Bailiffs at our empty rental property

by Readers Question

3 years ago

Bailiffs at our empty rental property

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Bailiffs at our empty rental property

We have a rental property which at present is empty. The previous tenants were issued with a section 21 and owe us 4 months rent. They left on 4th May and we have new tenants moving in this weekend. Bailiffs at our empty rental property

However, my husband went down to check the property today to make sure everything is in order and found firstly that he could not get in the front door (locks changed), and secondly that both the electric and gas meters have been removed. After a lot of investigation we have found out that the energy supplier went in there with a bailiff because the old tenant owed so much money and did this.

Are they legally allowed to do this without informing the owners, we are now left with more cash outlay as to get new meters put in they want a deposit of £375 for the gas and £400 for the electric, plus they can not guarantee that they will be able to do this by Saturday when the new tenants move in.

Any advice on this would be gratefully received.

Thanks

Michele



Comments

Mark Alexander

3 years ago

I have invited David Carter, CEO of The Sheriffs Office to comment.
.

David Asker

3 years ago

This is a very different area to that which I work (or have worked) in but my understanding is that yes they have the power to force entry and do what they have done.

I'm sorry I can't be of more help.

Jay James

3 years ago

Good evening Michele

These comments are written from experience of the situation outlined by the OP.

I suspect the court ordered the supplies of the address to be cut off, on the basis that the defendant was occupying the property. If the defendant was not responsible for paying the bill, then it would seem the wrong person has been cut off.

Deposits can be negotiated (perhaps down to nil if the incoming bill payer carries over their previous supplier) on the basis that the incoming bill payer has a good credit record.

You will need to get on to the supplier immediately and likely follow it up many times by call and email, in order to get in sorted before the next resident moves in.

Remember that the current supplier has no legal right to remain the supplier, as outlined in industry regulations.

3 years ago

Hi - the bailiff can only enter if he/she has an order of the court. It is worth you getting onto the Energy Supplier and asking for all the paperwork. The problem would have been if the Energy Supplier wrote to your tenant about going to court if they did not pay. If they did not defend or attend court the Energy Company would get an order.

wayne carson

3 years ago

You say the tenants previous tenants had vacated? How did you know this? I presume that you have visited the property since their moving out? Was there any post addressed to you from the utility provider? Who was the person named on the bills with the utility provider? Surely if you had bills landing on the doorstep from utility providers after they had moved you should have contacted them to advise they no longer resided there? The debt is against the consumer, not the property. You would of course be liable for standing charges and usage after their vacation date. All you would have needed to do was provide a copy of the tenancy agreement ( hopefully with a clause in it stating they were liable for the utilities ) and a vacation date and meter reading. Anyway that horse has bolted, lesson learnt for the future.
I am afraid some of this sounds your fault for not checking everything after they had moved out. Have you sorted out the council tax? Just in case you had forgotten about that too!
In terms of the power of entry there are rules that are required to be satisfied before a judge can issue a warrant. One of those must be that the requester must prove that the address is a verified address of occupancy. I am a bit vague over what powers they executed the warrant under. However, I believe that most county court warrant are against a person not a property ( normally ), criminal warrants can be against both. dependent under the law required for entry. I have a nagging feeling that the utility companies abuse this power they have and carry out the execution of the warrants without consideration of the full extent of their powers. i.e they overstep their remit. These companies have an entire army of staff to deal with absconded debtors, i am feeling they have not applied themselves in this case.
As a former police officer when we executed a warrant to arrest a person, once we found out that the person did not reside there our power to remain or to proceed with anything else ceased, i'm fairly sure the same rules apply for any warrant, i could be wrong.
Also under Section 11 Landlord and tenant Act 1985 you have a duty to provide utilities to the property water, gas etc.. you cannot move the tenants into the property without these being in place and working.

Joe Bloggs

3 years ago

hi michele,

did you tell the energy suppliers that the tenants had moved out before the meters were disconnected?

ian

3 years ago

If it's a Deposit will it not be refunded at some point? Do you have any other choice not to pay, as you are unable to rent it out without metres. Personally I would pay to get them reinstalled then put in a complaint.

Michele Brown

3 years ago

Thank you for all your comments, we were not aware that the tenants had moved out, only by word of mouth of a neighbour. The letting agent showed prospective tenants around on 23rd May, and they were due to move in on 10th June. I presume that is when a meter reading would have been taken and notified to the utilities company. The utilities company are saying that they had a Court warrant and were within their rights to drill out the lock and enter the property, why they took the meters when the property was in good order and had not been trashed is beyond me. I have been told that they have gained entry forcefully which is not legal. Can anyone advise if this is the case.

3 years ago

Hi - to update my earlier note -Unfortunately Energy supply is dealt with differently via the Magistrates Court and the Order will allow forced entry whether the tenant attends court or not and whether the property is vacant or not. They are much more tricky to deal with than the standard County or High Court Orders if you want to dispute it.

Michele Brown

3 years ago

Thanks for your reply, I will be requesting all relevant paperwork from the energy company. Why they could not have contacted either myself or the letting agents before taking this drastic action is beyond me. The letting agents had written to them with the meter readings when the tenants first moved in and they had my name and address linked to the property as when we first bought it we had some work to do on it so it was empty for 3 weeks and we paid the energy bill for this time.

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