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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 71031
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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Hi, I wonder if you can help me with some advice. We rented

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Hi, I wonder if you can help me with some advice. We rented out a property which the tenant left a few days ago. He was served with a section 21 and a section 8 for breach of contract but left before the section 21 expired. . He kept 2 cats on the premises even though it states clearly in the contract that no pets are allowed. We only found this out at a later stage and this was one of the reasons we served him notice. He has persistently denied us access to the flat for inspections and threatened to call the police if we came anywhere near the place. He also changed the lock on the front door and was almost hysterical because workmen were painting the outside of the house and could see through the windows, He therefore kept curtains and blinds closed. . He just didn't want us to see inside. When he finally left late Wednesday night he texted me to say there had been a flood in the flat which he hadn't noticed before. When I finally got in there, the place was totally uninhabitable. There had been a leak from upstairs, but this must have been going on for a very long time as the walls in the one room are completely black with mold . The carpets are totally destroyed and so are the ceilings (this is a maisonette). There are cat exrements everywhere, even inside the kitchen cupboards and the carpets are covered in urine as well as water judging from the stench. He obviously waited for this leak to do as much damage as possible as he knew he was moving out, and he's trying to claim his deposit back and he is also claiming for damaged belongings on his own insurance. So failing to inform us of the leak and denying everyone access has caused the flat to be totally uninhabitable and probably caused thousands of pounds in damage plus lost rental income etc. I went to the police to report it, but they say its a civil matter. I have called in the insurance companies, both for the upstairs flat and for our flat, I am wondering what else we can do. The tenant left no forwarding address of course.
Do you have any advice for me. please. I feel at a loss and not protected by the law at all as the police can't do anything, and I was denied access to the flat so couldn't check anything. The gas board got a court order to cut off the gas supply so they got in there and told me the flat was in a state, but of course I was helpless as I couldn't get in. This is only part of the story, but I'm hoping for some ideas. Kind regards, Helen
Thank you for your question. My name is ***** ***** I will try to help with this.
Is the tenant working?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

No his unemployed or maybe self employed. I have no idea if he is claming benefits

He is obviously liable. Its just ridiculous to say that he didn't notice a flood. In any event, the flood must have been caused by something and most likely it was him.
The question really is whether there is any point in suing him. It is easy enough to find him. You can use a tracing agent for less than £100 and they would locate him. Very few people in the UK cannot be located within 48 hours by those who know how.
The difficulty here is that he is unemployed. Even if you did sue that begs the question of whether he will be able to pay the award. The truth is that there is no point in suing a person on benefits. Its something that never sits very well with me for lots of reasons. It just lets them off lots of misconduct. They make false allegations of rape and domestic violence knowing that they can't be sued in defamation for that reason. They cause damage, breach contracts etc knowing they are safe. In my experience, those who are apparently 'vulnerable' in the UK have all their wits about them and know what they need to know pretty well.
Nevertheless, if you do sue him you will still be left with judgment against a person with no money and no assets.
If he was a DWP tenant then you may be able to sue the council if your contract was with them and not him.
For future reference, you can gain access. You have a right to reasonable access to your property. That doesn't mean gaining access when you like, of course, but the tenant cannot just refuse you access permanently. You just have to give them three choices of appointments. If they refuse then you are perfectly free to let yourself in. Tenants do have far too many rights but they are not absolute.
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.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you for your reply. I just needed to know how I stand. The truth is always best :)

The flood was caused by a fault in the upstairs flat, I called in a plumber immediately on gaining access and he fixed it very quickly. The problem I have with the tenant is that he didn't report it at all and made inspections impossible by changing the lock. And of course all the mess left behind. I had no keys to the property.

The contract is with the tenant not the DSS. I have no idea if he's claiming or not, but do I need to talk to them just in case? He owes rent of course. He does however have a guarantor. Does that make a difference?


Yes, but it was excerbated by his failure to act upon it. He is under a duty to take reasonable care of your property and that does extend to his ommissions as well as his commissions.
You could sue the guarantor. Not all guarantors are any more financially stable than the tenants of course but they are likely to be. The guarantor is liable for the breaches of the tenant.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

So we can sue the guarantor. That's interesting. Thank you so much for you help. At least I know where we stand now. I am hoping the insurance companies will help towards the financial implications of this.

One more question though:

The tenant has left a big pile of stuff on the floor and a TV as he is trying to claim for damaged property on his insurance. Are we allowed to remove it or must we hang on to it. His insurance company is coming in to have a look on Wednesday.

Oh yes, that is the purpose of a guarantor.
Your insurance company actually probably will cover this.
You do need to retain his goods for a reasonable time but you only need to do what is reasonable. If you don't have contact information for him then there is no point in keeping them for longer than a week.
Jo C. and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you so much Jo . That's brilliant. I was worried we would have to keep the stuff for months.

I really appreciate your help in clarifying this for us!

Kind regards,


No problem and all the best.
Remember that I am always available to help with your questions. Even if I am in Court I will usually pick up a question within 12 hours. For future information, please start your question with ‘For Jo C’. You can also bookmark my profile