Terrible time with council tenant and shock at how law treats landlords15:32 PM, 9th January 2019
About A week ago 40
I am a new Landlord having inherited some properties last year. I have just become accredited with the NLA, I am learning fast and hoping some of your readers will be able to give me guidance or tell me what they would do if they were in my situation.
I own a pair of semi-detached houses with an elderly Grandma living in one house and her Daughter and partner living next door. The Grandma’s health deteriorated significantly over the past few months. She had difficulty getting up and down stairs to the point where she virtually had to crawl. A Stannah Stairlift is fitted from a previous hip operation she had, it doesn’t work as it needs a new motor, but unfortunately she couldn’t afford to get it repaired. I raised my concerns with her Daughter; she too said she couldn’t afford to pay for it to be repaired. I tried to do what I could and made lots of enquiries (i.e. Adult Social Care, Charities, repair companies etc.) but didn’t get anywhere.
Last month I visited and noticed a big bruise and cut on her face, she told me she had fallen in the lounge and hit her head on the fireplace. I was extremely worried so rang the Local Authority and expressed my concerns that the broken stair lift was restricting her access and I was worried she may fall and injure herself. I insisted someone look into it and was told someone from Adult Social Care would contact her and arrange an Occupational Therapist Assessment. To my knowledge this never happened.
The Grandma previously got into difficulty with her rent so she arranged for her daughter to withdraw her HB/pension at the ATM, deposit into her own account and then send an electronic payment to me. The Daughter has a history of late and missed payments, hence she never pays the Grandma’s rent on time and I have to chase it every month. The rent was due on Friday 16th October but was not received, so the following Monday I sent a text reminder to the Daughter. She subsequently rang and told me that her mum had passed away as a result of falling down the stairs and hitting her head on a wall, she was found later that day by her Grandson.
I am extremely frustrated and upset; I know it is too late now but wondered in my capacity of Landlord is there was anything else I could have done! I would be interested to know?
To help me manage this situation and understand my rights and responsibilities I would be most grateful for any information or advice on the following points:
• Is there are any protocols/best practice that I should follow, for example; when is it deemed okay to contact the next of kin to discuss the situation further? Is it wise to grant a rent free period speeding up to move out process? I don’t want to come across as insensitive by making contact too soon!
• When and how do I ask if she had a Will? If there isn’t a Will, do I need to send papers to The Office Solicitor and Public Trustee?
• Outstanding rent – I don’t believe the Grandma will have any money in her Estate especially, if she couldn’t afford to pay for a lift repair. The Daughter has her ATM card so the account could be empty by now. If things go on for several months, how do I pursue outstanding rent if there is no money in the estate?
• On 01/10/14 I issued AST’s to both the Grandma and Daughter I also served them both with a S21 Notice at the same time, is the S21 still valid on the Grandma even though she is deceased? Would I need to serve a new S21 on the Personal Representative, if so I don’t have an EPC?
• Should I request a copy of the death certificate and Letters of Administration?
• In other situations when a tenant who lives alone dies, how long does it usually take for family members clear the house?
• I do not have deposits for the Grandma and Daughter.
• The Granddaughter and her children lived in the house as her Grandma’s guest for six months (without my permission) but moved out in July as the Grandma could no longer cope with them. I have just found out the Granddaughter is living with her mum next door (without my permission). I think she is likely to move back into the Grandma’s house and say she never moved out. Can she move back in legitimately and claim succession rights as she is a relative? Is there anything I can do to stop her moving back in?
• I have considered allowing the Granddaughter and partner to have a formal tenancy if they ask which I suspect they will, but they are both on benefits and it is unlikely they would pass credit checks or be able to provide references or make regular payments.
• The properties were bought at auction with the current occupiers as sitting tenants. The rent has not increased in 7 years and is low compared to other similar properties in the area. There is a lack of rental properties in the area so when I re-let it I will be charging more. Would this be the right time to increase the Daughter’s rent next door to match as she has much larger gardens and space?
• I would like to get a deposit from the Daughter to prevent a similar situation happening in the future. Could I serve notice on the daughter giving her plenty of time to raise a deposit but let her stay on under a new AST if she can stump up a deposit and pay an increase in rent?
• I really liked the Grandma and I will send flowers and a card to the funeral , what are your thoughts on attending the service?
I am very worried about the whole situation going forward, as it is very complicated (see my post “additional unauthorised occupants”). I contacted the NLA for advice. They gave me some advice on some legal aspects, but they couldn’t help me with managing the situation generally or answer some other questions I had, I was told to see a solicitor.
At this point I would just like to know what my options are. I apologise this is a long post, I just wanted to set the scene and give as much information as possible. If you only want to comment on one point please do, any information would be greatly appreciated however large or small.
I would like to say how I enjoy reading the articles and what an informative and great source of information Property 118 is. I would also like to thank members in advance for taking the time to read and comment on this post.
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