Hi! Our one-year contract ends soon and we want to renew it with another one year contract, but with a name change on that new contract. Our landlord is now asking a 250 pounds charge for that tenant change. I know he can charge for a tenant change during an existing contract, but as our one-year contract ends, I wondered if this doesn’t count as a new contract? Is he allowed to charge for name changes when it’s only for the renewal of a contract? It would be great if someone knows and even better if someone knows where I can find this written down so that I can send proof of this to the landlord. Thanks a lot!!
That is a rip off he should be glad you want to renew
You can’t charge for a new contract that is illegal under TFA
If you are changing a tenant it is a new contract thus TFA ban applies
If he is charging fees threaten Trading Standards
This is a potentially complex situation and I think its possible that A_A is correct with regard to a strict interpretation of the Tenant Fees Act. The problem for you is that the landlord could just argue that they plan to allow the tenancy to become periodic and not renew at all. This would leave the tenant who wants to depart still liable for the rent and the one who wants to move in unable to do so as anything other than a guest of the other tenants.
I think that the landlord may be able to use the TFA s1(7) to argue that as the renewal is an alternative to the periodic tenancy, they can nevertheless charge a fee, which has to be reasonable and no more than their actual costs.
TFA19 S1(7) says For the purposes of this section, a landlord does not require a relevant person to make a payment, enter into a contract or make a loan if the landlord gives the person the option of doing any of those things as an alternative to complying with another requirement imposed by the landlord or a letting agent.
If the periodic was statutory, not contractual, then this technically is a new fixed term. Could one not then argue that if you can’t charge for the statutory periodic to commence why should you charge for a new AST?
Also. he can sell it to the Landlord, by signing the new AST he gives the Landlord a twelve month guarantee vs a periodic in which he may depart with potentially a month’s notice ( depending on how the contract was worded)
Can the Tenant not sell it to the Landlord as you are avoiding a void period and all the hassles of a searching for a new group when you already have a reliable group etc etc
In the balance of probabilities, the fact that the Landlord wants to charge so much, suggests he is trying it on where he can and my guess is he will not be as versed as you in the law. So, unless he doesn’t read your thread the tenant could just stand his ground.
Trading Standards is always a good bet. If I gambled I would bet he would not get away with it.
However it may create unnecessary tensions between the Tenant and Landlord.
On the other hand do you want to be with a Landlord that is ripping you off ( allegedly) ?
Thanks for all the replies! It basically sounds like we are in our right then… so that’s good!
And I think you’re right @David122 that it would be a lot easier for the landlord to just agree with us than to try and fight it, in which case he would possibly have to find new tenants.
Thanks again everyone, that was very helpful
I think that the argument should be the same for both types of tenancy. The landlord would basically be saying I was planning to do nothing. That way it becomes periodic either by contract or statute. If you want me to do something then you will have to pay a fee as an alternative because doing nothing is legally allowed.
I agree that the tenant should be trying to sell it to the landlord as in their interest to renew, partly for the security and partly because these changes of tenant are happening and its going to become very messy for the landlord if they do nothing.
Its possible that the landlord is trying it on with the fee, but its also possible that this is the figure his agent has quoted for the new agreement.
j81, let us know how you get on with this negotiation.
I had a thought
Shelter, in addition to Trading standards, would be very helpful in this situation.
I realised that when we do student contracts we change tenants every 12 months as groups mix and match.
We never charge a fee. The universities would annihilate us if we even considered it.
Your argument could be if you left the property and signed a new AST the next day and moved back in you would not pay the fee as it would be illegal.
So why if you stay in situ is it any different?
The TFA was brought in to protect tenants from this nonsense.
If, as David suggests, he is passing in the agents fee to the landlord, then this in itself would be illegal.
£250 is hard to justify on an edit of a name and email of a few documents that can be signed digitally
I also think ( but can’t remember) there is a cap on charges for a change in contract in the TFA.
I don’t think it would stand up in court
If he did every student landlord, if not every landlord, would use it as a precedent to do the same
It wouldn’t necessarily be illegal to pass on the fee if he can use s1(7) of the Act. I’m not 100% sure he can because this is relatively new legislation and there are few, if any test cases to go on.
I still think negotiation is the best bet and its not unreasonable for J81 to ask the landlord the question of whether the fee is allowed under the Tenant Fees Act. This might spook him enough to waive it unless he is very confident of his chances.