Evasive tenant gone AWOL

by Readers Question

6:53 AM, 16th April 2015
About 4 years ago

Evasive tenant gone AWOL

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Evasive tenant gone AWOL

I have a tenant who has left the flat without giving notice and has moved into another house in the area. This tenant has stopped paying rent and has stopped responding to phonecalls, texts etc.

I went to the property the other day to issue her with a Section 21 to end the tenancy and saw that she had changed the locks. Obviously I want to end her tenancy legally but as I have no way of contacting her and she clearly will not pick up the Section 21, which has been delivered under her door.

I would like to know what my best course of action is for such a situation.

Many thanks in advance
Alunawol



Comments

Neil Patterson

6:58 AM, 16th April 2015
About 4 years ago

Hi Alun,

Can we ask please:
Is there a deposit involved and is it protected
When is the expiry date of the AST
When did the tenant last pay their rent
When did you notice they no longer were living at the property
Does the tenant still have their belonging at the property

David Asker

10:01 AM, 16th April 2015
About 4 years ago

It may be too early to find her as it does take a little while for people to pop up on trace systems but if you want to send me the details I will happily run a free trace report.

Steve Masters

18:44 PM, 16th April 2015
About 4 years ago

When a tenant abandons a property it is a very tricky situation and the law is very slow to help you i'm afraid. I think you have three basic options:

1. The legal route. Serve the section 21 under the door, get the court order, get the bailiff or Sheriff to return possession to you legally. safe but costly.

2. The DIY route. Assess the situation and determine if you are prepared to take the risk and take matters into your own hands. Change the lock, put the possessions into storage, re let. Quick and cheap but very risky.

3. Negotiate. Trace tenants, make contact by any means possible and offer to waive all the arrears and legal fees if they hand back possession, either by signing a surrender of tenancy document or by handing you all the keys to their new locks. Worth a try and what you find out might help you to choose between options 1 and 2 if you don't succeed. Could be safe and quick.

You could also do with getting into the property to help you assess the situation. Not sure what the position is regards breaking in without they keys. Does anyone know?

Of course if you think you smelt gas or there was a water leak you would be entitled to enter without notice in an emergency, so long as you made secure afterwards.

Until the tenancy has ended you can serve all notices to the property under the door.

I believe Tessa Shepardson at LandlordLaw does an "abandonment" pack.

Try not to get too emotionally involved, it's just a business issue (all be it one you could do without)

I've just gone through a similar situation, I know how you feel, my heart goes out to you, best of luck. Steve

Joe Bloggs

9:47 AM, 17th April 2015
About 4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Steve Masters" at "16/04/2015 - 18:44":

LL does have right under landlord and tenant act 1985. this states nothing about requiring tenants agreement. here is link:

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1985/70

s.11. (3A)(6) ‘In a lease in which the lessor’s repairing covenant is implied there is also implied a covenant by the lessee that the lessor, or any person authorised by him in writing, may at reasonable times of the day and on giving 24 hours’ notice in writing to the occupier, enter the premises comprised in the lease for the purpose of viewing their condition and state of repair.’

if the tenant has changed locks and not provided a key then it will be necessary (and legal) to 'break in' in order to '...view the condition and state of repair...' after giving the requisite notice.

Tony McVey

16:59 PM, 18th April 2015
About 4 years ago

If the tenant has vacated, you can enter and re-let the property which, after all,
belongs to you. By vacating, the tenant has relinquished his rights as a tenant.
The sooner you act the better.

Steve Masters

17:30 PM, 18th April 2015
About 4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Tony McVey" at "18/04/2015 - 16:59":

If the tenant has vacated and handed back possession then Tony's advice is good. However, if the tenant is only living elsewhere, which they clearly are but has not actually handed back possession, which by the sounds of it they have not then to re-let is not without some risk. That is why I advocate contacting the tenant by any means possible and attempting to formally get back possession before re-letting. I know, I know, the law is protecting the guilty and punishing the innocent.

Tony McVey

18:05 PM, 18th April 2015
About 4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Steve Masters" at "18/04/2015 - 17:30":

A tenant cannot live in one property and be an assured shorthold tenant of another.

Steve Masters

9:03 AM, 19th April 2015
About 4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Tony McVey" at "18/04/2015 - 18:05":

Why not?

A person can live near his work during the week and and near his family and friends at the weekend.

Romain Garcin

10:19 AM, 19th April 2015
About 4 years ago

A tenant cannot have two assured shorthold tenancies (well, he can if at least one of them is a joint-tenancy, but let's ignore that).

However, that does not mean that he cannot have two tenancies.

Certainly, in itself, the fact that the tenant has moved out does not end the tenancy and thus the landlord cannot simply take possession back.

Tony McVey

14:18 PM, 19th April 2015
About 4 years ago

The tenant's leaving the property is a de facto surrender of the tenancy: you essentially
have to prove two matters. (1) Has he left? (2) Does he intend to return? Both questions
are answered evidentially. If the tenant were subsequently to sue for trespass or
wrongful eviction, how difficult would it be for the landlord to persuade the court
that he had given up the tenancy? If he has gone to live elsewhere, it would certainly
persuade the court to arrive at the obvious common sense conclusion.

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