Can I personally throw a tenant out and change the locks?

Can I personally throw a tenant out and change the locks?

12:21 PM, 4th August 2014, About 8 years ago 27

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Hi all

I am going to be very brief and leave out information I do not feel relevant so I can get straight to the point.

I have taken over a HMO which has tenants that do not pay rent. (They did initially but not now) There were initially 3 tenants however one has left, so 2 remaining. I want them all out.

There is no agreement and no deposit. Can I personally throw a tenant out and change the locks?

My thoughts/options…

1. Call the police and get them out (squatters) – From my understanding, they are not squatters as they did not enter the properly illegally (they used to pay rent once upon a time)

2. Use a service like landlord action. This is probably the best option, but will take time and money, something I can avoid if the next option is possible.

3. As there is no contract in place, what is stopping me from waiting until they leave the house then going in and changing the locks and then throwing their stuff out? This is something I would never do in a normal tenancy, but this is not a normal case. Can it backfire on me?

I have tried several times to get them to sign an agreement, once signed, I can then serve them a section 21, however they do not want to sign anything.

Interested to hear your thoughts.




by Sally T

21:48 PM, 4th August 2014, About 8 years ago

What would be the correct procedure if you have no tenancy/agreement/contract ? Is it still 2 months before applying to court ?

by Tessa Shepperson

22:07 PM, 4th August 2014, About 8 years ago

If the tenancies are assured shorthold one's you can use section 21 (which has a notice period of around 2 months depending on the circumstances).

However as there is no written tenancy agreement you will not be able to use the special accelerated possession procedure.

So you would need to use the 'standard' procedure where there is a court hearing (the accelerated procedure does not normally have a court hearing as it is decided by the Judge alone on the basis of the paperwork).

However it is do-able.

by Si G

18:16 PM, 5th August 2014, About 8 years ago

Possession is nine tenths of the law

by Michael Barnes

19:32 PM, 5th August 2014, About 8 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Simon " at "05/08/2014 - 18:16":

Actually it's "Posession is nine points of the law".

by Mike

12:44 PM, 6th August 2014, About 8 years ago

I am in a similar but rather a little more complex situation, I will try and keep it simple to the point) I allowed a homeless couple with no children, I knew, to move into my second home, they were evicted for non payment of rent, but as I knew them I took a pity on them as they came to seek my help and had tears in their eyes, so as a fool I offered to help them!

I had a 2nd Home, it was empty property undergoing slow renovations at my own pace, so I had no rush to complete it as I was not going to rent it out, so I took pity on them, and offered to move them in one of the finished rooms, but only on a temporary bases until they find a suitable place to rent somewhere else, I expected them to have stayed no more than one or at the most two months. so I drew no contract with him, or gave him any written terms and conditions of their stay.

It was for free, no rent to be paid, as I knew them, and they were somewhat like friends in need, so I bend backwards to help them in their hour of need.

When 3 months had gone, they were still there, and were not really trying to look for any place, I could see they were slowly buying and gathering more stuff and filling my place up, so I warned him that he should not bring in any more stuff as I had only allowed him space for one room and use of kitchen facilities and bathroom, but they started to make my home as theirs, filling in one cupboard after another and by 6 months they had half of all kitchen units filled up with their stuff.

So I became furious, and told them they must either leave or pay me some money towards utility bills, as they were using 95% utilities including winter heating bills I paid, so we reached an amicable solution that they must pay me £150 per month towards utility bills and 50% council tax,.

14 months later, I am now being intimidated, and total amount they have paid me is only £950. And continue to refuse to leave when I ask them to find another place.

So now I am trapped, I cannot force him to sign a contract, or a tenancy agreement as Newham Council has now made it mandatory for all private landlords to obtain a selective license, so I cannot force a contract or charge then rent until I can apply and get a Selective license, He has threatened me at various times, does not respect me the fact how I helped him when he became homeless, and does not appreciate anything at all, he lacks understanding English as he is from Romania,
I am stuck, I don't know what to do. It is costing me money to put him in my house for free, and her even tried to install a huge 3 foot diameter satellite dish on my Chimney stack, I ordered him to take it down at once as he did not seek my permission as well as I had told him that the accommodation was only temporary and he must not try to make it as permanent, I also warned him about the need for a TV licence if he must watch any TV or satellite programmes, but he seems to care little for UK laws.

I need desperate help to get rid of him legally. I will never help anyone again, lesson learned hard way. Never feel pity on anyone any more, cruel world out there, and the law is on these piss takers side.

by Mark Alexander

13:19 PM, 6th August 2014, About 8 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Mike " at "06/08/2014 - 12:44":

Hi Mike

I have started a new thread and emailed our members - please see >>>

by Mandy Thomson

13:57 PM, 6th August 2014, About 8 years ago

Hi Mike

If these people were living there COMPLETELY rent free, then they would definitely be excluded occupiers, simply licencees in the eyes of the law, and as such would only be entitled to "reasonable notice" to move out, in the same way as a lodger.

I would gather as much hard evidence of the terms of the let as possible; for example, emails, text conversations (make copies), any paper notes etc, plus all your bank statements for the period they've being living there. Also, can you produce witnesses to any conversations you've had with them?

By agreeing to them remaining there after the 3 months, provided they pay you some rent, you may have granted them a tenancy - this doesn't need to be in writing, it can be verbal.

You would therefore need to serve notice on them (see Tessa Shepperson's post above). In your situation though, I would seek legal advice first (as you don't know the status of their tenancy) - you can do this online - Just Answer are pretty good, or Tessa runs her own paid for advice service through her site.

It's so easy to be taken in by people in your former friends' situation, but at the end of the day, in a country such as this where people are generally given plenty of chances before they need hit rock bottom, you must first look at their situation objectively and ask yourself why and how they got into that mess? I'm afraid it's often (although not by any means always) because they can't take responsibility and have an exaggerated sense of entitlement - as in your "friends" seeing nothing wrong with taking over your house, withholding rent, then threatening you on top of this!!

Good luck - I hope they move out soon!

by Mike

18:42 PM, 6th August 2014, About 8 years ago

Thank you Mark for moving this as a new thread, I am sorry if I appear to have used someone's thread to post my problem which is similar in nature, and also many thanks to Mandy for your valuable comments, and make no mistake, from the onset, I told these couple that I was not in a position to rent them my house but I could only allow them to stay for a few days until they sort out some place, and by no means I meant 1 week, 2 weeks or 1 month, or even two months, I did not give them any time frame in which to get out, I was expecting that they would find an alternative accommodation and move out within about a month.

I explained to them that I was not in a position to rent my property to them or anyone, but can let them move in as a good will on my part and as a temporary shelter, they had no where to go!

I explained to him that in order for me to rent it to them, I would first need to get registered with my Local council Newham as a responsible landlord, Apply for a Selective License, and to get one I will first need to meet their strict criteria, like fitting smoke detectors, fire blanket, gas safety record, Fire Doors, and the rest of the accommodation needs to be in a habitable condition, currently the bathrooms are usable but do not have wall tiles, so as the property was undergoing renovations, and still has not been fully completed, I cannot apply for a license until it is fully completed .

Hence why I did not give him any contract and did not and could not charge him any rent what so ever, only that in the 14 months he had been there, he paid me a total of £950 in smaller cash payment towards utility bills and part council tax.

So I now need to get rid of him legally, as he has started to abuse my privileges, highly intimidates me, knocks on my door at midnight to make unreasonable complaint and says he is angry with me because I left some mess in the garden, which I did not, so I retaliated by reminding him that he has no right to knock on my door at midnight and make a complaint, as he is not even paying utility bills let alone rent, he has absolutely no sense of my gratitude, has never appreciated what I did for him that no one would do such kind act today, letting someone stay for free!

He has now become a liberty. I am having to pay for his use of heating, cooking, lights, electricity, wear and tear on washing machine, wear and tear on my brand new kitchen I fitted, but despite many reminders that he either pays me utility bills £150 per month regularly, or he gets out, but he doesn't seem to want to move out.

When he intimidates me, I tell him that if he is not happy with my spoken conditions, or rules he can leave. But instead he starts to laugh, he thinks I am afraid of him, so I made this plain and clear to him that I am personally not afraid of him and if he tries to be physical then I would be able to handle him, he has tried to push me out of my own house, and he boasts bout it to other people. He thinks he has got me by my balls, not him really it is the bloody law that has got me by my balls!

by Mandy Thomson

19:35 PM, 6th August 2014, About 8 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Mike " at "06/08/2014 - 18:42":

Hi Mike,

As I said, I really hope you manage to get these people out! I simply cannot believe some people's reasoning - but to give them their due, I suspect they're very frightened. With poor English, are they able to understand that they can get assistance with rental payments (LHA or housing benefit), and MAY be able to get temporary housing from the council, or at the very least, advice? I doubt that YOU would be able to convince them, as they'd most likely think you were just feeding them a line to get rid of them!

As far as the licensing issue is concerned, two things:

Firstly, I think at least in part you're thinking about some of the conditions that HMO landlords need to comply with (as in fire doors) - but having said that, it seems councils set whatever conditions they like (see "Croydon yet another area to introduce Selective Licensing - if you need something to read yourself to sleep!!), and we ARE talking about Newham here, of all the local authorities...

Secondly, you SHOULD be exempt from selective licensing. There is normally a provision that if you're say, selling the property, you can claim a temporary exemption. In your case (leaving aside the fact that you were really just renting out the property as a kind of temporary holiday let, which would be exempt anyway) you're trying to evict your tenants, and I'm assuming you don't want to rent it again after they move out.

If I were in your situation, given the somewhat uncertain tenancy status (there are 3 main residential tenancy types, plus a somewhat grey area around excluded tenancies/licencees) plus your council's reputation on selective licensing, I would consult a solicitor.

by Percy Vere

8:22 AM, 7th August 2014, About 8 years ago

Mike said ;

I allowed a homeless couple with no children, I knew, to move into my second home, they were evicted for non payment of rent, but as I knew them I took a pity on them as they came to seek my help and had tears in their eyes, so as a fool I offered to help them!


I hope all landlords, both new and old, who read this will learn a lesson from Mike's experiences and that lesson is that as a Landlord you are not a registered charity but a small business.

In my experience many landlords who do what Mike has done as an act of goodwill ( call it what you like) end up with the bat being shoved where the Sun doesn't shine and the act of kindness turns into a nightmare for the innocent Landlord.

The golden rule of landlording is to never rent your property to friends or family. Too many cases reported on all landlording forums where this action has turned sour and friends quickly become ex-friends and families fall out big-time.

Landlording is tough at times and it's a business. If anyone came banging on my door at midnight complaining they would get a short sharp action reply and they wouldn't do it twice.

Mike...... time for tough action and stop messing about....... get rid of these people as quickly as you can and stop them from walking all over you.

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