Here is a question to the blog clinic from Andrew (not his real name) who is a landlord
I rented my flat out on a 12 month lease but 3 months into the tenancy my tenant lost his job and moved out. I advised him he was responsible for rent up until a new tenant was found.
He agreed to this and I was delighted when my agent found a new tenant within two weeks. However, the application fell through at the last minute, and it was another month before another tenant moved in.
I (the agent on my behalf) informed the tenant he was still responsible for rent during this period and that the arrears would be deducted from his deposit, but he refused, arguing that it was not his fault the application fell through.
The tenant took the case to tribunal who awarded in his favour because my agent carried out a checkout, which constituted an acknowledgement that the tenancy had ended. I am obviously disappointed by the decision, but is it correct?
I will probably just take this on the chin, but I am sure other landlords will face the same problem and I don’t want them to be stung the way I have. This has cost me a small fortune in agent fees.
I don’t think it is laid down in tablets of stone that doing a checkout inevitably means that a landlord agrees that a tenant has ended. It will really depend on the circumstances and what the parties said and did.
I think what a landlord should do in similar circumstances is do a letter to the tenant saying that you are carrying out the checkout in the hope that the new tenancy goes through but that this should not constitute an acknowledgment that the tenancy has ended and that you will continue to hold him liable until such time as the tenancy agreement is signed.
If you are able to produce a letter like this to the adjudicator then this should conter the assumption he might otherwise make that holding the checkout meeting indicates that you accept the tenancy is at an end.
In fact it might be an idea to re-iterate the fact that the tenant will be held liable until a new tenancy agreement is actually signed every time you write to him.