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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 69365
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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Tenant wont leave. I have given them notice to evict property

Customer Question

Tenant won't leave. I have given them notice to evict property as i need to get work done to bring upto health and saftey standards. Will I be liable for any fines if the tenant does not leave to allow me to carry out the work?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
Hi.

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

What are the health and safety issues please?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

I basically need to get the whole place re-done. Get fire alarms fitted get the kitchen up to standard. Need a new bath room done. Basically the whole place needs to be gutted to re-do.


 

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
how long is it since you have had the fire alarms done?

Basically, can the health and safety failures be blamed solely on this tenant or had you neglected previously?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

It is not a case of blaming the tenant. What I need to do is to empty the property so I can get the work done. I cannot do any work if the property is not empty.


You can say it was neglect from me nothing to do with the tenant, although the tenant has not taken care of hygiene of the property, i.e the kitchen is not cleaned etc.


If after telling tenant that the property needs to bought upto standard (via written notification) what are my liabilities.

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

What I need to know is this.

Is the delay solely caused by the fact that the tenant will not let you in?

Or have you neglected previously?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

i have neglected previously

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
Thank you. It's helpful to know what we are facing.

The how long have you neglected? And what type of work?

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

I had work done on the property about 2 years ago. Since when the it has become a state. Mainly due to tenant not looking after it. I also need to get the gas and electricty test re-done. I forgot to re-do them at last expiry, which was about 8 months ago.


 

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

Is there any suggestion they are dangerous at the moment?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

no there is no suggestion that they are dangerous.


But if the council where to come and have a look will i be liable for anything as the certificates are not upto date

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
Thank you.

Obviously the starting point is they should have done this and that there are fines for failing to do so.

The first point to make is that actually if it is just that you have neglected to have them retested but they are otherwise safe then the fines are very low. I prosecute a bit for health and safety and, unless there is a clear danger, it's quite unlikely that they would be interested in this at all.

The severe penalties are given to people who have allowed a danger to develop which has caused injury or death. The sad truth about health and safety prosecutions is that people are pursued largely for an unlucky outcome rather than creating the risk originally.

The way to protect your position is to send gas and electricity engineers around forthwith. Unfortunately they are late but if you are trying to gain entry and the tenant just thinks it's funny to barricade himself in and deny you access then he will not get away with that.

It used to be that standard AST allowed you to force entry for the purposes of the gas test but that has been deemed unlawful so you can only present and be turned away.

Obviously you are entitled to reasonable access and you only have to give the tenant no less than three separate appointment times before you can gain entry to do work of this kind.

Once the tests are done, the fact that you lapsed for eight months is not going to interest health and safety unless you become involves with an extremely aggressive housing officer.

In terms of general disrepair, I wouldn't worry about that. The tenant will not get away with claiming from you because he will not allow you in to do work.

Can I clarify anything for you?

Jo
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

But I still need them to empty the property to get all the work done. Where do i stand in that respect as if there is any accident after I have given them notice and they dont leave can I be prosecuted or fined or claimed against for by the tenant?

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
Well, in truth you could.

If, for instance, there were a gas explosion, they could argue that your failure to have it checked up renewal created a risk.

The fact that you were trying at a belated time and the tenant refused would amount to a defence possibly but mitigation certainly.

This is simply solved though. Just give him 3 alternative dates and when he refuses just gain entry. One its been done then its job done.

I have always found that one way to resolve this is to phone up Transco and explain truthfully your situation. They often respond by just turning the gas off to the whole street which focuses the minds of these malingers fast enough. Obviously you can only behave ethically and tell the truth to Transco though.

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