Painsmith Landlord and Tenant Blog

A practitioners landlord and tenant law blog from PainSmith Solicitors

Tenant’s Notices to Quit, Holding Over and Double Rent

In these difficult times tenants are increasingly giving notice to end their tenancy and then seeking to withdraw that notice or staying for a few days beyond their original term. This practice is known as holding over. Where a tenant has given notice to quit, either under a break clause or in relation to a periodic tenancy, that notice is binding on the tenant even if it is defective and it can only be withdrawn or rescinded with the consent of the landlord.

Where a tenant gives notice to quit and then does not in fact vacate the premises, staying for a few extra days the provisions of section 18 of the Distress for Rent Act 1737 come into play. This section states that to discourage tenants causing “great inconveniences … by … refusing to deliver up the possession when the landlord hath agreed with another tenant for the same” the landlord may seek double the sum normally charged in rent.

This can only occur where the tenant has given a valid notice to quit which the landlord accepts as a valid notice and where the landlord is, therefore treating the tenant as a trespasser while they hold over. In other words it can only apply where the landlord would have a right to seek possession through the Courts but is unable to do so because the tenant will not be remaining in the property for long enough to make it a practical option. The landlord may not seek double rent for a full period of the tenancy (as this would be inconsistent with treating the tenant as a trespasser) and must charge it on a daily basis. It should also be noted that failure to return keys promptly is not sufficient to engage this principle.

A landlord can recover his double rent in the normal manner from the tenant’s deposit or through the Courts although landlords are warned that, in general, neither tenancy deposit protection adjudicators or judges are familiar with this legislation and so a claim may be hard to pursue in practice.

It should be noted that this stipulation does not apply to tenants who remain in a property for a few extra days at the end of the fixed term or who try to leave part way through a period of a periodic tenancy. In both of these cases the tenancy does not end and the landlord cannot treat these persons as trespassers. The tenancy simply continues for another period until the notice is properly given.

Filed under: Uncategorized, , ,

Distance Selling

We have noted a marked increase in queries regarding consumer protection legislation. As such a little reminder about the The Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000 may be of some help.
These regulations are secondary legislation under the European Communities Act 1985 and the intention behind them is to regulate distance selling business transactions. That is contracts concluded at a distance where there has been no face to face contact, which are for the provision of services. Tenancy agreements are specifically included within the general scope of the Regulations, because the tenant will have been supplied with a service, and so the Regulations will apply to landlords in distance selling situations and therefore agents should familiarise themselves with the basic provisions.
The regulations have 2 important effects for landlords regarding distance contracts, which the agent should ensure that the Landlord is aware of:
1. allow the tenant the right to cancel the distance contract
2. require that a landlord (or agent on his behalf) provides certain specified information to the tenant
The Regulations imply a right to cancel by the tenant into any distance contract under the Regulations unless this right has been specifically excluded by agreement of the parties.
Cancellation operates when the tenant gives a notice of cancellation to the landlord or the agent on his behalf if permitted. Where it applies, the right to cancel can be exercised by the tenant within seven working days of concluding the agreement if the Written Information requirements have been complied with, or within three months and seven working days if they have not.
Agents should note that the tenant’s right to cancel does not apply for the supply of services if the tenancy has started and the tenant has been informed that there will be no rights to cancel the contract once it had started. It is therefore recommended that agents attempt, where possible, to have the agreement signed in their presence at the time they release the keys for the property.
The Written Information that must be supplied to the Tenant prior to the signing of the tenancy agreement is mostly in the tenancy agreement itself and includes such things as the Landlord’s and where applicable the Agents contact details, the fees in arranging the agreement if applicable, the rent payable, the duration of the agreement and so on.
We have noted that many people assume that the Regulations apply to Guarantor Agreements however given that the Guarantor receives no service for entering into the agreement, this is inaccurate.
Incidentally, contrary to some advice we have seen, the Cancellation of Contracts Made in a Consumer’s Home or Place of Work Etc Regulations 2008 also does not apply to guarantee agreements as no service is provided and it does not cover tenancy agreement but do cover agent’s terms of business.

Filed under: England & Wales, , ,

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