Tenant seems to have done a runner – what can I do?

by Readers Question

4 weeks ago

Tenant seems to have done a runner – what can I do?

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Tenant seems to have done a runner – what can I do?

I had a tenant on a standard AST – min 6 months changing to periodic after 12 months. They appear to have left the property after 6 months without notifying the agent or returning the keys.

Agent didn’t even tell me they weren’t paying rent. First I heard of it is a demand for council tax since Feb 2017 from Council (who had just found out).

What can I do

a) to not pay 1500 council tax

b) get possession of my property and preferably some back rent.

c) Slap the agent’s wrists

d) Stop them doing it to someone else.

Thanks

Kathy



Comments

Neil Patterson

4 weeks ago

Hi Kathy,

First things first you can't assume the tenant has left or surrendered the tenancy especially as the keys have not been returned. The agents needs to track them down if possible asap.

Have they left any possessions in the property?

I have a very good article written by Tessa Shepperson which will help >> http://www.property118.com/i-think-my-tenant-has-left-can-i-change-the-locks/5736/

Annie Landlord

4 weeks ago

Presumably the council has just tracked you down as the landlord. If the tenant hasn't notified you in writing that they were ending the tenancy then the council tax debt is theirs. Don't let the council bully you! Is there an address on the AST for where the deposit should be sent at the end of the tenancy? Is there a guarantor? I don't know who your agents are, but they must be sharks if they didn't contact you after the first month's rent default. That's what you're paying them for! You could pay a tracing agent to find the tenant. I've only done that once, about 5 years ago, but it worked.

Michael Barnes

4 weeks ago

16 months without rent coming in and you did not notice?

Michael Barnes

4 weeks ago

Council should chase tenant for council tax due for the duration of the fixed term.
If it became statutory periodic, then you are responsible for paying the council if the tenant no longer lives there (but you can chase tenant for it).
If it continued as a contractual periodic, then the tenant is responsible for paying the council until the tenancy is properly ended.

Reply to the comment left by Michael Barnes at 28/06/2018 - 11:57
First off all I would contact the Local Authorities Council Tax department and advise then that your not liable for the Council Tax Bill for the period the tenant resided in the property, providing the Tenancy Agreement as evidence.
In order to advise you on regaining possession of the property I would prefer if you contact the office in order for a member of our team to go through your options.

Kathy Evans

3 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by Michael Barnes at 28/06/2018 - 11:50
My bad, Feb 2018.

Kathy Evans

3 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by CARIDON LANDLORD SOLUTIONS at 28/06/2018 - 13:46Thanks. Council contacted. Told them that in law tenant is still liable for Council tax - was told that the Council didn't go by that law (LOL!). Sent copy of AST and told it would take about 2 weeks to get a reply.
Agent tracked down tenant. Turns out that couple split up and lead tenant moved out (without giving up tenancy or telling agent) but other member of couple (also named on AST and signed AST) is still there, and is therefore liable for rent and council tax. Agent has been recommended here, but seem to have dropped the ball on this one.
Will see if Council decide that the law is relevant to them!

Robert Mellors

3 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by Kathy Evans at 28/06/2018 - 13:59
Getting a bit confused........
when did the tenancy start?
was it a 6 month AST or a 12 month AST?
was there a clause saying that the tenancy would continue after the initial term on a month by month basis, i.e. as a contractual periodic tenancy? or was the AST silent on what would happen after the initial fixed term (such that it would become a statutory periodic AST)?
you said the tenants moved out (indicating that the property was vacant), but now seem to be saying that only one of the joint tenants has moved out, and the other joint tenant is still living there. Which of these is it?

If one joint tenant moved out, but not given notice, then both tenants remain liable for the rent, and the remaining tenant becomes liable for the Council Tax.

If both joint tenants have moved out, and the property is vacant, but neither of them gave Notice, then who is liable to pay the Council Tax will depend on whether you have a "contractual" periodic tenancy, or a "statutory" periodic tenancy.

In relation to getting your property back, you will need to follow the proper procedure of serving notice on the tenants, issuing court proceedings (at your expense), and awaiting the date of the Possession as ordered by the court, (and if either tenant remains in the property at the date of possession then you will need to apply for the bailiffs and await their visit). - The whole process will take many months and cost you money at each stage, probably while you receive no rental income from the property.

As for recovering your losses (unpaid rent, damages, legal costs, etc), this will depend on whether the tenants have income or assets that could be seized. If they have income or assets then you may wish to apply (at your expense) to the court for a money judgment against them, and when they do not pay then you can apply (again at your expense) to enforce the judgment, e.g. an attachment of earning order or seizure of assets by the bailiffs.

Alternatively, (for the rent arrears etc), do you have rent guarantee insurance? - If so, check the terms and conditions and see if you can make a claim against that RGI policy.

Kathy Evans

3 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by Robert Mellors at 29/06/2018 - 00:26
Council said that tenants had moved out. Actually. only one had. AST said min 6 months, after 12 months becomes periodic. Council now say back Council tax not my responsibility but still seem to want it from August. So will have to find out what remaining tenant has said, plus start proceeding to remove of him if he doesn't pay back rent. Very difficult to find out what Council think as they have sent 4 different bills in as many days.

If there is still a tenant named on the tenancy living in the propety they are liable for the council tax assuming the tenancy agreement specifies that the tenant(s) will pay it.


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