End of Tenancy, Tenant’s Belongings, Tort Law and “Lockdown”?

by Readers Question

11:30 AM, 20th April 2020
About 6 months ago

End of Tenancy, Tenant’s Belongings, Tort Law and “Lockdown”?

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End of Tenancy, Tenant’s Belongings, Tort Law and “Lockdown”?

Hi, Here is a dilemma that many of us on Property118 might likely face in the coming weeks of these very challenging times.

The 12 month fixed term tenancy ending this week, current Tenant contacted 6 weeks before tenancy end date he verbally informed agents of the purchase of a new home and won’t be renewing the tenancy. In said conversation asks the agent if any of the likely new Tenants would wish to purchase his furniture. A very unusual request especially given he wouldn’t even reply to agents request to arrange any appointments or allow viewings.

Fast forward to the past 2 weeks, I break with my protocol to contact Tenant directly, he agrees to a viewing and we discuss that I will ask any tenants regards the furniture. The following day the prospective Tenant (1) views property alone, adhering to Government advice and social distancing, agent uses “drop box” for keys. Also purchases some of Tenants furniture. But with no appreciation it later seemed.

I am contacted regularly by the current Tenant, who has now moved to his “new home” to ask about the other items which remain. He already told me he’d advertised them on eBay some 3-4 weeks ago, but had no success. He seems now to believe that I or the new Tenant should buy them all, if not he suggests I must store them for him, in my house, until he can finds a buyer or can dispose of them. He states that all the Refuge Centers are closed.

I tried to explain that neither I nor the tenant require them, also I have asked several friends and family in the area if they would be interested, they’ve circulated this on Facebook. The tenant knows I live overseas so it’s even more difficult for myself, apart from that, it’s not really my responsibility.

In the past 2 days his correspondences have become very abrasive, hateful and threatening. Not that it bothers me…..but frustrates me more so, as I must remain polite and not stoop to his level. He still has keys and access to the property. Last night his messages became very vindictive. In a nutshell, it’s the usual b*ll**x that these jumped up spoilt brats regurgitate – “I ve spoken to my lawyers” and “you shouldn’t be conducting viewings, house moves” etc etc. So I was polite and sent the Government link, I also explained the new Tenant mitigation which would be deemed “essential” and that in the past week the LHA had discussed the very same issues with myself. Also that this is being conducted through an agent.

He was adamant that he will leave the furniture in the garden and on Monday I will be receiving an email from his “Legal team” ha ha.

So here is my interpretation of the situation, the Tenant’s likely tact and my few choices.

Tenant is not telling the truth, he hasn’t bought a new place, most possibly moved in with friends/family or back to ex wife. He is malicious and vindictive and will seek to either scupper the new tenants move, or leave the belongings in the house making excuses that he can’t move them due to the Lockdown.

So my choices are:-

i). At the Check out have the Inventory Clerk itemise those items abandoned, arrange for their removal and storage, get receipt present to Agent and DPS for claim on deposit.
ii). If the move is delayed or cancelled, I shall try claim rent and Council tax as the Tenant hasn’t vacated the property, if he provides a new address I shall find out if he has purchased or paying Council tax at that address.
iii). Arrange for removal and delivery of the items of his to be taken to said address. Keep receipt and present in deposit dispute.
iv). Bite the bullet and buy the rest of his furniture and dump it.

What is the best and most likely path of least difficulty please?

I would, as ever appreciate anyone’s experiences and advice in this matter. Thank you kindly in advance.

BB


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Comments

Rob Crawford

14:29 PM, 20th April 2020
About 6 months ago

BB, your priority is to get the current tenant out so that the new tenant can move in. I would suggest the only option is your option (i). I think you will find tort law requires that you keep the abandoned items for six months before you can legally dispose of it (check the legislation). Will the deposit cover the storage cost and any delaptations etc? You will have to write a formal tort abandonment letter that gives cost of storage etc and time scales.

BB

10:26 AM, 21st April 2020
About 6 months ago

Thanks Rob for the swift reply and advice. New tenant move is still going ahead, I ve not complicated matters by informing her of this possible hurdle. My local Council have emailed to say that her personal circumstance would be seen as a "reasonable excuse". The deposit is £700 but it's held in a TDS so this might not be fully agreed to at adjudication. The let is with an agent on full management so would they normally issue the Tort abandonment letter? Thanks again.

George Harrison

10:37 AM, 21st April 2020
About 6 months ago

Why not tell him you can/will put them into storage but he will be responsible for the cost and you will take it from his deposit

Gunga Din

10:39 AM, 21st April 2020
About 6 months ago

"... tort law requires that you keep the abandoned items for six months before you can legally dispose of it (check the legislation)..."

Hope not. The NLA AST states 14 days, as long as the owner is notified of whats about to happen.

Chris Bryan

11:26 AM, 21st April 2020
About 6 months ago

To make a decision I would need to know cost of each how much does he want for left belongings if it’s say £100 I would pay it if it’s £1000 I would fight him

BB

11:30 AM, 21st April 2020
About 6 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Chris Bryan at 21/04/2020 - 11:26
The tenant wanted £500 for the lot, then when I showed an interest £650. It's a pile of pooh to be honest Chris, mostly flat pack bedroom furniture, just cheap rubbish. The sofa was nice and some electrical items which the new tenant bought. Not asked but say £300, so I d offer £200 but now it's about principles.

BB

11:31 AM, 21st April 2020
About 6 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Gunga Din at 21/04/2020 - 10:39
Yeah that was my understanding of it 14 days, Gunga Din. Thanks.

BB

11:32 AM, 21st April 2020
About 6 months ago

Reply to the comment left by George Harrison at 21/04/2020 - 10:37
Thanks George, good idea I shall do so via the agents, all official then.

Chris Bryan

11:58 AM, 21st April 2020
About 6 months ago

Reply to the comment left by BB at 21/04/2020 - 10:26
Ow I’m on expert but does this not fall into the unsolicited goods act and not law of tart as you are not holding the goods for payment he as supplied you with goods you did not order are ask for like I say I’m no legal expert and would like other people’s thoughts on this

Russell Thomas

12:21 PM, 21st April 2020
About 6 months ago

I am in a similar situation, my tenant ( a solicitor) rented my flat as her London residence during the week and returned to her country house at the weekend. As she is now working from home she has invoked the break clause but says she cannot remove the furniture due to lockdown, has not returned the keys and informed the council she is not responsible for the council tax.
I have said she cannot revoke her responsibilities so easily and I still consider her a tenant, any opinions from my peers would be grateful

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