Interesting situation today. I couldn’t get in touch with one of our tenants before Christmas and her post has been gradually building up into a large pile. This coupled with the fact that no-one had seen sight of her, she didn’t pay her rent for December and her 6 month assured shorthold tenancy agreement expired on 1 January 2012 gave me a little hint that she might have just upped and left. On checking today, our first day back after the New Year, sure enough the flat was empty and in a bit of a state, as you can see…
In my experience, people who up and leave without giving any notice have rarely 1) left properties in a good state, 2) paid their utility bills, 3) any intention of giving you a forwarding address and 4) any manners. We’ve a clause in our contracts which asks tenants to give us a month’s notice if they are going to leave the property on the last day of their initial six month fixed term – 95% of tenants do so, it’s just good manners, good organisation and good housekeeping. Plus how else are you supposed to return the deposit for example, or forward mail, or do a proper inventory check with them.
So, I was a little irritated with her. I tweeted:
Interesting choice by tenant, whose tenancy up on 1st Jan, to just vacate the flat. No notice. Marvellous. Knew she was iffy!
Which was how I felt. Most tenants agree to and do give the requested notice, for their sakes and ours.. it makes life so much easier! But I was then soundly scolded and told by Pimlico Nick on Twitter:
I’m surprised you are surprised. That’s how the law is written, and what she did is correct.Contract doesn’t over ride statute – you can’t change the law by writing an illegal contract.
The National Landlords Association web-site states:
When the fixed term comes to an end the landlord and tenant have three options. They can either:
i. agree a replacement fixed term tenancy (but note that during the new fixed term the landlord will not be able to regain possession except if one of the grounds for possession under the Housing Act 1988 is satisfied)
ii. do nothing and allow the tenancy to run on with the same rent and terms, under a statutory periodic tenancy
iii. give notice (in the case of the tenant) or serve notice and start proceedings for possession (in the case of the landlord)
Note – the tenancy agreement may specify the period of notice that the tenant has to give, however this will not preclude the tenant from leaving at the end of the last day of the fixed term without giving notice to the landlord. If your agreement does give a notice period but the tenant does not comply with this Notice Period, we would not advise relying on this alone in court.
So basically a tenant is free to go at the end of their fixed term whether or not they have given notice, and it’s NOT a given that if a landlord attempts to sue them for ‘lost rent’ for the missing month it may take them get a new tenant, he/she will win. It would however, be a crazy landlord who would try and do that because if a tenant’s iffy enough to scarper without telling anyone (especially owing rent, bills and cleaning costs), it’s highly unlikely they’d ever get an money out of them even if they did win in court.
Good riddance is the attitude to take: clean up the mess, pass on any details and addresses to the utility companies and get the property back on the market asap! And I consider myself chastised by Pimlico Nick. Again 😉