She says her fiancé lost his job and, for financial reasons, they decided to terminate the lease on the property.
According to her, they were up to date with all payments.
They gave notice to the agent dealing with the property on behalf of the landlord but did not reduce it to writing nor did they sign documentation confirming the termination.
The reader’s fiancé was subsequently advised that he could return to work and the couple decided that they would like to remain in the rented house. However, the agent had already secured another tenant.
The reader is unable to find another house to rent or, alternatively, a smaller property along with a place to store their goods.
To complicate matters further, they cannot afford a household move and pay rental and/or a deposit on a rental property.
See the reader’s question here.
The reader did not say whether a written lease was in place and, if so, for what term it was to run.
It could also be that the period came to an end and the lease merely extended on a month-to-month basis. As an agent was involved, it would be a safe assumption that the lease was recorded in writing and that any extension would have been reduced to writing.
Working on this assumption, the reader should take a careful look at the provisions of the lease, specifically looking out for clauses dealing with the manner in which notice should be given and whether it was even possible to terminate.
Usually, a lease is intended to operate for the full recorded period, only to be terminated prematurely in certain instances such as, for example, the destruction of the rental property.
This then provides both parties with a level of comfort as to the future arrangement in respect of the property, the one having a place to stay and the other a rental income.
Although unlikely, the lease may provide that notice of early termination must be given in writing and, to not constitute a breach, be accepted by the landlord.
The lease will probably also make provision for waiver and acceptance by the landlord of any non-compliance with any specific provision of the lease.
In the current instance, however, it appears to have been as simple as a consensual arrangement to prematurely terminate the lease as there appears to have been no indication of any problem with the early termination and/or discussion of any damages as a result.
It is not necessarily the case that such an arrangement should have been confirmed in writing to be valid.
Also, the agent and landlord were merely being prudent in arranging for a new tenant in a situation where they may have been out of pocket had they waited to see whether the reader was serious in following up on the termination.
Although not advisable, should the reader and her fiancé elect to remain in the property, the landlord would have to follow steps to evict them as was considered in previous columns.
This could take months to finalise and result in additional costs for the reader, over and above the rental which would remain payable during this period.
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