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To refuse to sign the new tenancy agreement?

(60 Posts)
mikesh909 Thu 27-Apr-17 00:47:25

I have an assured short hold tenancy with a private landlord the fixed term of which expired recently. I am in the process of buying a property, so my time living here is coming to a close. Two unfortunate things have happened to complicate this situation. The first was that the end of the tenancy came along a month before my completion date, so I was forced to ask the landlord for a one month extension. He agreed to this. The second was that this property purchase fell through - another has since been agreed but it is back to square one with the paperwork so the one month extension no longer suffices. I thanked the LL for his flexibility in offering this, explained my change of circumstance and requested a rolling contract from now on, subject to the two month notice period my original contract requires.

Today arrived my new contract. It is a 6 month fixed term agreement, with a clause hidden at the back which states I shall pay a re-let levy of £850 if I leave the property before the term expires, which is highly likely. FWIW the property is a highly desirable one bedroom flat in a popular area. Two friends of mine have already expressed interest in taking on the lease when I leave - information which I have previously volunteered to the LL.

I have sought advice from Shelter today. They tell me as my original fixed term agreement has expired, legally what I have is a rolling contract until I sign something new. I am under no obligation to do so. Obviously, if I refuse to do so, the LL could start eviction proceedings if he wanted to. This would be 2 months notice + whatever time the eviction took, could be weeks or months according to Shelter. My estate agent advises a 10-12 week likely timescale for exchange of contracts, but obviously no guarantees can be made.

Would you advise...

a. Telling the LL / agent where to get off, i.e. that the re-let levy clause is a blatant attempt to profit from the uncertainty of my house purchase and refuse to sign the new contract. Suggest rolling contract continues and invite them to start eviction proceedings if that doesn't suit.

b. Stalling for the time being to extend the possible timeframes. [Agent has indicated his intention to collect the contract in person on Friday.... that certainly won't be happening]

c. Signing the contract and saying nothing, with the full intention that the last month's rent is withheld in lieu of a returned deposit, thus leaving them with no means of collecting their £850 re-let levy when I leave before October

d. Simply replying with an explanation that I'm unhappy with the terms of the contract and could they kindly reconsider whether the existing one can continue?

e. Sucking it up, signing the contract, and then contesting the validity of the re-let levy down the line. My deposit is protected and I could refuse to agree to have this deducted and go to court if necessary.

f. Something else?

Please talk me down from A, which the responsible bit of me knows is not the answer!

user1491572121 Thu 27-Apr-17 00:57:19

Don't sign it. You're now on a rolling contract and it would take ages for him to evict you. He's being silly.

ThePants999 Thu 27-Apr-17 00:59:00

D is correct. Politely refuse a new fixed term agreement. Let your tenancy become a statutory periodic one, where you'll have a one month notice period. If they attempt to evict you, they won't get through the process before completion.

londonrach Thu 27-Apr-17 01:02:00

Up to you but ll could give notice if you dont sign it but you want to leave anyway. You on a rolling contract now. Just make sure you pay your rent every month. Can i just addd If you unhappy with anything in the new contract talk to ll. personally ive never heard of the relet levy.

NotDavidTennant Thu 27-Apr-17 01:09:58

Just tell them that you're not willing to sign a new contract, that you're about 2-3 months away from completing on a house purchase and that you will continue on a periodic tenancy until the purchase is complete at which point you will serve the appropriate notice. It's not in their interest to try to evict you, so unless they are particularly unreasonable they should accept that.

HeartsTrumpDiamonds Thu 27-Apr-17 01:33:59

Probably a combo of A, B and D!

Be out on Friday, then later when they start pressing you for the contract be busy or uncooperative and finally ask them to change the terms. then you have A to fall back on if needed.

grin

HeartsTrumpDiamonds Thu 27-Apr-17 01:34:31

Is the re-let thing even legal? I've never heard of it.

Twofurrycats Thu 27-Apr-17 01:37:17

Sign nothing. It is now a rolling contract. I think you only have to give a month's notice on that; the landlord 2. I've never come across a relet levy. In theory if you signed a new contract for 6 months you could be liable for the balance. Eviction would cost way too much. They could issue a section 21 but the time it would take it wouldn't be worth it.

PyongyangKipperbang Thu 27-Apr-17 01:43:17

He was probably hoping that you wouldnt read the contract properly and sign it thinking it was the agreement you made with him. Loads of people sadly dont read the paperwork properly and then dont have a leg to stand on when things dont go their way.

You are under no obligation to sign it, and I would hand it back to the agent telling them that and that you are sticking to the rolling contract thank you. They could start proceedings via a 21 but chances are they wont, especially if you pay your rent on time every month. Dont withold any rent and you will get your deposit back ok.

rjay123 Thu 27-Apr-17 06:39:08

Do nothing.

You are under a periodic tenancy now. You have got plenty of time, he won't be forcing you out quickly, and it's not like you need a reference.

Worst case - landlord gives you 2 months notice. Which expires at the end of a rental period, so could be up to 3 months. Then you stay put. He applies to court for eviction. This takes a while.

Chloe84 Thu 27-Apr-17 06:47:13

Explain the situation to LL, always try the reasonable approach first.

If he insists you sign the agreement, tell him that you are already in a rolling agreeement which suits you better for the moment.

Leave it there unless he takes it further.

Our agents also asked us whether we wanted to enter into a 6 month tenancy after our 12 month agreement expired. We just ignored the email and they never asked again.

JellyBellies Thu 27-Apr-17 06:51:43

Don't sign it. This happened to us and the landlord sent a section 21. We offered him more rent to stay a bit longer so we could move into the house we were buying.
He had no problem and we did not have to move twice!

wowfudge Thu 27-Apr-17 06:58:43

OP had you given notice then needed to stay on, is that what you mean? If you hadn't then you could have done nothing and just let the tenancy become a statutory periodic one.

Don't sign the new AST. Why would you? Let the LL know direct that you will continue to pay the rent as before as you are legally obliged to and that when the time comes for you to leave you will give proper notice. And leave it at that. The agent will be the one to blame here, they want to get a fee out of you or the LL or both. It would be a foolish LL who would evict you, risk a void period then incur fees to get a new tenant he has no knowledge of and will only be signing up for six months.

DontTouchTheMoustache Thu 27-Apr-17 06:59:45

Does the landlord have an agent? If so it will be them pushing for a new contract as they are the ones that collect the fee, not the LL. I had this last year and just soke to LL directly who wasn't really aware of the option to continue on a rolling contract (he was an accidental LL and a bit naive). If this is the case, chances are that they will be charging him a fee as well (this is how estate agents make money). If this is the case if maybe speak to him again directly and say you don't see the point in the agents profiting from you both as you legally both have the option to remain as you are. If that doesn't work just stay where you are, stall, and wait for them to make a move (I doubt they would bother with eviction proceedings as it's a lot of effort for them).

Livelovebehappy Thu 27-Apr-17 07:00:19

Don't sign it, and firmly advise you want to remain on rolling contract. Surely the LL won't want to unnecessarily incur extra costs etc by being pig headed about this? Because I'm guessing he will have to pay to get the ball rolling on evicting you, plus the potential new tenants you have lined up wouldn't be happy to see this kind of behaviour from their potentially new landlord, and would withdraw their interest.

InfiniteSheldon Thu 27-Apr-17 07:00:32

D plus a small increase in rent for inconvenience

Ethylred Thu 27-Apr-17 08:19:33

Why does anyone ask for advice on important matters from random people on the internet? You might as well ask strangers on the street. Really, ask a lawyer. And if this were a dental problem, I'd say, ask a dentist.

TestingTestingWonTooFree Thu 27-Apr-17 08:22:22

Decline to sign the new contract. It's not what you talked about and its terms don't suit you.

elessar Thu 27-Apr-17 08:27:42

I would do A but in a polite manner - just speak to the landlord and explain that given your position you're not willing to sign this new AST but will continue on the periodic tenancy until you're ready to move.

If they start to get difficult about it then I'd say they're welcome to go down the eviction route but it's highly likely you'll be moving out before it would come into effect so it's a pointless exercise anyway.

allthecheese Thu 27-Apr-17 08:31:14

Really interesting to read this as we are in a similar boat at the moment. It has also made me beyond angry that this is common practice when so many people are finding it hard to get in the property ladder.

specialsubject Thu 27-Apr-17 09:05:49

Easy as you are an informed tenant. Sign nothing , say you are on the move soon anyway. If a section 21 arrives, that gives you two months before the legals start. And as it is London, best part of a year before the bailiff.

Not worth it for the landlord - eviction costs would be down to you but this is never enforced. BTW he needs to be 100% on all the paperwork.

Give your one month notice on exchange of contracts.

19lottie82 Thu 27-Apr-17 09:19:13

You don't have to sign it. As advised just politely refuse and say you will just let it go on to a rolling tenancy. If they say you can't, well yes, you can. HOWEVER they are within their rights to serve your 2 months notice. But will they? I really doubt it, they'd be cutting their nose off to spite their face, especially as you wouldn't even HAVE to move out after that 2 months.

Funnyface1 Thu 27-Apr-17 09:25:38

Don't sign anything. Be straight with him and say that's clearly not going to work for you and go from there.

TurquoiseDress Thu 27-Apr-17 09:47:08

I'd go with option D- you are on a rolling contract, do not sign any new agreements if you are likely (fingers crossed) to be moving into your own place very soon.

I know the landlord is obviously concerned with getting a tenant in place for when you go, but I think they are being particularly awkward by trying to force you into a new 6 month term.

You have been open and honest, explaining what has happened with your purchase falling through etc and the new timescales.

They are (presumably) still getting their full rent on time, I think they need to calm down a bit!

TurquoiseDress Thu 27-Apr-17 09:49:35

And good luck with this purchase going through!

We are in a similar situation i.e. in rented, trying to find a place to buy. Back at the start of the year we had our offer accepted on a place, until the buyer decided to go with a higher offer.

At that point I wondered how we would manage to get out of our rental contract, now out of the fixed term and in the rolling phase...until I'm certain our LL will try to put the rent up again...hopefully by then we will be in our own place, fingers crossed!

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