OpenRent Community

Awkward tenant situation

Hi everyone, I could use a bit of advice around a tenancy that is ending in mid-February.
We have a slightly difficult tenant who has responded badly to minor issues in the property that have arisen during her tenancy. We have no grounds for eviction but she has indicated several times that she wants to leave, so we have no security with her being there.
We contacted her a couple of weeks ago, two months prior to the end of her AST, to offer her a new contract but with the rent increased back to what it was before we agreed to a slight reduction for her; having not received a reply, we followed up a few days ago with the contract offer again but informing her we were advertising the flat. She only replied earlier today, saying that she has had ‘health problems’ and that, although moving out at the end of the AST would ‘be ideal for her’, she is concerned about being in tier 4 and finding a new home. She said she has sought legal advice and that she doesn’t have to commit to a rent increase or sign a new agreement while staying at the address.
We have offered her a short (6 month) contract to allow her more time to find a new home, keeping the rent at the current level, and have asked her to confirm with one month’s notice if she intends to leave at the end of the AST, which is when I would carry out viewings for new tenants.
My question is, what happens at the end of the tenancy agreement if she has not told us that she intends to leave? If we have signed a contract with new tenants, can she still remain in the property? Does she have rights to stay on a periodic contract if she gives notice of her intent not to vacate?

Thanks in advance.

If she stays there then there’s a rolling tenancy. She doesn’t have to give notice of her intent not to vacate. She just has to not vacate.

Ifshe doesn’t accept the rent she can appeal it. If she has it in writing that you’re offering the lower rent then that’s evidence she’ll use in the appeal. She won’t have to pay the higher rent for the duration of the appeals process.

You have to serve her 6 months notice to end the tenancy. You cannot remove her or bar her entry to the property. Only barristers can do that.

Hooooly crap the legal nightmare you would be in if you signed a tenancy agreement with new tenants before formally ending the current tenancy!

It is really difficult to evict new tenants right now and it sounds like she may have legal grounds to take action against you as it is, depending on what these “issues” look like.

You should really go into damage control mode and start trying to repair the relationship.

I would suggest you get your own legal advice. Pour over every like of the lease and piece of contact with a fine too tooth comb.

I agree that in this situation, (as in most situations), it is better for you to let the tenancy go periodic. You don’t need a new agreement to increase the rent, you can usually just serve a s13 notice after the first 12 months and once the tenancy is periodic. You may still be able to do that as long as it was clear in your most recent email that the offer of the same rent was contingent on signing a new contract.

Looking at her view as she really has a point of moving during T4.

So write to her showing empathy with her situation with T4.
State that she will move to Periodic and have to give you 1 months notice. If like me you have good relationships with your tenants I ask for informal two months notice as the really helps the reduction of voids.

Request an inspection and ask politely if the place could be tidy to enable you to take stock of any repairs, damage, safety, maintenance and if agreeable to take photos and a video to promote the property ( only if you don’t already) when the time comes. If you don’t have these and you leave it too close to the check out she could have packed boxes everywhere.

One thing I always do and add in to my AST, is that I do an inspection 3 weeks before check out, this allows me to book tradesmen for jobs that may need to be done and order any items that need to be replaced. In the current situation where materials etc are taking longer to supply it’s a good move.

Review your documentation for why the rent was reduced and hopefully you stated the conditions of a temporary reduction which should have included but not exclusively to the time period, whether it was just a reduction or reduction with agreement to pay pack the different under certain timeframes .

Serve the statutory rent increase notice.

Request an inspection date, ensure she is out for COVID reasons, use all PPE aides including gloves, discard immediately in the bin and still use hand cleanser ( I always keep a small bottle in the car).

Whilst there if pre agreed with the tenant video the property as new tenants like to see furnished places and what can fit in. Remember only do if you have permission, in writing, email, text etc. That is also if you think the contents help the video.

A good point to remember is that when you have a property up together make a small promotional video. This helps remote online viewing.

Remember, as a landlord you must not harass the tenant in anyway so be considerate but keep it formal.

You also have the rent coming in so you don’t actually have a void yet and voids vv rent difference may sway your decision process.

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Keep in mind when you serve the rent increase notice that it sounds like she’s aware of her legal rights and will almost certainly appeal. It maybe worth considering if the appeals process and pissed off tenant are worth it or if it’s better to keep the rent reduced and things amiable.

You cannot sign anything with new tenants until you know for certain she is going - or preferably, has actually gone. Even if it means a void, it’s not a risk you can take.

If she’s sought legal advice, it would strongly appear she’s going to be doing what she had told you she is entitled to do. Which is stay on in your property, on a periodic tenancy and refuse a rent increase. She’s also mentioning all the right buzz words - ‘health issues’ so knows that a landlord has to give six months notice and has to answer to any court regarding eviction, how the tenant has been affected by Covid.

If she’s not happy to be moving house in T4 it is also unlikely she will co-operate with viewings/photos etc.

She’s found out her rights and will know she can refuse to allow viewings/photos.

If the relationship is a bit dodgy, personally I would leave viewings and photos etc. until she’s vacated. Trying to negotiate this is not going to improve relations and a place looks far more appealing empty.

You need to check the AST - to ascertain if you have anything about an annual rent increase and also if it says anything about going periodic when the contract has ended.

From your point of view does it make any difference if you get a new AST or migrate to a periodic?

If you issue a S13 rent increase notice and she appeals, the Tribunal will assess it on market rents.

From personal experience, we had a tenant a bit like this. Despite many attempts to repair the relationship it never really worked and each time there was an issue they became increasingly obstructive and unpleasant. We ended up having to evict them, which caused even more animosity from them as they didn’t want to leave.

Once a relationship has started to deteriorate and it’s got to the stage that they are dictating to you what is going to happen, as opposed to trying to work with you, personally I don’t think it bodes well.
In hindsight I wish we had evicted once things started to go downhill.

If you went down the S21 route you run the risk that she won’t pay anything and will sit tight until forcibly removed.

It sounds as though you have tried to communicate and offer solutions but she’s not being very responsive.

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Sometimes they may say "i have taken legal advice " and they have done nowt. A “friend” has given advice. Its a chance you take in believing them.

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Sorry but it looks to me you are making a rod for your own back.
Personally I would let it roll over onto a periodic tenancy, take a knock on the reduced rent and if she stays there and pays the rent and does not do any damage I am sure if she had intensions to move anyway she will soon be gone.
All you might get is a void for a few weeks but load your rent up to cover this

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The chance is in NOT believing them. Because even if they just have talked to a friend that doesn’t mean they aren’t willing to get a lawyer.

To me, whenever someone says “legal advice” I immediately treat them as if they have served me with a lawsuit. Which does NOT mean cowing down!

I follow the letter of the law, no emotion, and seek my own legal advice if need be. I treat every single interaction as if we are in front of a judge. It’s not worth the risk of assuming they’re just bluffing when they aren’t. And, in my experience, when you respond like that they generally end up showing their ass and/or backing down.

Because the eviction process is so slowed right now, honestly it’s really not worth rocking the boat too much.

Also, frankly, the fact the original poster is daft enough to consider viewings and a new tenancy while his tenant is saying she won’t leave makes mesuspect that he hasn’t been the best landlord.

If he’s delusional enough to think that would be acceptable I would be concerned that he’s violated some other statutes without realizing it and she may well have a solid case against him.

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this is all true. its a bit of a lottery in believe or dont believe.

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The tenant may have sought legal advice but that doesn’t mean she has properly understood it. Its true that she doesn’t have to sign a new tenancy agreement, but as I said earlier, there are other ways of increasing the rent that she cannot prevent. She could challenge a s13 notice at the First Tier Tribunal, but unless the increase puts the rent considerably above the local market rent, she would be wasting her time.

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If you have covered yourself and recorded in writing the rent reduction and stipulated it was X amount for a certain length of time, after which it would revert to what it was previously there shouldn’t be a problem.

Why don’t you get Free Advice from Possession Friend.uk ?

You can’t evict her , due to COVID unless you have grounds which is usually 3 months notice but in Scotland has been extended tob6 months. You wount be able let people view the property unless your tenant has put it in writing that she is leaving, everything must be done in writing to show proof as she can turn round & accuse you for wrongful eviction & take you to court. If you are still unsure speak to Shelter

Why are you increasing the rent in the current climate?

Read the original post and think you will find the Landlord is putting the rent back to the original amount after giving a temporary reduction to help the tenant out.

U cannot evict or try evict any tenants at all now due to covid as there is a ne way that was made last year. Stating u cant evict during a pandemic and if u wanted to try u have to give them 6 months notice now even after the end of their tenancy agreement. Then on top of that ur tenant kud just pay u no rent for that 6 months then u would have to hope the covid situation improved by 6 months time and even then u would have take her court again then and that would be another 3 months maybe before u even have a clue as to when u can advertise ur property. So from a tenants point of view dont try and be greedy if ur getting rent etc now and keep to ur part of the original agreement and let it stay as a rolling tenancy until whenever they wanted it. Or u have a good 9 months of uncertainty with an angry tenant and maybe no rent for that whole time just for being greedy and trying advertis a property before its even empty… tenants now have a lot more power due to covid law. As the government dont want anyone else on the streets etc and spreading the virus

The stay on bailiff evictions is due to end on 11 January and if that still happens a landlord will be able to evict again. In any case, there is a long process to go through first, starting with notice and there is no prohibition on that.

If a rent reduction for a specific period was agreed, it is not being greedy to expect it to go back up to what we assume is a fair market rent at the end of the period.

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If you actually read the original post there was no mention of wanting to evict the tenant.

How is giving a reduction greedy?

Nowhere is it said that a ‘rolling tenancy was part of the original agreement’ as you are stating. Iwould appear from what is stated in the post that the opposite is true. (But as others have commented, inc myself) it is probably not worth arguing over.

‘Trying to advertise the property before it’s even empty’. That was the Posters original question as to whether it was advisable to do so. Not on HOW to do it.

Landlords have bills too so seeking advice on trying to minimise a void and being slated for not being able to make a temporary discount in rent permanent, is unhelpful and stupid.

If the mortgage is unpaid the tenant will be on the streets eventually regardless of ‘what the government wants’.

Actually read the post!!

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But everyone knows that if u dont pay rent etc for a period of time that eventually u will be on the streets if u haven’t found another property before u rent a property u know this. But the post states the landlord dhas offered the tenant another 6 month contract to sign which they don’t have to as that ties them into that place for 6 months rent really. As if she wants to leave within say 3 months she is stuck as to owing 3 months rent if the landlord was funny after that. Tbays the point im making and that the tenant cannot be evicted at all while a pandemic is on and it is at least April now before u can serve them with notice and that will be 6 months after that not the usual 28 days mallarky.