Can I break out of a tenancy agreement if I was lied to by my landlord?
There are some circumstances in which you might find yourself entering into a tenancy agreement based upon promises your landlord has made, or comments that have been given to you. You may then feel that this is the reason you entered into the tenancy agreement. If you feel you were induced into a contract or misrepresented, then there may be an option available for you to break out of the contract and end the tenancy agreement earlier than the fixed term or break clause.
Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 were amended by the Consumer Protections (Amendment) Regulations 2014 and provided private tenants whose tenancies began after 1st October 2014 with a remedy to unwind a contract in certain circumstances.
The idea is that landlords do not use unfair trading practices such as, giving misleading information, withholding necessary information; using coercion, harassment or undue influence or failing to follow accepted trading practices.
These heads are labelled as:
- (i) a misleading action
- (ii) a misleading omission
- (iii) aggressive practice
- (iv) lack of professional diligence
However, in order for this to have been unfair, you would need to have shown that you would have taken a different course of action, i.e. you would not have signed a tenancy agreement, or wouldn’t have renewed your tenancy agreement and would have in fact vacated the property had you of been aware of the actual circumstances or had the unfair trading practices not taken place.
Examples of unfair practices include threatening or harassing a tenant to stop them from escalating a complaint, to mislead a guarantor as to their role in a contract, failing to provide furniture if agreed at the outset, misleading tenants on rent arrears advice etc. These are merely examples, and if you feel that you have another example, then contact our team of specialists who will be able to advise you further.
Tenant remedies for landlord breach of contract
There is a different procedure for contracts that started before 1 October 2014, but we will be looking at contracts entered into after this date. Any breach that has taken place after 1 October 2014 may trigger a remedy where you would be able to apply to the court for enforcement action. You have before you, a Civil Remedy if you can show that you entered into a contract as a result of a misleading action, but not a misleading omission. Ordinarily you would be able to apply for an “unwind of the contract”, a discount or damages.
The right to unwind
The right to unwind means that your contract can be terminated within 90 days due to your landlord making false statements, omissions or carrying out a misleading action. In order to seek this you would have to bring a claim in the county court for a declaration that the contract is unwound and you may want to seek compensation or a refund too. You would have to issue a claim and the court would assess your claim. In some circumstances you can seek a Right to a Discount on the rent instead of winding up the contract. You cannot claim a discount and apply to the right to unwind, but unlike the 90 day notice period for unwinding contract, you can seek a discount after the 90 days but within 6 years.
Application to the court for a declaration
The final option would be for you to vacate the property and then make an application to the court for a declaration, but if the court didn’t accept your position then you would be liable for rent until your contract has expired or can be terminated by a break clause. This is a very dangerous and risky option and is one that should be avoided until all other remedies are sought and considered.
If you feel you were lied to, misled or forced into entering a contract and feel that without those actions and statements you wouldn’t have done so, contact our housing specialists who can advise you further in this area. Please call 0808 271 9413 or request a call back online.