Can I go into the property, repossess and changed the locks?

by Readers Question

11:05 AM, 17th December 2018
About 3 months ago

Can I go into the property, repossess and changed the locks?

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Can I go into the property, repossess and changed the locks?

Can I go into the property, repossess and changed the locks after the date of the Court Order? My tenant is out for a while without telling me he is leaving nor giving the keys back to me. It seems he has moved out by the way letters were hanging out of a letter box, but I am not 100% sure and he has not returned the keys.

My tenant owed me the rent arreas of £10,850 so far. He was served with a court order stating thst he should leave by 17th December. If he does not leave by then, I need to spend another £700-£1,000 pound for a High Court bailiff.

He didn’t come to court hearing, does not answer the phone call nor reply to my messages or email.

Can I assume that he has left and change the locks? I cannot lose more money for a bailiff and tommorow is the day he is supposed to be gone. He is not in contact with me nor with my solicitor. I am worried about the state of the house deteriorating, being broken and the council tax and all.

It took me over 6 months without getting paid rent with someone living in my property free and I paid the mortgage and my own rent!

Thank you for your kind help.

Sena



Comments

Neil Patterson

11:16 AM, 17th December 2018
About 3 months ago

Please see Tessa Shepperson's article of Landlord Law:

I think my tenant has left, can I change the locks?

>> https://www.property118.com/i-think-my-tenant-has-left-can-i-change-the-locks/

Binks

20:30 PM, 17th December 2018
About 3 months ago

I do feel for you Sena, having been through pretty much the same dilemma just a couple of weeks ago. Our ex-tenants ignored the court date and we managed to agree with HC bailiffs they would only charge a small amount for their notice letter (they give another 7 days notice). We knew from neighbours that some packing and boxes were observed, but the tenants didn’t confirm vacating, didn’t return keys and closed all blinds in the ground floor flat so we were not able to visually determine whether the flats was empty - although we could see through one window much of the furniture has been moved out. In the end we didn’t want to take the chance of any legal comeback and called the bailiffs to book in the visit (and pay the full cost at that point). HC bailiffs tend to be able to come within just a couple of days. In our case, we made the right decision as tenants were still there! They effectively got four extra days in the flat (on top of the five months they didn’t pay for!) by ignoring the bailiff notice and thereby costing us an additional £1,100. It’s is extremely frustrating, but only you can decide whether it’s worth the risk not to engage the bailiffs. However, I wouldn’t worry about council tax, all bills are the tenants responsibility until the eviction date. You will want to call all utility companies and the council to give them the correct information. Good luck!

Dylan Morris

7:50 AM, 18th December 2018
About 3 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Binkie at 17/12/2018 - 20:30
Should the tenancy have rolled over into a “statutory periodic tenancy” then the Council have the right to come after the landlord for any unpaid Council Tax.

Binks

16:03 PM, 18th December 2018
About 3 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Dylan Morris at 18/12/2018 - 07:50
I disagree, depends on circumstances (and possibly what council you are dealing with as some may be misinformed), but I’d recommend you read the following http://www.landlordsguild.com/how-to-ensure-your-tenant-is-liable-for-council-tax-at-the-end-of-term/

Dylan Morris

16:27 PM, 18th December 2018
About 3 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Binkie at 18/12/2018 - 16:03
The way I understand things, if the tenancy rolls over into a “contractural” period tenancy (ie. there is provision for the roll over within the AST) then tenant is liable.

If however there is no provision in the AST then it will roll over as a “statutory” period tenancy and landlord is liable.

Michael Barnes

16:32 PM, 18th December 2018
About 3 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Dylan Morris at 18/12/2018 - 16:27
Tenant is liable whilst living there in a SPT.

Michael Barnes

16:32 PM, 18th December 2018
About 3 months ago

OP: You have a lawyer; what does she say?

pbez64 pbez64

10:48 AM, 22nd December 2018
About 3 months ago

if tenant is still classed as resident then tenant is liable under c tax legislation but if not classed as resident and is in a stat periodic tenancy then liability passes to landlord from date property classed as unoccupied due to Camden v Macattram. I deal with these disputes every day.

Kate Mellor

11:37 AM, 22nd December 2018
About 3 months ago

In these cases I always email tenant and put a notice through the door that I’m going to carry out a property inspection (giving at least 24 hours notice). If the tenant is avoiding you they usually never respond which means you can validly enter with the key. I always state in the notice that they don’t need to be present and that they should let me know if the visit was not convenient and we can rearrange. This covers you. I then take full photographic or video evidence on my phone of the inspection recording my observations eg piles of post and oldest dates on post marks, document which furniture is missing. Is there a bed, a fridge, a couch? If not then it implies the tenant isn’t living in the property. Are there bin bags full of rubbish as though the tenant has packed up and left. Are the toiletries and personal items gone from bedroom and bathroom. I then put tape across the top of the outside door and the key hole. Anyone entering the property between your visits will need to break or remove the tape. Photograph this when you do it and then at each subsequent visit. This all forms part of your evidence should you decide to renter and take back your property that you had a genuine and reasonable belief that the tenant had permanently vacated the property. Obviously email, text and write to the tenant explaining your belief that they’ve moved out and your intention to take back the property asking them to contact you if they haven’t left the property. Taking back a property in this way is always a risk and could have severe consequences. The penalties in the event that you get it wrong can be steep, however if you can show good solid evidence that your belief that the tenants had surrendered the property was genuine and reasonably held you will be unlikely to be made an example of. I think in your case however I would get the bailiffs in because you’ve already done the hard part. You will need to wait in either case because you need evidence over a reasonable length of time that the tenants have left for good. You can’t just take one look and change the locks (unless of course you find the property completely empty and the keys inside).


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