Ending a tenancy and sorting out a subletting mess?Make Text Bigger
I have a property which I have had tenants in for 9 years. The rent is now well below market rent and I wish to bring the tenancy to an end, tidy the place up (if it needs it – the tenants look after it very well) and re-let. They have always paid the rent on time (apart from when they have to go away and pay 3 weeks early!!)
Anyway there are a couple of side-issues. (1) I have chosen to overlook that the tenants have always sub-let / taken lodgers. Two names on the agreement (only one of whom I ever speak to – the other may have moved out already) but 4 or 5 in the property. I always speak to and get all of the rent from the ‘lead tenant’ and know nothing about the rest (2) I need to check that the deposit is correctly protected (it is protected, but I need to check I have everything done by the book, eg related to the current lease not a previous one with the same tenant names). (3) The lead tenant has health issues and has been trying to get on housing benefit for ages (I suspect the only reason she has not moved out is that she effectively lives rent free off the rest of them). I fear she may refuse to move without a court order to maximise her chances of getting housed by the council.
And I have another big issue. I don’t live in the area where the property is and have just found out that the property is a non-mandatory HMO that should have been licenced for the last 12-18 months. I went to apply for the licence and the first thing that they want is the tenant names. I can’t lie and say the names on the AST, not least as this would mean only two occupants and I would then need planning permission to let to 3 or more (when the reality is it has been let to 3 or more for 9 years). But I can’t tell the truth as I don’t know who lives there. And I don’t much want to ask the lead tenant as this might alert her that I have plans to evict, and it would mean that my ‘turning a blind eye’ argument would be pretty weak.
What should I do and in what order?
I am seriously thinking about employing a specialist firm the the eviction in due course (any recommendations?) In the meantime I am wondering whether I can get by on advice from somewhere like here, or whether I should take legal advice (any recommendations?)
In my favour the property was refurbished in 2007 and has been very well maintained since (external repairs by me, inside the tenants have looked after it better than I look after my own home, including some re-painting which I think they have done because they fear that the more times they call me for things the more likely a rent rise will be.)
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