Ask The Expert: 'We've agreed a completion date, but our buyers want it changed'

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The Independent Online

Question: We are selling our house and a completion date has been agreed. Contracts were exchanged about four weeks ago.

We agreed a completion date of 25 August with the buyers. Now our buyers want to bring it forward a week, which really messes up our plans.

Our selling agent is pushing us to agree but we are not sure we want to and we feel a bit bullied. What should we do?

Answer: You are holding all the cards. You have exchanged contracts and therefore there is a binding contract between you and your buyers.

Your buyers are bound to complete the purchase of your property on 25 August and indeed by a certain time on that day.

You certainly do not have to agree to change the completion date to suit your buyers, but if you do, it is very important you tell your solicitor so he can then vary the contract formally.

Ideally, your solicitor should prepare a supplemental agreement changing the completion date and your buyers should pay your solicitor's costs for drafting it. Both you and the buyers will need to sign the supplemental agreement.

If the change of completion date is done in this way then the terms of the contract will have been varied formally and are binding and enforceable.

Question: My boyfriend and I have been renting a flat for nearly five years, signing a new shorthold tenancy every six months.

Our current lease expires on 12 August. We want to stay on for an extra two months on a rolling monthly basis, but our landlord has refused and requires us either to give a month's notice and then get out in August or sign a new agreement for the full six months.

Does our landlord have to give us two months' notice at the end of our fixed-term, as that would suit us fine?

Answer: Your landlord cannot force you to serve notice to quit and leave the flat, and you cannot force your landlord into allowing a rolling month-by-month tenancy.

If your landlord asks you to sign a new tenancy agreement and you refuse, and the landlord wants you to vacate the flat, he or she has to serve you with at least two months' notice.

What this means is that if the landlord serves notice on you, this will be enough to give you the two months you need. It might even give you a bit more as the notice must expire on the last day of the period.