Tenant has left at short notice / Outstanding rent / Return of keys
The tenant recently moved into the property having entered into a long term contract in August. Two weeks ago she called to say that she couldn't afford the rent and would be moving out of the property in a few days.
Having taken advice, the tenant was informed that she would be liable to continue to pay the rent until another tenant was found and that the property would be put back on the market immediately.
Having returned from a 2 week holiday overseas the tenant was contacted to ascertain if she had vacated the property and if she would be paying the next rent, which was due on 9 October. The tenant confirmed that she had vacated the property and would not be paying any further rent.
She was reminded that she remained liable for the rent, but when asked to return the keys to the property to the agent, she refused, stating that until she was 'signed off' from the contract she would keep the keys.
Since having this conversation, a new tenant has been found who wants to move in within the week, although the current tenant has yet to be informed of this.
Is anyone able to clarify the position with regards to the following please?:
1 - What is the current situation with regards to the status of the contract, given the tenant has moved out and has stated she will not be paying any further rent, the most recent payment of which is now overdue?
2 - Can the tenant be requested to return the keys immediately now a new tenant has been found or is she within her rights to keep them until the day the new tenant moves in?
3 - I understand that any outstanding rent can be deducted from the damage deposit (held in the DPS). I also understand that it is possible to claim any expenses that arise as a result of the tenant moving out without sufficient notice, such as agents fees incurred in re-letting the property. Can this amount also be deducted from the damage deposit amount?
4 - If the tenant refuses to return the keys altogether and as a result the locks on the property need to be changed, can this amount be deducted from the damage deposit amount?
5 - Is there anything else that needs to be considered?
Any advice is much appreciated as having had two great tenants over the past couple of years, this is the first problem tenant and I want to make sure things are handled correctly.
Thanks in advance.