End tenancy early - agency abusive?

Hi everyone,

Thank you for taking the time to read my story. I ended up in a quite grey situation and I wish to get your opinion and advice.

I signed a 12 months short hold tenancy agreement - no break clause with my boyfriend (at the time we didn’t know what a break clause was as we are not from UK and in my country break clause are compulsory in all tenancy agreement).
Anyway, the flat was near a busy street and I was enable to sleep properly as I have noise sensitivity. I tried everything earplug (I got almost an ear infection after 2 days), sleep in the corridor of the apartment etc. After, 8 months I was so knackered that I couldn’t concentrate at work, I was having nervous breakdowns regularly (crying, depression etc.). It was a real issue and I felt the landlord/letting agency couldn’t do much as the traffic was impossible to stop. I couldn’t stay in this place anymore for what I believe health purpose and so we asked to the agency to surrender our tenancy explaining why.

First, they answered it would be an early release for which there are costs involved and they will be able to let us know what these costs are. So far no problem.
Then, the next day we sent by email a proper notice of 6 weeks asking them to confirm acceptance of our surrender and we could negotiate and heard all landlord conditions as we were seeking for an agreement that would fit both. They didn’t reply. After a week, we emailed back asking if everything was fine with the landlord and according to them the landlord refused.
Next step, I emailed the landlord directly explaining very precisely my symptoms and why I couldn’t stay anymore. I clearly indicated that we would find new tenants if needed and we were ready to agree to his conditions to make things right for him. Then landlord texted me back stating : " I am happy to discuss things as I am considering selling". We had the feeling that the agency didn’t even talk to the landlord about our notice.
At this time, we had find a new quiet home and we thought things will be ok so we paid the deposit and got the contract for our new home.

The agency was upset we contacted the landlord and forbid us to do it again. A day later, they wrote us the landlord will not be giving us early release. There was no negotiation simply no. It was quite surprising as we had a proven writing from the landlord himself.

Long story short , we emailed back a new notice of 4 weeks confirming that we will be living (included the moving out date) and we were releasing to the landlord all his interest in the property with vacant possession. The agency refused our notice and told us it was invalid and we couldn’t give notice until the end of term.
In addition the same day they got into the apartment without telling us and rudely suggested to invest in a toilet cleaner and air the flat as the smell was unpleasant.
We highlighted that we found unreasonable and unfair to try to force us staying into the property whereas we offer to find new tenants, pay for all the expenses involved in changing the tenancy such as referencing and we were also ready to accept any Landlord/agent early release conditions (for me it’s a fair trade). Also that it could end up badly for me as I can’t sleep decently and as we couldn’t provide a safe and healthy environment and stay in the flat at the same time we will not be able to pay the rent.

It went quiet for 4 weeks until the moving out date and the agency asked us to pay the rent for the month. We reminded them we could not and we gave notice. Because we had left the landlord carries out an inventory check out straight away and accepted the keys back. They sent us the check out report and a cleaning note of 250 £ shortly after (even if the check out didn’t mention most aspects of the note - my opinion it was more of a decontamination note- it was non negotiable for them so we refused it as we felt it was abusive).

We haven’t heard of them anymore (2 month silent) and the 12 month of the original short hold tenancy has come to an end anyway. The problem is I received recently a council tax bill (from the moving out date til the original tenancy end date). Also I don’t trust them at all and I think they might contact us in the future. We went to check the flat from the street during the 2 months silent and I know that they professionally cleaned the flat and a window was opened. It didn’t seem to have new tenants though (not surprising as they want to sell) but we checked the agency website for the flat and we didn’t find it to sale or rent. The agency didn’t seem to have taken reasonable steps to re rent or sale the property. My questions are : Could they refused to negotiate even if we suggested a fair trade ? The fact they did a proper check out , accepting the keys, professionally cleaned the place are evidences of an implied surrender ? Any other thoughts to help ? What about the council tax ?

Many thanks.

Hi. I am not knowledgeable enough to comment on your tenancy, but as far as council tax is concerned I don’t believe that you would have to pay it to the council if you are paying it elsewhere.
Whether or not the agency/landlord could claim it from you, as an expense to them as a result of early termination I have no idea.