The Police and Council have moved my tenant without telling me?

by Readers Question

A week ago

The Police and Council have moved my tenant without telling me?

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The Police and Council have moved my tenant without telling me?

Hi, Can anybody help me? About 4 months ago my tenant rang me to ask if I had any other properties available that she, and her family, could move into asap.

Apparently “some bad lads” had threatened her partner and they needed to get away immediately.

I told her that, unfortunately, I had no vacant properties. I advised her to inform both the Police and the Council about her situation, which she said she had already done.

About a week or so later she texted me to say that everything was Ok and sorted.

Then, about 3 weeks ago, I get a call from the Council asking whether or not the Tenancy Agreement was still valid. I asked why it wouldn’t be as the tenants were still living there. The lady apologised for being the bearer of bad news, but the tenants had moved out about a month ago on the advice of the Police.

Then I get payment for the rent of one week instead of one month which, of course, I query with Housing Benefits. It transpires that they knew that the tenants had moved (change of circumstances).

So the Police and the Council have moved my tenant but nobody bothered to inform me.

I have tried to contact the tenants and their relatives with no success.

As of the 19th November the tenants will be 8 weeks in arrears so what is my position on repossessing the property. As far as I know, the property has been left unoccupied and vulnerable to squatters and/or vandals for over 3 months.

Thanks

Frank

Comments

Neil Patterson

A week ago

Hi Frank,
I am assuming you have not had the keys returned?
Do you know if there are any possessions left at the property?

The problem is we don't even have confirmation from the tenant that they have surrendered the tenancy.

Have you had written confirmation from the Council or Police that the tenant has moved out ie surrendered tenancy on a permanent basis?

Gary Dully

A week ago

This is called Abandonment.

If the property is in England, there was legislation passed to deal with it - see
http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2016/22/part/3/enacted

If the property is not in England, there is only a repossession order route in Wales.

In Scotland, I ain’t got a clue.

If you don’t do it properly, the Tenant can come back at any time and claim their home back.

Frank

A week ago

Reply to the comment left by Neil Patterson at 13/11/2017 - 16:20
Hi Neil
The only letter I received was from the Council confirming that Housing Benefits were suspended until further notice.
It would appear, though, that I've got confused over the dates. It actually started 2 months ago not 4 months. It just seems to have been going on much longer.
I have managed to find another mobile number for the tenant so I will try and contact them using that.
Would it be ok if I could get them to confirm that they have abandoned the property via text ?

Frank

A week ago

Reply to the comment left by Gary Dully at 14/11/2017 - 01:22
Hi Gary
Thanks for the link. The property is in Hull so I'll have a good read of this.
I've just heard that ( I don't know if it's true) he was arrested for dealing drugs and she did a runner with the kids, presumably to get away from the "bad lads".

Luke P

A week ago

Reply to the comment left by Frank Carlin at 14/11/2017 - 07:50
If it's in Hull, Frank then get in touch with Danny at HLA. They'll be able to help.

Ray Davison

A week ago

Reply to the comment left by Gary Dully at 14/11/2017 - 01:22
Gary, I knew something had been introduced but had never read it until now (I have had no need to) so thanks for the link.. What a convoluted mess the timing of the warning notices is, I'm trying to get my head around it and I think I need to draw out a timeline to do so! However regarding HOW you must deliver the notices, in section 61(3) do you know if you must deliver the notices using ALL of the methods shown in sub para's (a, (b), (c) and (d)?

Neil Patterson

A week ago

Reply to the comment left by Frank Carlin at 14/11/2017 - 07:46
Please see full article from Tessa Shepperson of Landlord Law

>> https://www.property118.com/i-think-my-tenant-has-left-can-i-change-the-locks/

"The doctrine of implied surrender

The legal justification for repossessing a property in the absence of the tenant is that you are accepting what we lawyers call an ‘implied surrender’. This is when the conduct of the tenant is inconsistent with an intention to continue with the tenancy. You can then accept this implied surrender offer by re-entering the property and changing the locks, and this then ends the tenancy.

The best and clearest example if this is if the tenant stops paying rent, moves out all his possessions, and leaves the keys behind. Giving up the keys is considered to be a symbol of giving up possession. So if you have a situation where they have been left behind you are generally safe to repossess – so long as the tenant has actually moved out, and has not just left them behind by mistake while popping out to the shops!

However, if the keys have not been left behind, particularly if some of the tenant’s possessions are still there, you should back out of the property (assuming you have entered with your keys and an independent witness, to check the situation) and obtain a court order for possession.

Obtaining a court order for possession is the ONLY 100% safe way to repossess a property with no risk of any claim for compensation for unlawful eviction. Anything else is a risk. You may consider that it is a risk worth taking, particularly if the tenant is in serious arrears of rent. However it IS a risk and any solicitor you consult will advise you to go to court.

What if you have no keys or way of checking? For example if the flat is on the sixth floor and you cannot peer through the windows? Then your only option is the court order for possession.

The abandonment notice myth

“But” you are probably saying, “Why don’t you just put an abandonment notice up on the door?” “Because” my answer would be “they are nonsense”.

When I first started working in property law, I had never heard of an abandonment notice. They are in none of the legal text books. They are a myth perpetrated by landlords and agents who don’t want to go to court. But they do not, and cannot have any legal efficacy.

Here’s why:

If the tenant has given up and gone, if there is a genuine situation of implied surrender, you do not need to put any notice on the door. You can just go in and change the locks, now, entirely legally.
If, on the other hand, it is not an implied surrender situation, if the tenant is say, merely staying longer than expected with her Great Aunt Mary (perhaps GA Mary has fallen sick, and she is staying to nurse her), then you have no right to go in and change the locks. Any attempt by you to do so will certainly be unlawful eviction which is both a criminal offence and (as we have seen above) a civil wrong entitling the tenant to bring a claim for compensation."

Ray Davison

A week ago

Reply to the comment left by Neil Patterson at 14/11/2017 - 11:56
Neil, That article by Tessa was written seven years ago and whilst still relevant to a degree has at least in part been corrected and superseded by the Abandonment legislation linked to by Gary above.

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