What Happens If Your Landlord Is In Breach of Contract?
In most cases, tenancy agreements run smoothly, with both sides honouring their side of the contract.
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However, there can be a rare occasion where you may feel that your landlord is in breach of the contract.
If this is the case, you can follow a clear set of actions to challenge and confront your landlord.
Communicate with your landlord clearly
If your landlord is in breach of the tenancy agreement, your instinctive reaction may be one of frustration or disappointment. Resorting to acting on your initial feelings will do more harm than good and won’t help resolve the issue at hand.
By staying calm and communicating any concerns you may have with your landlord directly and clearly significantly increase the chances of resolving any conflict.
Should I take legal action?
If your landlord breaches the terms of the lease – which most often occurs in assured shorthold tenancies – you can take them to court.
This route is, generally speaking, rather time-consuming. Even if your claim is successful (e.g. you are awarded damages, or your landlord is issued a court order to uphold their contractual obligations), the expenses and duration of legal procedures can be costly.
Keep in mind that the court’s ruling may also not necessarily be in your favour. Therefore, this route should be seen as a last resort, and we recommend considering the following alternatives first.
Understanding your rights
Before you take any kind of direct action to challenge the supposed breach of contract, it is important that you review all the terms of the tenancy agreement – particularly those you believe aren’t being upheld by the landlord.
Your assured shorthold tenancy agreement will set out all the terms of the contract, making it simple and straightforward for you to pinpoint exactly what you believe your landlord to be in breach of.
Contacting your landlord
Once you have found the concerning clauses, get in touch with your landlord. We recommend doing this in writing, either via letter or email. In this letter, you should specify exactly which clause they are breaching and state that you would like to rectify the problem in a timely manner, allowing the landlord some time (1-2 weeks) to provide a solution.
If the landlord ignores your initial communication, send a follow-up letter. In this one, include a copy of your first message, as well as a paragraph stating that if the issue is not resolved, you will have no choice but to issue a Notice to Quit.
Issuing a Notice to Quit
By issuing a Notice to Quit, you are formally notifying the landlord of your intention to leave the property. The notice must include the property’s address and the date on which you intend to move out.
If you lived in the property for less than 5 years, you must provide at least 4 weeks notice. If you’ve lived there between 5-10 years, you must provide 8 weeks notice and, if you’ve lived for more than 10 years, the standard is 12 weeks notice.
Once the notice is served and the date for you to vacate the property comes, you are free to move out but are not obliged to do so.
Unless you go ahead with the formality of issuing a Notice to Quit, leaving the property without taking any additional action can be problematic and leave you at a financial loss.
Firstly, you will not be able to recover your deposit if you leave the property without notice. Furthermore, your landlord could even try and pursue unpaid rent as you would have left the property before the official end of the tenancy.
You could then find yourself in court and be required to prove the breach of contract committed by your landlord, as well as the fact that you gave them a chance to rectify the issue. All of this can be avoided by resolving the problem directly with your landlord, thereby saving yourself legal proceedings and unnecessary expenses.