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Amending a break clause on a rented flat, is it possible?

(7 Posts)
noidles Sun 23-Feb-14 18:32:01

So DP and I currently rent in South East London. Originally we had hoped to buy in May next year, because that's when we felt we'd have enough money. Last year we were forced to move from our old (rented) flat after a year because our landlady wanted to sell, and to offer ourselves more security so we didn't have to keep moving, we decided move to a flat which allowed us to sign a two year lease with a 1 year break clause - we started this lease on the 18th May 2013. However, unexpectedly we do now have enough money to buy a house and a comfortable joint salary with which to secure a decent mortgage and the house prices in the area we want to move are increasing at such an alarming rate, we feel that we would be foolish to wait longer than we should.

So we've been look at our break clause. The break clause, as I understand it, says that if we want to use the break clause we have one opportunity to do this - the rent day on the 12th month (the 18th May 2014) and we have to give one month's written notice (would mean the move out date is the 17/18th June 2014). If the landlady wants us to move out, she has to serve notice on the 11th month (18th April 2014) and she must give two months written notice (again, with a move out date of the 17/18th June 2014).

We have just that one opportunity to do this, or it rolls on to the end of the contract.

We don't want to move out on the 18th June, as we are on holiday just before then, and we feel there wouldn't be enough time between now and then to fully get our head around the buying process, get a mortgage sorted, and exchange and move in to a property.

My friend who was a legal aid housing solicitor suggested something, and I guess I just wanted a second eye really to see if anyone else thought this might be feasible?

If we wait until any time after the 19th April, but before the 18th May, we have a window where the landlady is then unable to serve us notice, and before we'd have to hand in our notice. She suggests contacting the landlady/estate agent and saying we're considering using the break clause, but as we want to buy, what we'd really prefer is to go on to a contract with two months notice. She says this saves the landlady having to find someone new, and we're then offering to double our notice period which gives her more time to find a new tenant, and it offers us the flexibility to be able to buy in our own time before May 2015.

Do you think this sounds like something we could do? What would be the best way to approach it? If it helps, I've typed out the wording of the break clause. Thanks in advance for any help anyone is able to offer!

13 Break Clause

13.1 It is agreed that the Tenant may terminate this agreement by giving 1 months written notice on the rent day to the Landlord at 12 months and on the expiry of such notice the Tenancy will come to an end without prejudice to any right of action which either both parties may have against each other for any breach of this agreement

13.2 It is agreed that the Landlord may terminate this agreement by giving 2 months written notice to the tenant at 11 months and on the expiry of such notice the Tenancy will come to an end without prejudice to any right of action which either both parties may have against each other for any breach of this agreement

specialsubject Mon 24-Feb-14 12:19:52

your best bet is that amazing remedy of talking. Contact your landlady, discuss the position and see what works for you both.

you are both bound by the contract if you can't agree otherwise. But if you are going anyway, at plenty of notice, you can probably work something out to suit you both.

Boleh Mon 24-Feb-14 12:23:56

Yes, I agree - speak to the landlady. I have given my tenants a 6 month break clause. I would only refuse to change it if they wanted to move out at a time that would make it very difficult to get a new tenant - for example the weeks before Christmas.

noidles Mon 24-Feb-14 13:27:32

Thanks for the replies. Didn't want to make it sound like we're not at all open to talking to the estate agent. I just wanted to gauge whether people felt this was too ridiculous to even try before I did.

To fill you in a little bit about why I have been worried and thus haven't just gone straight to the estate agent and asked - The reason I'm a little worried about bringing it up though is because the estate agent was particularly awful the day we moved in. I'd been asking in the weeks up to the move date if we could sign a contract, but he insisted it needed to be signed on the move in day. When we arrived on the move in day he'd tried to make us sign a contract with no break clause whatsoever. When I questioned it he basically accused me of being a liar and said I had specifically asked for it that way (I hadn't). It was all quite stressful on the day, and we did get a new contract, which we did just have to sign there and then as we had furniture being delivered. I'm sort of annoyed at myself for signing this one off type of break clause anyway. Normally the break clauses have been the ones where after the half way point of the contract it then goes to being a 2 month notice contract, which is what I'd have preferred I think. I am just a bit anxious about the estate agent really - what I know so far of the landlady is that she is very nice, but I've never dealt with her directly.

I agree about choosing a date at which it's convenient for the landlady to find new tenants. I suggested to my DP that we perhaps instead just extend the contract by 6 months to the 18th November, as I think that's far enough before Christmas to be able to find new tenants. Otherwise I think we'd have to wait until Jan.

noidles Mon 24-Feb-14 20:23:56

Just another bump in case anyone else has had experience of this

JugglingChaotically Mon 24-Feb-14 20:31:48

Have rented out properties in the past - talk to your land lady, nothing to lose.
If you talk to your landlady you may be able to arrange a date that works for you for your next move and for your landlord to find a new tenant. Win win.
Good luck!

specialsubject Tue 25-Feb-14 18:36:21

ignore the estate agent. You are entitled to the contact details for your landlady. She is the person with whom you have a contract.

if you can't work with the agent, let the landlady know. Plenty of letting agents out there.

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