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Dublte

Original Poster:

75 posts

41 months

[news] 
Sunday 17th June 2012 quote quote all
Apologies, a bit of a long one.

My mother picked up a couple of holiday flats that were repossessed a few years ago. She rents to holiday makers over the summer and usually has a six month tenancy agreement with somebody over the winter at a much lower price.

Recently we've had trouble with one of the winter tenants. I believe he didn't pay the full amount of rent for the most part of the tenancy and it was often late. The tenancy then ended in April and notice of non-renewal was given as per the contract, in the same way as we have done for the last five years without issue (all tenants are aware the tenancy is only for six months at that price). My mother helped the tenant find somewhere else to live (which is difficult because all the shared living/housing association places refused to take him due to past indiscretions).

However, here is where the real trouble started. My mother went around to the property to catch the tenant and another gentleman midway through changing the locks which she stopped immediately. He also stated that he would not leave the property. Around a week later there were complaints from another neighbour about the strong smell of cannabis coming from the flat (which, ignoring the fact he's smoking an illegal substance, is in a no smoking building). My mother gave her 24 hours notice and went round the flat to check out the inside. He has damaged walls, carpet and surfaces. There was also evidence of drug use as a good deal of paraphernalia was found in the property - alluding to stronger substances than cannabis.

Unfortunately all this came at a very stressful time in my mother's life. Her mother has been ill for a couple of months and passed away in the middle of this ordeal, perhaps altering the way things have been handled. After panicking about the mess the property was in and wanting to prevent further damage she got the locks changed on the doors. She's now received notice that she's being sued for illegal eviction. She's sought legal advice and the solicitor has been in the same situation with the same tenant but no legal case was made against him. The solicitor suggest to just ride it out as he does not think the tenant will be able to get the money/support to allow the issue to go to court and he's trying to get an out of court settlement. The tenant's solicitor, despite knowing my mother's situation and the dates of everything, has been very lacking in compassion and on the date of my grandmother's funeral (Friday) informed my mother they had booked a date before a judge for the end of this week (I know the solicitor has no obligation to act with compassion but I still thought it could have waited until Monday).

Now what do we do? Do we just let him back into the property and then evict him through the proper means? Since he no longer has a valid contract can we raise the rent to what it usually is this time of year to account for the holiday lets? Or do we listen to the solicitor and ride it through?

Thanks in advance for any advise - we're really at a loss and can't afford to lose money paying someone compensation, especially since they've already cost us so much money.


chr15b

3,165 posts

70 months

[news] 
Sunday 17th June 2012 quote quote all
If her entry was after the date he was supposed to have left, could she play the card, she genuinely thought he had left?

Or if it's all untouched, maybe the police for the drugs stuff.

Tony 1234

1,588 posts

107 months

[news] 
Sunday 17th June 2012 quote quote all
There is always some scum trying to take advantage

MrBrightSi

1,301 posts

50 months

[news] 
Sunday 17th June 2012 quote quote all
I wish your mother the best of luck.

I wish these kind of scum would just overdose and leave us all happier.

23rdian

198 posts

43 months

[news] 
Sunday 17th June 2012 quote quote all
Didn't turn out to be such easy money after all then?
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bimsb6

4,636 posts

101 months

[news] 
Sunday 17th June 2012 quote quote all
23rdian said:
Didn't turn out to be such easy money after all then?
ahole.

Liquid Tuna

977 posts

36 months

[news] 
Sunday 17th June 2012 quote quote all
Surely the law must be very clear on this? If written contracts were stated (ie the length of the tenancy etc) and these have been breached, there must be a legal route (that I imagine is well used for this sort of thing)?

From a non-legal point of view as I have no law education, surely common sense says that once the agreed and contractual tenancy is up, he has no right to be there? What does your solicitor say? Does this fool have some case of wrongful eviction?


SoilPants

22 posts

41 months

[news] 
Sunday 17th June 2012 quote quote all
Is the tenant renting with an AST agreement?

If so your mum is on very dodgy ground with her behaviour, firstly she cannot just randomly turn up at the tenants home without giving notice AND having the consent of the tenant to visit. Doing this could be construed as harrassment.

The tenant is also well within his rights to change the locks, provided he puts the original ones back in when he leaves. Given the few rights UK tenants actually have it is good practice for tenants to change the locks for the duration of their tenancy anyway, to prevent rogue landlords 'visiting' without consent. Realistically there is never a good reason for a landlord to let themselves in while a tenant is in the property.

The only way to evict a tenant with an AST is to get a court order, you can give them notice to leave, however they do not actually have to leave when this notice expires, as what the notice actually means is that once it expires you can then go to court to get a court order to have the tenant evicted.

Changing the locks and stopping the tenant entering whilst a tenancy is in effect, whether they are paying the rent or not, is a criminal offence.

Dublte

Original Poster:

75 posts

41 months

[news] 
Sunday 17th June 2012 quote quote all
23rdian said:
Didn't turn out to be such easy money after all then?
Really? Easy money?

chr15b said:
If her entry was after the date he was supposed to have left, could she play the card, she genuinely thought he had left?

Or if it's all untouched, maybe the police for the drugs stuff.
The police were called immediately and unfortunately they didn't find any drugs but did have reason to believe he had been taking them. He does have previous charges for possession and dealing so is probably a bit more cautious now. Completely agree with your first point - she did enter it five weeks after the contract ran out and had assumed (naively) he would have moved out, especially as she'd put him in contact with someone willing to rent an equally sized flat in the same area to him.

Liquid Tuna said:
From a non-legal point of view as I have no law education, surely common sense says that once the agreed and contractual tenancy is up, he has no right to be there? What does your solicitor say? Does this fool have some case of wrongful eviction?
Unfortunately common sense does not apply here and she should have got a court order after he ignored the notice. The only person who can change the locks/kick somebody out is a court bailiff. Pretty unfair considering he's done around six to seven grand of damage frown.


SoilPants said:
Is the tenant renting with an AST agreement?

If so your mum is on very dodgy ground with her behaviour, firstly she cannot just randomly turn up at the tenants home without giving notice AND having the consent of the tenant to visit. Doing this could be construed as harrassment.

The tenant is also well within his rights to change the locks, provided he puts the original ones back in when he leaves. Given the few rights UK tenants actually have it is good practice for tenants to change the locks for the duration of their tenancy anyway, to prevent rogue landlords 'visiting' without consent. Realistically there is never a good reason for a landlord to let themselves in while a tenant is in the property.

The only way to evict a tenant with an AST is to get a court order, you can give them notice to leave, however they do not actually have to leave when this notice expires, as what the notice actually means is that once it expires you can then go to court to get a court order to have the tenant evicted.

Changing the locks and stopping the tenant entering whilst a tenancy is in effect, whether they are paying the rent or not, is a criminal offence.
He was renting with an AST agreement but this ended five weeks before she entered the property. He had paid some basic rent (2/3 of the agreed amount each month was paid through the benefits system and he was supposed to pay the excess). When she entered the property he was given prior warning and had consented.

He has every right to change his locks during the tenancy but not after it had ended which is what he was doing, which is a clear indication he had no intention of leaving.

We all know my mother's decision to change the locks was incorrect and she should have gone through the appropriate means but it was five weeks after he was due to leave the premises and it would have been difficult to tell from the state of the flat whether or not he had still been living there (the fridge was empty and rubbish was all over the floor, we've photographs to prove this though I'm not sure they are overly useful). I'm not arguing that she hasn't done anything wrong, I'm more concerned with where we go from here.

The main thing we are unsure about it what to do now, in light of all this. Let him back in, charge more rent/get him lawfully evicted, out of court settlement - perhaps his deposit back plus a goodwill gesture, or sit and wait as the solicitor believes the law centre the tenant is using will not have the funding to go to court and if it does go to court counter claim the damages and unpaid rent.

DSM2

3,624 posts

80 months

[news] 
Sunday 17th June 2012 quote quote all
Tony 1234 said:
There is always some scum trying to take advantage
Who do you mean, the tenant or his lawyer?

DSM2

3,624 posts

80 months

[news] 
Sunday 17th June 2012 quote quote all
SoilPants said:
Is the tenant renting with an AST agreement?

If so your mum is on very dodgy ground with her behaviour, firstly she cannot just randomly turn up at the tenants home without giving notice AND having the consent of the tenant to visit. Doing this could be construed as harrassment.

The tenant is also well within his rights to change the locks, provided he puts the original ones back in when he leaves. Given the few rights UK tenants actually have it is good practice for tenants to change the locks for the duration of their tenancy anyway, to prevent rogue landlords 'visiting' without consent. Realistically there is never a good reason for a landlord to let themselves in while a tenant is in the property.

The only way to evict a tenant with an AST is to get a court order, you can give them notice to leave, however they do not actually have to leave when this notice expires, as what the notice actually means is that once it expires you can then go to court to get a court order to have the tenant evicted.

Changing the locks and stopping the tenant entering whilst a tenancy is in effect, whether they are paying the rent or not, is a criminal offence.
Excellent explanation of the stupidity of current legislation, you must be a lawyer.

This tenant deserves to be harassed. To say the least.

Happy82

6,020 posts

49 months

[news] 
Sunday 17th June 2012 quote quote all
Good luck getting it sorted, nonsense like this is why I'd never consider the hassle of becoming a landlord frown I understand the needs to protect tenants from a bad landlord, but there seems to be nothing to protect a landlord from a bad tenant, the law needs some serious common sense applied to it.

chr15b

3,165 posts

70 months

[news] 
Sunday 17th June 2012 quote quote all
Next thing I take from your replies..

You need to decide if you were 'inspecting' or entering post tenancy.

It'd be difficult to argue you thought he'd left when you got agreement to enter 24 hours before.

Not criticism, just a genuine observation

chr15b

3,165 posts

70 months

[news] 
Sunday 17th June 2012 quote quote all
Next thing I take from your replies..

You need to decide if you were 'inspecting' or entering post tenancy.

It'd be difficult to argue you thought he'd left when you got agreement to enter 24 hours before.

Edited by chr15b on Sunday 17th June 21:13

Dublte

Original Poster:

75 posts

41 months

[news] 
Sunday 17th June 2012 quote quote all
chr15b said:
It'd be difficult to argue you thought he'd left when you got agreement to enter 24 hours before.
Sorry that's me not thinking as I wrote.

When she entered the property to inspect it we were aware he was still living there and that's when she sought consent to enter. This was before she'd offered to help him find anywhere else to stay too. Probably about a fortnight after the contract had run out (I think she's got a detailed list of dates and things).

When she entered and changed the locks, this was three weeks later. She had tried to call and text him on numerous occasions (even when he was living there under contract he must have replied from five different telephone numbers), he didn't reply or attempt to make contact. Mum panicked that he might have done more harm, was stressed and didn't know what to do, got a friend to come over and change the locks and left a note for him to contact her about his belongings which she was more than happy to store until he found somewhere to live or for him to collect straight away. By belongings, there were a few bits of mail, some kitchen utensils and some bed linen, no clothes or personal possessions were in the property.

Since all this has happened we've found he's been kicked out of most places he's lived and one landlord we spoke to said that he'd forced his way into the property and attacked the landlord's son so for obvious reasons we want to get this all cleared up as amicably as possible.

PurpleMoonlight

2,161 posts

37 months

[news] 
Sunday 17th June 2012 quote quote all
I think you should retain possession of the property and not allow the former tenant to enter.

If it does go to court you should maintain that you believed that the tenant had vacated as requested, because they failed to respond to your communication and there were no personal possessions left. It will be difficult for him to argue he was unlawfully evicted when he had no clothes, food, washing stuff etc in the house.

It looks like he is trying to get some compensation from you and probably does for every tenancy he has. Whats the betting the solicitor is on a NWNF basis.

Sir Bagalot

2,706 posts

61 months

[news] 
Sunday 17th June 2012 quote quote all
This is what happens when complete amateurs rent out a property and can't be arsed/are too tight to join a Landlords association (even though the fee is tax deductable!).

I'm assuming your Mum issued a AST at the start of the tenancy. Can I also assume she at the same time served a S21 notice? If so at the end of six months if he doesn't move out then she simply has to obtain a court order, and then baliffs.

Unfortunately she evicted him illegally and is now in deep poo poo.

Yes the tenant is a complete and utter cock, but more importantly he is legally in the right and has gone to the trouble of obtaining a solicitor. If she goes down the legal route then it will take a min of 6 weeks, longer if a S21 wasn't served. It will also be a load of grief. The quickest way out, least stressful is to buy the tenant out.

Then you have the cost of redecoration. Welcome to the world of being a landlord.

Sir Bagalot

2,706 posts

61 months

[news] 
Sunday 17th June 2012 quote quote all
Dublte said:
He has every right to change his locks during the tenancy but not after it had ended which is what he was doing, which is a clear indication he had no intention of leaving.
After the AST finishes it actually turns into a periodic tenancy.

I suspect no S21 was ever issued. If they are more than two months behind with the rent then you can serve a S8.

Dublte

Original Poster:

75 posts

41 months

[news] 
Sunday 17th June 2012 quote quote all
Sir Bagalot said:
I suspect no S21 was ever issued. If they are more than two months behind with the rent then you can serve a S8.
I will have to check whether an S21 was issued. I am not sure of any of the protocol, I'm not a landlord myself. However, whenever my tenancy has come to an end I've just received a notice of things that need to be done before leaving and where to drop the keys off which would have been sent out to the tenant in question. It wasn't really until after this that any need to evict the tenant arose.

Thanks for the advice - my mother has always operated, wrongly I know, upon trust and now it has come back to bite her. I will be ensuring if she continues to rent out properties that she does it with far more attention to detail and process driven to prevent any future issues. We had thought we'd probably just have to bite our lips and give in. Perhaps let him back into the property under his previous agreement and rent (counting the losses there as they'll probably be less than an out of court agreement) and either end his contract appropriately after the six months or evict him legally if he steps out of line before. One of the plans in the long run had been to sell this property anyway - my mother is a property developer and needs the money to invest elsewhere - how would this stand if he were allowed back into the flat?

His solicitor is most likely NWNF, her correspondence seems to be full of a lot of scare tactics and questions that should be directed to our legal representation rather than my mother.

I absolutely agree there need to be rules to protect tenants from bad landlords, I've had a few of them but this is a bit of a slap in the face. He's wrecked the flat, not paid rent and now taking legal action because we can't afford to let him freeload.

On another note I thought the tenancy didn't become periodic if it was fixed term? I'm not sure how these things work.

Big_Dog

609 posts

65 months

[news] 
Sunday 17th June 2012 quote quote all
Will the police not prosecute him for the criminal damage? Did you serve a s21?
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