I like Openrent but the Customer Service at times is poor apart from what seem like the most basic of scenarios. Even then I’m regularly referred to trivial documents about the process even though if some of these advisors had bothered to look I have used some of the things I have questions about before. Anyway rant over.
The issue I have is over something that seems quite straightforward but when I ask I keep having it suggested I get independent legal advice. I’m not even sure it’s a legal issue.
I have some tenants who are at the renewal stage. They want to sign up for another 4 months not 6 months. When I went through the process to do this Openrent platform flags up that whilst the AST is valid the law doesn’t really recognise any length less than 6 months. So by my reckoning a 4 month AST is technically a 6 month AST anyway. But they flag up the caveat, unless the tenancy is ended by mutual consent. Well the tenant wants 4 months and I’m happy with 4 months, is that not in itself an agreement? Otherwise it seems I may as well just sign him for 6 knowing that he wants to leave in 4, but I think the tenant who’s English is OK but not brilliant will find this confusing. If it does I don’t blame him, I’m confused!
Hi. Why don’t you just let the AST roll onto a periodic tenancy? After two months have passed the tenants then submit their two months notice to leave.
Hi James, sorry to hear you’ve not been happy with the help you’ve received from our team. We do have be careful on issues of contract law, because we are not solicitors.
The info you’ve got in your message is correct.
In other words, yes you can set the tenancy to four months, but if the tenant don’t move out after four months, there is very little you could do about it, as you cannot serve a Section 21 eviction notice until 4 months have elapsed, and the minimum notice period is two months. You could use a Section 8 eviction notice, but certain grounds (e.g. rent arrears) have to exist if using Section 8, and it’s possible there will be no valid grounds to rely on.
So if you trust your tenants to move out after four months, then it may make sense to go ahead and renew. But it is important to know that your options will be slim if they do not move out after four months.
Mr T’s idea sounds sensible to me - you could just let the tenancy roll on into a period tenancy so that you are not locked into another de facto six-month minimum term. Ultimately, it’s your choice of course.
I hope this helps,
They want to pay upfront and the platform doesn’t appear to give the option to be periodic and upfront
Hi Sam, will the platform allow them to pay upfront however if periodic? Doesn’t appear to and that is what they want to do and ultimately if I can get the money upfront that’s better for me. Therefore working on the assumption that they can’t pay upfront and be periodic we’re back to the AST. I trust them to go after 4 months, they’ve been fine to deal with, but I can’t help but think by creating a 4 month AST it complicates things, I’m as well off signing them up for 6 months, getting 4 months upfront in the knowledge that they will probably leave after 4. What I’m frustrated about is you have flagged up the issue about no such thing as a 4 month AST as needs to be mutual agreement to end before 6. But what I don’t understand is why you can’t answer the query that if the tenant has asked for 4 months before we sign it and I have agreed it whether that in itself is a mutual agreement. Feels like one to me, but if you can’t say definitively I think I will go down the 6 month route even though I know they will move out after 4 if all goes to plan…
Hi James, I’m not legally trained, so I can’t be as definitive as, e.g. a solicitor on the tenancy agreement questions. I can just share my understanding. If you want legal advice then
you’d have to speak to an expert, and I can provide one for you if you’d like?
I can at least answer your Q about how OpenRent works, however.
If you are using our rent collection service for a tenancy which has become periodic at the end of a fixed term, then the tenants can indeed pay rent up front (i.e. in advance). If rent collection is enabled and the tenancy hasn’t been marked as ended, then any payment we receive is passed to the landlord the same working day it is received. I.e. if a tenant paid you three months of rent in one go, it would all be paid on to you.
I hope that answers that question fully.
This is the legal question where I can’t give you advice, but only my understanding of things. You can mutually agree to end the tenancy on a specific date. That’s a mutual surrender and is common. The issue is that if the tenant then does not follow through, then there are not many negative consequences for them. If you wanted to evict them, you’d have to do the whole eviction process from scratch, as if the mutual agreement never existed anyway. If you trust them, however, then fine.
My question to you would be, if you trust them to leave after four months, then why sign a renewal at all, as opposed to just allowing the periodic tenancy to continue for four more months? It sounds like it would be much simpler to do this?
Hi Sam, I think we’re getting somewhere. If we get back to your answer about paying upfront with the periodic tenancy. For me if I get 4 months upfront however it is done is the best way. Ideally I would say periodic due to this issue of no such thing really as an AST less than 6 months. But how does the rent collection action the collection of rent upfront as I would assume the request would just go in for the monthly amount £700?
I’d have thought the best solution would be to do nothing and allow the AST to roll into ‘periodic’. Problem solved. Simples!
If your monthly rent is £700 and your tenant pays £2,800 (i.e. four times £700) on one day, then:
- we send all of that to you the same working day
- our system marks all of that money as having being paid by the tenant. Metaphorically speaking, it ‘puts the tenant’s account in credit’ for four months.
If you then ended the tenancy after those four months, you would just have to let us know that the tenancy has ended and we would not expect any more rent from the tenant. You can do that via your tenancy management page on the openrent.co.uk site.
Thanks for this I’m now clear on my options going forward.
Have Openrent got a complaints procedure? Not about you I feel that you’ve helped me understand the options available and how to action them, but your colleagues on the Customer Service messaging have been poor and one of them rude to be honest.
In addition to below, can you let me know who you would suggest for “independent legal advice” that you mentioned earlier on in this discussion. I have contacted the legal team mentioned on Openrent and they have come back to me advising they only deal with evictions.
So if there is someone else you guys use who could advise better on what constitutes “mutual agreement” when it comes to ending an AST less than 6 months then I think it would be useful to speak to them.