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Contract signed but unable to move in as lawsuit is in progress

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540 views 1 replies latest reply: 06 November 2015

Dear all,

I’m experiencing big problems starting a new tenancy, here’s what is going on: I have viewed a 2 bed flat via agency and placed a holding deposit to put the property off the market (£300). Me and my wife were told the current tenants were to be ending their tenancy on Nov 1st and this gave us the time to provide our landlord with 30 days notice.

After a while we were told the tenants were giving some troubles to move out, so the new date was agreed to be Nov 12th. By that time we provided the agency with documents and signed the contract for the tenancy commencement. 

We have received communication from the agency today that the situation has aggravated: the current tenant had been summoned to court with regards to some missing payments and had been given eviction notice. Due to some delays, the flat is not going to be available until next year. Given the fact I can no longer extend my current tenancy agreements, this situation will leave me and my family with no place to go.

I’m here to ask some advice with regards to the following:

– Holding deposit: will the landlord/agency give the amount back?

– Contract: I have already signed the contract but was the contract even supposed to be proposed with a lawsuit in progress?

– Cost of temporary housing: who’s potentially responsible for any temporary cost of housing due to the fact I’ll be out of my flat on the 18th? I know little about what happens now but I assume there will be some liability for either agency or landlord.

Can you please give me some advice? In the meantime I’ll try to find a new place to live in less than a week.



Hi Marco

I would have thought that your entire holding deposit should be returned, given that it’s because of problems on the landlord’s side that you are not going ahead with the move. You paid that deposit on the basis of a move in date in November and that agreement has now changed because of them, not you.

In terms of the contract, I’m not a lawyer but I don’t think there is anything to stop them getting you to sign the contract – it wouldn’t have become effective until it was dated and they wouldn’t have known that date wouldn’t come to pass when they gave it to you.

Again, I’m not a lawyer (if you want legal advice then Shelter or a law centre might be helpful), but if you have in front of you a contract that has been signed by both you and the landlord and which has a start date of either 1 Nov or 12 Nov already in it then you have a contractual right to move into that property on that date. On that basis there could be liability for the landlord to pay for your loss as a result of the landlord’s breach of contract. In terms of the agent, there’s no liability as you don’t have an agreement with them. However, look closely at the contract as I would imagine that the agents won’t have supplied you with a copy signed by the landlord or they won’t have dated it just in case this kind of situation arose. In that case, I think you might struggle to claim for anything other than the return of the holding deposit. But try the people mentioned in the links above just in case.


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