Hi Everyone I am hoping you can help give me some advice please. I have a AST agreement for 24 months with a tenant (friend of the family). It started June 2020 and ends June 2022. I had added a couple of break clauses. I had served a Form 6A and give the tenant 4 months notice. Which she was happy to accept as she wants a council house and is struggling to pay the private rent. The council have advised the tenant that she does not have to leave the property until June 22. I used the following break clause.
LANDLORD’S ONE-OFF BREAK CLAUSE AFTER THE FIRST 6 MONTHS OF
THE TENANCY. The Landlord may end this Tenancy on the date which is 6 months after the start of the Tenancy by giving the Tenant at least 2 months’ notice in writing. Can anyone advise me please? on what I should do next
Councils always do this. You have to evict if you want them out.
Why do you want them out already?
Also, there is no guarantee they’ll get council housing just because they can’t afford rent.
Hi thank you. I am selling the house…I cannot believe that is how councils work
Best option if you’re selling the house is to come to an agreement with the tenants to move out (moving costs, deposit for new place) and then sell up. If not, you’ll have to pay out that money anyway in solicitor’s fees and have to wait a long time for possession.
Thank you so much for your advice, I really do appreciate it
Your break clause allows you to break the contract on one specific date, which is the day which is exactly 6 months after the start of the tenancy. No other date would be valid and the tenancy would run until June 2022.
Giving tenants you’ve never met a 2 year contract is not the best idea as you’ve discovered. The Council will not help her and even after June 2022, you will need to serve notice and take her through the courts and bailiffs process before they will consider her homeless.
As Per says, if you want her to leave, you may have to pay her to go. Be careful how you do this as it can be construed as harassment.
Hi David I know it was not my smartest move giving a 2 year contract. Plain stupid. There is a further break clause around selling the house. Would this give me a break clause that could be used or again would I not be able to use it?
1.1 Where the Landlord intends to sell the Property, the Landlord may end this Tenancy before the Tenancy end date specified in clause B4.1 by following these steps:
Step 1: Landlord gives written notice to the Tenant stating his intention to market the Property for sale, but no such notice may be given to the Tenant within the first 2 months of the Tenancy.
Step 2: Not more than 4 months after service of the notice required under Step 1, Landlord gives a break notice to the Tenant which:
(a) specifies the date on which the Tenancy will end which must be at least 2 months from the date of service of the break notice and at least 4 months after the date on which written notice was given under Step 1; and
(b) is accompanied by evidence showing that the Property is genuinely on the market for sale.
1.2 If the Landlord follows the steps set out in clause F5.1, the Tenancy will end on the date specified in the break notice.
Whether that break clause is valid would be up to a court to decide. Courts normally like to see reciprocity in break clauses and don’t like those which favour only the landlord, but it might be OK. Its not the best drafting, so you should get a legal opinion on it.
You should also be aware that a break clause only ends the fixed term and a periodic tenancy will then arise automatically by statute. You will then have to serve notice to end that tenancy. You may be able to use a s21 notice to serve for both functions. At the moment, the s21 notice period is 4 months. After this, if the tenant doesnt leave you would apply for a court possession order and ultimately bailiffs. The whole process would likely take around a year at the moment due to court backlogs.
If you actually serve notice the council will act providing you have followed the letter of the law, but not until it’s served. Councils have a standard recommendation to tenants as there is a housing shortage. Some councils are willing to pay landlords a bit extra to keep the tenants, that might be a course of action but don’t hold your breath.
That may be true of your Council Brian, but it doesn’t seem to be true generally. This and the other landlord forums are full of stories of Councils telling tenants to sit tight until the bailiffs walk up the front path. This, of course is in breach of their duty under the Act and they certainly won’t put it in writing, but the reality is that if the tenant leaves before this, or certainly before the possession order has been obtained, most Councils will find them to be intentionally homeless and not help them.
Councils where there is a social housing shortage, all London boroughs and most of England, councils only act when they have been evicted. If they leave before being evicted they have made themselves intentionally homeless and then the council does not help.
I spoke to the local council and they advised the tenant to wait it out until taken to court so that they can be priortised as homeless.
Hi Per, as a matter of personal interest, would you not be able to seek recovering the money from the tenant for the cost of the solicitor fees etc.
Thanks for any insight
You can’t recover unlimited monies. I think there’s a fixed fee for a solicitor that you can claim if you win (which the judge may or may not award) but this does not cover your costs probably. Should you lose you’ll pay your solicitor and the tenant’s solicitor. You should be able to recover the application fee.
My feeling is that in this case the judge won’t award legal fees as the tenant has not breached the terms of the contract, cannot find other housing and the landlord is breaking the lease as he wants to sell. However, these things are not set in stone.
Had a similar situation, offering her money isn’t going to get them out because they’ve decided they want social housing- there are lots of tenants under the impression being asked to leave gives them a meal ticket to get a council property, the council will only rehouse when they rock up at their door with their stuff, there are other options, charities & step change debt charity chances are they’re in debt so will qualify, otherwise you can issue & wait for notices, beware they might steal fittings or cause damage so tread carefully, I worked with the LA landlord & tenant liason officer, if you’d like further advice on this please private message me not on here. Good luck!
O it can get far worse I’m afraid. I served a S21 notice to two of my tenants and the Local Council advised the tenants “not to leave the property until the Bailiffs were knocking on the door” and the council know that it will cost the Landlord more in both time and money
It is against government advice for the LA to advise the tenants until the bailiffs arrive,
Report the LA to their LA ombudsman. A landlord has successfully won his case and the LA was charged a significant penalty for this illegal behaviour!!
Threaten the LA with the LA ombudsman and report this illegal behaviour to your MP and the NRLA.
AA. that is interesting …I did not know this practice is illegal. Which LA was it?
I heard it on a webinar by David Smith
He did not declare the LA
I think its a breach of homelessness legislation. However, that’s. why most Council staff only advise it verbally