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I have been renting a property (residential) for 10 months from a limited company.

I wanted to move out of the property recently, they informed me I still have two months left on my contract, i would need to pay for. Then i would also need to pay £400 in checking out fees, Im not sure what the "checking out fees" are for, but i had to pay a similar "checking in fee" when i picked up the keys, granted this was a bit less.

Shocked i looked through my contract and realized i had in fact agreed to this.

However, The name on the contract for the company i have been paying, has been dissolved according to companies house

Final Gazette dissolved via voluntary strike-off

The company filled for this a week before i even signed the contract with them.

Is there anything I can do here? I have never been informed of anything that has changed regarding the company.

**Edit Update. There is nothing in my contract stating that it can be switched to a different entity.

The landlord name on the contract is the company that is now dissolved. The director is still the person I am dealing with. I signed a contract agreeing said company will be my landlord but that company doesn't exist...is this contract void?

Thanks!

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    If the company has been dissolved its like dealing with a dead person. If there are "heirs to the estate" (ie creditors or people who have taken over) then they can quite possibly force you to honor the contract. I expect this will depend on the exact terms of your contract. You may want to clarify if this is a residential lease, and what this £400 is for - you may find that regardless of what the contract says thay can't charge you (I'm not an expert on UK law, but its not legal in NZ regardless of what the contract says) – davidgo Jul 24 '18 at 9:30
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    Also, were you notified of their successor? – davidgo Jul 24 '18 at 9:30
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    So the account you have been paying into belongs to a non-existent company? Sounds like something the bank should be told about. – Tim Lymington Jul 24 '18 at 9:47
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    Does the company own the property, or (more likely) is it a letting agency acting on behalf of a landlord? Either way, get in touch with the company to clarify the matters you've raised. If the latter, and if you're still concerned, it couldn't hurt to get in touch with the landlord (details should appear in the tenancy agreement; or failing that, you can get them for a small fee from the Land Registry website). – Steve Melnikoff Jul 24 '18 at 11:24
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    Read your contract again - look for the paragraph which says something about the company having the right to "assign" it to another entity (or similar wording). – brhans Jul 24 '18 at 11:31
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Having received clarification in the comments, and bearing in mind that I'm not a lawyer or expert:

One of following is probably true:

  1. The landlord (and owner) always was, and still is, the director, and the company was never the landlord; hence the contract contains an error.

  2. The landlord (and owner) was the company, but at some point, the property was transferred out of the company to the director, and the company was dissolved.

If it's (2), this is legal, as property can always be sold or otherwise transferred (e.g. by inheritance). If the property has a tenant, then the new owner is bound by the tenancy agreement, and so is the tenant. So in that respect, nothing has changed.

However, the new owner is required to inform the tenant of a change of ownership within 2 months, or face prosecution and a fine. (There may also be tax implications for the company and the director.)

The important thing here is when (or if) a change of ownership happened, relative to the start of the tenancy and the dissolution of the company.

UPDATE: as revealed in a comment, it's (1): the company was dissolved before the tenancy was started. As it's impossible for a company which doesn't exist to be a party to a contract, this would suggest that this tenancy agreement is not valid.

However, a tenancy between the actual owner of the property, and the tenant, does still exist. This is because a tenancy is deemed to exist if all the normal conditions (e.g. paying rent to the owner in exchange for use of the property) are met, even if it's never written down.

But a consequence of this is that any check-out fee cannot be insisted on, since that was part of the invalid contract.

So, to return to the original question, if the owner insists on you paying the check-out fee, it might be possible to challenge it on these grounds - but I would not recommend going down that path without speaking to someone who is an expert in these matters.

  • The company was dissolved before I signed the tenancy it dissolved September, I signed and moved in October. The ownership has never changed according to the land registry. – alpha Jul 26 '18 at 14:24
  • A dissolved company still exists as an entity for purposes of winding up its affairs. Dissolving a company is not equivalent to the situation before a company is formed when it doesn't exist. It can enter into contracts, sue, etc. – ohwilleke Jul 26 '18 at 15:24
  • @ohwilleke: sure, but even if it did exist, a company can't act as landlord if it doesn't own the property. And, as far as I can tell, at the point where a British company is dissolved, its assets immediately pass to the Crown. Hence it can't be the landlord. Is this not the case here? – Steve Melnikoff Jul 26 '18 at 15:29
  • "as far as I can tell, at the point where a British company is dissolved, its assets immediately pass to the Crown." I don't think that this is accurate. And, generally, a non-property owner can manage property as a general agent for the property owner and call themselves a landlord with the owner's permission. – ohwilleke Jul 26 '18 at 15:32
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    @alpha: another thought: if you refuse to pay any end-of-tenancy fees, the landlord may apply to take it out of your deposit. You can then raise this with the Tenancy Deposit Scheme, and let them decide. – Steve Melnikoff Jul 26 '18 at 20:52

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