Property sale – tenant has moved out and not returned keys?

by Readers Question

2 months ago

Property sale – tenant has moved out and not returned keys?

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Property sale – tenant has moved out and not returned keys?

My tenant was given 2 months notice when the house was put on the market (1 yr ago) but allowed to stay on a month-by-month basis until sale of the property or she found a Council house.

A sale was agreed in October (over 4 months ago) and she was notified. So since then it has been delay after delay in her moving out, her harassing the buyers (who live in the next street) but finally the moving van arrived Monday and she was supposed to return the keys to the estate agent/letting agents Wednesday, but of course, she hasn’t.

She cannot be reached on the phone, hasn’t asked after her bond and of course we haven’t been able to check the property without the keys.

We’re very sure that she is not there and that she has removed her things.

So can we now change the locks to gain access to the property and get on with the sale which has been delayed by 4 months!

Many thanks

Becca



Comments

Neil Patterson

2 months ago

Hi Becca.

You cannot assume the tenant has moved out after such a short period and gain possession so please do nit do anything to make the situation worse. Also if you are using a form 6A for two months notice it is not intended to be used as an open ended rolling notice period.

It very much sound like you are going to face difficulties with this eviction and I would 100% recommend using professionals to save time and money and a possible lost sale.

Please see our tenant eviction page and help request contact form >> https://www.property118.com/evicting-tenants/

Also Tessa Shepperson's series of articles from Landlord Law:

Five Warnings for 2018 – #4 Pre-October 2015 Tenancies >> https://www.property118.com/five-warnings-2018-4-pre-october-2015-tenancies/

How to stop evictions going wrong >> https://www.property118.com/stop-evictions-going-wrong/

>> https://www.property118.com/section-21-time-limits-forms-retaliatory-eviction/

>> https://www.property118.com/looking-section-21/

Luke P

2 months ago

When did they sign their tenancy agreement?

Without all the details, you need to be prepared for around a nine month eviction process...especially if you have made rookie mistakes.

Adrian Jones

2 months ago

Do you or your agents have a set of keys?

Robert Mellors

2 months ago

Are you sure she has moved out? Apart from seeing a moving van, what other evidence do you have of her moving out? Has the agent been to check the property (from the outside)? Have the curtains been taken down? Can you see that the property is empty? Do you know where she has moved to?

There is a procedure for abandoned properties that could be used, it still takes about 4 months but at least it could save you the cost and hassle of court proceedings. We have just put this process into a flowchart, (but not had it verified by a solicitor), but even with that simplification you still have to make sure that all the notices and timings are correct.

If you are certain that the tenant has moved out, and have clear evidence backing up this belief, then that could be a possible defence in the unlikely event of subsequently being accused of unlawful eviction, e.g. if you now changed the locks, but as with any legal advice you should check with a qualified solicitor (I am not a qualified solicitor, so my comments are only my personal opinions).

Michael Barnes

2 months ago

You are entitled to enter the property for inspection, having given 24 hours notice.
You can hand-deliver such notice, and should take a witness (or get the agent to do this).
If the tenancy started before 1 October 2015, then you can take action, based on the S21 notice you have already served, until 30 September 2018 (according to https://www.property118.com/five-warnings-2018-4-pre-october-2015-tenancies/)

Tim Hill

2 months ago

Is your agent Propertymark Protected (either ARLA or NAEA) ? If so they have access to a legal helpline, which they could utilise on your behalf to get professional legal advice on tackling these sorts of situations. If you are at all unsure, it is always worth checking. There are other industry groups your agent may belong to that offer similar services....

Adrian Jones

2 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Tim Hill at 13/03/2018 - 14:30
Moving away a little, does anyone know any companies who offers a legal insurance for a small portfolio of properties?

Michael Tucker

2 months ago

If theTenant has moved out and they have informed the local authorities council tax department about their move, you or your agent will be sent a bill to let you know that you are now responsible for paying the council tax. As council tax as most will know, is paid from day one after the tenant has notified the council that they are moving out. If they have not informed the local authority they will of course be responsible for paying the council tax.
You could also speak to the local authority and ask if your tenant has given notice, no one would want to be responsible for payment of council tax on a property, where they are not residing.


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