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Agency failure to renew tenancy agreement

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198 views 1 replies latest reply: 16 March 2017
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Tenant

Hi,

My real estate agency contacted me in January to renew my tenancy agreement expiring in April, giving me 1 week to respond and sign the renewed agreement. I thought my tenancy was renewed, but after asking for the signed copy of my renewed tenancy agreement for the third time in March, the real estate agency asked me to pay for a renewal fee.

I asked for a copy of my tenancy signed by my landlord 3 times. The first time was in January and I was told I would be provided with it closer to the renewal date in April, hinting that everything was in order. The second time I asked for one, I got no response, and the third time is when I was asked to pay a renewal fee in March.

This renewal fee is stated in my tenancy agreement, but the real estate agency never asked for me to pay it, until 3 weeks before my contract terminates. After they asked for it, I responded that they had known since January I did not pay the fee, and did not ask for it, while I was believing my tenancy agreement renewed. Because of the way they handled things, I feel mislead and now refuse to pay this fee.

The problem is that my notice period is 2 months. I could have given such a notice if they notified me of the fee at any time in the past months. With only 2 weeks left before expiration of my current tenancy agreement, can I ask to leave the flat at the terminate date of my tenancy agreement, or would they still ask for a 2 months notice period? That would then put me in the position of occupying the flat without a tenancy agreement.

What are the other possible scenarios? Could they simply seize the renewal fee from my deposit for instance?

Many thanks for your thoughts

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Tenant

Hello  Z, 

Let’s start off on the argument that you’re not entirely fair here. The tenancy renewal fee was in your tenancy agreement, which you’ve supposedly read before signing. 

It would appear then, that you’re not interested in paying this fee and so long as the letting agent doesn’t ask, you’re happy to pretend you don’t know about it. 

Furthermore, if you read the renewal agreement, it should have listed the renewal fees and the date at which the renewed tenancy will take effect. You can only “believe that your tenancy is renewed” if the date mentioned on the document passes.

Without reading the thing, I can’t say anything for sure, but the above are standard features of tenancy agreements and renewals. To claim that you were misled does not seem fair to me…

In any case, I agree that the agent should have been more informative and give you a heads up. 

In regards to ending your tenancy, if you don’t reach an agreement by the end of the fixed term and remain in the property, the tenancy automatically turns into periodic. This means that it runs on a month by month basis and gives both sides the flexibility of ending it on a quick notice – 1 month for tenants, 2 months for landlords. 

If your tenancy agreement states two months notice period see if it relates to periodic tenancies as well. Typically the notice period is equal to the frequency of rent payments. E.g. if you pay monthly – 1 month, if you pay quarterly – 3 months.

I believe that when the fixed term ends, you’re entitled to walk out of the property, return the keys and owe nothing. This is something Tessa Shepperson from Landlordlawblog has discussed on her website backed by the now abolished Office of Fair Trading.

However, if your tenancy agreement specifically mentions that you must serve notice ahead of the end of the fixed term in order to move out on the last day, you may not be allowed to do it without owing some rent to your landlord. 

My advice:

If you’re not in a rush to move out, simply serve a notice now and move out in two months. This will give you time for proper house-hunting and arranging all details of relocation.

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