Tenant left without notice and agents folded?

by Readers Question

10:13 AM, 4th July 2017
About A year ago

Tenant left without notice and agents folded?

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Tenant left without notice and agents folded?

I have a tenant who left in the middle of a tenancy never returned, but with all of their belongings still in the house. To add to the misery, the letting agent also folded at the same time, so we have no valid contact details of the tenants nor even the number of deposit lodged with deposit protection scheme, so we can’t start the eviction process.

We are left completely high and dry in this situation.

Not even to worry about the rent arrears, I’m really appreciate any pointers on how to regain the access of my house.

Cindy



Comments

Neil Patterson

10:22 AM, 4th July 2017
About A year ago

Hi Cindy

From an Article by The Sheriffs Office:

>> https://www.property118.com/disposing-of-goods-left-in-properties-after-eviction/83626/

In most eviction cases tenants and squatters remove everything they own from the property – and sometimes plenty of items they don’t own!

But there are instances where the occupant has disappeared and left belongings behind. So where does that leave the landlord – can he dispose of them or does he have a legal liability to look after them?

Landlord’s legal obligations

The Torts (Interference with Goods) Act 1977 makes provision for abandoned goods under S12. The goods still remain the property of the tenant (referred to as the bailor) and the landlord (referred to as an involuntary bailee) has an obligation to take care of the goods and make reasonable attempts to trace the tenant to return the goods.

Selling the goods

Under S12 of the Torts Act, if the bailor breaks an arrangement to take delivery of the goods, or the landlord/bailee is unable to trace the former tenant/bailor, then the bailee is permitted to sell the goods, provided he gives notice and has taken reasonable steps to trace the bailor.

Sale is normally by auction and the bailee is permitted to deduct from the sale proceeds costs he has incurred, for example storage and sale costs. If there are rent arrears the remaining sum may be used to offset these provided the correct procedures have been followed.

Giving notice

There is a prescribed form of notice, which must:
– Be in writing either by registered post or recorded delivery
– Specify the name and address of the bailor and give details of the goods and the address where they are held
– State that the goods are ready to be delivered to the bailor
– The place of sale and the date on or after which they will be sold, as well as which costs will be deducted from the proceeds

The notice should also be attached to the property so it can be seen.

There is no set notice period, just that it should give the bailor reasonable opportunity to take delivery of the goods. 14 days is cited by some lawyers as being appropriate. However, if the bailee wishes to demand payment for items such as sale or storage charges, then at least three months’ notice is required (schedule 1, Part II – para 6).

Neil Patterson

10:24 AM, 4th July 2017
About A year ago

I have not had anyone say the deposit has been left behind before unless there was more damage than the value of the deposit.

Was there significant damage and do you have any idea what has happened to your tenants and how long has it been?

Gary Dully

12:50 PM, 4th July 2017
About A year ago

Has the abandonment section of the Housing & Planning Act 2016 come into force yet?

If it has, you can regain possession without a court case, if you understand strategy games and can navigate a plate of spaghetti.

If not, it's a Section 8 notice, followed by a court hearing to legally end the tenancy.

Cindy Lee

13:04 PM, 4th July 2017
About A year ago

Thanks Neil and Gary for your comments. No, there hasn't been any damage at all. The tenants went back to their country a few month ago and for some legal reasons, can not return. They also had a few month rental arrears.

Mandy Thomson

16:14 PM, 4th July 2017
About A year ago

Reply to the comment left by "Cindy Lee" at "04/07/2017 - 13:04":

Hi Cindy

Is there any way of reaching the tenants via any means? If so, try to get them to sign a deed of surrender and give you authority to sell or dispose of their possessions (which for your own protection you should document and photograph as best as you can), or at least let you know who you can get in touch with to take it away.

Unfortunately, if you sell the items, the tenants are entitled to the sale proceeds, unless your tenancy agreement provides otherwise, despite rent arrears or dilapidations.

In the meanwhile, Gary is correct - issue section 8 (form 3), on grounds 8, 10 , 11 and 12 (assuming the tenants have accrued at least 2 months arrears).

If you're unsure how to proceed with this, if you join a landlord support organisation such as the NLA or RLA you will have unlimited access to advice to fill in and serve your section 8, and how to enforce it through the court after it expires.

If your tenants fail to turn up on the day of the hearing, you are likely to win your claim by default.

Cindy Lee

2:35 AM, 5th July 2017
About A year ago

Hi Mandy,

Yes, we have tried to call and email the tenants, but the phone number didn't work, and emails had no response.

Our builder gained access to the house through putting a notice at the door for a few days before going in to inspect. He found the house in reasonable conditions and lots of furniture and personal items left inside. The neighbours told him the tenants had already left so he changed the lock for the door..

I'm thinking of selling it and wondering what risks we will be exposed to in this situation. Yes, the tenant has been in arrears for quite a few months. And as we both live overseas, its really not easy for us to organise an auction of their items and etc...

Mandy Thomson

6:56 AM, 5th July 2017
About A year ago

Reply to the comment left by "Cindy Lee" at "05/07/2017 - 02:35":

If all the tenants' possessions are still in the property and you're getting no response from them, you must assume they wish to continue the tenancy until the court grants a possession order and the tenants are properly evicted by bailiffs. Unfortunately, the proposed abandonment legislation is still not law so your best route is via section 8, as previously discussed.

Cindy Lee

11:37 AM, 5th July 2017
About A year ago

Thanks Mandy, will there be a problem with using section 8 if I don't have information on initial deposit lodged?

Paul Tarry

21:37 PM, 9th July 2017
About A year ago

This is abandonment not a rent areas issue so go down the legal route for abandonment, it means you have to eventually gat Bailifs to check the property and hand it back, all can be done from abroad

The closed letting agent would have listed the deposit scheme provider on all there correspondence so you should be able to identify whom is the deposit holder and contact them, there must be an abandonment system in place, also a system for closed agents

Worry asbout goods last of all, once you get possesion you have top keep the goods for a length of time, I believe 28 days but if wrong I am sure someone will advise, it will take longer than this to sell the property, and if the properrty is sold as is, it will be the responsibility/issue for the new oeners getting rid, or benefiting from the goods left berhind

Paul Tarry

21:38 PM, 9th July 2017
About A year ago

This is abandonment not a rent areas issue so go down the legal route for abandonment, it means you have to eventually gat Bailifs to check the property and hand it back, all can be done from abroad

The closed letting agent would have listed the deposit scheme provider on all there correspondence so you should be able to identify whom is the deposit holder and contact them, there must be an abandonment system in place, also a system regarding the agents

Worry asbout goods last of all, once you get possesion you have to keep the goods for a length of time, I believe 28 days but if wrong I am sure someone will advise, it will take longer than this to sell the property, and if the properrty is sold as is, it will be the responsibility/issue for the new oeners getting rid, or benefiting from the goods left behind

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