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Tenant Leaving Before 6 months is up! - Tomorrow!


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Hi all

You will be aware that I help on this website with tax queries, however, I also own a rental property and have a problem...

I had a new tenant move in 24/3/06 on a 6 month lease (usual one). The tenant was founf by a letting agent on a finders fee (I dont have full management). The tenant has been very good and always paid on time, however....

I got an email on the weekend saying that she has to return to South Africa (her home country) for a period of time and so needs to give up the flat - as from 22 August!!! ie. tomorrow!

She has said that she realises she would forfeit the deposit, but has offered me an alternative - she has a friend that would like to take over the flat on a new 6 month lease - would I agree to this rather than forfeiting the deposit? She has also asked whether her deposit can then just continue for her friend and then her friend continue to pay the rent as normal.

I dont live in the same town (2 hours away) and I go on holiday for 2 weeks at the end of the week.

I tried to contact the letting agent several times to see whether they woould deal with it for a fee - but it would appear that they just dont want to speak to me. I would do it myself, however, I dont live in the same town so given the time frame, I would be unable to meet with my old tenant/ potential new tenant etc.

Please can someone advise me - maybe if I knew exactly what I could do I could go to another letting agent today to try and get help?

My queries are:

1. Re old tenant - when she leaves - leagally where to I stand re deposit and the period left on the 6 month tenancy (finishes 24/9)

2. Could the old tenants deposit be rolled over to the new tenant?

3. I do not wish to rip off my old tenant so providing the new one checks out I would be inclines to go with it and not forfeit the deposit - particulalry as I should have no gap in the tenancy, however, I would be looking at another fee for a new tenancy agreement/ credit check etc on the new tenant. Is it possible do you think to 'negotiate' a proportion of the deposit currently retained to use towards the additional costs I will incur on the change of tenancy.

4. Given that I dont live in the town and would be unable to get down there tomorrow - am I best to get a letting agent to do all of this for me?

I am not sure what to do for the best as on the one hand, I am probably within my rights to keep some of the deposit (am i?), but on the other, she could have just left on 23 september anyway and instead she has a friend sho could rent it.

The tenant has always been trustworthy and I have no reason to doubt her

Can anyone advise me please

Many thanks


What should I do?

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Only agree to a surrender of your current agreement on the terms offered once the replacement has been fully referenced and signed a new tenancy agreement. The deposit arrangement is a private matter between them to resolve. Until this occurs, you should advise your current tenant that you have not been given enough notice to respond and that the tenant is still liable for their obligations under the current agreement until superceeded by a new agreement. Don't be pressured into taking short cuts. At the end of the day, they may just leave anyway but put your marker in the sand first. You can do your own referencing quite easily online and tenancy agreements available at www.landlordlaw.co.uk after subscribing.

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Hi Sherena

We have partners on this site who can arrange tenant referencing for you.

http://www.residentiallandlord.co.uk/tenantreferencing.htm - this page highlights our current partners. Also rentchecks.com has been involved in our LIFE SAVER emails and is used by landlords on this forum.

You can use their online system or I could find a contact for you if you wish - please email me.

Hope this helps.


Partnership manager

Residential Landlord

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Hi Sherena,

I would tell the existing tenant that you will only release them from the tenancy agreement early when you are able to find a replacement tenant.

The cost of finding the replacement (ie: your costs and any fees from letting agents) will be deducted from her security deposit - together with any rent outstanding. I don't view this as "ripping off the tenant" - you are simply covering costs incurred because the tenant breached the tenancy agreement.

I would also proceed with caution when "rolling deposits" between different tenants. The cleanest way is to return the deposit (less any deductions) to the original tenant and collect a new deposit from the new tenant.

Do lots of reference checks - as per earlier advice. It is always better to have a property empty than to have a property let to a tenant that doesn't pay their rent ! The net income is the same !!!

If you need any help with any of this - and you are anywhere near the Swindon area - I would be more than willing to assist.

Best Wishes


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Thank you all for your help. And thanks for the offer Mark, but the property is in Plymouth - thanks anyway


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