One tenant, TWO tenancies, No rent?

by Readers Question

10:08 AM, 21st August 2020
About 4 weeks ago

One tenant, TWO tenancies, No rent?

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One tenant, TWO tenancies, No rent?

To make a long story short… Tenant of about seven years standing finally became intolerably unreliable towards the end of last year – the rent was not paid on time and in full even once in eighteen months.

We’d been as helpful as possible with offers to arrange staged payments, refunding her deposit, referring her to places where help was available (local authority grants) etc, so finally, reluctantly a section 21 notice was issued.
It matured – she didn’t move.
We got a possession order – she didn’t move.
We applied for enforcement – paid the fee and a bailiff was due to evict her on 25 March. On that day the bailiff phoned, said he wasn’t going there because of COVID-19 and that was that!

Since then, fortunately, have had some direct payment from Housing Benefit and then Universal Credit, but the payment stopped on 8 July – no payment (no notification, no contact, nothing).

We then learn that on 13 June she was given a social housing place, but she hasn’t finished emptying my property, nor returned the keys nor surrendered the tenancy.

I have taken legal advice and have been told that the tenancy therefore still exists and that I am not yet able to take possession of my own property. According to reports from neighbours, the tenant returns from time to time to collect more possessions, although it seems that the main items of furniture such as beds, white goods, sofa, chairs etc. have been removed.

The tenant is obviously living comfortably somewhere else, and getting her benefits to pay for it while using my property as a convenient storage facility. UC will not pay me any more in respect of rent, although the tenancy still exists.

As far as I know, the Bailiff is still “Working From Home” (there’s a joke) and this tenant now has TWO tenancies in her name, and, as far as I can see until this case comes to the top of a very long list of outstanding bailiff warrants I can’t have my house back, but she hasn’t even lived there since June!

There must be sense and justice in this somewhere, but I am dammed if I can see it?

Paul



Comments

Michael Holmes

11:38 AM, 21st August 2020
About 4 weeks ago

Welcome to the UK 2020, where Bedlam was a sea of sanity in comparison. Get used to it, nothing works in this country any more except Public employees wage rises and pensions.

MargaretM

12:08 PM, 21st August 2020
About 4 weeks ago

We had a similar situation a couple of years again and you can put an Abandonment Notice on the property which then allows you to change the locks if the tenant doesn't get in touch.
Like yours tenant used an Eviction Order to get a council house in December but did not vacate my property until February after all the hassle with abandonment notice.
You have to say what you are going to do with her property and I think you need to keep it for a certain period after which you can dispose of it as you see fit.
One thing she will have had to do is tell the utility companies she is a tenant elsewhere so that might help you f you can find out if she just transferred with the same company or not.

Smartermind

12:39 PM, 21st August 2020
About 4 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by MargaretM at 21/08/2020 - 12:08
If she is still the tenant and "occupier" then she is still liable for the utilities irrespective of whether she is in the premises or not.

What she won't be liable for is council tax as the council will bill the landlord as soon as she moves elsewhere. The council won't care whether the landlord has physical possession of the property or not.

Smartermind

12:41 PM, 21st August 2020
About 4 weeks ago

Not sure what the headline "one tenant, two tenancies" is meant to infer. A person can legally have as many tenancies as they wish, just like a landlord can have as many properties and "rent to rent" leases as they wish. Of course they should pay for each tenancy and can only claim for housing benefit on one.

alan thomas

12:45 PM, 21st August 2020
About 4 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by Michael Holmes at 21/08/2020 - 11:38
A tenant can only have one AST at any one time the latest being current.
Regarding the property you need to prove that you have made genuine efforts to contact the tenant telling them that their property will be disposed of if not collected by a given date. 30 days seems to be realistic.
Your legal people should know this

Paul

14:25 PM, 21st August 2020
About 4 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by Smartermind at 21/08/2020 - 12:41
I thought that for an AST to exist it had to be the tenants "main or only residence" ........ Or am I wrong ?
They can't both be that!

MargaretM

15:58 PM, 21st August 2020
About 4 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by Smartermind at 21/08/2020 - 12:39
No but I knew my tenant had gone when I got the notice from the Council that I was liable for paying so I rang and queried it as she was still arguing she lived there.
She also changed her account with the utility company to her new address so I ft confident that she had abandoned my property as her home but had simply not handed in the keys.
She actually challenged the eviction order after she had used it to get a council house and because of a technicality regarding the gas safety certificate which she had refused entry of the property to be undertaken she got the order quashed!
You couldn't make it up!

MargaretM

16:01 PM, 21st August 2020
About 4 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by Smartermind at 21/08/2020 - 12:39
I challenged the council tax bill and they accepted my version that she was still a tenant at my property so I did not have to pay until she actually handed back the keys.

Badger

17:37 PM, 21st August 2020
About 4 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by Smartermind at 21/08/2020 - 12:39
The council will usually accept a copy of the AST as evidence that the landlord is not responsible for the council tax.

Badger

17:39 PM, 21st August 2020
About 4 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by alan thomas at 21/08/2020 - 12:45
I was of the impression that 14 days was considered an adequate period.

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