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LondonlawyerJ
LondonlawyerJ, Advocate
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 778
Experience:  Solicitor with over 15 years experience.
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I am a landlord. I let my flat to a tenant on HB this year.

Customer Question

I am a landlord.
I let my flat to a tenant on HB this year. After 6 months into the 2 year AST the tenants rent stopped being paid by the local authority. Rent stopped end of aug. Due to being abroad I only noticed mid Oct. Coincidentally in Oct the tenants sister contacted me telling me the tenant is in prison and won't be returning.
She apparently was letting me know so she and her father can collect his belongings. As I'm still abroad I said please collect his belongings and give the keys to my friend who will meet you at the flat.
This was 4 weeks ago and since then she has collected most of his belongings but a new bed and sofa remain. I've told her to collect these also and for the last two weeks she has not done so despite assuring me she will. She needs to hire a van.
I obviously want the property back and re let but as I've been abroad I've left this to hang. 4 questions...
1. My research led me to initially think this was 'abandonment' but subsequently I now think this is 'implied surrender' which would allow me to go in and take Possession and change the locks without any recourse to me.
Please could you confirm?
2. Also regarding the bed and sofa can I just get these sold and claim the monies as rent arrears? I'd rather they collect the items but she is dragging her heels in this regard. I was thinking I give her an ultimatum stating please vacate items from the flat by close of play this week after which any entry will be considered trespass and I will report this to the police.
Your thoughts?
3. What are your thoughts on getting the rent arrears from the tenant who's in prison
4. From what date would you consider the tenancy has ended?
Appreciate your legal opinion.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  LondonlawyerJ replied 2 years ago.
Customer:

Hello, I am a solcictor with 20 yeasr experience. I will try to answer this.

Customer:

1 if you assume that the sister is acting with her brother's authority then you could treat the property as abandoned/vacated from the date she told you that he was not coming back. You can change the locks if you wish to do so. 2 Your idea on how to deal with the sofa is sensible and you should send a warning letter telling her to get them removed or you will sell them as part payment of the arrears. 3 How much are the arrears? You cod seek a court order for payment of the outstanding arrears but If he was on HB and is in prison now will he be able to pay any judgement y obtain? No point getting a money judgement against a man of straw. Your claim would be for payment of rent for the entire term of the tenancy (or until you relet the property to another tenant for the same of higher rent). 4 You could reasonable pick either the date he went to prison or the date his sister contacted you as the date when the tenancy ended.

JACUSTOMER-l6d8lk0g- :

my desire to change the locks was only to prevent her from going in as she pleases. I was hoping not to do so for the cost but if I do then I can thenat least say she has to meet me at the property to collect the remainder belongings on my terms/time.

JACUSTOMER-l6d8lk0g- :

he is approx. £1000-1500 in arrears.

JACUSTOMER-l6d8lk0g- :

to be clear are you saying I have a claim for the rent until I relet or the full 2 year tenancy whichever is sooner.

JACUSTOMER-l6d8lk0g- :

he may be a man of straw but to prevent a ccj etc his father may pay.

JACUSTOMER-l6d8lk0g- :

finally re the warning letter or message to her on whats app, can ijust say I have been fair givinf her four weeks to collect all items that now if she goes in she is trespassing and I will call the police. Additionally the remainder items will now be sold and deducted against the rent?

JACUSTOMER-l6d8lk0g- :

additionally can you confirm...the tenancy end date i.e when notified by the tenants sister is different to the claim date for arrears (i.e when relet or end of 2 year tenancy?

Customer:

1 Re: the rent you have a contractual right to rent for the whole term but have to mitigate your loss so you can claim for the whole term but have to attempt to relet the property and can only in reality claim for your actual losses.

Customer:

2 Although you could call the police. In the normal course of events trespass is not a crime but a civil wrong so they may not respond.

Customer:

3 His father may pay but I doubt a convict has a very good credit rating.

JACUSTOMER-l6d8lk0g- : If I change the locks and then sell the items am I able to do so without legal recourse?
JACUSTOMER-l6d8lk0g- : This would obviously prevent her going into the property also.
Customer:

Strictly speaking no you can not do this unless you get a court order for the money and then enforce that order. In practice there might not be much risk to you in holding on to it until the debt is satisfied. Selling it without court sanction could lead to problems.

JACUSTOMER-l6d8lk0g- : Issue is. If items remain in property I need a court order but I am assuming implies surrender?
JACUSTOMER-l6d8lk0g- : Any suggestions on how I rid the property of items remaining without recourse on me and able to re let.
JACUSTOMER-l6d8lk0g- : It seems them leaving items in the property has caused me an issue? Whereas I would like to be sure of no recourse if I sell the items. Currently I am in limbo?
Customer:

If you give reasonable notice for them to be collected on pain of disposal that is entirely reasonable and you will not be liable in law for any losses if you do get rid of the furniture or sell it but you must give reasonable notice and give them a reasonable opportunity to remove the items before treating them as abandoned and therefore yours.

JACUSTOMER-l6d8lk0g- : They have had two weekends already to pick up items pretty much at their leisure. All I asked was they give my friend some notice so he can meet them at the flat
JACUSTOMER-l6d8lk0g- : I think telling them this is the last weekend bye can collect items after which items will be sold to me sounds reasonable.
JACUSTOMER-l6d8lk0g- : One weekend she said I was going there then turned around as there was traffic. That to me sounds unreasonable.
JACUSTOMER-l6d8lk0g- : I think this weekend is the last after which I dispose or sell the items and comude matters by relenting with no recourse possible as owe your advice and conclusions.
Customer:

OK

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