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Lease renewal question

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Saturday 20 December 2008 9.47pm
The 12-month lease on our flat expired a week or so ago--last year we got a renewal form from the landlord/management company prior to expiration, but nothing this year. Are we obligated to chase them up, or do we just let sleeping dogs lie? We have no intention of moving, plan on staying for at least another year in the flat. If we do chase them up, would it be appropriate or advisable to negotiate for a lower rent?
Thanks for feedback and advice!
Wednesday 31 December 2008 1.57pm
(I think) that if your lease comes to an end, you're now on a statutory continuing tenancy (or words similar to that, I'm sorry I can't remember the actual words). There's a specified notice period (I think it's 1 month, but again, sorry, I can't remember) and unless that's different to your current notice period, you have pretty much the same rights as before.

I imagine (if your agents are like ours) that they've gone quiet because rents are falling, and they want to keep the tenancy going at the old rates, or to wait until rates are going up and then negotiate a new contract with a rent increase).

You'll need to decide whether now's a good time for you to press for a contract at today's rates and fix your outgoings for another year, or whether to keep on at the current level.

I'd like to hear how you get on, as we're considering the same issue at the moment.

Update: it's a "statutory periodic tenancy". See below, from this site:

" Residential tenancies are now in the main Assured Shorthold Tenancies where there is an initial fixed-term of say, 6 months or 12 months, followed either by a new agreement for another fixed-term, or in its absence a Statutory Periodic Tenancy.

A periodic tenancy automatically follows the fixed-term if the parties do nothing (i.e. they do not sign another agreement) and the tenancy will be on the same basis as the original agreement, with all the same clauses and conditions being operative.

The period of the tenancy will depend upon the rent payment schedule: if the rent was paid monthly under the original fixed term, this will become a monthly periodic tenancy, or a weekly periodic tenancy if this was the payment schedule."

Hope that helps. Good luck

...if you press it, they will come.
Tuesday 20 January 2009 12.18pm
Hey, how did you guys get on?

We're currently on a statutory periodic and our L'L wants to lock us into a 12-month AST, with the right to terminate at 8 months. At the same time, they want to INCREASE the rent by 3% "in line with RPI" (well that figure's clearly already out of date, given the inflation stats announced today!)

Not only this, they want to charge us an 86.25 "administration fee" for the privilege!

The only benefit of the arrangement is that our deposit will be transferred to the Deposit Protection Service.

I really don't want to lock myself into a price rise, especially when there are hundreds of rental properties on the market (esp in SE1) and rents are, according to the newspapers, plunging. We've been in the flat for over six years, always paid on time and have been non-troublesome tenants. I think we should be pushing for a rental decrease, especially as they risk a void period if we leave! The flat hasn't been redecorated in that time, so presumably can't be compared price-wise with newly refurbed places, either.

Has anyone got any idea on the current difference between asking and agreed prices for rentals? I know that when we moved in we got about 15% knocked off the advertised price. Should I do mentally do the same now when browsing Rightmove? Or knock off even more?
Tuesday 20 January 2009 8.44pm
Many thanks for your very thoughtful and intelligent feedback, Ivanhoe & Beowulf! (must be the combined weight of historical experience between the two of you...). We sort of snoozed over the holidays (and for some reason I did not see Ivanhoe's post till now), but recent posts about tenancies have got me thinking again. It did also occur to me that the reason why we had heard nothing from the landlord/agent was that the status quo was likely to be far more beneficial to the them than waking a sleeping bear.

Like Beowulf, I would be interested in any info folks might be able to contribute re asking vs agreed prices for rentals these days. We've been in our place 2 years with an AST; the landlord intended to increase the rent last year but in the event it didn't happen...though they did manage to collect an administration fee, needless to say.
Saturday 24 January 2009 3.46pm
Sorry, can't help with that at present, but would love to know how people are getting on with renegotiating rent prices as I quite fancy some security of tenure and am thinking of trying to negotiate a new AST as Curatrix is.

I do know that when I look on our agent's website (Stirling Akroyd, with whom we've had a pretty bad experience from day 1, and I've got plenty of objective evidence to back that up but now's not the place for it), they're advertising flats identical to ours (except that they are described as newly decorated, whereas ours hasn't had anything done in at least the 5 years we've been there) at a rent of 100/week over what we're paying. When the agents were trying to put our rent up this summer (which they eventually aborted) they started off at this level (100 more than our current rent) and quickly backed down to 50 more than our current rent: at which point I had to get some treatment for my splitting sides; we pointed out to them that there was a lot of work needed doing on the flat; economic conditions got a lot worse, and the rats lots their tongues and we've heard nothing since.

Which was a very long-winded way of saying that you might want to knock a bit more than 15% off the prices you see on websites, Beowulf.

If/when we do renegotiate, I'll be happy to put details up on here. I'm all in favour of some tenant solidarity.

...if you press it, they will come.
Monday 26 January 2009 4.48pm
Yes, here's to tenant solidarity! I'll let you know how we get on.

I would imagine that in the current climate your landlord would bite your hand off if you asked for an extended AST (unless, of course, they're planning to - or have to - sell). What's security of tenure to you is surely a security of a kind for them. If you've got a good track record with them, I'd have thought they'd want to keep hold of you, knowing you won't leave them facing a void.

As curatrix says, what landlord wants to rock the boat in the current climate?
Tuesday 27 January 2009 6.08pm
Update: they have offered us a rise of 0.9% instead of the originally proposed 3%. They came back to me within minutes of me sending them an email protesting against the bigger rise, which makes me think they're very keen to hold on to us!

Ivanhoe/curatrix - PM me if you'd like to see a copy of my letter detailing the arguments against a big rise, backed up with figs from ARLA. You may find it useful in your own dealings!
Wednesday 28 January 2009 11.55am
Great news, Beowulf! With just a little more haggling, let's hope you get them down to a nil rent rise.

I'd be very interested to see the facts you're using in your argument. And thanks for the generous offer to share. I'll pm you my details.

...if you press it, they will come.
Sunday 1 February 2009 2.56pm
I'd like to know if one can argue to do away with the administration fee on a lease renewal as well.
Sunday 1 February 2009 3.47pm
Otto wrote:
I'd like to know if one can argue to do away with the administration fee on a lease renewal as well.

If you mean that, as a landlord, you are trying to avoid paying the agents [who found your tenant] a fee for renewing the tenancy agreement with that same tenant - well, if you signed a contract agreeing the agents terms and conditions, which would include renewal fees, then I doubt they will let you get out of paying whatever the % agreed - despite the fact that it takes little more than an hour of admin and a few phone calls to 'earn' it!
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