Here is a question to the blog clinic from Trevor who is a tenant:
I’m wondering if it is possible for a letting agent to stipulate to tenants and to landlords that occupancy must be fixed term only?
My current letting agent is being quite aggressive in its pursuit of us signing a new contract. This includes regular phone calls, emails and text messages.
They are also saying that if we don’t sign up then they will start re-marketing the flat.
Our preference would be to go onto a periodic tenancy, but the agent insists that this isn’t possible due to their terms and conditions that ourselves and the landlord signed up to. I don’t know what the landlords preference is.
Is this possible? Is it legal? Is it enforceable?
No, I don’t think they can. It is a tenant’s right to stay on in a property after the fixed term has ended (s5 Housing Act 1988).
Any tenancy agreement term which prohibits this (if it exists, check your tenancy) will almost certainly be considered ‘unfair’ under the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999.
Their actions sound like harassment to me. If they actually start re-marketing the flat then this will definitely be harassment, and you should contact your Local Authority tenancy relations officer and ask them to write to the landlord on your behalf. You may also have a claim for compensation.
The only way that the agents can re-let the flat is after an order for possession has been obtained in the County Court. This would need to be done by the landlord (see here to find out why) and I suspect the landlord knows nothing about this.
The agent’s actions are probably because they want to charge a ‘renewal fee’, which they can’t do if your tenancy just becomes periodic.
If the agents are a member of any regulatory organisation such as ARLA or the Property Ombudsman I suggest you complain to them. You could also tell Shelter to help them with their campaigns.