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End of tenancy

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I issued section 21 notice to end agreement set up in August 2015. Tenants have been there 3 years, having previous agreements. Tenancy fixed term ended 31 January but I gave notice for end of tenancy to be 29 Feb as this suited my timetable (I live abroad) and because I didn't want to issue notice to tenants just before Xmas. I assumed the tenancy would revert to periodic for February unless tenants gave notice to end at end of January.
On 31st January had message from tenants to say they have left the property.
I say they are responsible for rent until I can take possession. I am currently driving across Europe and should be there Saturday or Sunday.
Tenants say their no fee lawyer has told them it was not legal for me to "set up" another agreement (which I didn't) once the section 21 notice was served and that they didn't have to give notice. The agreement is standard RLA and says notice is required.
Am I right to claim the rent? I might not have bothered but the tenants have issued threats about various issues their free lawyer has suggested.
04/02/2016 13:47

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