Breaches of Tenancy Agreement
Published on 15 August 2015
A tenant can breach their tenancy agreement deliberately by, for example, failing to pay their rent, refusing access to the property for a periodic visit or refusing to leave the property at the end of the term. They may also breach their tenancy agreement without realising by for example, playing loud music and creating a nuisance for their next door neighbour. Tenants are also obliged to ensure that any permitted occupants, guest and invitees do not breach the tenancy agreement.
There are a number of ways in which the landlord can breach the tenancy agreement, for example:
- Not renewing the gas safety record in time
- Failing to carry out repair work that they are contracted to do
- Failing to renew their building or contents insurance.
Level of Breach
The courts have a view on the seriousness of a breach as what may be considered a serious breach by one party may not necessarily be seen as serious by another party. Grounds for possession are either mandatory or discretionary. Where discretionary, the judge decides whether or not it is serious enough to warrant an order for possession and/ or costs.
Action for Tenant Breach
Some breaches may be more obvious than others e.g. rent arrears. Other breaches may not be realised until they are brought to the attention of the agent e.g. a neighbour making a complaint about a tenant. In any event, the agent should be sure of the facts before taking action over a breach of a tenancy agreement and, where possible, gather evidence.
It may be that an informal approach of talking to the tenants resolves the issue, which should be followed up in writing. Or taking a more formal approach at the outset by putting the issue in writing could be used. If the situation is serious enough, there may be a case to take legal action; for the landlord to pursue the tenant through the county courts and ask for damages to cover costs to repair the damage or clear the arrears, for example. A landlord may ultimately decide they want to evict the tenant. In this scenario, they would need to serve notice as appropriate to the tenancy and, if necessary, obtain a court order.
Action for Landlord Breach
When an agent is managing a property, they must ensure they do not cause the landlord to be in breach by failing in their duties under their terms of business. If the tenant took action against the landlord for a breach, the landlord could sue the agent for any loss suffered as a result of the agent breaching their terms of business.
The Landlord’s Obligations
A landlord may obstruct an agent in their duties and should be informed of this in writing as soon as possible.
What Tenants Can do?
A tenant can take action toward a landlord if they are in breach of the tenancy agreement. They must first notify the landlord or the landlord’s agent that there is a problem. If the breach is not addressed within a certain time, the tenant can take legal advice and, if necessary, go to court.
In court a tenant can seek damages, an injunction or specific performance.