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Ash
Ash, Solicitor
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 10916
Experience:  Solicitor with 5+ years experience
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Hi, I would like advice in the following scenario. I have

Resolved Question:

Hi, I would like advice in the following scenario.
I have a tenant who signed a 12 month Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement with 6 month break clause on 3rd November 2014 to rent a room in one of my HMO properties. The tenant paid 6 weeks deposit and initial months rent upto 30th November. Subsequent rent was to be paid in advance before, or on, the 1st of each month by direct transfer into my account. He also asked if he could have a Sky Box connected to the dish at the property which I agreed to.
At the beginning of December, I noted the rent had not been transferred into my account. I made contact with the tenant, who advised me that he had 'unforeseen' bills to pay and could he transfer the rent on Wednesday 10th December when he got paid. I reminded him of his contractual obligations to pay rent on time, but agreed to his request as a one off. On Wednesday 10th December, the tenant text me to advise that the money would be transferred at midnight and it would definitely be in my account Thursday morning. I checked on Thursday, and noted the money had not been paid. I then tried to contact him by phone and text, but no reply or acknowledgement of receipt of communications. I have tried to contact him ever since but he not replied to any messages or texts. I have a string of texts to prove my attempts.
On Tuesday 17th December, another tenant in the property text me to advise that a light had been left on in the tenants room. He also said that he had not been seen for over a week which he felt was a cause for concern. I once again tried to contact the tenant, and to advise him that I would be inspecting his room with 24 hours notice - again there was no reply.
I visited the property and accessed his room to find that it was not occupied, the light had been left on, all his bedding and possessions had been removed (including Sky box and the wardrobe he had brought with him.) All the drawers were empty, and there was no sign of any one living there.
I paid a visit to his parents house but there was no answer. I left a letter addressed to the tenant advising him that he should make contact with me so we can resolve the unpaid rent issue and that, under the tenancy agreement, he was financially obligated until he gave appropriate notice. I also made it clear that, unless he contacted me within 48 hours, I would be taking action to remedy the situation and to obtain all monies owed as a result of the tenancy breach. The tenant has failed to make contact.
Questions:
Given he has:
Not paid rent
Removed all possessions
Not replying to any form of communication
Cannot be contacted
Would this be sufficient grounds for abandonment so I can re-let the room without seeking possession through the courts?
Can I keep his deposit? If so, can I just unprotect it with the scheme I use?
If the tenant suddenly decides he wants to move back in, would he have a strong case?
Do I have to seek possession through the courts, if so what would be the best approach eg Section 8 or 21 notice. If so, how can I serve notice when I ma not able to contact him?
Given the scenario outlined, what would be my best option?
Thank you and I look forward to your help!
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Property Law
Expert:  Ash replied 2 years ago.
Alex Watts :

Hello my name is ***** ***** I will help you with this.

Alex Watts :

Have the keys been given up or has the room just been emptied?

Customer:

I can't find the keys anywhere in the property and of course cannot get hold of the tenant :(

Alex Watts :

Ok - but do you know its been abandoned?

Customer:

Without the tenant explicitly telling me this is the case, I am basing my view on the actions and scenario I have described in my original posting.

Alex Watts :

Yes.

Alex Watts :

Sadly I fear you need a Court order.

Alex Watts :

The problem is if you enter, change the locks and he comes back without the keys being handed back etc, you could be liable for an unlawful eviction

Alex Watts :

Therefore I certainly would issue proceedings to avoid any doubt and make sure you are protected.

Customer:

Short of him actually giving back the keys, I am not sure what other reasonable explanation there would be for this action other than abandonment! I am suggesting his actions constitute 'Implied Surrender' If I go down the court order route, how can I serve notice when I have no address to serve notice? I have his parents address, but is that sufficient. Also, if he is living at his parents, then surely that implies surrender!

Alex Watts :

I agree, but thats the problem. You dont know whether the tenant has gone and you wont know that until you enter etc.

Alex Watts :

You can serve notice at the address of the property. That is enough

Alex Watts :

But he could be living in two places, you just dont know

Alex Watts :

You can take possession, but you put yourself at risk, which is what I want to highlight to you

Customer:

I have already entered the room and noted that all bedding, wardrobe, clothes, TV, skybox and other possessions have been removed. The room has been left exactly as it was prior to him taking possession.

Alex Watts :

OK - you may consider this as being abandoned - but the risk is there

Alex Watts :

Can I clarify anything else for you?

Customer:

I think I've got the legal view - it's just a matter of risk I suppose. I plan to leave another message to ask the question 'has he left' etc.

Customer:

Thank you, ***** ***** asssitance.

Ash, Solicitor
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 10916
Experience: Solicitor with 5+ years experience
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