Here is a question to the blog clinic from Joel who used to be a tenant (maybe)
I am a ex-tenant and need some assistance please.
I signed up to a 12 month tenancy and had to pay 6 months up front because I was a student. I had a room in a shared a house with three others but we all had individual contracts. Unfortunately one month into the tenancy I had a serious accident and had to move back with my parents.
When my housemates found out I could not move back, they found another person who moved in straight away. They confirmed that the landlord has met the new person and has acknowledged the change of tenant.
I contacted the landlord and asked to be refunded 4 months worth of rent and my deposit but he has replied saying that the new tenant has not paid any rent and for that reason he cannot refund any money, I quote from his email to me:
“It is my understanding that you have made a private arrangement with (name of tenant), because you paid rent in advance you should extract the money from him personally. I am not legally obliged to pay you the money back because you signed up for a 12 month contract. I am sorry but I cannot help you further.”
I have not made a private arrangement with the new tenant, in fact I have never met him or have any of his contact details. My former housemates tell me that he agreed to pay the rent but it was the landlord who told him it was already paid for!
What is my legal position?
I’m not sure you are an ex tenant Joel. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but if you signed a tenancy agreement for 12 months and that tenancy agreement has not been replaced by a new one, then you are still the legal tenant and liable for the rent.
The fact that someone else is living in the property will not change this. Unless that new person has signed a new tenancy agreement with the landlord, and it sounds as if this has not happened.
I suggest you check up on this urgently because if the person has NOT signed a new tenancy agreement then the landlord can claim the rent from you for the final 6 months if this person does not pay.
After all it is not the landlords fault that you had an accident and had to move out. The landlord is running a business and needs the income from the property – which you have contracted to pay.
Assuming no new tenancy agreement has been signed, the landlord is also right when she says that you have made a private arrangement with someone else to live in the property. It may not have been done by you personally but it was done by people on your behalf and you are therefore responsible – as you are the legal tenant.
So you need to reclaim the rent from the new person in occupation. I suggest you get in touch with this person and ask them to repay the rent to you.
So far as the deposit is concerned, the landlord should refund this to you at the end of the tenancy, assuming the person in occupation does not do any damage.
Incidentally, if you have any insurance cover you may want to speak to your insurers. This may be something they can help you with.