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Can I sue this tenant in the small claims court for the rent arrears?

sue for rentHere is a question to the blog clinic from Liz who is a landlord:

My tenant decided to leave and e mailed me that she wanted to go on 13th July.  However being on an AST the earliest she could leave was 2nd August at six months.

I said she could leave and only pay to the 13th ON CONDITION she let me market the flat immediately. She agreed.

My agents gave several days notice but she did a U turn and forbid me or my agents access. She ignores my e mails completely.

I would like to charge her the £320 which would be the rent up to the official leaving date. Is the small claims court a good option? I would appreciate your comments. Thank you Liz

Yes you can claim for the rent.  By signing a fixed term tenancy agreement your tenant made herself liable for the full rent on a month by month basis (I assume there was no break clause).

Although you agreed to let her go early, this was only on condition that she co-operated with you in re-marketing the flat.  As she failed to comply with this condition, she is not entitled to the early surrender and is liable for the rent.

Note that if the tenant had paid a deposit, this is something that you can claim from it.  However if a deposit is not available, then yes, you can bring a small claims court claim for all unpaid rent, including for the last period of time.

Probably the online service Money Claim Online would be best.

Note however that although you can do this now, you would not have been able to claim this before the date that the rent actually fell due.  When suing after the tenant has left the property you need to have a proper address for service.

About the author

Tessa Shepperson Tessa is a lawyer specialising in residential landlord and tenant law. She runs the Landlord Law website (now in its 12th year) and is also a director of Easy Law Training Ltd and Your Law Store. When not working she enjoys reading, cooking and messing around on the computer. You can also find her on Google

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3 Responses to Can I sue this tenant in the small claims court for the rent arrears?

  1. Dave Reaney says:

    I believe if the landlord took possession of the property before 2nd August then the tenants liability ended at that point as the landlord has accepted the early surrender by operation of law.

  2. True, but I am assuming she did not.

    For example if you are given the keys this does not necessarily mean you have accepted a surrender if you have made it clear the terms under which you will do this, and those terms have not been complied with.

    Otherwise tenants would be able to force landlords to accept surrenders just by leaving the keys with them.

  3. Dave Reaney says:

    Oh, I agree that keys alone are not proof – it is whether the landlords total actions amount to taking possession. Artworld Financial Services v Safaryan iirc




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Tessa is an English lawyer specialising in residential landlord and tenant law.


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