Tenant charged with Arson?

Tenant charged with Arson?

11:28 AM, 14th April 2021, About 2 months ago 21

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Well over the years I’ve come across a lot of things while managing properties, but this is in a different league, and one I have no experience in, so any advice greatly appreciated.

We let a property to a sole tenant last year, all checks done, guarantor in place, first few months rent was a late, but then he caught up, the last property inspection we did the house was fine.

Then we had a call to say the police had been called, windows smashed, then attempted robbery, then the BIG shock, just before Christmas, the fire brigade had attended and the house has had a fire and has been completely gutted.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, this was all done by the tenant (god knows why), he’s been charged and remanded, and he’s pleaded guilty.

Is there ANYONE out there that’s come across this?

I can’t contact the tenant to end his tenancy, do I still have to go down the court route? I have spoken to NRLA and they have said it would be a section 8 on various grounds, but that still means court fees that we will have to pay, under the circumstances it seems mad? … any advice would be appreciated.

Julie



Comments

by Steve Masters

9:31 AM, 15th April 2021, About 2 months ago

Oh dear Julie, that sounds very bad luck.
I have had a fire and I have also had a tenant arrested!
Try and get the property officially declared uninhabitable and then lock it up to keep it safe until repairs can begin. Your ability to fulfill the tenancy agreement will have been "frustrated" by the fire, not your fault. Then engage an eviction specialist to trace and service notice on the tenant in custody (I think by a "process server") to officially end the tenancy.

You definitely need an eviction specialist, I have used and can recommend Landlord Action. Others brands are available.

It will cost you, adding insult to injury, but it is still the best way to go.

by Chris Clare

9:58 AM, 15th April 2021, About 2 months ago

Hi Julie

Really sorry to hear your plight I really feel for you.

I had a slightly different situation, many years ago my tenant who was absolutely perfect, never missed a payment improved the property and the neighbours loved him. However he was caught driving a van with drugs in it so he was sent to prison for 10 years.

I, like you did not want to send good money after bad, so wrote to him in prison asking very politely to formally surrender the lease. He did and that was it.

Whilst the advice from Steve is absolutely correct, I would take a moment first to try and get the tenant to surrender, at least that way it is free and you never know, it may work.

by Julie Dawson

10:15 AM, 15th April 2021, About 2 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Chris Clare at 15/04/2021 - 09:58
Hi Chris, I will try this, I know which prison he is in, is it as simple as just sending a letter addressed to him ?

by Steve Masters

10:24 AM, 15th April 2021, About 2 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Julie Dawson at 15/04/2021 - 10:15
As your letter to request surrender is informal then the way it is delivered is of little consequence, so long as it is delivered and he gets it. With any luck he will know he has done wrong and the continuation of his tenancy is unsustainable and he will comply.

If you need to serve official notice on him, say S8 or S21, that is best delivered by a process server.

by Sarah Bryden-Bradley

10:26 AM, 15th April 2021, About 2 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Julie Dawson at 15/04/2021 - 10:15
Julie, make it as easy as possible for him to reply, perhaps by enclosing a pre completed pro-forma for him to sign but certainly include stamped addressed envelope.

by reader

10:29 AM, 15th April 2021, About 2 months ago

Dear Julie,
Been here in 2019! Resulted in a bueatiful rebuild had great and expensive insurance with the NFU worth every penny...... be positive.
Find yourself a good property solicitor who will be able to advise you on how the law of frustation applys to leases including short leases of less than two years. Hey presto, your tenancy tremination problemms will be immediately solved. That is as far as I can assist you on the matter.
Good luck.

by Neil P

10:30 AM, 15th April 2021, About 2 months ago

Getting him to surrender is by far the best way forward in my experience. I had a tenant who went to jail for burglary - he was inside about 8 months. He wouldn't surrender the lease but I had a letter from UC saying they'd pay his HB for a max 6 months, so I was relatively relaxed - only 2 months to write off. He was released and moved back in but paid zero rent. Worse, UC reneged on the 6 months promise and after months of chasing to get the £3k+ arrears, they said case closed. And I can't find out how to appeal (the UC 6-month letter is proof they owe me). So I had no choice but to go to court to evict him - which took ages and cost a fortune. He left the place is a right state which cost a second fortune to put right. Somebody told me once that the most protected species on the planet is the tenant! BTW, anyone know how to appeal/complain to UC? I was told I had to contact my local Job Centre and get a form sent out - but surely that can't be right?! Good luck Julie - I hope your arsonist friend sees sense and doesn't add insult to injury.

by Paul Maguire

10:31 AM, 15th April 2021, About 2 months ago

I had an old cottage in the country burnt out by the new tenant [of 10 days] who tried to add a gallon of petrol to the fire in the fireplace. The smoke damage alone was enough to make it uninhabitable [respiratory disease etc], let alone the dubious state of the whole structure. I certainly never considered eviction protocol as it was obvious that his actions had caused him to abandon the property himself. Landlord's insurance covered the repairs and loss of rent and had to be up to modern Building Standards so had huge improvements. Rewired, replumbed, better insulated and also allowed some changes to the layout inside to make the accommodation more practical. The end result was well worth the 15 months of stress whilst it was repaired.

by Mark Weedon

10:49 AM, 15th April 2021, About 2 months ago

Dependent on the fire damage it is likely the repairs will take 6 months plus in which time if you are insured correctly then the insurers will pay the loss of rent so it will only be the court fees you will need to pay. I would expect in view of the circumstances you would qualify for the accelerated court process.
Good luck.

by LordOf TheManor

11:12 AM, 15th April 2021, About 2 months ago

Hi Julie

Oh, what an awful situation!

Following up on Reader's post above, I found this article written last year:
https://hallellis.co.uk/frustration-legal-contracts/
It looks like it applies to the situation you find yourself in.... read through to 'Destruction of subject matter of the contract' - I think that covers it.

In assessing housing need, Councils say they exclude help to people who have 'made themselves intentionally homeless'. Your tenant did exactly that!

If the tenant doesn't relinquish the tenancy after writing to him, I'd pursue the 'frustration of contracts' route. You can't have him back! What if you refurbished the place, had to let him back in and he burnt it down again? That perpetual risk has to be reason enough to conclude the current contract. It just isn't workable!

Please post again and let us know how it goes. Thanks and good luck.

Lord

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