Unwanted tenant – can I turn of electricity and gas?

by Readers Question

8:22 AM, 31st January 2017
About 2 years ago

Unwanted tenant – can I turn of electricity and gas?

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Unwanted tenant – can I turn of electricity and gas?

I have a tenant who has been served a section 21 at end October ’16 (contract expired 31/12/16) but still refuses to budge.turn off

My landlord Gas Certificate (CP12) expires shortly.

Obviously without a landlords gas certificate, if the boiler is continued to be used, I’m in deep trouble if anything were to happen (CO poisoning etc)

But this tenant is several months behind with rent with no expectation of any change.

Can I protect myself by disconnecting the electrical connection – making the boiler unusable, no hot water, no central heating – may just prompt some movement.

Or should I have the gas supply interrupted at meter?

Or will I become open to prosecution for not maintaining the property?

Rgds

Mark



Comments

Dr Rosalind Beck

9:41 AM, 31st January 2017
About 2 years ago

Hi Mark. All of what you suggest is completely illegal. Even when the tenant is a complete tw*t, you must behave impeccably yourself and treat them like they are a wonderful, deserving member of the community. If they ask you to fix something, even whilst paying no rent and possibly wrecking your house, you must race around to keep everything marvellous. You will still, of course, be a greedy, evil landlord.

Gary Dully

10:10 AM, 31st January 2017
About 2 years ago

1. Get the gas safety done, when due.
Issue warning letter for arrears and a final notice letter together with a notice seeking repossession (section 8 notice on grounds 8,10 &11)
2. Do not disconnect any service or face going to prison and getting on a rogue landlord database for criminal activity.
3. Issue a section 21 notice as backup.
4. Issue court proceedings as soon as Section 8 matures against tenant and guarantor if you have one.
5. Get a court order for possession and arrears
6. On tenant not complying with court order get a warrant for possession enforced by a bailiff or High Court Enforcement Officer through the High Court.

Timespan = about 3-5 months. How much in lost rent?

(That's the legal route) vs

The route that some tenants seem to request in Birkenhead or Rhyl, with a drug user or benefit cheat.

Why not offer to pay towards tenants "moving expenses" , after they sign a tenancy surrender document, stating the tenant is aware that they don't have to surrender, but after considering their legal options contained in their tenancy agreement, and notice seeking repossession, a copy of which they have previously been given, have chosen to surrender their tenancy anyway and leave with a helpful half a months rent towards their "Moving Expenses"? (Verbal / in a quiet secluded space / with no witnesses to maintain landlord/tenant confidentiality ), at the offer stage.

The VERBAL offer stands for 4 days.

1-2 days later, when the next 'fix' is due, you will get a phone call.
(You have no idea why, but thank them for being so helpful and considerate in wanting to end the problem and you would be delighted to help them with their moving expenses and rubbish clearance.)

Draft that surrender document very carefully, stating that you are helping with their moving expenses and will happily dispose of all their unwanted furniture at zero cost to the tenant.

More formal with a witness, when signing the surrender document.

Get the keys, signature, change the locks and frame that surrender document.

If that doesn't work, just take them to court.

Thom Hill

11:28 AM, 31st January 2017
About 2 years ago

As the s21 notice presumably expired a month ago, you really ought to have started possession action by now. You should get on with that immediately. Assuming you have followed all the right rules, you would be entitled to possession once the court processes are followed.

It's worth bearing in mind that the s21 notice itself doesn't have any legal effect - it's just a precursor to court action. Your tenant need not leave just because your notice has expired and given that he has not already left, it does not look like he is going to. Also, s21 now has a deadline so if you don't issue proceedings by the end of April, the notice will be completely invalid and you will have to start again.

Until the court processes are followed, the tenant is still a tenant still has all of their rights and you still have to follow the law. Attempting to force your tenant out of the property by cutting off his heating in the middle of winter is not going to go down well with the powers that be. Its likely to be viewed, if nothing else, as illegal eviction.

As to Gary's suggestion, this is something which can be considered. I don't think its as dodgy as Gary seems to be suggesting; there's nothing illegal about offering a tenant money as part of a surrender. Even those rare tenants who aren't junkies (I'm sure there are some) may prefer to take a cash windfall than to fight the case in court for however long.

Gary Dully

12:44 PM, 31st January 2017
About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Thom Hill" at "31/01/2017 - 11:28":

The tenants may not think it's dodgy, but the housing officer that advised them to wait for a bailiff most certainly will

They will probably call you by phone to complain, the tenant has made themselves intentionally homeless.

At which point, say oh dear what a shame,
I can't talk anymore because I'm driving.

I've got a tenancy surrender document now though, so unfortunately I won't be issuing a new tenancy.

Goodbye!

Michael Barnes

19:36 PM, 31st January 2017
About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Gary Dully" at "31/01/2017 - 10:10":

Would you make that verbal offer in writing or just orally?

Chris Daniel

21:47 PM, 31st January 2017
About 2 years ago

Rosalind,
I love the flag, where can I get it ?
Thanks
ChrisDanielLM@gmail.com

Gary Dully

10:55 AM, 1st February 2017
About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Michael Barnes" at "31/01/2017 - 19:36":

The way I normally approach this is orally, and I don't mess about.

Along the lines of,

I know that other tenants in your situation really don't want a court appearance and quite a few have asked me to help them with their moving expenses and rubbish clearance.
That way I can help avoid the couple of thousand you will be made to pay later on, by the courts.

I will have to apply to the council to have your benefits suspended until after the court case or ask for direct payment by next Monday.

I know it's going to cost upfront, but I have no choice than to go through the courts at this stage, because you are entitled to your day in court to explain why you aren't paying your rent.

That's pretty stressful, especially for me, and I'm the innocent party to all of this, but it's in my job description, so I have to do it.

So at this stage I normally offer people 2 weeks rent, to help you move and avoid what's coming later on for you.

if that's something you would be interested in, give me a phone call before next Monday, before the solicitors start to charge you for the legal paperwork etc.

Obviously you don't have to, but did you know that you can simply surrender your tenancy and avoid all of this?

I can put something in writing to help you move on,with what's called a tenancy surrender document.
It's free, but requires a signature from you.

I can come back for the arrears at a later date, once you have yourself back on track.

Anyway, have a think about it, if I don't hear from you by Monday, just brace yourself, for their first invoice.
What's the name of your solicitor?

I'm told, they charge about £400 + vat per hour.

Have you got my number?

(It's usually just a question of how much money they will need for "moving expenses", within a few days.)

It will grind you gears doing it, I usually want to extract teeth with pliers at this point.

However, if they have absolutely no other route than to stand firm, that's okay, carry on with the court process.

Dr Rosalind Beck

12:08 PM, 1st February 2017
About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Chris Daniel" at "31/01/2017 - 21:47":

Sorry, Chris, but either Mark or Neil did it - so I don't know.

John Frith

13:32 PM, 4th February 2017
About 2 years ago

Mark, if the tenant will allow access to do the CP12, then you need to do it. If they won't, and it was me, I would document my attempts to do the CP12, and my explanation to the tenant as to why it is important for their own safety. Then inform the local council (keeping documentary proof again) that because of the tenants actions you are unable to fulfil your obligations to provide the CP12 so what would they suggest?


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