Posting regards to a situation someone I know has landed up in & was wondering where they stood legally.
They’re lodging in a property, and had been having issues with the owner of the property who’d been acting strange & been verbally abusive fairly regularly for no reason. Because of this they’ve decided to hand in their notice and move out – the contract states they must stay for 12 weeks, so notice has been handed in at 8 weeks but they have also now got a new property and are technically moving out on week 8 as they don’t want to suffer for another 4 weeks at the hands of the owner.
I went with them to the property to clean it out and move their stuff out, we then went back later to discuss deposit etc. with the owner, who said that the room was adequately cleaned and there were no issues so a full refund of the deposit would be had, great. The issue arose when the owner demanded the keys to the property back – I stated legally the room is paid for for another 4 weeks & they shouldn’t have to give the keys back as they still have the right to use the room for the next four weeks, if the owner wanted to have the keys back (presumably to rent to a new tenant lined up) then they should terminate the contract and the final 4 weeks of rent shouldn’t be due.
Naturally that sent them into a rage & they demanded I leave the house immediately & they’d only deal with my friend – as we were wanting to be entirely above board & legal I respected their request & had to leave – I told my friend to come with me but the owner demanded they stay & unfortunately they listened. The owner told them they will use the deposit to change the locks if they don’t give the key back immediately; and eventually got the key off them (didn’t want to give it, but felt they had to if they wanted to get out of the house safely).
So now the owner has the lodgers keys, and is still expecting them to pay the final 4 weeks of rent – even though they now have no access.
So my question is are there any laws here that would protect my friend if they refused to pay the final four weeks rent on the grounds they have no access to what they’re paying for? It doesn’t seem a particularly fair situation to be in, and if they hadn’t “given” the keys back the locks would’ve been changed anyway with rent still expected.
Thanks in advance.