My tenant has told me that they need to move out before the end of the tenancy - are they able to do this?
Although you would hope that your tenant would want to stay for their whole tenancy, there are sometimes situations that occur where the tenant might ask to move out early, perhaps if they have been offered a job in a new city or there is breakdown in the relationship between the tenants.
In such a situation there are a few options that you and the tenant have, and the actions that can be taken depend upon the tenancy agreement in place.
- If there is still a long period to serve on the tenancy, and there is no legal right for the tenant to serve notice, the most favourable option could be for the tenant to find someone to replace themselves for the remaining term of the contract (subject to your approval as landlord). The 'replacement' tenant would be subject to the same referencing procedure to ensure that they are suitable to move into the property. The costs of referencing and the adminstration of the change of tenants would need to be covered by the current tenants. If that solution was acceptable you as landlord would be responsible for getting the names changed on the Deposit Protection Certificate but you should be aware that there is sometimes a small charge involved in doing so. A replacement of tenants is an option for consideration and can allow continuity of rent, without the risk of tenant abandonment and the costs associated with that. Ensuring security of income on your property, it is always adviseable to seek advice if considering this, and your ludlowthompson property manager is at hand to look at the tenancy status and provide information on whether this could be a solution, it would generally not be considered unless there was atleast 6 months remaining on the contract.
- There may be a break-clause in the contract, after which point either landlord or tenant can serve notice to end the tenancy early. The date that the break-clause comes into effect is usually towards the end of the contract but offers a degree of flexibility to both parties. In these circumstances, as long as the tenant serves notice correctly in line with the contract break-clause terms they are entitled legally to leave the property.
- Whilst legally there may be no right for a tenant to leave the property, there may be circumstances significant enough that the tenant would wish to discuss a practical solution, and rather than risk the property being left abandoned without knowledge of it's status or when rent may be received, it may be appropriate to give consideration to the option of a 'mutual surrender' of the tenancy whereby both parties agree terms on which the tenancy comes to an end by mutual agreement. Both parties would subsequently sign a document forfeiting the tenancy, and agreeing with the tenant the terms of surrender. Such terms may include forfeiture of deposit, confirmation of agreement to pay rent for a fixed period to permit time to relet, or similar. This would usually be carried out as a last resort as there could potentially be the risk of a financial loss in the event the property could not be relet inside the time frame agreed, or where fees are still due to be paid. The tenant may offer to pay these fees to mitigate your loss or these fees could be taken from the tenants' deposit as part of the agreement to surrender. A mutual agreement however can ensure an understanding of the actions of the tenants, and prevent dispute about the deposit, allowing the tenancy to be terminated in a controlled manner and actions taken to ensure continuity of property let through the letting agents. ludlowthompson would look to ensure the quick relet of the property in such circumstances, minimising the void period, and optimising the rental being paid to protect your asset.
In the event a tenant advises of the desire to terminate the tenancy, it is critical that as a landlord you act on that information quickly, contact your ludlowthompson representative to discuss the options available and they will ensure you are guided appropriately. If your property is managed or rent collected by ludlowthompson, the tenants will contact us directly and your property manager will advise, guide and take action on your behalf to ensure your property is protected throughout the process.
As the landlord, you are perfectly within your rights to deny any of the tenant's requests to terminate their tenancy early. It may however be in your best interests to show flexibility to your tenants in such circumstances; the change of tenants should be straight-forward, will eliminate the potential of a void period or of tenants abandoning the property and involve minimal upheaval to yourself. Remember, tenants who want to be there are more likely to keep the property in a good condition and be good payers.
21st April 2016
DISCLAIMER: Neither ludlowthompson nor their ‘experts’ take any responsibility for any action or loss incurred by readers of these pages. The reader acts on advice at their own risk. Answers to questions are not exhaustive. Financial advice must always be sought from a professional financial adviser
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