OpenRent Community

HELP Early Termination

Hi Everyone,

I was laid off from work due to the whole COVID situation, couldn’t afford the rent and therefore gave notice to terminate my fixed agreement tenancy early. Tenancy started in October 2020 and lasted 2 months. Break clause was 6 months unfortunately. I was happy to pay the rent for an additional month giving the estate agent time to find new tenants.

The estate agent found new tenants 7 days outside of the month: The estate agent sent me this.

“Your Landlord is happy to allow early termination on the basis that his costs are covered. This would mean his commission to us which is £1296 inc VAT plus the check out cost of £140. You will also need to pay the 7 days rent of £177 and cleaning fee of £100”.

Please could anyone advise whether these charges are acceptable. I also didn’t sign an inventory report upon check in. The apartment was immaculate when I left.

Any help will be greatly appreciated.

Shaz

this sounds like a big commision rip off

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Is that the commission for the full term of the tenancy? If so then I assume they are taking a new commission in relation to the new tenant which covers part of the same period, in which case it could be double funding. The landlord/agent is only allowed to charge you their actual costs for allowing early termination under the Tenant Fees Act, and I would think that the fees the agent proposes to charge the landlord have to be reasonable in order to be passed on.

I would challenge these costs on this basis and If they don’t come up with something substantially better, I would ask Trading Standards, who enforce the Act, to intervene.

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If these are genuine cost to the landlord, then I would think that at most you might have to pay 3/12ths of the agent’s fee + definitely not the checkout cost and likely not the cleaning. Did you receive a detailed inventory and condition report at the start of the tenancy? Did you amend it or object to it? If you received one and did nothing with it then you are not on solid ground. If you didn’t receive one then I would say you are at most liable for the proportion of agent’s fees (ask for proof that landlord has paid this) and nothing more. I’m assuming your deposit is held in a recognised scheme? If yes, encourage the agent to make a claim through them. If there is no inventory and they ask for cleaning fees then the deposit scheme will not side with them as the agent will need proof that the property was returned in a lower state of cleanliness than at the start of your tenancy. Good luck.

Wow. So much wrong with that message. Some of those are illegal tenant fees eg. check out cost.
I would speak to Shelter.

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Firstly I’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who responded. You are all godsends, even the short reassuring comments that have helped spark a little fire in me.

The agency sent across the check out report and check in report but it appeared that they sent me the check in of the tenant that has just moved in. Whether that was done accidentally or intentionally with the hope that I won’t notice I don’t know. But what I do know for sure is I was never given an inventory when I moved in.

I have been looking further into this and may have discovered one other thing about the company. They don’t seem to be signed up to any property redress scheme although they state on their website that they are with The Property Ombudsman, after checking on TPO website, the agency’s membership has been ceased. So there may be something more I can do about this beyond my own case. My question is, if they are not part of a redress scheme does that make my case stronger? Or will they simply quickly sign up to a redress scheme to avoid the legal implications of operating…well illegally?

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Your case is with the landlord so any wrongdoing on the part of the agent isnt directly relevant, although it may be indirectly. They may be more inclined to compromise if you sent then an email asking for a breakdown of their costs and at the end asking which redress scheme they are a member of, as their website says TPO and the TPO website says otherwise.

See if you can find professional legal advice. Given they’re trying to charge you about £2k, shelling out a few hundred for a legal consultation is worth it.

I don’t believe they’re allowed to demand you pay the commission. My understanding is the law stops landlords from demanding tenants pay letting agent fees.

It’s also just a rooooyalllyyy dick move to wait until after you’ve moved out to dump this on you. In a lot of arenas it would be unlawful because you agreed to terminate the tenancy beforehand without being told of these fees- you weren’t given a chance to make an honest decision of whether you should try to scrounge up the rent or pay the fees to terminate early.

They haven’t listed your deposit anywhere so if you haven’t gotten your deposit back and they’re demanding all this, I’d definitely talk to a professional.

There are also people who will takecasesin which they only get paid if you win- it may be worth considering that. It’s possible you have a case for a lawsuit depending how far outside the law they are.

I don’t think signing up to a redress scheme after the tenancy has ended will help them at all. Legally all that matters with regards to you is the duration of your tenancy and their interactions with you. Like if I get caught driving without a license then get my license before the court date- I’ll still be introuble, y’know?

Honestly it’s a shame you left. You could have just stayed and made them evict you. They’d be SOL especially with the new tenants…

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Landlords are liable for the actions of their agent. If the agent is afoul of the law then the landlord can be liable for that. As the redress scheme is there in part to help resolve disputes tenants have, it can be seen as leaving the tenant more vulnerable and the landlord could potentially get in trouble for not protecting their tenants’ rights by hiring an agent that follows the law.

I doubt that on its own that would be actionable, mind, but it can factor into consideration of the larger case.

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What I can say that the agent is not telling the truth
about their commission to the landlord and tenant as
the agent thinks he can make double commission.

I can understand cleaning cost and advertising and
finding the new tenants cost.

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I’m not sure about that, but I have no evidence either way. In this case it looks as thought the agent’s membership of the TPO lapsed and they failed to renew, so they may well have been members when the landlord selected them. Anyway, I think we are agreed that these costs should not just be settled, and if the agent is not in a redress scheme then they are denying the landlord and now the tenant the opportunity to challenge them through the prescribed mechanism. That should give pause for thought to the agent.

Hi Everyone,
I received this email today. Before you read I should let you know that I agreed to paying the commission at the time it was proposed because:

1: I was having mental health problems, I lost my job and my wife and I made the difficult decision to move abroad with in laws whilst I get back on my feet…So I just agreed to anything as I was desperate
2. I was given the impression that had I not agreed then the agent wouldn’t advertise. The exact wording the agent used was "
“Please confirm to our fees in order for us to remarket the property and start finding a new Tenant”.

Good morning Shaz,

Without Prejudice,

I thank you for your email, however, our tenancy which you had both signed for states a 1 year contract with a 6 month break clause. Vacating the property early would still leave you liable for a minimum of 6 months as per the tenancy agreement.

We had agreed beforehand in writing that the would be a cost of terminating the tenancy early. You had also agreed to the costs before we proceeded and we in turn did our best to try and find a new Tenant at the earliest. We have multiple costs with remarketing the property, carrying out viewings and in turn spend a lot of time when finding a new Tenant and carrying out relevant checks.

We had the property professionally cleaned prior to your move in and have the invoice for this. To assist you further, as a gesture, we will not charge the the smoke alarm or the clean but as an early termination fee, the cost of £1296 still stands which was agreed in writing by yourself as an agreement to vacate the property early. You will also need to pay £177.53 for the amount of days in January. We in turn had saved you multiple months of rent which you would have been liable for.

I do understand your circumstances which is why we assisted you as best we could, however, there are costs to us and also the Landlord.

The total amount owed by you is £1473.53. An amount of £1038.45 is protected with Mydeposits, therefore, a balance of £435.08 is owed by youself after deducting the deposit in full.

We are with the Property Ombudsman.

We have the tenancy agreement signed by yourself and your wife which states a minimum term of 6 months. I am hoping we can resolve this amicably.

Kind Regards
Agent

It sounds like this charge was proposed 5+ weeks ago (one month and one week)- you did not make that clear in your initial post.

You agreed to pay this. Your only hope is that the charges are unlawful or they’re in some other way afoul of the law- and you seriously need to work with a professional to handle this.

Please seek professional advice. You may have really screwed yourself over by agreeing to pay it. This is not something you should handle yourself.

You need to ask for a detailed breakdown of the £1296. Whether you agreed this cost or not, the agent/landlord is only allowed to charge the actual reasonable costs of re-letting and I don’t think these costs would comply. When they give you a breakdown, report it back here.

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By law you have signed a 6 month AST. You are liable for the whole term even if you depart early.

Calculate which is cheaper. Favour lies with the landlord if you leave early. He can ask for all the rent.

We don’t know what rent you are paying and what the estate agents fees are

Some estate agents charge a fixed for or a months rent depending upon which is higher
If our estate agent fills an HMO we pay £175 plus VAT per person
On a normal rental it’s the charge of one months rent

If we have tenant’s leave early on an AST discretion is with us. We do have terms and conditions to a surrender of tenancy including the Tenant paying the solicitor to sign a Deed of Surrender drawn up by our solicitor.

I think that both the agent and landlord may be estopped from reneging on their email to the tenant agreeing to a conditional early termination. That’s why I think its worth querying the condition. If its a sum that the landlord should challenge on the basis for example that they are paying twice for the same period, then I don’t believe a court would just allow them to pass this on to the tenant. The TFA also precludes the sum from being more than the actual costs.

payments associated with early termination of the tenancy, when requested
by the tenant;
If a tenant requests to leave before the end of their tenancy a landlord or agent is
entitled to charge an early termination fee, which must not exceed the loss they
have suffered in permitting the tenant to leave early. This would usually mean that
they must not charge any more than the rent they would have received before the
tenancy reaches its end. A landlord or agent should aim to agree to any reasonable
request to terminate the tenancy agreement early and should charge no more than
to cover any likely void period. A tenant could still be required to pay rent at
specified intervals as determined by their tenancy agreement until a replacement
tenant is found.

As I understand it, the £1296 that Shazad1 was quoted is just the agents fees and not the rent element for the void.