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

by Readers Question

11:30 AM, 20th April 2020
About 5 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

Gunga Din

12:27 PM, 21st April 2020
About 5 months ago

If its like Hartlepool you're going to have a struggle convincing London that you shouldn't be liable for the C Tax. She will have told her home local auth. that she's at her primary residence and not using the London flat.

Liability:- hierarchy in Sec 6 of Local Gov't Finance Act, which of course is biased against LLs because we're all rich.

I've found that the fact that the tenancy is still ongoing (keys, possessions etc.) holds no water with the LA.

Jan Martin

13:16 PM, 21st April 2020
About 5 months ago

If your tenancy agreement is contractual then tenant liable for council tax .
Put in writing that they have 14days to collect personal belongings. Get a leaving inventory carried out and make sure that items left are listed with pics . After 14 days you can dispose and claim costs .

Chris @ Possession Friend

13:38 PM, 21st April 2020
About 5 months ago

A very popular article in the Landlord Advice section of my web page deals extensively with Abandonded Goods

BB

14:07 PM, 21st April 2020
About 5 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Jan Martin at 21/04/2020 - 13:16
Many thanks for this Jan, are you 100pc sure ? Any links or references to support this would be a great help, please.

BB

14:07 PM, 21st April 2020
About 5 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Possession Friend at 21/04/2020 - 13:38
Link might help thank you.

Sue Twyford

14:39 PM, 21st April 2020
About 5 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Russell Thomas at 21/04/2020 - 12:21
Hi Russell, I had a similar issue with a tenant who informed LA she had moved, but I was able to prove at least 5 items (that was LA criteria) of furnishings belonging to tenant remained in the property (incidentally, I also had evidence she was popping back & forth to collect bits - including a hamster ! ). The LA found in my favour. Check position with your council first, otherwise if she has renounced tenancy then check you can put her stuff in storage and send her the bill; get legal advice on this aspect to cover yourself as you mention she is a solicitor too.

BB

14:44 PM, 21st April 2020
About 5 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Sue Twyford at 21/04/2020 - 14:39
Hello Sue would my circumstances be any different please?

Sue Twyford

15:23 PM, 21st April 2020
About 5 months ago

Hi BB, I think Rob Crawford's response of first option sounds reasonable, but get some legal advice as we don't have all the information/detail that you hold. If he's moved out but left his furniture, then talk to your council about his liability for council tax making the point of all his homestead still being in residence. Otherwise, charge him for the cost of storage as outlined previous responses. He's trying it on.......Good luck

Chris @ Possession Friend

15:26 PM, 21st April 2020
About 5 months ago

Reply to the comment left by BB at 21/04/2020 - 14:07I'm not supposed to blatantly advertise my services here ( which is why I didn't post a link ) if you google my company name, I'm sure you'll find it.
The page gets a phenomenal number of hits., so surprised if you've google'd tenants abandoned goods - property - you didn't find it.

BB

15:53 PM, 21st April 2020
About 5 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Sue Twyford at 21/04/2020 - 15:23Yeah my thoughts exactly. I ll go with what has and hasn't happened and the logic that I have. Suggested figure for sale of said items by tenant. Suggested means to dispose of these by tenant, i.e. Refuge Centre. Suggested storage of items, left outside in the garden. No emails thus far from his "legal team". Several friends family tried contact him to purchase items.
So rather than waste any funds on Legal Advice. I shall see what Thursday brings, then remove and dispose of the discarded items. Face the consequences, if or should they arise. Safe in the knowledge I have documented proof of a figure of approx £300 he wanted.

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