's notice. You must pay for the full six month term, and then you can leave on the appropriate day. E.g. if your tenancy started on the 5th of the month, you MUST leave by the 4th of the month - you cannot stay longer than that or you will need to pay extra. You can leave earlier, but you remain responsible for the rent up until the sixth month.

 

You are not responsible for the council tax once you move. Write, by recorded delivery, to the local authority council tax department and inform them that your tenancy is up and you have moved out and provide the date. Keep a copy of the letter.

 

If you haven't paid your rent, pay it. The deposit is for damages to the flat, and you cannot use it to defray the cost of rent unless the LL agrees to this. It will be easy to claim your deposit back, and the 12 months indicated on the protection certificate is largely immaterial once you inform them that the tenancy is over and the 12 month protection was an error on the LL's part - provide them with your paperwork to prove the 6 month term.

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Whilst it may appear 'harsh', Mariner's post is actually fairly accurate - it is your own fault. Notwithstanding that, your situation isn't as dire as you, or the others responding, seem to think.

 

Firstly, in the absence of a signed, written agreement, the verbal agreement is perfectly valid. The issue each party would have is proving that what they say is accurate is in fact accurate. In this instance, it goes in your favour, as the default position would be for a 6 month tenancy, which the documentation you have, and your version of the verbal agreement matches. So, you have a 6 month tenancy. The LL/LA would probably not waste time chasing after you without concrete evidence that you agreed to a 12 month term, because as experienced landlord/letting agent, they'd know it wouldn't be worth the cost of risking a court finding in your favour (which they probably would).

 

That said, you are not entitled to leave after 4 months with only a month's notice. You must pay for the full six month term, and then you can leave on the appropriate day. E.g. if your tenancy started on the 5th of the month, you MUST leave by the 4th of the month - you cannot stay longer than that or you will need to pay extra. You can leave earlier, but you remain responsible for the rent up until the sixth month.

 

You are not responsible for the council tax once you move. Write, by recorded delivery, to the local authority council tax department and inform them that your tenancy is up and you have moved out and provide the date. Keep a copy of the letter.

 

If you haven't paid your rent, pay it. The deposit is for damages to the flat, and you cannot use it to defray the cost of rent unless the LL agrees to this. It will be easy to claim your deposit back, and the 12 months indicated on the protection certificate is largely immaterial once you inform them that the tenancy is over and the 12 month protection was an error on the LL's part - provide them with your paperwork to prove the 6 month term.

 

That's great, nobody suggested this!

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Thank you Lea HTH for your comments.

I feel my post was mild (but direct), not bitter, based on fact that OP did not check/seek guidance on any doc he signed/received.

The DPS Cert, stating 12 month fixed term, should have alerted OP to potential problem, which was ignored.

Whilst OP can legally vacate T on last day of fixed term, without Notice, LL/Council are entitled rent/C Tax until expiry of valid T NTQ or Bailiff reposs.

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The other thing to note is that the deposit certificate includes reference to rules that apply to the deposit. i.e. under what circumstances the landlord is allowed to claim money from the deposit.

 

Often (in the case of DPS for example) this section directs the tenant to a clause in the written tenancy.

 

If this is the case on the original poster's certificate, given that the written tenancy was never provided to the tenant, one might additionally argue that the deposit should be returned in full regardless of any claim for rent or damage should the landlord make a claim for the deposit.

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Thank you Lea HTH for your comments.

I feel my post was mild (but direct), not bitter, based on fact that OP did not check/seek guidance on any doc he signed/received.

The DPS Cert, stating 12 month fixed term, should have alerted OP to potential problem, which was ignored.

Whilst OP can legally vacate T on last day of fixed term, without Notice, LL/Council are entitled rent/C Tax until expiry of valid T NTQ or Bailiff reposs.

 

I beg to differ Mariner51.

Council tax is due until bailiff repossession, but private tenancy agreements have nothing to do with it.

You can vacate the property whenever you want and as long as you advise the council in writing the council tax will cease being due from that moment.

Even if you leave one month into a 12 months contract.

The Landlord can come after you for breach of contract, unpaid rent and other expenses, including council tax that he will be liable for from the day you leave.

But the council cannot request council tax based on a private tenancy agreement that has been terminated rightly or wrongly.

Council tax is there for citizens who use council services, if you move out of the council area, you won't be using the services and thus won't be liable to pay council tax.

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Whilst OP can legally vacate T on last day of fixed term, without Notice, LL/Council are entitled rent/C Tax until expiry of valid T NTQ or Bailiff reposs.

Surely this can't be right. It means that if I sign a six month tenancy agreement and leave on the last day without giving notice I would never lose liability for the council tax on the property. Surely anyone, the OP included, is only liable for council tax while they actually live in the property

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Thank you Lea HTH for your comments.

I feel my post was mild (but direct), not bitter, based on fact that OP did not check/seek guidance on any doc he signed/received.

The DPS Cert, stating 12 month fixed term, should have alerted OP to potential problem, which was ignored.

Whilst OP can legally vacate T on last day of fixed term, without Notice, LL/Council are entitled rent/C Tax until expiry of valid T NTQ or Bailiff reposs.

 

It was acerbic - nothing wrong with that. :)

 

Re council tax - liability ends on moving and notifying the council that the move has taken place. The council or the LL would find it impossible to enforce against someone who informed the council of the correct dates of leaving.

 

Also, OP can legally vacate the property on the last day of the term without notice - LL does NOT remain entitled to rent until notice is given. The legal term is over - it no longer exists and therefore, so long as no property remains, the tenancy is over on that day and so are all liabilities. If you have been informed otherwise (I know from other posts that you are a LL), I'd suggest changing your solicitor.

 

The DPS certificate in this instance isn't even really relevant. What is relevant is that OP appears to have left in month 4, so may have a problem without proper notice to quit...

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I just think it's a bit sad that after a LA and a LL agreed in writing and verbally to a 6 month contract; they can both then insist at a later date that it's a 12 month contract and this is considered "entirely my own fault". For a member of the site team (of a consumer advice website) to give that 'advice' as a first reply, along with an overall condescending tone, I think is quite depressing. Not everyone deals with rental agreements often and this deposit protection scheme wasn't even in existence the last time I rented in the UK.

 

It's my fault I didn't check the small print of the deposit letter, yes. But I did not enter into a 12 month contract and then expect to be able to leave after 6 months with no penalty. I also didn't suggest that i could leave after 4 months giving only a month's notice and shouldn't have to pay the remaining 2 months rent. That wouldn't be fair. The LA said they will try to get new tenants in ASAP so I can be released early.

 

As far as I can see, no TA means that the payment of rent is by default in arrears. I don't need to pay in advance, hence why I stopped my automatic payment. If a new tenant moves in and starts paying rent, I don't trust my LL at this point to refund a portion of the rent if he received 2 lots. I've also seen that anything a LA arranges with a T is legally binding and the LL is ultimately responsible for, because tenants aren't expected to know whether the LA or LL is responsible for certain things.

 

No TA also means that by law the LL can't make deductions from the deposit because allowable deductions need to be stated first in the TA. If the LL makes deductions and I take him to court he will lose.

 

Regarding the council tax, I think that different council have different rules. That's what I've seen so far online anyway. My particular council will give a discount if the property is empty but only if it's unfurnished, and then it's only for 1 week.

 

Regarding my LA who didn't want anything to do with me last week, I mentioned in an email that a rival LA was advertising the property as immediately available and that the LL must have read my email to him and informed them. They were very quick to respond, I had 5 missed calls and 2 emails within 10 minutes. They wanted my assurance that they could have access to the keys and that I gave them my permission to find another tenant ASAP. They also confirmed that they wouldn't charge me any fees!


:whoo:Officially debt free October 2011 after 10 years 11 months :whoo:

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At the very least I have learned from this experience to check EVERYTHING that requires a signature.. no matter how nice the LL seems

 

EDIT: I left in month 4 but I have already paid up until month 5. I expect I will probably be paying for month 6 as well unless the LA can find new tenant's for October. I have no problem with paying for 6 months as that's what I agreed. I don't know how much commission the LA receives but they seem very keen to get new tenants in quickly. My worry was that the LL can refuse to release the deposit, saying that the TA was 12 months.


:whoo:Officially debt free October 2011 after 10 years 11 months :whoo:

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