Here is a question to the blog clinic from Mary who is a tenant
I signed an AST agreement in Dec 2012. Term ends 14 July.2013. The managing agent wrote to me this week, requesting that I sign new 6 month agreement at a cost of £55 plus VAT.
Should I wish to leave before the new term ends, they will endeavour to advertise for new tenant, at a cost to me of a further £195 plus VAT.
I am retired with no current employer reference and paid first 6 months rent in advance.
I am reluctant to sign a new agreement as my future circumstances are uncertain. The response from the agent is that the landlord is not willing to accept a periodic tenancy!
Although I fully appreciate the landlord’s wish for security, I am most reluctant to sign anything. Two landlord friends concur.
Advice much appreciated
Your landlords agents cannot force you to sign a new tenancy agreement if you do not want to.
If you stay on after the end of the fixed term a periodic tenancy will arise automatically under the provisions of the Housing Act 1988 (whether your landlord likes it or not). You will then be legally entitled to stay under this periodic tenancy unless and until your landlord gets a court order for possession.
Your landlord will be entitled to get an order for possession under section 21 if a properly drafted section 21 notice has been served upon you (which must give you not less than two months notice) but probably not otherwise (assuming you are not in arrears of rent). It will take him a minimum of six weeks after the expiry of the notice to get the court order – probably longer.
So you are entitled to stay on without signing for a new term, but are not guaranteed long term security.
If you decide to leave, they can NOT force you to pay for advertising for a new tenant!
You should refuse to pay any such charge and, if they persist, report them to any organisation they are registered with (such as the Property Ombudsman, ARLA etc), or if they are not registered with anyone, report them to Trading Standards.
You may also want to contact Shelter as they have an ‘end letting agent fees’ campaign, and tell them your story.