Tenant gave us notice but now refuses to move out!

by Readers Question

12:38 PM, 19th August 2013
About 5 years ago

Tenant gave us notice but now refuses to move out!

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Tenant gave us notice but now refuses to move out!

Our tenant sent a message by text on 16 July to say she had found another property and wanted to move in about a months time. Tenant gave us notice but now refuses to move out

I started viewings on the property and the current tenant suggested a moving date of 25 August. Our new tenants were due to move in 1 September and have given notice to leave their rented property by 24 August, they then go on holiday for 1 week. I confirmed the leaving date and rent with my current tenant by letter, hand delivered and she had no issues with it.

My current tenant text yesterday to say that the new landlord is applying for a new heating system to be fitted into the house and has arranged an inspection for the proposed works for two weeks time.

My tenant won’t give me a date to move out now and said she has nowhere else to go.

My new tenant/s are at their wits end as they have nowhere else to go and and she is 4 months pregnant.

Is my only option to serve a section 21 notice and wait 8 weeks to apply for a court order???

Current tenant is on a periodic tenancy paying two weekly in arrears.

No deposit was taken as we knew the family.

I really don’t want to lose the new tenants as they are really nice.

What can I do???

I really need some advice and hope somebody here can help.

Thanks in anticipation.

Susan Owen



Comments

Mark Alexander

13:02 PM, 19th August 2013
About 5 years ago

What a horrible situation for both you and your tenants, particularly your new prospective tenants. Just shows why it is important for landlords not to sign the AST until move in day though. I feel really sorry for your prospective tenants, especially with her being pregnant.

Sadly, I think your only option is to go through standard s.21 eviction process.

Presumably you didn't serve section 21 (1) b in the first 4 months of the fixed term which I now do as standard practice - see >>> http://www.property118.com/serving-a-section-21-notice-after-tenancy-agreement-has-just-started/41878/

One to remember for next time but I appreciate it doesn't help much in these circumstances.

It doesn't help matters that the tenants notice was served by text as opposed to being served by letter either. If notice had been by letter you may have been able to use section 8 and section 21 concurrently.

Sorry, but I can't think of anything that could help, save perhaps to also serve a section 13 notice to whack up the rent liability if the tenant does hang around until bailiffs turf him/her out.
.

Susan Owen

13:34 PM, 19th August 2013
About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Mark Alexander" at "19/08/2013 - 13:02":

Thanks Mark,
I had never thought of serving a section 21 as I have never come across this situation before. We always look for long term tenants and assumed you only do this when things go wrong!
This has certainly been a learning curve for us and I am quite sure that the current tenant wants to move, it is just a question of 'how long'.

Mark Alexander

13:43 PM, 19th August 2013
About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Susan Owen" at "19/08/2013 - 13:34":

Hi Susan

I always look for long term tenants too. I even give them a Deed of assurance which effectively is a legal document which says that if I evict them through no fault of their own I will pay them compensation. That way they know I am putting my money where my mouth is. Most landlords give promises which some tenants have subsequently found to be completely hollow. See >>> http://www.property118.com/the-private-rented-sector-evolution-deed-of-assurance/40949/ What I don't do, as I think it's bad for me and my tenants, is to commit to a long term tenancy agreement.

I always serve section 21 (1) b early into the relationship whilst fully explaining to my tenants why I do it. The Deed of Assurance is a great comforter to tenants who want some financially backed reassurance that they are not going to have to change their kids school, fund the costs of moving and deal with all of the hassle associated with redirecting mail and changing their address through no fault of their own.
.

Ian Ringrose

17:04 PM, 19th August 2013
About 5 years ago

Puzzler

17:18 PM, 19th August 2013
About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Mark Alexander" at "19/08/2013 - 13:02":

I am a bit at a loss to understand why you automatically apply a Section 21 to all tenants. are you not hoping they will stay long term? Or do you privately tell them that it is just a precaution?

Mark Alexander

17:19 PM, 19th August 2013
About 5 years ago

Hi Ian

I have read Tessa's blog and the situation and advice are similar but not identical in that a text message from the tenant is not proper service of notice to vacate in the eyes of the law and that's what makes this particular scenario so awkward.
.

Mark Alexander

17:31 PM, 19th August 2013
About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Puzzler " at "19/08/2013 - 17:18":

Hi Puzzler

You might look my approach to this as both a carrot and a stick.

Yes, the section 21 (1) b is a precautionary method for me and can be unsettling to tenants when I tell them why I do this, which incidentally is before I agree to a tenancy. For the avoidance of doubt, I tell them before I offer a tenancy, I do not serve until the tenancy is signed, the deposit is protected and the deposit protection certificate and prescribed information are served.

The flip side of the coin is that I also offer them a very big juicy carrot to be model tenants by offering them a Deed of Assurance which states that if I bring possession proceedings against them through no fault of their own I will pay compensation. See >>> http://www.property118.com/the-private-rented-sector-evolution-deed-of-assurance/40949/
.

Susan Owen

18:31 PM, 19th August 2013
About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Mark Alexander" at "19/08/2013 - 17:19":

Does it make any difference that the current tenant was also present at the viewing and she was the one who suggested the moving date to us all? That is why I followed it up in writing to her. It is certainly a hard lesson. I have arranged for a S21 to be served.

Susan Owen

18:39 PM, 19th August 2013
About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Ian Ringrose" at "19/08/2013 - 17:04":

Thanks Ian, unfortunately I doubt if I would ever get extra rent as I don't think the tenant could afford to do it. I just want the property back without any damage and would like to part on reasonable terms. So glad I didn't sign the other couple up yet, just gave them a copy of the agreement to read before signing.

David Sweeney

18:57 PM, 19th August 2013
About 5 years ago

Your biggest problem centres on the validity of the notice. It is possible for invalid notice to be accepted by the landlord and therefore become 'valid' but your actions contribute to that acceptance. I think showing prospective tenants around the property with the current tenants co-operation would be enough to convince a court that the notice was accepted by you before the tenants withdrawal, and once accepted, it can not be withdrawn by the tenant even with your co-operation (you can issue a new tenancy, but that one ends at notice expiry date).

Once the notice expires, the tenancy ends. Full stop. You then have 2 choices. You can either give the tenant a new tenancy (and this can be done accidentally) or you can treat them as a trespasser and apply to the court for possession. Section 8 & 21 no longer apply, these aren't any type of tenant, let alone tenants covered by the 1988 Act.

An application to the court would result in an early court hearing (iirc within 8 days of application) and immediate possession should be granted. Bailiffs anecdotally deal with these much quicker than regular residential possession so it is realistically possible to have your property back within 3 weeks of the notice date.

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