Disappearing Tenant

Disappearing Tenant

9:36 AM, 28th July 2014, About 9 years ago 13

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I will try and keep this to the point; Tenant moved in Christmas Eve, signed the tenancy agreement as a rolling one month.

Not received rent for the last two months despite texting, phoning, writing several letters, but no response.

Visited the property last week, all curtains and blinds closed, garden overgrown and was met by a bailiff arriving, who was also wanting to speak to the tenant for unpaid debts. I spoke to neighbours and they have not seen the tenant for approx 6 weeks and they think he has gone to live with his girlfriend.

More texts, phone calls and several letters later, but still no response, I finally entered the property yesterday to discover the tenants belongings, amongst filth and dirt, the back yard was full of bin bags of rubbish and the mattress of the bed ( part furnished) which looked like none had been taken out since the tenancy agreement. There were lots of debt collector and bailiffs letters and we have also discovered that he has not paid any council tax, water rates or TV licence.

What I hope is that someone will be able to advise on what should be our next move. We are unable to trace the girlfriends address, but are extremely concerned with the situation and hope there is help out there?

Many thanks


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Neil Patterson

9:44 AM, 28th July 2014, About 9 years ago

Hi Julie and readers,

Tessa Shepperson has previously written an excellent article on this subject for us 🙂

See >> http://www.property118.com/i-think-my-tenant-has-left-can-i-change-the-locks/5736/

Please do have a read and you will see how careful you need to be in these circumstances.

Have you taken any references for this tenant to give you a clue how you can get hold of him eg place of work?

Tessa Shepperson

9:51 AM, 28th July 2014, About 9 years ago

Hi Julie

As the article says, you always need to be careful. However it sounds as if in your case that the doctrine of implied surrender would apply. There is another article on this on my blog here http://www.landlordlawblog.co.uk/2012/07/19/four-essential-things-for-landlords-to-check-if-a-tenant-vacates-without-warning/

10:05 AM, 28th July 2014, About 9 years ago

I read Tessa Shepperson's article which I agree is excellent.

You need to make your own mind up, but if it were me, faced with the circumstances you describe I'd assume it was safe to decide he'd abandoned the tenancy and take possession.

The trouble is, what do you do with his stuff? That's another judgment call you'll have to make .I'd document the stuff carefully, with photographic evidence, and assuming his stuff has no re-sale value (it probably hasn't) I'd risk taking it to the tip. "Risk" is the key word though - legally you should store it for a period of time after which you can sell the goods to recoup your storage costs and that is what a solicitor will almost certainly tell you to do.

Whatever you do, don't throw good money after bad though by employing debt collectors to try and recoup your losses. Getting a judgment for the money he owes you is relatively easy . . . but it'll cost you (even if the debt collector is working on a "no-win no-fee basis) and there ain't a hope in hell that he'll pay it even though you've got the judgment.

Tessa Shepperson

10:07 AM, 28th July 2014, About 9 years ago

Yes, thats right. I think you can forget about recovering any lost rent or other costs. Just concentrate on getting the property back.

10:21 AM, 28th July 2014, About 9 years ago

Welcome to being a Landlord Julie.

My Advice, non-professional/experience only, is as above, forget about getting your money back, just keep copious records to show that everything you do is 'reasonable' in the circumstances (rubbish removal for fire precautions, prevention of rodent infestation etc. and will stand up to scrutiny.

Document every effort you make to contact the tenant including letters by tracked delivery and record all your costs. If you do all you can and can justify all your actions I can't imagine any arbiter judging against you taking possesion.


11:06 AM, 28th July 2014, About 9 years ago

Whilst I agree wholeheartedly that the law does not serve landlords well, if at all, with tenants who do not pay, may I just comment that we should all chase them for the money so that there is something on record.

The more landlords turn a blind eye to dreadful tenants (in my view non-payment of rent, except in exceptional circumstances, is simply theft and should be treated as such) the more they will continue to blindly rip landlords off.

I know I can hardly be bothered, as it seems like a lost cause, but I am going to try and energise myself into pursuing two errant tenants shortly - partly out of respect for all those decent tenants who wouldn't dream of not paying for a roof over their heads and partly because they seem to do it regularly.

At the very least, register these tenants with someone like LRS so that they do not come my way without me knowing.

What is a rolling one month contract by the way? I'd like that if it's legal!

David Asker

11:23 AM, 28th July 2014, About 9 years ago

I must admit that tracing a subject like you mention is probably pointless.

Ian Narbeth

11:34 AM, 28th July 2014, About 9 years ago

Hi Julie
We have just obtained a s8 order in the County Court for IMMEDIATE possession against a tenant in an HMO who went AWOL and has not paid rent (4 months overdue now). Tenant did not appear at the hearing and the judge accepted that he was not living at the property. The judge was also happy that we did not need to use bailiffs if the tenant had moved out and was not living at the property (evidenced by other tenants in the HMO saying they had not seen him for months and there being no pillow, sheets or other bedding in the room). We have changed the locks and bagged up the few belongings in the room and taken them away for safe-keeping.

Karen Archer

17:05 PM, 28th July 2014, About 9 years ago

Section 21 notice issued Sept 2012, AST converts to SPT Sept 2013. Issued 2 Notice to Quit on tenant on 1st March 2014 for possession on 30 May. Tenant fails to pay rent for April & May so Section 8 proceedings started. Stated that when she moves will owe 2 months , 1 of which will be repayable with deposit. Tenant moves out 10 days prior to hearing. Does not respond to request for inventory check out nor attends Hearing. Judge stated as she left do not need a possession order but Tenant has left rubbish in property including bag of rotting potatoes and 1 slice bread, carton long life milk but no furniture, bedding or clothes. Does not surrender keys and maintains not left in full Money judgement given at second court hearing, although signed a new tenancy agreement with another agent prior to court date. Also Tenant failed to transfer utilities to her name and ran up debts of over £2k, together with other debts. Tenant not been back to property in 49 days even to collect mail. Failed to pay arrears by date on court order and has multiple other debts arriving on doorstep daily. Is it safe to assume implied surrender by her actions and start single claim process for deposit?

Dr Rosalind Beck

23:24 PM, 28th July 2014, About 9 years ago

We've had a similar situation and put an abandonment notice in the front window, asking the tenant to contact us if he returned and we would give him his possessions back. We then took all of the stuff - including a three piece suite - to our garage and stored it for 6 months. Actually, the suite was quite good and we then used it for a couple of years! I think if neighbours say they've not seen the person for ages, it strengthens your position. On this occasion, we didn't bother serving any notices, just changed the locks and immediately got on with re-letting it.
As regards recovering money, if you know where the person works (if they are working), it is definitely worth getting a judgment on the debt (not the possession), followed by an attachment of earnings. I don't hear anybody else mentioning these attachments but they are great - they take a little while, but if the person doesn't change jobs, and most don't in our experience, you can get all your money back.

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