Tenancy ends and how to observe Covid-19 lockdown?

by Readers Question

11:17 AM, 1st April 2020
About 3 months ago

Tenancy ends and how to observe Covid-19 lockdown?

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Tenancy ends and how to observe Covid-19 lockdown?

My tenant has given her 1 months notice to end her unfurnished room tenancy on 30th April. The property is a 2 person flat-share in South London and she is currently in lockdown in Wales. I am in Gloucestershire.

I will offer to not charge rent from 1st May until I have vacant possession and she has removed her furniture, clothes and other personal possessions, but that she should still pay her share of Council Tax etc.

Questions:

1. Are checkouts/moving restricted during Covid-19 lockdown?

2. Would travelling to South London for to remove her belongings and I to do the checkout at the end of the tenancy (30th April) be “essential travel”?

3. She will need a van and probably 1 + 2 others to help remove the sofa bed, double bed, sets of drawers, other furniture, clothes etc etc. Would this breach the “no more than 2 people” Government direction?

3. Is she still liable for her 50% share of the Council Tax and gas and electricity meter standing charges until I get full vacant possession?

4. The deposit is on protection (paid by a 3rd party) with the DPS. Is this only returned , less agreed deductions, once I have full vacant possession of the room?

Many thanks

Judith



Comments

Rob Crawford

10:36 AM, 2nd April 2020
About 3 months ago

1. Guidance states moving is prohibited. So 2, 3, 4 are irrelevant. But assuming you ignore this:
2. To achieve social distancing, I suggest you let her leave and do the check out after. Is it essential- depends on interpretation of local police! Are you likely to be stopped? If not, don't worry about it.
3. Yes, but you get vacant possession on the day she checks out.
4. Return only after you both agree on any delapidations. Get a signed agreement. Process depends on whether it's a DPS "insured" or "custodial" scheme - go to their website for details.

Gunga Din

10:38 AM, 2nd April 2020
About 3 months ago

3. When she registers as living somewhere else, the LL becomes liable for the C Tax, even if her stuff is still in the flat, hasn't returned keys etc. etc.
Liability due Local Govt Act 1992 Sect. 6 is the person falling within highest level of categories:-
a) resident freeholder b) res. leaseholder c) res. statutory or secure tenant d) res. licencee) any other type of res. and f) owner.
I always argue (to Hartlepool) that the tenancy hasn't ended. In the last one, the months notice hadn't even expired, as well as no keys, and possessions still in situ. If tenant chooses to have two tenancies current simultaneously, thats their choice. Of course it doesn't get me anywhere.
4. I would think DPS would instinctively side with the tenant too. As you know, dep. has to be dealt with within 10 days of termination, and I would be arguing that vacant possession (stuff removed, keys returned etc.) starts the clock ticking.

Penny DJ

11:03 AM, 2nd April 2020
About 3 months ago

I would suggest that she can't have her cake and eat it ie keep her possessions at your flat and not pay rent whilst using the room as storage. I suggest that she ought to rent a van with another member of her current household and drive to the flat, removing her possessions without interacting with the house mate, or have the other housemate. Alternatives would be that the housemates packs up her clothes into bin bags and puts these outside at the agreed time and that the furniture is given to you or agreed to be collected and put into local storage (arranged by her).
Assuming that they are housemates and not separate flats, then the council charge would have been split between them both, so the other tenant will now have to pay 75% of the total bill with the single person discount, same for the other utilities which will revert to the remaining tenant.
With this in mind, does the other tenant wish to stay or leave? Because if they both leave, you will get vacant possession and all the bills, but you would then be able to deep clean it, take a video tour for prospective tenants and re-rent without an issue as it is an empty house and people can move in without restriction.

Paul Baldry

19:03 PM, 4th April 2020
About 3 months ago

If the tenant is still in possession of the room ie has her belonging in the property then she is liable until vacant possession is obtained.

The rest is irrelevant.

As for Gunga comment about council tax, make sure your tenancy states them at they revert to ‘contractual Periodic’ at the end and NOT ‘statutory periodic’ as the tenant will be liable to the next tent date. It’s not much but it all helps

Judith Wordsworth

12:18 PM, 6th April 2020
About 3 months ago

Many thanks all. Much appreciated.

The tenant has agreed to pay 1/2 the council tax and all utilities and services in exchange for paying her April rent in full and no rent from 1st May until she vacates her room and removes her possessions and furniture. Phew.

Gunga Din

12:34 PM, 6th April 2020
About 3 months ago

Yes a relatively good outcome if she lives up to her promise. It does illustrate once again how we LLs are held to exacting standards and levels of compliance, often on pain of disproportionate retribution, whilst we are expected to bend to accommodate those who don't think the rules apply to them.


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