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End assured short hold tenancy contract early?

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Author Topic: End assured short hold tenancy contract early?  (Read 177 times)
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« on: April 17, 2020, 02:09:01 PM »

Can anyone help with my question. My son is a uni student and the uni has closed and we have brought him home..really so he can stay safe. All the halls have closed and he would be there on his own. My question is whether he can finish his tenancy early? (there is no opt out clause and he has 2 months more to pay). He is in a private HMO, not halls. We have asked once already to terminate and the landlord said no, but we didn’t state about the following. They have stopped cleaning the communal areas - they had a private company that no longer since Covid attends. So all the kitchens are now disgusting! I have drafted the following - do we have a Legal leg to stand on and if so, am I using the right law?

Many thanks for your response, which I am afraid we do not accept.
Firstly I would mention I love Xxxxxx university and would have liked to stay on and study online. However not only has the university closed, but the room at XXXXX didn’t feel safe to stay in with the current epidemic.

This is due to the fact as a Landlord you have stopped the cleaning of communal areas including the kitchens since xxxx date (which is your legal responsibility) in the building. This does create a high risk of contamination and potential spread of Covid 19 rapidly within the building as an HMO with 28 rooms. My parents therefore felt, as I did, that the risk of staying within the building was too great and it was not safe to do so.

I refer you to take a look at the regulations that covers the issue of cleaning communal areas…”
“The Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England) Regulations 2006 says about maintaining common parts:”
“(1) The manager must ensure that all common parts of the HMO are—
(a) maintained in good and clean decorative repair.
(b) maintained in a safe and working condition, and
(c) kept reasonably clear from obstruction.”

I therefore duly request to end the contract under the common law doctrine of frustration as the performance of the contract is illegal.

I look forward to hearing from you.


any help or suggestions appreciated
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« Reply #1 on: April 17, 2020, 02:30:25 PM »

You are really attempting to be clever rather than moral.

Yes, the University has closed... but that doesn't mean the property became unavailable. It was a choice to not carry on using it. We all know there are extenuating circumstances - we get it, we really do. But why should pass the parcel be played until the final person is just left holding it. The Landlord didn't cause any of this situation. He merely provided a service in exchange for rent... the Landlord has honoured his part of the bargain (let's call it a Contract, because it is) as much as he is able. So... if we genuinely can accept that everyone involved is blameless... why is it the Landlord that should lose-out? Please don't think that all Landlords have rent payment insurance - or that even if they did it would pay out in these kinds of circumstances. It seems they won't.

All that said... if the rent is paid monthly... you could just stop paying, I suppose... it's then kind of placed into the Landlords's Court (pun intended).

I have read other articles about Universities taking some kind of moral high ground and 'suggesting' to Private Rental Sector Landlords that they should take a bath on the rent. I do not know if they are refunding course fees - remote studying isn't an acceptable substitute for as it should be - but at the end of this, I would try to be moral... and hold your head high... maybe a more conciliatory stance accepting everyone is a victim of circumstance and seeing if you can't meet half-way so that everyone gets something?

By the way, I don't disagree with getting out of a HMO at this time... I do. I would. However, it's still a choice. That is directly vs. the cleaning aspect... probably not a choice made there - it's enforced.

Last thing I'd do is advise thinking of the future - when one assumes everything will restart and University will be re-attended... if another HMO is the order of the day it's possible a previous Landlord reference might be asked for... maybe that's less common in Student lets... but just retain awareness of all implications.
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« Reply #2 on: April 17, 2020, 02:55:56 PM »

Thanks for your response and you make really valid and helpful points.  My ideal outcome would have been to split the burden - eg they offer to let us off one month and we pay one more. So a compromise. I would not be comfortable just not paying. Would you recommend I take the legal jargon out and just purely mention the cleaning and hope they offer us a compromise? It is a large company, not an individual landlord.
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« Reply #3 on: April 17, 2020, 04:29:11 PM »

I would also not be comfortable not paying (and by that I don't mean morally, I mean in terms of who the Landlord is - a large company will chase down a debt, and a small Landlord might let it slide). I would probably not live in hope of a compromise coming your way, I would suggest it - and persist in suggesting it. But... the Contract still exists... right? That's your biggest dilemma. It doesn't become null-and-void because of world happenings - that's down to goodwill... which is what you need... or law changes (FCA rulings (guidance? strong guidance?)) like on things like Credit Cards, car payments etc.).

Thus far... Government has not - to my knowledge - made any suggestions that people should be able to effectively abandon properties and be absolved of any responsibility. What they have suggested is that rent holidays can be arranged... and repayment of that be also arranged at a future time. In fact, they have gone further in the opposite direction, really, and have strongly suggested people do not move in the current climate.
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