What are the consequences if a tenant fails to vacate after the expiry of a section 25 notice?
When a notice under section 25 of the LTA 1954 expires, the lease will come to an end on the date specified in the notice and the tenant will lose its statutory right to a lease renewal derived from that lease, unless one of the following has happened:
- A new lease has been entered into
- An application has been made to court
- An extension of time has been agreed
Furthermore, in the section 25 notice a date will have been issued, which would confirm when the ‘protective tenancy’ ends – meaning you will have to vacate the property by this date. Failing to vacate the property by this date could result in:
- You being obliged to pay the base rent (minimum amount of rent that is due under the term of lease).
- Having to pay ‘mesne profits’ for the time you spend in the property without a lease – or even possibly double value rent.
- The landlord commencing legal proceedings in Court for possession and a claim for damages/mesne profits.
- The landlord re-entering the premises and changing the locks without notice to you. This could mean valuable equipment/data/information is retained in the premises which you are then prevented from accessing and being kept outside of your control (GDPR).
To ensure you give vacant possession (and therefore avoid the risk of the above taking effect), you must:
- Make the property available on completion in a state in which the landlord (or next tenant) can both physically and legally occupy it.
- Give the landlord the undisturbed enjoyment of the property. What in practice vacant possession will mean for a landlord and/or another tenant will depend in part on the particular circumstances.
- Restore any changes (alterations) you may have made to the property
- Consider any dilapidations that you may have accidentally or purposely brought about – chartered surveyors can be instructed come to assess any defects in the property, either instructed by you or the landlord. The landlord is not obliged to prepare a schedule of dilapidations before the end of the lease as it is up to the tenant to abide by the terms of the lease.
- Make sure there are no:
- Chattels - Any personal possessions such as: furniture, jewellery, pictures/photos or cars.
- Fixtures - Are any physical possessions that are permanently attached (fixed) to real property (usually land).
- Fittings – Any free standing items inside the property.
- other persons or entities are in lawful possession of the property under a lease or licence or unlawful possession (i.e. without any agreement from you or the landlord)
This article is not a substitute for independent legal advice, and is provided as a guide only. If you are unsure of your legal position, you should seek specialist advice straight away.
by Sam Wilkinson