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Terminating a tenancy early

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483 views 3 replies latest reply: 23 February 2016
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Tenant

hi there hope someone can advise.we have been private rented now for 1 year and now 5 months into second yearly tenancy.the house has always had damp and mould and the landlady has put in vents had damp course remedied etc.she has done everything she can to eliminate the problem but now the mould is so bad it has affected my health.there is always windows open.always washed down with bleach every week tried damp proof paint but nothing stops this rising damp up the walls.curtains,clothes etc have mould on them .heating is left on at a constant heat..Windows from condensation I wipe every day this I can controll.what is my legal responsibility to ending the tenancy on advice from my doctors.thank you in advance

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Administrator

Hello

Firstly, do you have a break clause in your tenancy? If so, this normally allows you to give two months notice and leave around half way through the tenancy agreement (the document should tell you exactly when and how you can do this). If you can activate that in time then you can leave without any issues.

I’m not a lawyer but I’m not sure you will have a case to terminate the tenancy on advice from your doctors unless the property is a real health hazard. Usually, the landlord would need to be committing a serious tenancy breach for you to have a reason to get out of the tenancy early. It might be worth speaking to someon at Citizens Advice to see if they have any ideas. 

You could also just ask the landlord if she is willing to surrender the tenancy i.e. allow you to leave. You’d probably have to still give some notice and make sure you get the surrender in writing so you have proof of her agreement. You could even offer to help her find another tenant to take your place. If she’s a decent person and knows you’re having real issues that someone else may not have then she might be willing to let you leave without penalty. It’s not like there’s a shortage of other tenants so it’s worth a try.

Alex

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Tenant

Hi there thank you for your reply .my apologies for late response but I have been waiting on the landlord who was on holiday to reply.well I don’t have an early release clause in the contract.landlady visited with a builder and said because we don’t have the remcon ventilation system on 24 hours a day it’s our fault it was fitted a year ago .we have a one bed bungalow and the settings are on for a 3 bed house .the only time it’s turned off is nighttime .its supposed to be whisper quiet but is very audible at nighttime .its turned off between 10 pm and 5 am only nowhere on the instructions does it say to be left on 24/7 .unfortunatly landlady is not a happy bunny .but I have told her I am leaving on advice of doctors ..we got a surveyor in at cost to ourselves and there is damp showing in every room .in his opinion it could be membrane not there or broken down or damp course needs doing.landlady said the damp course was done .what can I do next as a 70 year old would be looking for some direction to go as I can’t afford to pay for 2 rented properties.but need to get out ASAP. I am willing to pay next two months rent and offered to get another tenant which she has declined .any info would be useful if anyone can advise many thanks

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Administrator

Hello

So, you have 7 months left to run on the tenancy? As I said, I’m not a lawyer but there seem to be a couple of options. You could leave and stop paying rent (a last resort) – to be clear this would put you in breach of your tenancy and the landlord would be entitled to come after you for the rent up to the end of the tenancy. If you do this you must make sure you give notice too or the tenancy will just run and run. You’d need to make a judgment on whether or not she would go to the trouble of pursuing you in the courts – 7 months is quite a lot of rent so it may be that she would. It’s not a great option. Alternatively, you can start making life very difficult for her – you could threaten to report her to the local environmental health department and you could speak to a lawyer (perhaps someone at a law centre) about suing her for breach of tenancy based on the state of the property and it being unliveable. You could also start making complaints about the landlord left, right and centre – info here. Or you could simply threaten to do all this and hope that works.

If you haven’t already, it’s a good idea to start documenting what’s happening – start with a detailed letter that contains a timeline of everything that has happened, the problems you have, what the doctor has said and what you want done about it. Mention what the surveyor has said and include a list of requirements of what needs to be done to the property to bring it up to liveable standard and the time within which you want them done if she won’t allow you to leave. Send this registered post so you have proof and so she knows you’re serious.

In terms of the remcon ventilation system being required to be on 24 hours a day, I very much doubt that’s a reasonable requirement. If a property can’t function without a ventillation system, there’s something wrong with the property. Unless the landlord has documented that somewhere i.e. she has written proof that she asked you to keep it on 24 hours a day then she can’t say it’s your fault as this wouldn’t be normal use of a ventillation system.

It seems here like the landlord knows there are serious issues with the property and she would struggle to get another tenant, which is why she’s forcing you to stay. In these situations, sometimes being more trouble than you’re worth is what forces the landlord to release you in the end. It’s not really reasonable to compel someone to stay in a property that’s making them unwell because it’s below normal standards.

I hope some of that is helpful – I do think Citizens Advice or a law centre might be able to provide more help and you can also speak to Shelter.

Alex

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