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Are tenants liable for expenses caused by their failure to vacate on time?

flatHere is a question to the blog clinic from Paula who is a landlord:

My problem is I am a landlord of a property we let out on a shorthold agreement with the intention of moving back into the property ourselves. We have now sold the property we are in and need to move back into our rented property.

We have served a Section 21 notice but like one of the comments I have just seen our tenants have decided to stay put until they secure another property (timescale unknown) so in effect making me and my husband homeless.

Whilst I can see there is nothing we can do about getting them out and will have to go through a court order process.  

My question is that as I am more than likely having to put my belongings into storage and find somewhere to live ourselves, surely we should be able to put this cots back to our tenants as this would not have happened had they moved out when the Section 21 expired?


I am afraid not.  Tenants do not have to move out when the section 21 notice expires.  The effect of a section 21 notice is rather that if a landlord brings proceedings for possession, the Judge has to make an order for possession.

Until the possession order is made, the tenant is fully entitled to  remain in the property without penalty.

Indeed section 21 notices are often served by landlords when they have no real desire for the tenant to vacate at the end of the notice period, just as a precautionary measure.

The only time I think the landlord would have any chance of making a recovery in these circumstances, would be if the tenant was specifically told at the start of the tenancy that the landlord wanted the property back and that these expenses would be incurred if he did not.

AND if the tenant specifically agreed in advance that he understood this and would be moving out promptly.  I think also that this would have to be written into the tenancy agreement in some way or maybe set out in a side letter which the tenant signs.

I assume that this did not happen in your case.

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One Response to Are tenants liable for expenses caused by their failure to vacate on time?

  1. Were there any agents involved in managing the property for you in regards the tenants? I would imagine that they should hold some responsibility for keeping you fully informed of how a S21 works.

    If you did employ agents, then they may be a good place to ask for a full explanation.



About the post author:

Tessa Shepperson

Tessa is a lawyer and specialises in creating products and services which help landlords and letting agents learn and understand landlord & tenant law. For example, she runs the Landlord Law website (now in its 14th year) and is a director of Easy Law Training Ltd and Your Law Store. Tessa also sits on the Property Redress Scheme Council. When not working she enjoys reading, cooking and messing around on the computer. You can also find her on Google

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

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