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Covid-19: Advice if you have decided to move out of your accommodation early 

 

We are aware that some students have decided to move out of their accommodation early due to Covid-19. Your landlord is entitled to receive full rent until the end of the tenancy, unless they have agreed otherwise (in which case, make sure you get this in writing).   Your landlord may also be able to make deductions from your deposit if the tenants have not removed their belongings and cleaned the property.

Your responsibilities as a tenant

The property should be returned in a good, clean condition at the end of your tenancy. Ideally, you will have notified the landlord if you have moved out early and discussed any requirements. It is helpful if any agreements are confirmed in writing, or you can show evidence of what has been agreed e.g. email, text, Whatsapp. You should take dated photos of the property to evidence the condition it was left in when you moved out.  This will help you if your landlord tries to make deductions from your deposit.  Try and think about things that your landlord could try and claim for, for example, dirty oven, fridge, cooker etc.  Stains on carpets and floors.  Mould on windows, walls and in the bathroom.  Take dated photos and videos to show the condition of the whole of the property and try and zoom in in particular areas.  Please follow this link for a more detailed guide on our moving in/out guide

Rent Liability 

You and your housemates are likely to have signed a joint fixed-term tenancy agreement and this will mean that you are all joint and severally liable.  In particular, this means you are all liable for all the rent due under the contract for the duration of the tenancy. So, if one housemate does not pay the rent, your landlord can chase the other tenants for that housemates share.    The only way that your legal liability/responsibility can change is if your landlord has agreed to accept a lower amount or has agreed to waive your rent completely.  Unless your landlord has agreed to this, all your contractual rent payments/charges are still due.  We strongly advice to get any agreements confirmed in writing. 

Bills 

You will also remain liable for all the bills until the end of your fixed-term.  

If bills aren’t included in the rent: 

 - You may want to see if you can apply for a TV licence refund.  

 - You may be able to cancel your broadband/internet package, but this will depend on the contract that you have signed with the provider.  

 - You should take photos of gas/electricity/water meter readings. However, in order to close your account, your supplier will most likely need readings from the end date of your tenancy. You should speak to your landlord to see if they can assist with this.  

 - If the landlord has agreed to end the tenancy early, then you need to discuss the bills with them, as you would need to close accounts, as you shouldn’t be liable from the agreed termination date. 

If bills are included in the rent: 

 - Speak to your agent/landlord to see if you can negotiate reduced payments or ask to be charged for actual usage during the period of the tenancy. 

Contents Insurance

If the property is vacant due to the all the occupants temporarily moving out, you should contact the insurance company, as the property being unoccupied may affect your insurance cover. If you have vacated the property permanently and removed all belongings, then you may want to ask about ending the insurance policy early and whether a partial refund of premiums may be possible. 

Post

Consider using the Royal Mail forwarding service for the period that the property is empty, if you are unable to move communication online or change the contact address with utility providers etc.  

Condition of the Property

Thoroughly clean the house, paying particular attention to the oven, fridge/freezer (if switching fridges/freezers off then leave the door open) and bathroom. Take photographs/video of each room so that you can prove that you left it in a clean state. If you have left early, you should consider returning just prior to the end date to do a final clean around. 

Our moving in/out guide has a Cleaning Checklist to make sure everything is covered. This has been put together based on our experience of common tenancy deposit disputes. 

Your Belongings

Ensure that all personal belongings are removed from the house by the end date of the tenancy, if this is possible and current restrictions have been lifted. Before disposing of any tenant’s belongings left in the property the landlord/agent should contact tenants and give them a chance to collect items.  Its always advisable to communicate with landlords, so if you have left your possessions in the property, let your landlord know and if you are able to, inform the landlord of your plans to collect your belongings.    

Waste Collection

If you have left bins on the street, you should ask your neighbours if they can help, by bringing your bins in. If this is not possible you could contact the council to ask what assistance they can provide. If neither of these options resolve the matter, then you should contact your letting agent or landlord and ask what help they may be able to offer. The landlord/letting agent may charge for this service. 

Keys

You need to agree with your landlord or letting agent how keys can be returned. As the agent’s office may be closed please do not post keys through their letterbox without permission. Your tenancy agreement may include information on this and requirements where the property is left empty. It is important you can evidence keys are returned to avoid being charged for replacement keys/lock change. Some tenancy agreements require rent to be paid while keys are outstanding as the property may be considered occupied so please check your agreements to check for this.   

Security

Take all precautions you would normally take when leaving the property. This includes setting your burglar alarm – you may want to speak to your agent/landlord about what would happen in the eventuality it goes off when you are not in Nottingham. In particular, make sure your windows are all locked. 

Deposit

It is important that any tenant who is unable to collect belongings and return keys prior to the tenancy end date contacts the landlord to reach agreement on how to resolve this.  

You may not be able to attend a check-out inspection, so as we have already mentioned above, you should take dated photos/a video to confirm the condition of the property when you leave. Please bear in mind that some deposit schemes have a three-month deadline from the date of vacating the property as to when you can access their “alternative dispute resolution service” should you disagree with any deductions proposed to your deposit. If your landlord agrees to end your tenancy early – please ensure you have confirmed the tenancy end date and the deposit return process. 

Landlord/Agent Access to Property

During the tenancy period, it is important that you know who is going in and out of the property. Please speak to your landlord/agent about this, as you should still be given notice.  

The above information has been put together to try and address any issues that may arise in the coming months. Please get in touch with the Information and Advice Service if you have any queries about your current accommodation, or your accommodation for the next academic year. 

 

Updated 06th May 2020