Can a landlord (UK, English law) make a claim from a potential tenant who wants to back out of signing a Tenancy Agreement?
If a tenant makes a repeated commitment (via emails, face-to-face conversations and text messages) that they want to sign a Tenancy Agreement and rent a house, and at the same time repeatedly (5 times) adjust the start of the contract by one more week forward.
If the tenant then finally admits he can't/won't be able to move in, does the landlord have any legal rights to claim compensation?
On the landlord's side:
- The tenant has verbally and unambiguously committed that they want to move in.
- The landlord has paid for referencing.
- The landlord has paid for a contract to be drawn up
- The landlord has paid for the dates on the contract to be changed (repeatedly)
- The landlord has paid for a detailed inventory to be taken.
- The landlord has turned down other potential tenants
On the tenant's side:
- The tenant has not signed any legal document
- The tenant has paid a holding deposit (equal to one week's rent)
- The tenant feels that the reasons for not moving in as soon as planned are outside his control.
- The tenant didn't ask for an inventory to be taken.
- The tenant didn't ask to have his references checked.
On a related issue, what's the situation if the tenant still claims they want to move in, but the landlord wants to withdraw because they no longer trusts the tenant's promises? Can the tenant then make a finical claim against the landlord?
Update regarding costs
- The landlords rent-guarantee insurance requires that the AST (the contract) is written and edited by legal professionals only. (this is a requirement of the insurance company only, not sure it's legally correct)
- According to the Association of Inventory Clerks the inventory should be taken 'immediately prior to moving in' so if a new Tenant is has to be found, a new inventory will be required (unless they can be persuaded to move in at very short notice). The AIIC also advise that tenants don't sign inventories that weren't taken immediately prior to moving in.
- The 'Tenant Fees Act' restricts the holding deposit to a maximum of one weeks rent, this is less than the costs incurred. (the act makes no mention of how long the holding deposit can be held, nor the circumstances under which it can be retained)
- The total delays in moving in add up to five weeks beyond the initially agreed date - more than one months rent.
Update - just for completeness, rent guarantee insurance is no longer available (not in the UK anyhow) due to covid.