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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 71129
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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Private Tenancy Agreement issues

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My tenant has signed a 6 month tenancy agreement (I purchased from WH Smiths) 1 September 2014 and as identification used their drivers licence/pay slips. The tenant has paid £120 towards this month rent which is actually £300 pcm - I did this to help the tenant out including the deposit £300... The tenant promised to pay the rest and next month's rent at the beginning of Oct 2014 and sort the deposit out in the next 3 months. However, the tenant has stopped living in the property (Issues with partner who has a separate tenancy agreement) and says they are not pay the owing money. A formal verbal/written notice of cancellation has not been made yet. The tenant wants their driver's licence/payslips back and says coming round to my house today. There has been a threatening behaviour by the tenant and according to other sources the person has a history of violence. 1) Can I withhold the drivers licence as a deposit/money owing? 2) How much money is the tenant liable for in view of the tenancy agreement? 3) Getting the owing money and future tenancy agreement? 4) What are my options now and in the future?

5) My brother was witness to the tenancy agreement being signed - Is this an issue? Your help would be greatly appreciated! Phil Landlord

Thank you for your question. My name is ***** ***** I will try to help with this.
1 No. That is theft.
2 He is liable until you replace him as a tenant. He is on an AST. The fact that he has had a dispute with his partner is not your problem. Despite the way that these people think and act, landlords are not actually another limb of the welfare state. You are under an obligation to look for a replacement.
3 You can deduct from the deposit or sue him for the remaining months.
4 I'm not sure what you mean?
5 No. Not at all. You have a claim either way.
I wouldn't take any notice of his alleged history of violence. If in doubt, women seems to make allegations of domestic abuse these days.
Can I clarify anything for you?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

1) The tenant has not paid the deposit yet so I have got no leverage?

2) Does the tenant have to put in a formal notice of cancellation to the agreement? In view of you advising I should look for another tenant.

3) Regarding question 4. What do I do next regarding cancellation of the tenancy or exercising my rights within the AST?

4) How do I pursue the case if they will not pay?

1 No but you can sue at the small claims court.
2 Yes, and no. To end an AST he has to give notice which should really be in writing. However, you have been notified that he has gone and your obligation to start looking starts now.
3 I'm not sure what you mean? He has gone. You just sue for your money and seek another tenant.
4 You can issue here
If it comes to that.
The trouble is that if this is a domestic squabble then they will be probably reconciled in due course and then she will want him to come back.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

1) The house keys have not been given back to me yet. What are the next steps? Should I inform the police?

2) I believe the offending tenant has been in/out of the property when the partner has not been in. What problems does this cause?

1 Contact him once in some recordable form and ask for their return. Until the keys are returned to you, you cannot replace him.
2 Its not your problem. She is just trying to get you involved in her relationship issues. You are not a social worker. You just leave her to sort that nonsense out herself just like you and I do. From a legal point of view, if he is entering the property then that is still something he is entitled to do because he is still liable.
Do not let her make you responsible for her relationship disputes. If she wants an injunction then she will have to make enquiries. Its not your problem.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

1) When can I start legal proceedings?

It depends.
If he has genuinely gone then you don't need to. You can just take possession on the basis of abandonment. You do need to prove that he has gone though. If he himself has told you that he has gone then that is pretty strong evidence. If its just that this young lady has told you that he has gone in the course of making various other allegations that amount to her own personal problems then that is less reliable.
If he is still there then he has to pay the rent. You can sue him immediately although what I would do is replace him with another tenant and then sue. That way you know exactly how much is owed.
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