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  • A and B rented a house from private landlord L, on a 3 year term with an option to break with 2 months notice after 12 months.
  • After 16 months, B moved out.
  • A agreed with the landlord on a swap to add C on all the original terms including the same (now 20 months away) end date. The new tenancy agreement also notes that the tenants accept the inventory from A's original start date.
  • Circumstances changed such that both need to move city, timed such that A and C will both want to leave 10 months after the swap. They gave 3 months notice to this effect.

The landlord's agents responded with the claim that because a new tenancy agreement was signed between A, C and L after the swap, they cannot break the tenancy until 12 months after the swap. This surprised C and astonished A, who will have been in the house for 26 months by that point. Both had understood a swap to imply that C would have effectively the same set of rights and obligations as B, had B continued in the tenancy and A would also continue as before.

Does such a change of tenant generally entail restarting the clock on contractual or statuatory obligations in an AST, and do A and C have any recourse other than paying off the last 2 months or negotiating fresh exit terms from a position of relative weakness?

  • What did the documents everyone signed actually say? – Steve Melnikoff May 20 at 12:13
  • The document is just a regular tenancy agreement. The only reference to it not being the original move in date is the "use the old inventory" clause. – Josiah May 22 at 17:24
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Maybe

It really depends on what you agreed to.

As you describe it, either:

  1. The original lease remained in place with the rights and obligations of B being transferred to C. If so, then there is no new no break period.

  2. The original lease with A & B was terminated by agreement and a new lease with A & C was created. If so, then there will be a new no break period.

From the info you provided it's impossible to tell which.

Also, please don't provide additional info because it's likely that the exact situation is ambiguous and picking that apart is legal advice for which you need to hire a lawyer.

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  • The question is more about whether there is an established default, such that a request for a swap should have been understood by the estate agent as a request for one or the other. It sounds like the answer is no. – Josiah May 22 at 20:58
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    @Josiah there is no “default” for breaking a contract - each one is subject to its own circumstances and agreement (or rancorous dispute) – Dale M May 22 at 21:13
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A new tenancy agreement replaces an old one, regardless of cause, so unless the new one states otherwise, the clock restarts.

So in this case, if the new agreement states that no break can occur in the first 12 months of the tenancy, then that period starts with the date specified in the new agreement.

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