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Landlord Legal Issues January 2019

Landlord & tenant lawyer, Tessa Shepperson of www.landlordlawservices.co.uk answers your questions

Q. My tenants told me that they wanted to cancel their tenancy six months before the end of the fixed term, but I said ‘no’. They moved out anyway and have been paying the rent regularly.  

However, they now say that because I have been storing items in the property and doing a bit of repair work there, I have ended the tenancy and they no longer need to pay rent. Are they correct? Surely it is OK for me to do this as they are not using it?

A. You can’t have your cake and eat it. The property is either rented to the tenants or it is not! If it is the tenants, then you should respect this and stay away from it – unless you have their specific consent.

If the tenants are paying rent, then the tenancy is theirs. The fact that they are no longer actually living there does not change this – for example if they wanted to move back in they should be able to. They are after all paying for it.

But by going in and using the property yourself, you are treating the tenancy as if it had ended. So, the tenant is in turn entitled to treat your actions as an ‘implied offer to surrender’ which they can accept - and stop paying rent. In fact, they may be entitled to a refund of rent from the time you first went in and started using the property in this way.  

Q. My tenant viewed the property at a time when the previous tenant was living there. The previous tenant had a lot of her own furniture there, but she took it with her when she went. My tenant, who has only just moved in, says that he had assumed that the tenancy was let with this furniture and as it is not there he was misled and is entitled to end his tenancy. Is this true?

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