Requests for Early Releases
As well as seeing a number of more established tenancies coming to an end upon renewal, we’ve also seen an increase in tenant’s asking for an early release from their tenancy even though they may only be a few months into the contract. In any given year, we will always be approached by a few tenants whose circumstances have changed to the extent where it is no longer practicable for their tenancies to continue, for example, their job is taking them away from Norwich. However, in the last few months, we have noticed a discernible increase in such requests mainly owing to tenants wanting to take advantage of the opportunity to purchase their own property.
As frustrating as this is for both landlord and agent, we do recommend all parties take a reasonable approach to the situation. The landlord is well within their rights under the legally binding contract entered into by both landlord and tenant (aka The Tenancy Agreement) to refuse to permit an early release without good reason and when an, otherwise perfectly sensible, tenant turns round two months into a tenancy and says, “I’m giving notice to leave and I’m going at the end of this month”, the temptation (after picking up one’s dropped jaw) is simply to say, “No”. Two months into a contract when the landlord is still very conscious of all the setting up costs they’ve had to pay, then out of the blue to be faced with such a request from their tenant, appearing on the face of to be totally ignoring their legal obligations, who can blame the landlord for taking that stance.
Nevertheless, once the dropped jaw has been re-affixed, we ask landlords to consider the practicalities of the situation, i.e. what would you do if you try to hold your tenant to the contract and they just abandon the property and walk away not paying the rent? Would you take them to court and sue them? You’d be perfectly entitled to do so and we can’t see many circumstances where you wouldn’t win your suit but you would have to leave the property empty in the meantime and do you really want to have the personal trauma of going to court? Much better to control the situation by agreeing the early release subject to certain conditions, the main one of which is that you should not be disadvantaged financially in any way.
If you receive such a request directly from your tenants, speak with us in the first instance as it’s usually better if we take over the exercise on your behalf. Our aim in so doing is to find you suitable fully referenced replacement tenants without any break in the flow of rent and have your re-letting costs paid by the outgoing tenant. This latter aspect can be something of a moot point – should your outgoing tenant have been in situ for, say, two and a half years and is leaving 3 months before their then current fixed term ends, we wouldn’t expect them to pay all of your re-letting costs but only a nominal proportion. However, if it was the 2 months into a 12 month contract example as above (and bizarrely they do happen) then we would negotiate with the outgoing tenant to pay the entire cost.