Dropping-In or Dropping-Out – Costly Either Way You Say It!

Dropping-in or Dropping-out … are you in danger of dropping off the tightrope between the two concepts? The two idioms appear antonyms, but have more in common than the title betrays. Both are nonconformist and both can be very costly in letting terms. Students dropping-out may understandably resent paying rent for non occupation following their…

Dropping-in or Dropping-out … are you in danger of dropping off the tightrope between the two concepts?

The two idioms appear antonyms, but have more in common than the title betrays. Both are nonconformist and both can be very costly in letting terms.

Students dropping-out may understandably resent paying rent for non occupation following their premature departure. However, such resentment ignores the wider implications. During the viewing season, landlords invariably turn away hundreds of desperate students in favor of some who remarkably leave prematurely, midway through the tenancy. The fact that landlords are by then unable to find replacements might not be countenanced by departing tenants. The student viewing seasons are twofold:

  1. November to January – for continuing students; and
  2. for late entrants – July to August. Outside these house-viewing months, most landlords would consider themselves fortunate to secure tenants to replace drop-outs.

Drop-outs are then costly to tenants who remain responsible for rent until any replacement is found – to say nothing of the loss of salary without a degree. However, not infrequently, following abandonment of a tenancy, it is the landlord who suffers loss. A further problem occurs where there is insufficient tenure remaining prior to tenancy termination; with new arrivals due in less than six months. This is particularly important when considering enforcing an AST with an agreed term of less than 6 months. Look it up on our glossary if this affects you – see footnote. The implications are onerous!

Letting individual rooms will sometimes permit a landlord to access common areas and vacant rooms in preparation for residual events. This must be included in the contract, typically for non-students. Joint tenants have exclusive possession of the entire house to the exclusion of the landlord, who must obtain permission to enter at ALL times. Predictable access during viewing times can be set out in the contract, but notice is always required. When 24 hours notice is not possible and access is more urgent, then permission can be requested to enter. Upon refusal, landlords must accept the decisions decision without displaying resentment which may indicate harassment. Where refusal contravenes the terms of the contract, the landlord can advise the tenant of the contractual obligation and if tenants still refuse landlords must obtain a court order to enter. Exceptions may be where serious damage to property or health is otherwise imminent.

On the other hand and changing the subject, landlords dropping-in can also be costly. This time it is the landlord who causes the problem not dissimilar to an own goal. This phenomenon can be a real dilemma depending on how landlords operate and also upon tenant expectations. Most tenants appear to want to be left alone and not bothered by the landlord until a need for landlord involvement arises, when they want a speedy response. Some overzealous landlords are inclined to visit unexpectedly to keep an eye on their property. This will most often be perceived as friendly (if not eccentric) concern, enabling any problems to be resolved quickly. However, it only takes one occasion when landlords who do not communicate such impromptu visits to run the risk of accusation of harassment. Too little interest and landlords may wrongly be perceived as disinterested in their tenants welfare. The courts, however, are very clear about the required minimum 24 hours claimed notice before, “dropping-in” to visit your tenants or property. 'Implied'. means it applies irrespective of contractual inclusion. Tenants can sue landlords who flout the rules.

The line between acceptable and unacceptable dropping-in is “noticeably” wide. Always give notice to avoid dropping off the line and into the jaws of the waiting legal profession!