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Notice under statutory periodic tenancy- essential advice not given

We are renting a flat and are being held liable for almost 2 months’ rent after giving notice a couple of days after the rental period starts. We didn’t know notice had to be given for vacating on the end or start date.

Initially we were on an AST which became a periodic tenancy after we stayed without committing to another fixed term. This was confirmed via a brief email from the landlord forwarded to us.

The AST was for 12 months with a 6 month break clause, and states a month’s notice must be given by tenants. It refers nowhere to a periodic tenancy. Our agent has confirmed that they failed to send us routine documentation would which confirms a periodic tenancy and details the different notice requirement under this.

It seems like the landlord is acting within their rights, if being rather ungenerous. We’re now responsible for another month’s expensive rent as a direct consequence of the agents failure to send documentation. Do we have any right to recourse from either the agent or the landlord?

We had asked the landlord to recognise our notice of one month and indicated our flexibility in moving out as soon as new tenants wanted to move in. Now we’re being held to paying rent until christmas unless a new tenant is found sooner. It’s in the landlord’s interest to secure a tenant before this quiet period and ours to pay less rent. As it is, they’re having their cake and eating it by holding us liable while still offering earlier occupancy.

Grateful for any advice.

From my understanding if there is no mention in the AST regarding it rolling on after the fixed term ends then it becomes a statutory periodic and hence like a new tenancy so agents/LL should re-send How to Rent guide along with all the other requirements.

I thought a periodic tenancy was a months notice - assuming you pay rent monthly.

Thanks for the reply. I also assumed it was a month’s notice from the date given, particularly since the last contract we had (the AST) said that.

Having since checked with Shelter and other online sources, The Housing Act dictates that the notice has to fall on the end or start date of a rental period, meaning unless notice is given just before the start date of each month, you can be liable for up to 2 months minus a couple of days.

This is a slightly odd arrangement but my main frustration is that nowhere was this highlighted to us. I don’t read The Housing Act for fun and would hope an agent would make something so important clear.

If the agent has confirmed they failed to send you the new terms and conditions then I would have thought you had a good argument. Have they put this in writing?

If they have then don’t see how it would stand up in a Court if you hadn’t been told of the new rules.

The tenants notice in a periodic tenancy is a minimum of one month ending at the end of the tenancy period. Hence if you give notice a few days after rent day, your notice will be nearer two months.

It is not the landlords job to teach tenants about housing law. If you enter a contract you should understand the terms of that contract. Having said that, if the landlord/agent failed to serve you a copy of the Government’s How to Rent publication, which is a legal requirement and which contains information on how to end a tenancy, you may want to use it to try to negotiate a compromise, but as there are no real consequences for failing to serve the booklet unless its the landlord serving notice, I wouldn’t hold my breath.

My overall argument is the only the agent is at fault. The landlord has done nothing wrong, though I’d hoped for a little more generosity. My impression is that we’ve had a good relationship and straightforward tenancy to date.

@Mr_T we have in writing that the agent failed to deliver this information

@David122 I totally understand that the landlord has met all their obligations. I don’t know how many landlords would surrender the extra time. I feel the spirit of their agreeing to a periodic tenancy indicates they are willing to let on a monthly basis, with possible valid notice of one month. However this has no weight legally and guaranteed rent with an increased time to seek new tenants is clearly a dream scenario for a landlord.

We are in the scenario through naivety, granted. But How to Rent only says the following:

If you want to stay: Do you want to sign up to a new fixed term? If not, you will be on a ‘rolling periodic tenancy’. This means you carry on as before but with no fixed term – your tenancy agreement should say how much notice you must give the landlord if you want to leave the property – one month’s notice is typical. Shelter publishes advice on how you can end your tenancy

So neither the How to Rent guide nor the AST contract indicate the requirement for the notice to fall on a rental period. My impression is anything in those documents gives a tenant no leg to stand on (even if many wouldn’t read cover to cover), but it is unreasonable for a tenant to be expected to read the housing act. Why else are agents mandated to give the ‘How to Rent’ booklet?

Two questions to my mind:

1.I wonder if anyone has creative options for negotiation with the landlord to shorten our liability. Securing tenants to move in sooner will be easier than a move in over christmas, so we could refuse to give possession until the date our liability ends. In reality though this closes the possibility of an early-starting new tenancy (so bad for us) and I’m not one to be vindictive. As part of that calculation it’s a desirable flat which will likely let quickly. Perhaps we can get some assurance that they will accept any offer to rent sooner, rather than turning those down without good reason?

  1. What pressure can be put on the agent? At the very least I expect them to make every effort to secure a quick let. I wish they would cover the addition month’s rent but that’s a pipe dream.

A bare one month notice is never valid unless the tenancy agreement specifically allows for that and why would it when the legal requirement is for the notice to expire at the end of a tenancy period. This is not the agent being unreasonable, it is them following the law. You should expect your future tenancies to follow the law too.

A tenancy of 3 years or less in England and Wales can be verbal and undocumented so there is no legal requirement that I am aware of to spell out the notice period. Most tenancy agreements that I am familiar with do make this clear and this should be your arguement with the agent. I have no idea whether it will work. However, if it doesn’t you will only be paying what you were always supposed to pay anyway.

As David said most Tenancy Agreements do make it clear and that could be your argument. Also, that you have it in writing and your point about finding new tenants sooner rather than on top of Christmas and see what they come back with.

As you said you could refuse to hand back the keys until the end date but you would then still be liable for the standing charge on your gas and electricity and council tax which would be extra expense for yourselves.

@David122 or anyone, if the tenancy has now become a statutory periodic and the notice period has changed from what the original AST stated should the agent have notified the tenant of the changes or is this not considered necessary?

Thanks both.
Very interesting to know that a tenancy of 3 years or less can be verbal @David122, I think this is a case of the agents could have communicated better rather than being negligent in not. I’m happy that as things are today nobody is acting improperly in requiring the legally valid notice.

We weren’t clued up about this but I wouldn’t be surprised if others find themselves in a similar situation.

I hope the agents make sure in future that clear notice is given of the switch to a periodic tenancy, and perhaps this will be a useful heads up for other tenants.

Hi Mr_T. In the case of the NRLA tenancy agreement and before that the RLA agreement, with which I’m familiar, the notice period is included because it uses the contractual periodic tenancy model. I believe the Government model AST includes details of the notice as a point of information. No tenant notice would of course be valid in the fixed term.

There is no obligation on the agent to notify the tenant when the fixed term expires and either an SPT or CPT arises. The dates are clear in the tenancy agreement, although good model should include information on what happens at the end of the fixed term if the tenant remains in occupation. Again, the absence of this in the OPs case would be another point to raise in negotiation.

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