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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 69520
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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XXXX Estate Agents found us two Brazilian ladies

Resolved Question:

XXXXX Estate Agents found us two Brazilian ladies who signed a 12 month Tenancy Agreement for a 3 bed. terraced house in London. On an arranged inspection visit in the first month, we found two foreign men, one of whom claimed to be the son of one of the ladies. They have changed the front door lock to a push-button one and refused us viewing of the main rooms of the house, the windows of which were obscured so we could not find out how they were used. LT had failed to complete the Agreement properly, putting "N/A" for "Permitted Occupants". We fear the house may be used for illegal purposes and want to re-gain possession on grounds of breach of terms of agreement (e.g. changed lock )We need advice how to proceed and whether to report this to the police.

Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  UKSolicitorJA replied 2 years ago.
Hello,

I am afraid the police would not be interested in this unless you have evidence that there is illegal activity going on in your property.

They would say it is a civil matter.

Assuming that the fixed term of the tenancy agreement has expired, I am afraid you would need to serve the 2 months statutory notice and obtain a possession order from the court before you can legally evict the tenants.

It would be hard to argue breach as the permitted occupants are listed as not applicable and change of locks may be because the original lock jammed or was not working.

Hope this helps
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

The change to push-button lock and refusal to allow inspection is not consistent with use by the two named tenants. Landlords are expected to check for illegal immigrants, but we are prevented from doing that. Surely this is illegal ?

Expert:  UKSolicitorJA replied 2 years ago.
You may speak to the police about it but I am afraid they may not be interested and say it is a civil matter.

Landlords are not obliged to check for illegal immigrants, that the is UK Border Agency's job and the employers and colleges.

Hope this helps
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

But does not a clear breach of several terms of the Tenancy Agreement entitle us to terminate it ? Why else bother to state terms ?

Expert:  UKSolicitorJA replied 2 years ago.
You may separately claim damages for breach of contract in the courts andyou may terminate the contract for breach, but if the tenants refuse to move out, you have to follow the correct procedure or the courts will not grant you a possession order to force the tenants out.

You cannot evict the tenants yourself, that is illegal.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

We need to terminate Agreement because unspecified tenants would invalidate our insurance. My question was what process/forms do we need to use for that.

Expert:  UKSolicitorJA replied 2 years ago.
When did the tenancy begin and when does/did it end? Is the deposit protected?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Tenancy started in December 2013 and is for 12 months. The deposit is in the approved Deposit Scheme. Refusal to allow us to inspect the house surely must be a gross violation and grounds for termination of Agreement.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
Hi.

Thank you for your question. My name is XXXXX XXXXX I will try to help with this.

You are entitled to keys to the house. You can change the locks and deduct the cost from the deposit if the tenants have done this.

The police will not be interested in this matter.

If you want to regain possession and this is an AST then you need to serve a S21 notice and also a S8 notice citing certain grounds. You have to show specific grounds under S8 and the test is a high one. I'm not sure what your actual complaint with them is here? If you can give me that infomration then I would be able to tell you whether your application is likely to succeed.

I'm sorry this isn't the answer you wanted but it is the position that you face and I have a duty to inform you truthfully.

Hope this helps. Please let me know if you need more information.

Jo
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

My complaint is that they are not using the house as stipulated in the Agreement (i.e. for accommodation for the two ladies); that they have changed the locks, refused us access to view the house fully and obscured the windows of the main rooms, and men unknown to us are in residence. How can this be other than grounds for termination of the Agreement ?

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
Most of them are not grounds.

How do you know that there are unknown men in the property? What is your evidence on the point at this stage?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Because the Agent went there and confirmed in an e-mail to me that he met the two men who actually stated that they intended to sub-let rooms (expressly ruled-out in the Agreement. The fact that they refuse to show us the main rooms means we cannot know to what purpose they are being used.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
No, but it would be dangerous to start raising S8 grounds on the basis that they are using it for unlawful purposes when you really don't know either way.

That said though, if you can establish that these men are the current occupants and the tenants did not have permission to sublet them they are just squatters and you can get the police to evict. The practical reality is that they might refuse. Even though squatting is an offence now its not always enforced.

Alternatively you could serve a S8 notice citing grounds 12 on your tenants on the basis that they are sublettting. Then if you get a possession order the bailiffs will evict the lesser tenant.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Where do I get S8 forms ?

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
They are availably here

http://www.lawpack.co.uk/landlord-and-tenancy/eviction-notices/product2069.asp

but they do cost.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 69520
Experience: Over 5 years in practice
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