Tenant surrendered tenancy but refuses to return keys until possessions collected?

by Readers Question

10:37 AM, 10th July 2017
About A year ago

Tenant surrendered tenancy but refuses to return keys until possessions collected?

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Tenant surrendered tenancy but refuses to return keys until possessions collected?

My tenant wants to cancel the contract on 3rd July, without notice said she don’t want pay anymore rent and is already £3800 in arrears.

We agreed and my tenant signed the tenancy surrender agreement, but refuse to surrender keys. She told me she will hold keys until she takes her belongings from the house and said if we changed the locks she will kick the door to open.

Am I allowed to change the locks on the house?

Where do I stand legally please?

Many thanks

Anitta



Comments

Neil Patterson

10:41 AM, 10th July 2017
About A year ago

Hi Anitta,

I am sorry to hear of your situation that is adding insult to injury.

I would say to inform her and keep her possessions in storage for collection, however I am concerned that refusal to hand the keys back and take possessions may complicate matters as the whether she has really surrendered the tenancy.

To be 100% sure I would consider taking professional advice and consider chasing for monies owed if this is still an option. Please see >> https://www.property118.com/evicting-tenants/

Ian Cognito

15:36 PM, 10th July 2017
About A year ago

Oh dear Anitta, I feel for you.

With regard to the Surrender of Tenancy Agreement, I thought I'd check the one I use as I felt sure it would mention return of keys. It doesn't.

In practice, I have only used the Agreement at the time of surrender when keys are returned.

That said, I do feel a re-wording is necessary that explicitly refers to keys having been returned. I will have a think for when I next need to use it.

Robert Mellors

17:57 PM, 10th July 2017
About A year ago

Hi Annita

Probably too late for you now, but it may help others, so here is the wording I use:

Deed of Surrender of Tenancy / Occupancy Licence

Dear Choice Housing Limited

RE (address): ………………………………………………………………………………….........................……….

I voluntarily give up my tenancy and occupation at the above address as from:
………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..
and I realise that this will also bring the tenancy to an end for any other joint tenants. I have returned (or will return without delay) all keys and copies of keys for the premises. I confirm that any and all possessions left in the property can be disposed of, and I will make no claim to them or in relation to their disposal. As no deposit has been paid, I acknowledge the receipt of £0.00 (£nil) in full and final settlement of the balance owing of any deposit paid (if applicable) and any other liabilities owed to me by the landlord.

I acknowledge that by receiving the above sum it does not prejudice or absolve me from any liability I may have to owner landlord or any third party or any action the owner landlord or third party may have against me.

I agree to indemnify the landlord against any third party claims that may arise against him or his agents from my occupation of the property, surrender of the property, or disposal of possessions left in the property. I acknowledge I was advised and given an opportunity to seek independent legal advice before signing this agreement.

Signed as a DEED:

Signed: ……….......………............................................................................................……
Print Name: ……........…......................................................………… Date: ……...................…

Witness signature: _______________________________________________________
Witness (print name): ____________________________________________________
Witness Address: _______________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
IMPORTANT NOTICE
You should seek legal advice before signing this document. If you need advice about this document and what you should do about it, take it immediately to a citizens advice bureau, a housing advice centre, a law centre or a solicitor.

darren howe

19:29 PM, 15th July 2017
About A year ago

Surely if the tenant still has possession of the keys, than the tenant hasn't surrended the tenancy as they can still enter the property. Especially if tenants possessions are still inside.

Colin McNulty

5:57 AM, 17th July 2017
About A year ago

I think you'll find that if you check your standard procedures, it's your policy to change the locks on all properties when a tenancy comes to an end, in order to protect the next tenants that move in. 🙂

Roanch 21

9:14 AM, 17th July 2017
About A year ago

Despite signing a surrender agreement her actions mean that the tenancy is still in place and she needs to pay you rent. She needs to give you VACANT POSSESSION in order to end tenancy (unless you make a separate MUTUAL agreement).

VACANT means the property has to be empty full stop. No exceptions. That means no people and no possessions and no rubbish. Vacant is very different to nearly vacant or sort of vacant.

POSSESSION means that you must be now able to use it in the way people would reasonably expect it to be used ie as a private home for you or someone else. Its not a home if someone elses stuff is there and if they still have access.

Robert Mellors

9:38 AM, 17th July 2017
About A year ago

Hi Anitta

We've not seen the document your tenant signed, but if it is a genuine surrender of the tenancy, then the tenancy has come to an end regardless of whether she has returned the keys or not, and if the tenancy has truly ended then you are entitled to change the locks, BUT you would need to make an arrangement for her to collect her possessions from wherever you choose to store them. You would need to ensure that she can contact you to arrange to collect her possessions, so you should send her written notice of your contact details (even if she already has these), and ensure that you have evidence of notifying her of this. You may also wish to put a notice on the door of the property (like the notices that bailiffs fix to re-possessed properties), but of course this may indicate to passing burglars that the house is vacant, so you have to consider whether this is appropriate or not. If the tenant's possessions have been moved into storage elsewhere, and you have notified her of this, then she has no valid reason to kick the door in and it would be a simple case of criminal damage.

If you leave her possessions in the property, then she could drag this out for many months, just not collecting her possessions, and you are thus prevented from re-letting the property. Some tenants would do this deliberately to harm you financially, some would do it because they have nowhere else to store their possessions (or no means of transport (or assistance) to move them), either way, you need her possessions out of there so that you can get the property re-let as quickly as possible.

CARIDON LANDLORD SOLUTIONS

11:36 AM, 17th July 2017
About A year ago

I would not let the tenant sign the Tenancy Surrender until her belongs are out of the property and the keys are returned to you. Technically, if she still is in possession of the keys and has her belongs in the property she has not surrended the tenancy.

If you wish to talk the situation through please feel free to contact our office and speak to a member of our friendly team,

Colin McNulty

11:47 AM, 17th July 2017
About A year ago

Reply to the comment left by "Robert Mellors" at "17/07/2017 - 09:38":

> "but of course this may indicate to passing burglars that the house is vacant"

That would help solve some of the tenant's left belongings issue! Hahaha.

Jay James

12:19 PM, 17th July 2017
About A year ago

Put all the tenants things just inside the door to make it easier for them when they collect their belongings. Put a letter to the tenant on top of their belongings briefly explaining the situation.
--
Separately, putting the notice mentioned above on the door seems like a very good idea.


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