Here is a question to the blog clinic from James who is a tenant
I gave formal notice to leave a fixed term 3 year tenancy (due to end in three months) five months ago. I received confirmation from the letting agent that they received my notice and they also confirmed my understanding that I remained liable to pay rent up until the end of the tenancy, or until the property was let to another.
As per the terms of the contract, I gave more than two months notice of my departure date, which was two months ago. On the day od departure, I surrendered my keys to the agent and left the property. The agent began advertising the property for alternate renters just two weeks prior to this date.
Former neighbours informed me that upon my departure the property underwent renovation. This has apparently gone on for two months and has not yet concluded. As I say, I surrendered the keys to the property and am no longer resident. Although the property is advertised for viewings, it hasn’t been (and is not) occupiable.
If I was resident I would qualify for rent abatement. I have not been offered such abatement during this renovation, presumably because I am not resident? It seems as if I remain obliged to pay rent at full price while the property is being renovated and I do not live there.
I was not informed of the intent to renovate, I have no agency over how long this renovation goes on for, or what the landlord is doing to the property, it feels a bit unfair to have to pay rent at full price in this situation given that I am not resident and will not be returning.
What is my legal position with regards to rent abatement in this situation?
I think it is arguable that if the landlord has been renovating the property, that your tenancy is at an end. The tenancy will have ended when the landlord re-entered and started doing the works.
After all, if you are paying full rent – you should if you wish, be able to move back in again. If the landlord is renovating the property you can’t do that.
Although the landlord is not bound to re-advertise the property after you move out, the tenancy will only continue if it is available for occupation either by you or by a replacement tenant. By doing renovation works the landlord is taking back possession.
I would suggest that you find out as much as possible about the renovations and what they involve and keep full records. Take a written statement from the neighbours.
Then tell the landlords that you understand that the property has undergone renovations instead of being available to re-let and that this constitutes their taking back possession and is inconsistent with the continuation of your tenancy.
In the circumstances, it is not appropriate for you to continue to pay rent as you no longer have a tenancy.
If they object, say that if they issue proceedings for the rent you will defend and counterclaim for the rent paid by you while the property was unoccupiable.