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End of a fixed term tenancy


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I have a tenant in one of my properties and the fixed term of the agreement comes to an end on the 10th April. I don't live that close to the property so I have an agent managing the tenancy.

About two months ago my agents sent me a letter asking if I wanted to offer the tenant another fixed term of six or twelve months when the agreement came to an end. The tenant has been reliable so I agreed and offered either twelve or six months, whatever the tenant preferred. I sent the notice back to the agent and have heard nothing since.

Today I received a call from my tenant who told me he was intending to move out on the 10th April. He did not want to extend for a further fixed term, and did not want to go on to a periodic tenancy.

I was surprised because I have heard nothing from the agents. If the tenant had intended to move out I would like to have known at least a month before the tenancy came to an end so that I could start marketing it for new tenants. If the tenant had not called me today I probably would not have found out until after he'd moved out!

I've not got a question for discussion, but it's made me realise that even with an agent you want to be keeping an eye on your tenancies as you approach the end of the fixed term. It's frustrating because I would have expected my agents to have been chasing the tenant to see if he intended to stay on, and of not to speak to me about marketing the property. I'm now looking at least a couple of weeks, if not a month or more of a void property as I try and find new tenants!

On a side note, it helps to highlight the very different positions a landlord is in from a tenant at the end of the fixed term tenancy. The landlord still has to give two months notice to get the tenant out at the end of the fixed term, even though the contractual term has come to an end, whereas the tenant simply walks away without needing to give the landlord any notice whatsoever.

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You might recall I had a T receiving advice from Shelter, wrong advice in my opinion.

I served a S21 to expire on the 31st March, the T had paid up till then.

Shelters advice was for the T to stay until the 8th April as that's their view as to when the notice expired.

The T served a sort of notice to say that she would depart on the 8th but if possible by the 31st. That left me not knowing. With her best efforts (if any) communication was always confusing.

All today I've tried to find out about the property status, occupied or not. She has never been good at giving me contact numbers but by going to the DPS website I got a mobile number. This is her partners number, he's another T of mine in another property.

This evening I got hold of him, eventually. She's left and he has the keys, apparently. This isn't really a suitable surrender and I could claim another months rent as she has passed into another rental period, in my view.

If there are issues when I go to the flat I shall try to claim this from the deposit rather than claim for any repairs as that would be more likely to succeed. If no issues I'll just shrug it off and be glad she went easily.

Her easy departure may have been influenced by the steaming black eye I saw her with a couple of weeks ago. My imagination has been working overtime trying to guess where that came from, she said she tripped.

But yes I sympathise they have the advantages but always see us as being wrong.

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A tenant on an assured shorthold tenancy has no legal need to give notice at the end of a fixed term tenancy - although it would obviously be polite to do so. Many landlords dispute this, but this document by Shelter on the Housing Law Practitioners Association website outlines the law involved (MS Word Reqd). http://www.hlpa.org.uk/cms/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/FAQ-2-Fixed-term-leaving-last-day.docx

Whilst you are right that there are differences in the way landlords and tenants have to act to end a tenancy, that is because the 2 entities are in different positions. If a tenant wishes to leave at the end of a fixed term, they are merely returning the property (a mere business asset) as per the contract. However, if the landlord wants to end the contract that may well involve making the tenant homeless, so not only does the law effectively extend the tenancy courtesy of s5 of HA1988 but the landlord must prove that he has a right to end the tenancy. The latter is not much different to a tenants status, for if they terminate when they have no right to, the landlord can take action.

Reading the statute at face value it should be possible for a landlord to obtain a possession order for the last day of a fixed term.

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Before you blame the agent you need to speak to them. They may have been told something differant.

It is never good when a tenant by-passes a agent because they play one off against another in the same way children do with their parents.

The tenants will say the landlord said this and that and there is likely to be some truth in it but they will only tell half the story and twist it about.

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I believe that a tenant need not give a notice when the tenancy is scheduled to be over as per the lease. Its an obvious thing. But I think there must be some communication gap between you and the agent. So it is advised that before coming to any conclusion you need to talk to your agent about this.

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