Landlord and Ex Partner Holding My Possessions Hostage

by Mark Alexander

4 years ago

Landlord and Ex Partner Holding My Possessions Hostage

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Landlord and Ex Partner Holding My Possessions Hostage

When landlords fall on hard times …. Steve is that landlord and has submitted this cry for help. I have no idea what to advise him so I’m hoping others here will be able to point him in the right direction. The remainder of this article is Steve’s own words ….

I have recently been evicted from a privately rented property for rent arrears, which I acknowledge and admit. Landlord and Ex Partner Holding My Possessions Hostage

During the whole period of the tenancy there was constant harassment, threats and intimidation from both the landlord and his wife, even before the rent arrears. These people lived next door but one to us and the police were called on many occasions because of their behaviour.

The eviction took place when I was away from the property, the gas and water was also disconnected. The police were called but were not interested. The utility companies were called but amazingly would not turn the services back on. I am now forced to live elsewhere, in the car at the moment!

Meanwhile, my now ex partner, by crying and begging has made her peace with the landlord and he has given her a new tenancy agreement, even though she has no visible means of paying. Having taken his side she now refuses to let me have my furniture, TV and other personal possessions which are still in the property, even though at the time of my eviction she had literally lived in the house for only 24 hours! We had lived together in Spain in the previous two years but she had to leave that house when it was repossessed because she had not paid the mortgage for 5 years. At the same time my former landlord has removed my clothing from the house and is refusing to let me have it unless I settle the CCJ he has for the rent arrears in the amount of £2,750 (the clothing is worth much more than that).

The reason for the rent arrears is that my own property business (24 properties) is in administration. I have always assured the landlord he will be paid when the process is settled but it is taking (has taken) much longer than anticipated. I am assured there WILL be a surplus as the assets greatly outweigh the liabilities and the difficulties were caused by cashflow problems at the height of the credit crunch some years ago when the banks withdrew funding and we never recovered from it.

Anyway, the point of the story is that both of these people are holding my things illegally and I want them back. I have contacted the police who say they can’t help and I can’t afford a solicitor at the moment.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

NOTE TO MARK ALEXANDER

Mark I would sincerely love to make a financial contribution to your website but the truth is at the moment that because of this situation I am literally living in the back of my car with my dog and the clothes I stand up in.

I doubt you will remember but we actually met many years ago. I attended one of your seminars when I was looking at investing in property, which I actually did in a small way, just 24 BTL’s, now part of my administration. Anyway, you happened to sit next to me and humorously complemented me on my watch (a blue on blue bi-metal Rolex Submariner). I say humorously because you happened to be wearing the same watch and I returned the complement. I am glad things seem to have worked out better for you than they have for me at the moment. Any help or advice you can offer would be hugely appreciated. Part of the problem I have is that I have been to the police but they say they can not help as it is a civil matter and I can not get legal aid for a solicitor to help in this matter and of course I can’t afford to pay. Have a great weekend.

Ward regards

Steve



Comments

Linda Price

4 years ago

Hi Steve,

There but for the grace of god ........

I really hope things start to get better for you, but it's a sign of the times that the police are just not interested in so many things they should be.

If you are going through such hard times, aren't you entitled to housing benefit? What area are you in? If it's our way - South Wales - perhaps we could help with a roof over your head?

Good luck any way

Robert Mellors

4 years ago

Hi Steve, there are loads of things that could have been done at an earlier stage, but now it is much more limited.

If someone is holding your possessions and refusing to give them back to you, this is a criminal act of theft, and it can be reported to the police as such, (unless you have agreed that your goods can be seized in the event of rent arrears, or they were seized by bailiffs by due process of the law). If not lawfully seized, then insist on filing a police report, and getting a crime reference number. - If the police refuse to act on your report of theft, then you can make a complaint to the police authorities. The local police station should give you details of how to make a formal complaint.

As to the value of the seized items, they are only worth a very small fraction of what you may have paid for them, so it is unlikely that the secondhand value of your clothes is far more than the debt owed.

In relation to the CCJ, you can make an application to the court to vary the payment terms. Your local court can give you the forms for this, or you can do it online, but I would strongly urge you to visit your local Citizens Advice Bureau(CAB) and get some help with this, as you may also be able to claim a fee exemption.

I presume you are now claiming welfare benefits? If not, then get some advice about what you do or don't qualify for, and ask the CAB to help you submit a claim if you need to.

The CAB, Payplan, or National Debtline, will all help you to manage your personal debts and do not charge for their services. Do not go to a fee charging debt service. The is also a Business Debtline, that will be able to offer advice and assistance with dealing with your business debts.

I presume you have already sold your Rolex and anything else of value to pay off the debt, but if not then this should be considered, BUT it is very important that you take advice about this because paying one debt but not another may show a"preference" which could cause you problems later on, e.g. if going bankrupt.

You have said that your property business is in Administration but there will be a surplus to pay off your debts. This seems a bit strange as the purpose of Administration is to save the company and allow it to continue trading if possible, and only if this is not possible would the company then be wound up and the assets sold to pay off the company debts. I would suggest that you try to clarify this situation with the Insolvency Practitioner that is dealing with the Administration....... again, Business Debtline may be able to assist with this.

If you have any personal insurance, or business insurance, or are in a union, or are a member of a landlord association, then you may be entitled to free legal help, so I would suggest you check your various policies or memberships to see whether this applies. Whether it does or doesn't apply, you should still seek help from your local advice agencies, but as many are run by volunteers then there could be a wide variety of expertise, i.e. some advisers will be better able to help than other advisers.

Mandy Thomson

4 years ago

I'm really sorry to hear about this, but unfortunately, this is much more common than you might think - I know of at least one other landlord that this sort of thing has happened to, who went through some very hard times after having problem tenants. When landlords get into this kind of trouble, the fact that we own property in our names often means we can't get state help, even though, ironically, we can't live in or benefit from it.

However, in your case, you say your property business is in administration, so I take it the properties were owned by a company, and not by yourself personally? As you're probably already aware, this means the equity in those properties shouldn't stand in your way to claim means tested benefits (income based Jobseekers Allowance or JSAi which would automatically qualify you for Local Housing Allowance or LHA) - you can't normally claim this if you have assets over £16,000, but you can claim on a temporary basis while you wait for the disposal of those assets. You can also claim another type of JSA, contribution based, which isn't means tested, but you can only get it for 6 months, and then only if you've paid enough national insurance within the previous 2 years.

Assuming you don't live in London, or another expensive area, this site might be use for finding accommodation: http://www.dssmove.co.uk (it does cover London, but I doubt you would get enough LHA and there's an enormous demand). Otherwise, there are of course sites such as Gumtree, but whichever means you choose, watch out for rogue landlords.

As for getting back your property from your previous landlords, you shouldn't need a solicitor and although you don't say how much your property is worth, if it's under £10,000, you can pursue a claim through the small claims court - however, there is a fee to pay, but you can make a claim for up to 6 years.

I would also suggest you phone Citizen Advice http://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/index/getadvice.htm about any of these matters, and any others you're concerned about.

I hope you get this sorted out soon, and if it helps, I know of other people who've been in a similar situation but managed to get their lives back together - albeit it's made them much less trusting!

Robert Mellors

4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Mandy Thomson" at "12/09/2014 - 22:04":

Hi Mandy

Just to clarify your point about Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) and other means tested benefits (including Housing Benefit), you CAN claim these even if you have assets over £16k providing that those assets are being used as part of an ongoing business (including sole trader businesses, and of course private landlords). It may or may not apply in Steve's case as we don't know how the assets are held or even if they are held in his personal or company name.

Mandy Thomson

4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Robert Mellors" at "12/09/2014 - 22:11":

Hi Robert,

I've heard of someone winning a benefit tribunal appeal on the basis you state, where his claim was initially refused because he owned property in his own name, but having said that, a tribunal decision doesn't set a legal precedent in same way as case law and a financial advisor once told me that I would better to put my property into a limited company rather than hold it in my name for this reason.

Anthony Endsor

4 years ago

Some good advice given here, though I would just pick up on the advice regarding the Small Claims Court. Don't forget, the reason the Landlord is holding the goods is because of Rent Arrears, and he would simply defend the claim based on that, or quite likely even make a counter claim.
With regards the furniture and possessions your ex partner is holding, I cannot see any legal, legitimate reason why she should hold on to them, and in this case you do need advice from CAB.
I hope you get this sorted soon Steve. All the best.

Mandy Thomson

4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Anthony Endsor" at "12/09/2014 - 22:45":

Hi Anthony

Even though Steve owes his landlords rent, and has had a CCJ put against his name for this, still doesn't entitle them to hold his possessions - this is completely illegal, unless, as another post mentioned, the court had decreed that this property should be seized to pay the debt.

Dr Rosalind Beck

4 years ago

We had a tenant, who by the time we evicted her, owed us £2,500 and it turns out she was a serial tenant from hell and had done this many times. She was very vain - thought she was completely gorgeous - and spent a fortune on clothes (plus fags, booze and a flash 'phone) - anyway, getting to the point now - we read up on all this and discovered that bailiffs aren't allowed to take clothes. I think they couldn't even take other 'essentials' like the TV... or it might just have been white goods. Basically, there were so many things we weren't allowed to take to offset the debt, that we never recovered a penny. So, I can't see how this landlord can keep your clothes.

Robert Mellors

4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Mandy Thomson" at "12/09/2014 - 22:36":

Hi Mandy

I have worked as a benefits caseworker in the past and won many cases that on the face of it look unwinnable, and I had a case like this, and although it took 9 months of arguing the case with the council, I eventually got them to concede and pay 9 months of backdated Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit. I can't remember exactly which legislation I quoted to them, but I tend to start with the current "Guide to Housing Benefit and Council Tax Rebates" textbook (recommended for all landlords dealing with DSS tenants), and then follow this up with reference to actual legislation or caselaw if necessary (most can be found with a Google search).

Financial Advisors know nothing about welfare benefits, it's an alien world to them so they just err on the side of caution. Mind you, wasn't it them (or their ilk) that caused the housing market crash, so perhaps they should be erring on the side of caution. (no offence to the few good FAs out there).

Robert Mellors

4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Rosalind Beck" at "12/09/2014 - 23:27":

Hi Rosalind

Yes, you are right, even bailiffs cannot seize "essentials", which would include most clothes (and yes, I think they even consider a TV as an "essential" now), so unless the debtor has items of value, or a vehicle, then it is pretty much a waste of time getting bailiffs in to seize possessions. If tenant is working, then an attachment of earnings is a better option.

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