Landlord Changes Locks To keep Scumbag Tenants Out – But Is It Legal?

Locksmith

One of the most active and interesting articles (in my opinion) on this website is the I’m evicting my tenants blog post. It’s essentially a perfect example of me throwing my toys out of the pram and having a gutless whinge about my tenant, and how I want to evict her stupid ass.

For the record, if there’s any justice in the world, she’ll be slowly burning in hell like a skewered lamb kebab about right now.

The post is interesting because a lot of people have been actively commenting on the article; majority of the them being Landlords that are also experiencing frustrating situations with shit-for-brains tenants.

I’ve dealt with some real scumbag tenants in my short time of being a Landlord, consequently I know how stressful it can be. If I had it my way (providing that a tenant steps out of line), all landlords would be well within their rights to change the locks and throw their tenants onto the streets.

Having said that, here’s an interesting comment left by a landlord:

hi
ive been a landlord foe 20 odd years and seen and heard it all.

I used to get real angry when this sort of thing happens but in the end it just eats you up.

you have to realise there are loads of fucking arseholes out there that don’t give a fuck how much grief they cause. I had one who was 3 months in arrears then, can you believe this. Sub let it to a load of drug addicts who wrecked the property it cost 12 k to refurbish it.
I was so angry i forced entry when they were out. Paid a man and a lorry to empty the whole lot. Cost me £400.00 Everything they owned. Took it all to the local tip, flat screen hi fi whole lorry load, Tipped it up good riddance. Changed the locks and waited for the phone calls. took about 2 hours then boy did the phone ring. Wheres all our our stuff they screamed. Down the fucking tip you low life. take me to court if you like.

Still waiting to hear.

risky but sometimes you just have to step up to the plate and take whats coming.

good luck

Paddy

Now, that’s how shitty tenants should be legally treated in my opinion. Although, 3 months in arrears is way too long, they deserve to be locked out after 2 months of arrears, max. I’m not condoning this activity, because I wouldn’t even do it. I’m just saying that’s how it should be. If you’re a Landlord with a pair of dinosaur balls (like Paddy), consequently have no qualms with laughing in the face of the law, then all the power to ya’

It is illegal for a Landlord to change the locks?

Just to clarify, yes, it is illegal for a landlord to harass or change the locks to prevent tenants from entering the property. Tenants have a statutory legal right of “Quiet Enjoyment”, which protects them from this kind of abuse. So before you go storming into a property with the intentions of taking the law into your own hands like a crazed wild-west lunatic, think of the consequences.

Acts of illegal evictions include

  • changing locks when tenants are out
  • physically throwing tenants out your home
  • physically stopping tenants from entering their home.

Landlords have to follow a legal procedure to evict tenants, by serving the correct sections. More on Evicting tenants legally. Illegal eviction is a serious civil and criminal offense, and a landlord can be prosecuted if guilty of doing so.

In most cases, the landlord must obtain a possession order from a county court after serving a valid Notice to Quit. The tenant doesn’t have to leave at this point, and a lot usually don’t. Only the court can decide whether the tenant has to leave the property. It will normally take several weeks before the case is decided in court.

Exceptions to the rules

The landlord does not need to obtain a court possession order to evict if:

  • you have a resident landlord with whom you share facilities, like the kitchen and bathroom
  • you are not paying any rent for your accommodation

In these cases, the landlord is only required to give reasonable notice to the tenant to leave the property. Once the notice has elapsed, the tenant becomes a trespasser and the landlord can legally change the locks at the property.

Are you a landlord that has been forced to change locks? Maybe you’re a tenant that has changed the locks. Tell me your story…

325 Comments- Join The Conversation...

Showing 275 - 325 comments (out of 325)
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David 17th April, 2017 @ 19:07

@Kevin

This sounds as if they have some vulnerability, could be mental health or disability.

You really should have issued the S21 two months before the end of the tenancy, lesson learnt!

One word of advice to anyone where the tenant stops paying the rent after S21 issues, write them a letter

Dear Tenant

Re: 17 Acacia Avenue

I am writing regarding your non payment of rent for the above property.

Unless this account is brought up to date with immediate effect I will be seeking a lien on your housing benefit via the Local Council

I would also like to inform you that once I do this you will NOT be eligible to join the waiting list for social housing nor for temporary housing UNTIL you have paid me the arrears. Under the Council's housing rules you will have made yourselves homeless by not maintaining rent payments.

Meanwhile I will of course be taking legal action against you and seeking my costs, once I get a CCJ it will affect your credit record and I will pay to have it taken to the High Court.

I really want to avoid all that and so I am giving you 7 days to pay the outstanding balance or contact me with your firm proposals.

Yours sincerely

K Landlord

----

As soon as 6 weeks had passed you were entitled to ask for their housing benefit to be paid direct to you.

Now just because you can't claim the money as the same time as the eviction it does not mean you can't go after them later.

There IS a new regulation coming that will stop local Councils telling tenants to stay put till evicted.

Normally you just want the judgement to evict then you accelerate it to the High Court Enforcement (Sheriffs Office et al)

These tenants are stupid because they can run but not hide, as soon as they use any credit the databases will alert the Credit Reference Database. You can get alerts for that by putting their debt with debt collectors, the tenant will end up paying for the HCEO's costs and Court costs.

I understand that you are very frustrated, you are effectively acting as their bank, but if they are on Housing Benefit you can at least mitigate your losses.

Usually a Judge is forced to give you Judgement if the paperwork is valid, it is just when the Tenant is considered vulnerable (e.g. disabled child) that they have to order social reports etc.

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Lis 16th June, 2017 @ 19:15

Hi, after some guidance/ advice please.

Tenant has tenancy until Oct 17 however we have mutually agreed to end this early as I can't commit to extending tenancy (tenant is about to start family and wanted security of a home).

Tenant hasn't been great at paying rent with me having to continually chase. Currently own me June rent. They have 'promised' to pay towards end of this month.

Issue I have is that neighbour has told me tenant has moved out and is no longer staying at property. However tenant had told me they plan to exit next month but not given me a definitive date. Neighbour has since told me that back door is wide open and tenant has not been back to property since Tuesday. Also been told back garden is a total mess with rubbish everywhere so God knows what the house looks like!! Makes me feel sick thinking what is going on.
I am concerned as house is open for anyone to rob or squat in.

What do I do?

Don't want to cause trouble for neighbour.

Is this classed as an emergency therefore allowing me to enter with my own keys.

Or should I do something else?

I don't believe I will get my rent as I don't understand why someone would move out but continue to keep property. Tenant has called for about 5 mins once a day but nothing since Tuesday.

Should i contact tenant to say I plan to attend property to check what mataince is needed ahead of them moving out and give 48hrs notice??

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David 16th June, 2017 @ 20:13

@Lis

First thing you need to do is secure your property, film it as you approach from back showing door open.

As door is open check to see if they have left any possessions.

I would just lock the back door and make sure property is secure and check for damage or signs of squatters/Homeless. Make sure all windows are locked. Then visit daily, on basis that you wanted to do an inventory/maintenance inspection but they have not been there.

You are OK to change the locks as long as you let them know and offer to give them new ones for remainder of their tenancy.

I hope your deposit was protected, clearly your tenant thinks you are a bank, so maybe looking for a payout. You will of course be able to ask DPS/TDS/MyDeposits for the deposit as it was held for performance of the contract and June rent not paid.

I would try to engage tenant, ask when they will be able to pay rent and say you need it by 21st if they want a reference.

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Lis 11th August, 2017 @ 15:23

Hi David thanks so much for your advice last time how rude of me not to say thanks - sorry about that. I'm looking for a bit more today!

Tenant handed over keys to a neighbour last night saying they where due to meet me today to hand back the keys but couldn't so asked them to pass to me (they  did not arrange this with me and had suggested they would be leaving next week). Anyway I have been told that handing over keys is a surrender of the property so I have been today to change locks and inspect. May be a bit premature but i wanted to get control of the Property.

Property is fine all be it messy and needs a good clean.

The question I have is there are items belonging to them  am i ok to give tenant 48hrs to arrange for items to be collected  or otherwise dispose of them?

Want to get rid asap. Planing to send below to them to bring everything to a close. If get the outstanding rent owed great but certainly not holding my breath

I understand u handed over keys to no ## last night confirming you had vacated #### road. To finalise everything see below and respond asap - by latest 14.08.17; 
1) Forwarding address for post addressed to you
2) Items that have been left -  arrange for items to be collected in next 48hrs (suggest a time and date) otherwise all items will be disposed of
3) Final meter readings have been taken  - Gas 6996  Electric 37105
4) Payment of outstanding rent. This equals £#### for # months

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David 11th August, 2017 @ 19:40

@Lis

No worries, happy to help.

I think you need to approach this is a slightly different way.

First of all abandonment cannot be assumed, even if they left the keys, the leaving of possessions is regarded as an indication of their intention to return. Changing the locks may not yet be a good idea.

The Protection from eviction act 1977 makes it is an offence to unlawfully deprive or attempt to deprive a tenant from the premises or any part thereof. The onus would then be on you to PROVE prove that good cause to believe the tenant had ceased to live in the premises. So you will need to write up a witness statement and get the neighbour to sign it NOW, it should be explicit about what the tenant said and not be at all ambiguous that it was her intention to surrender the property. If she decides to fight you later it will still be for a Court to decide and probably by a Jury in Crown Court!!

ALSO you can't just bin her stuff and there may be a dispute over the condition and value of what she left behind. If not handled right it could cost you thousands!

First of all open the following page in a new tab to find out your obligations regarding what was left behind.

https://www.propertyinvestmentproject.co.uk/blog/my-tenant-left-belongings-in-the-property/

Video the possessions as they were left so that you have evidence in case things turn bad.

Make an inventory and move them all to one room so you can decorate/clean the remainder of the property. You could rent a garage from your local Housing Association or Council if you think you can rent it quickly, it would be a way to mitigate your loss as a garage is only going to cost you £50 a month or so.

Giving the keys back does not end the contract unless specified in the contract, this gives you some leverage in getting the property back earning again. You would not get away with charging her rent for the remainder of the contract as you have to mitigate loss, but if she has so many possessions that you can't rent then it can make her position worse. You have a duty of care for her possession (read above link) so you need to just make sure you cross the t's and dot the i's.

This tenant is not going to want to have anything to do with you because they owe you money, so you need to find a way to put them at ease.

I would write her something like this:

============================

Dear Tenantina

I am sorry that you have seen fit to abandon, surrender and vacate the property at 24 Low Road by giving the keys to the neighbour at number 22 Low Road without any prior agreement to do so.

For your information meter readings have been taken, they are as follows

Gas 6996
Electric 37105
Water 01234

I am very concerned about the state you left the property in and that you have left some of your possessions. Although I accept that you have abandoned, surrendered and vacated the property, because you have left possessions it can be interpreted as you intending to return until October 2017.

So legally, I need you to tell me in writing that you wish to terminate the tenancy and confirm that you have vacated, abandoned and surrendered the property. Until I receive this the tenancy remains in force.

Unfortunately, I cannot just dispose of your possessions as the law dictates I follow a specific procedure. This procedure will delay my ability to re-rent the property and thus increase your legal debt to me.

I understand that you might find matters over facing, but I can assure you I would much rather reach an amicable agreement with you than take you to Court to obtain a CCJ which would seriously damage your credit record and may lead to debt collectors chasing you for the debt after they have increased it to pay for their collection.

I am prepared to enter into an arrangement for the debt which currently totals £#### for unpaid rent for June, July and August, but will continue to accrue until the property has been formerly vacated and let as your contract which runs till October, thus it is still in force until we both agree to terminate it, in accordance with the terms of the tenancy.

Of course I imagine you want this done as soon as possible and I can assure you that I will do all I can to mitigate your loss, but you need to help me to help you.

I have had to photograph your possessions and take an inventory, now I need you to collect them as soon as possible in order that I may redecorate and rent the property. I would like you to get this done in the next 7 days, otherwise I will be forced to pay a specialist company to inventory and remove them, then put them into storage AT YOUR COST, this will be added to the debt if it happens, but you can help avoid that.

Once I have the written confirmation above, I am prepared to terminate the tenancy as soon as these items are completely removed IF you collect them in the next 7 days; otherwise it will run until the next tenant takes occupancy in accordance with Office of Fair Trading Fair Guidance on such matters.

I would like us to meet at the property and enter into an agreement to pay the arrears at a reasonable and affordable rate. If you can collect your possessions in the next 48 hours I am prepared to NOT charge you interest on the arrears as long as the payment schedule we agree to is maintained continuously until the debt is cleared.

I will be needing a forwarding address for post addressed to you, if you wish I will agree to not passing this on to any 3rd parties. The agreement proposed above is conditional on this address being provided.

I think you will agree that I am being very reasonable and trying to reach an amicable solution. The alternative if we are not able to reach settlement is that I simply put this in the hands of Debt Collectors and Tracing agents, the latter has to be done because you left possessions and again it is at your cost.

My Solicitors will then issue legal proceedings and you will end up with a County Court Judgement, it will of course include the above, my legal and court fees as you will not have agreed an offer of settlement; if there is further delay I will need to instruct my Solicitor to make an alternative (Part 36) offer which will not be as generous and his involvement will increase your costs.

As I said, I understand that you will be finding this over facing, but I urge you to let me help you reduce your debt by working with me to minimise costs.

Please call me as soon as you read this so that we may arrange for you to collect your possessions, we can also discuss what amount you feel you can afford. I will then draw up a repayment agreement and schedule.

If you wish to discuss the fairness of my offer please seek professional advice.

If you are worried about debt the following organisations may be able to offer free advice:

https://www.stepchange.org or call 0800 138 1111

http://www.debtadvicefoundation.org or call 0800 043 40 50

https://www.nationaldebtline.org or call 0808 808 4000

Yours sincerely

Lis Landlord

==============

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Lis 11th August, 2017 @ 21:19

David once again fantastic advice and guidance!

The plot thickens!

Interestingly tenant has just txt me to confirm they have moved out of property and have passed keys to neighbour. They want to meet at the property. Unsure at this stage as to why I think it may be to either give me some of the monies owed or / and discuss rent arrears payment as their txt suggested a payment at end of month there after a weekly amount!! No mention of their belongings or state of the property but they have stated a new address will be provided....

I will establish the purpose of meeting for clarity however to make sure everything is above board should I get them.to sign something to confirm surrender of property and also if they are proposing a payment plan how should I formalise that?

Thanks in advance

First time landlord can you tell

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David 11th August, 2017 @ 21:42

My advice stands, adapt it to the proposed meeting.

I am guessing you already sent what you were considering.

She could go to the property, find locks changed, have the Police break back in and have you arrested.

It may be unlikely, but I am just concerned you are walking in blind.

It would be very easy to paint a picture of duress.

Understand, you have issued no S21, she is out and the locks have been changed!

The agreement is still in force until formerly agreed by both parties in writing recommended as anything else hard to prove.

She probably wants to discuss the deposit, in her mind she will not consider the arrears, just the state of the property.

For your financial agreement, keep it simple, even if you are getting £50 a month it is at least having the debt serviced. You want

Date
Parties
What is agreed
Consequences for non payment.

You need to set her mind where yours is, so amend my letter, meanwhile send her a letter and ask her from her point of view what does she want to discuss.

Then come back with modified version of letter above.

It is important that you follow the law and procedures, she can't absolve you of legal obligations.

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Leliah Hedges 14th August, 2017 @ 17:25

I am living in a home i own i had rented out a room to my father. He had not paid for a months worth of rent and half of the lg&e and water. I had told him he had 30 days but he would not leave. I went to court and filed an eviction 4 days before the court date he had moved out and took most of his property. I had changed the front lock sunday and still let him in to get his property. We went to court today and the case was dismissed. He is now demanding a key to the lock or else he will take me to court for landlord harassment and file for loss wages, inconvenience and loss if property. But he had set up a time to get the rest of his stuff tonight. What do i do? Am i in trouble? I need some advice

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David 15th August, 2017 @ 22:30

@Leliah Hedges

You did not say why the case was dismissed or what other order they made (e.g. to let him back in)?

Was it because he had gone already?

Really for a lodger or family member most obvious issue is giving reasonable notice.

You do NOT have to give him a key

You do NOT have to let him in to get his property if you do not feel safe. If at any time he forces his way in call the Police, explain the violence.

You have to take care of his property, you can give him an inventory

landlord harassment - You are not his landlord, there is no contract or obligation.

file for loss wages - You have no obligation

inconvenience - Under what law would that be?

loss of property, what his possessions or for being evicted?

Based on the little you say I would put his possessions in bags outside the door.

I can't imagine how hard this must be for you.

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Caroline 19th October, 2017 @ 20:56

Hi advise needed please I rented my house out to a family in 2015 and for 12 months all was well then the trouble started. The tenant stops playing rent making excuses up that there is damp will not allow me in to inspect changes the locks letters are sent and a section 21 issued 7 mo this pass and no rent paid section 21 ends out of the blue communication is made by tenant he says his wife has left him he has no job or money admits he lied about damp and then deliberately removed a roof tile to allow water to get in promised to move out this goes on for weeks myself and hubygo to the house to check it out find it all locked up curtains shut no signs of life post piled up behind door and can hear running water !!! Call police advise us to get in as water running and can see electricity is on get a locksmith to open the door and the mess that hits us is beyond belief as well as the damage live wires hanging from roof with water coming in !! Contact tenant and tell him we have gone in to sort the water and ask him when did you move out ? What are your intentions etc now tenant is saying we have illegal eviction? Err no he has not asked once for the key we just entered to make the house safe he refuses to move goods and belongings out spoke to his ex she has agreed to surrender her part in the tenancy but he won’t even though he has not lived at the house in months has wrecked it and owes over 4000 in rent ???? What do I do now he has no money so how can he take me to court for illegal eviction and I haven’t evicted him anyway ??? Solicitor now says I have to get a possession order but why he has gone he just needs to remove his things ?? I’m so upset with it all he owes me so much money has wrecked the house has moved out and still they tell me I have to pay 355 court costs now and he could sue me any help appreciated iv had so much advice from different solicitors I don’t no who to go with

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David 20th October, 2017 @ 09:30

@Caroline

The first thing you need to do is get a statement from the Police that they were called to attend the address by you and found the property abandoned and unsafe, try to find the names of the officers who actually attended, prepare a Statement of Truth saying that they entered property and saw post piled up.

If the Police will not cooperate put in a subject access request for you, your address and the date in question.

You should have made a video of what you saw and not cleaned up at all. If you have not done that do it now.

Legally, you are at risk of him taking legal action, if he is on benefits and has no money in his bank, then he can file a claim for unlawful eviction against you without it costing him the Court fee. You have to weigh up the chances of him actually doing this 50/50 then multiply the chances of him winning 50/50 (adjust to what to think) and divide by you appetite for risk.

A lot of people say things because it is easy to say, it is quite another thing to actually do it.

The best thing you can do in this situation is obtain leverage, then use that leverage to put your boot on his neck.

Hopefully you have not reached any agreement with the wife, she is your biggest leverage.

She and her partner are signatories to a legal agreement, that agreement continues to run until terminated by either party in accordance with the terms of the agreement. Until such time they are both jointly and severally liable for the performance of that contract.

Even as an separated partner his ex has power, she has his address and she will be able to write a Statement of Truth to support your position that he trashed and abandoned the property. If she declines you take the legal action against her.

You do not agree to let her off the hook, she may well have left the property but it does not get her off the hook. You have to sit down with her and say "Look I want to help you but I have to consider my legal position, your partner is threatening legal action which will cost me money to fight, so I have no choice but to let him back in and of course the rent obligation will continue and you will be jointly liable for the whole amount, it is called joint and several liability. I may be prepared to give you a break but to be honest my property has been trashed and you may be my only chance if getting financial recourse. So what can you do for me? Will you write a statement of truth confirming that your husband abandoned the property and what his new address is? Can you persuade your husband to write a statement confirming he abandoned the property at the end of last month and expressing his wish to terminate the agreement? If you can't then the agreement continues." Before you go you then say "BTW here is the new key, we had to change the locks".

Record the conversation as a memory aide for what is said by her. Do NOT do this over the phone. Meet her to say you need her to sign some documents to formerly end the tenancy (even though by themselves such documents would be useless).

This may be bluff but it may actually be the only way you get your money back.

You have to play hard ball, at this stage your leverage with the Ex is as follows:

1. You give her a break on rent from now till legal possession.
2. You give her a break on rent from the day she left
3. You give her a break on the damages caused to your property.

There is absolutely no reason to make such a concession without something substantial being given back.

The same applies to him, you are able to go after him for each of the above. You may think you can't get the money but there are ways.

I know your immediate instinct will be to clean up and repair the property but you need to get a quote from 3 builders for all the work. This is critical.

Now to your legal options, A section 21 is a no fault eviction, it can be dismissed if you did not protect his deposit in an approved scheme and it remains unprotected at the time of starting proceedings. It can be dismissed if your tenancy started after Oct 2015 and you failed to carry out repairs that were reported to the local authority (they would have contacted you so you will know). Also for tenancy after Oct 2015 you were required to have an EPC provided at beginning of tenancy and have uptodate gas safety checks. I suspect he did not let your Gas engineer into the property but that does not matter, no certificate is no certificate.

For the reasons stated above I think you would be far better off going with S8, you will also benefit from a CCJ for the arrears and you can bring claim for breach of contract with damages. Both of these filings need to be against BOTH he and his parter, that way you get judgement against both parties. If she works you will be able to get some of her income, if and when he works you will get some of his, if he or she owns a car worth over £1500 (not on finance) you will get that sold at auction, same for her.

I know you will be thinking "I just want my property back and to get a new tenant in" but there are two reasons you must proceed as suggested, one, to protect your legal position, two to prevent him doing this to someone else.

You need to put a call into the Council, speak to the Housing department and say you want to establish whether one of their claimants is committing fraud. They will be limited by data protection to discuss much but you can give the name and your address and ask if they have a claim and if they do can they please pay the rent direct to you as you have not received rent since X date. If they confirm there is a current claim then you at least have an income stream and you should provide the tenant with a key.

Now I know you might think he has abandoned the property but with alcoholics and drug addicts it is quite normal for a property to be left in that sort of state. I was working on a case only a few weeks ago, whole walls smashed down, bed in pieces, tenant was drunk, sleeping or getting drunk 24/7. He did not wash, did not clean, did not do anything other than go begging for money for his drink.

If they say they have no claim for him at that address then you can ask them to confirm whether they ever did and if so when did he move. You then ask them to confirm that in writing, they will be reticent but you say "I am not asking you to breach anything, merely confirm that based on your system he left the property on X date and is now living somewhere else".

BTW the Council will want to come after you for Council Tax, we can come to that in due course.

Now the next thing you want to do with the Council is to formerly advise them of rent arrears, this prevents him getting access to social housing, you can use this as a negotiation option if you have contact with the tenant, i.e. you will not inform Council of arrears if he agrees to write statement of truth confirming he abandoned the property and formerly requests to end the tenancy on October 20th 2017.

You have huge grounds under Section 8 for eviction under Grounds 8,10,11,12,13,17.

https://www.propertyinvestmentproject.co.uk/blog/section-8-evicting-tenants/

You will be seeking a CCJ for the outstanding rent to the day of the Court grants eviction (14 to 42 days from hearing) plus interest calculated on a daily basis plus legal fees and a separate claim for damages for the property in breach of contract.

S21 may seem simpler but it is too easy to dismiss, S8 is solid, you end up with CCJ's that you can enforce, for the possession you can escalate the eviction to the high court and gain possession quickly. You have to go after the CCJ for monies owing separately but you have 6 years to do that.

One you have your property back you go after them for the money, he may be a drop out but she may be working and will have to show she can't afford to pay, it will be very intrusive.

What you often find in these cases is that she will put pressure on him in a way no bailiff or Court can, she may know that he owns a property, that he has a sick parent who will leave him something. (you can put a caution at the Land Registry on any property he owns).

I know that this all seems like a lot of grief but the reality is you are going to be facing these legal fees anyway, you might as well go after what is owed.

Create a project plan of things to do based on above along with dependencies, do not give any breaks without something substantial in return, especially to the ex, she may be your only way to get some repayment. She may be as bad as him and she will tell lies so do not believe anything without evidence. She may put on some sob story, say he abused her and it may even be true but it does not change her legal obligations to the contract she and ex signed.

BTW regarding his stuff, you have to give him opportunity to collect it and keep it safe, best way is to video the possessions and then put them in a garage (local housing associations usually rent them out for a decent rate but make sure you get a dry one).

I know a lot of this may not be what you want to hear but it is the law and he will exploit it against you. Better to be on the offensive or you can look guilty, a Court will consider why you did not bring action.

Good Luck and feel free to post back for clarification.

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Anita 12th December, 2017 @ 14:35

I'm a landlord. I hope my tenant burns in hell. I hope her whole family burn in hell. I hope they all die a horrible death. I hope they will never have their own home and they will rot on the street. Here is what happened. I was looking for someone to rent short term in a house I bought a few months ago, while my current house was on the market for sale. Initially the tenant says she was only staying for short term. She lied about her references, her job, her income, everything. One month after she moves in, she stopped paying rent, told me shameless lies and has no intention of leaving, said she will not leave until a bailiff turns up. She cuts off all communications. When I went to the house, my own house, to talk to her, she called the police, says I harassed her. I was arrested by the police. The normal court procedure will take months and months. Because the tenant said she is only staying for short term and I should use her deposit as advance rent, I did not protect her deposit. The solicitors told me that because of this, it will almost be impossible to get her out on Section 21. At the same time, my current house has gone under offer. I'm paying mortgage on the house I rented out and not getting any rent, and I will have to go into rental myself or become homeless with my children. My whole life is wrecked. I cry and cry everyday. I'm now at risk of losing my job because I'm so distressed. I have not been able to look after my children properly. My family, my children don't deserve to suffer like this, while my tenant sits in my house laughing.

How can the law of this country be so biased against landlords? I work and make an honest living. I pay for childcare so that I work 8 to 6. I pay mortgage on the house. Why does the court process have to be so slow? How can the tenant continue to live in the house rent free for months and months when they have not paid a cent? Can someone help me please? Can I just ask someone, anyone to move in and squat in the house? I would rather give the house to squatters than my tenant who should be burning in hell. I'm dying of heartbreak and depression. Please, can someone help me, PLEASE?

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Nige 12th December, 2017 @ 15:58

Sadly you learned the hard way that its references,references,references. 100% pass even though your property would remain empty and is now subject to DOUBLE council tax. Many on here have similar sorry tales to tell because of situations like yours.
You made the mistakes of trusting the smiley face of the tenant and thinking that the law would protect you.
Then you made the mistake of thinking your tenant was honest and would negotiate. HA F'IN HA. They know their rights from back to front and sideways.
What do you do now. KEEP AWAY. As you found out the hard way you are the criminal now and the smiley tenant is goody goody.
When you eventually get the property back add up what it has cost you (all your losses) . Then INVEST a few quid in starting a small claims court action for unpaid rent. The reason for your troubles is that most landlords are happy just to get the property back. They don't take action and so these wankers don't show up on credit checks and the next landlord gets hit.
I gather that you are a landlord of only one property and have virtually no experience of rules, regs and crap associated with letting and housing and thus you are paying for it.
And the bad news is as you have not protected the deposit
as is required by law then you might get hit with a 'gift' ordered by a judge of up to 3 times the deposit. Whoopeee do. And if the heating packs up you are required to fix it.
Its a great world isn't it.

Pity you didn't know about this before the police were called or you could have thumped yourself in the face and accused them of doing it .

And just for info I once had 13 properties on rent. Now I have 1 . I don't care where the rest went but I am 100% sure that someone is having the same problems with them that I did.

So. You are going to have to pace this out and bite the bullet.
You ave learned a valuable lesson. NEVER TRUST A SMILEY FACE REGARDLESS OF THE STORY OF DESPERATION. People are only to glad to take but never pay back. (learned the hard way myself)

As a side issue and this may help your mind. If the tenant is in receipt of housing benefit (or you suspect) call the council benefit office as you are often entitled to have benefit paid directly to you after 8 weeks arrears. Talk to the council housing office as well and most councils deem a tenant to have made themselves intentionally homeless by getting into arrears and do not have to rehouse except in crap houses or B and B . Do this before Xmas and your tenant might find themselves having the benefit stopped so they haven't got the money before xmas for all the luxuries denied to you.

Lastly have you proof the tenant conned the tenancy out of you. ie lied. If so keep all documents safe.

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Anita 12th December, 2017 @ 23:53

Nige: Thank you for the reply. Harsh words, brutal reality, but I appreciate the honesty and the advice. Yes, I only have one property, and it is supposed to be my home. I only wanted to rent it out for three months while my current house is being sold. I will talk to the Council about their housing benefits claim, but I don't think she claims housing benefits on my house; she might have claimed using another address she lived at previously, I don't know.

With regard to her lies to secure the tenancy, I suspect that her references which I received by email, were written by herself (by the style of writing and lack of actual contact with the people who provided the references), but I can't prove it. Even if I manage to trace her previous landlord and get him to confirm he did not provide the reference, it is not a sufficient ground to remove her from the house, and the court process will still be lengthy, right?

I know that I will never have pity or charity for anyone for the rest of my life. I wish I could march up to the house and smash her face in. I wish she would burn in hell. I will make sure she is marked. However, none of these can repay my losses - financial, emotional and mental, the horror of being arrested by police when I simply wanted to ask her why did she do this to me. If any of you who are reading this have any advice, can you share here or get in touch with me? You can laugh at my stupidity, but please help me. - From a desperate landlord.

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David 12th December, 2017 @ 23:54

@Anita

I have a great deal of sympathy for you but for the sake of your kids you need to step back from this and learn from it, trust me it could be a lot lot worse.

Not giving you a lecture but maybe helping others let's consider what went wrong.

1. You let your property without properly examining your legal obligations as a Landlord.

2. The period was supposed to be short term so instead of giving her an Assured Shorthold Tenancy you should have given her a holiday let. Deposit and Eviction to not apply.

3. You failed to verify ALL of her references and you probably did not have several interested tenants.

4. You tried to take control of matters by going there and of course were arrested, this is because you let the property and she is now entitled to quiet enjoyment of the property.

5.You failed to protect the deposit so you may be liable to pay a sanction of between 1x and 3x the deposit. I can help you minimise that if it ever goes to Court but I will first try to help you out of this mess and avoid Court.

6. Did you even check her ID and confirm she has a right to live here, that is now a legal obligation.

This is your house but when you rent a house it becomes someone's home, now in this case you have rented to a nasty little bytche but the law is designed to protect the decent tenant.

For most tenants there is just six months of secure tenure, after 4 months they are entitled to 2 months notice, before you can serve that notice you need to get your ducks in a row. I can help you with that but I am guessing you did not give her an EPC, How to rent and may not have even got a Gas Safety Certificate. These and the deposit protection and the Prescribed information are all part of the prerequisites for an S21.

So before we go down that road we need to consider what will get you the best result in the shortest possible time.

To understand this you need to understand WHAT SHE WANTS, it could be any or a combination of the following.

1. Is looking for a roof over her head for the longest time?
2. Is she looking for Council Housing after being evicted?
3. Is she looking for a payday over the deposit.

As it stands you best case cash flow scenario is that you get the rent from the Council IF she is entitled to Housing Benefit, but if she is on Universal Credit, it will be paid direct to her.

Now IF her goal is to get housed by the Council you have some leverage because if when applying to them she got into arrears on her most recent property they will consider her as intentionally homeless.

Depending on what she wants there may be a way to get her to reach a settlement and mutually agree to end the tenancy agreement.

I would need to see the agreement but many have a clause that can terminate a tenancy if she has told lies about referencing.

However, if her goal is to get 6 to 8 months accommodation for one months rent and deposit then all you can do is get your ducks in a row as far as paperwork is concerned and then issue the S21 when you have completed that, of course she will not make it easy if that is her goal but there is more leverage.

If you are unable to get the Council to pay her rent direct then you can take her to Court with a Section 8 Eviction Notice for non payment of rent after 2 months of arrears. You may have to wait 6 weeks to get a Court date, but this can terminate the contract and Judge willing give her 2 weeks to leave, then County Court Bailiffs who take 4 to 6 weeks on average. All of these timescales depend on the area. The S8 will leave her with a CCJ which you can pursue her for.

So let's talk about leverage and settlement, park your anger and your despair, let's look at your potential costs.

6 months rental of a property with your kids @ £1000 a month maybe (depending whether you are north or south, do not give your location or anything that may personally identify you).

Court Fees and legal costs, on S8 they will be part of the CCJ but you will have to pay meanwhile. Budget £1000 to £2000 including bailiffs.

Sanctions, best case if she goes to Court is 1x deposit and Court fee but she may try to get it in a Counter claim which is cheaper, budget £1000

Then there is moving costs and maybe damage to your property, boiler could cost you £3k. If she trashes the property by letting homeless friends stay there you could be looking at thousands.

So one possible answer is to try and reach a settlement, to make it sweet enough that she reckons she is better off going by mutual agreement including a settlement over the sanctions over your deposit failure.

The leverage you have will depend on whether she ever plans to work and get credit again or whether she may be an alcoholic, drug addict or someone with mental health issues.

If she plans on getting credit one day you can inform her that not only will you get a CCJ but you will escalate the money element of the CCJ to the High Court and pursue her forever. The truly hardened criminal is not that scared but anyone who wants to lead a decent life get a car or credit will consider this.

You can also frustrate her, you can call one of the big six energy companies, inform them that you bought the house and ask them who energy is with currently as you have had no bills. They have access to a database that tells them who it is with, if it is dual fuel she may have split it.

If you get the company she is actually with they may tell you it is them. It is only at this point that you explain you are a Landlord and you would like to caution them that she is not paying rent and so you suggest they mitigate their loss by putting pre-payment meters in.

If you find out from her that she wants to be evicted by bailiffs to get social housing then can use that as leverage.

The trick is to offer her a settlement agreement, it should reflect your potential costs and at the same time say to her that you will not take legal action or muddy her chances with the Council nor will you go after her housing benefit.

I suggest you do this via a local Solicitor, you will have to pay the settlement to a Solicitor, they will pay her if she gives up the property by mutual agreement.

In the first instance you need to ask her what she wants, say you want to resolve things amicably and propose a settlement but you need to understand what she wants.

Because of your history you may be too close to this, you may need to use a mediator, some Councils have them, I know one or two.

If you need to send me anything private use the Landlord Forum link at the top of this page and once you have joined and clicked on email to activate your account you can use this link to send me a PM.

http://bit.ly/davidpip

This site has all you need to understand your legal obligations, the eviction options, how to deal with deposit failures and how to propose a settlement.

Take a deep breath and accept that you have to make the best of a bad situation, it is going to cost you money one way or the other.

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David 12th December, 2017 @ 23:58

@Anita

In your latest message you say short term was 3 months, the minimum term in UK for AST is 6 months.

If you did not give her a written agreement one is created by statute.

The best solution would have been a holiday let.

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Nige 13th December, 2017 @ 01:43

@Anita
David has embellished my reply and his words heeded.
I'm afraid that you are not alone in this mess but as David says you now have to get the best case solution. Nobody is laughing at you here as most of us have had similar in one way or another.
But KEEP AWAY from the property at all costs . You are currently the victim and the very last thing you want is to give a tenant ammunition with your conduct if or when it reaches court.
Prepare for the worst. Anything else is a bonus.

Yes I'm afraid the words seem harsh but the law is stacked well and truly against you by virtue of your lack of legal knowledge on property. You won't be the last either. I regularly update a friend who is a manager in a letting agency with info that various bodies send me. She is often unaware that some matters have changed because nobody updates her. I took someone to court to evict...amicable end of tenancy..and the government...bless their little cotton socks in safe jobs and fat pensions..changed the forms overnight delaying matters by three months.
If you need to chat email (put ''LANDLORD QUESTION'' IN SUBJECT LINE) me at sheerwater@ntlworld.com and I'll give you my phone no. if you need to chat. I'll even phone you back as I don't pay for calls.

In the meantime sort your own living arrangements out to stabilise things. One point you say is that your current house is up for sale. You can cancel the sale as long as it hasn't gone to exchange. On the positive side this time of year is not the best to sell and traditionally house prices are better in the spring so you might get a better price to offset this disaster. If you can abandon the sale do it. The council will not rehouse you as you intentionally made yourself homeless. Then you will be thrown to the private sector and probably end up with at least a six month let or even the worst scenario is the council will rehouse you in a B and B.
I know you work hard but have you discussed matters informally with a bank to arrange a line of credit to ease you over this period ? You don't particularly want to end up with CCJs against you because you cannot pay what a court orders when in fact you could clear those when your current house sells.
Is your new house...the one you let mortgaged ? Have you landlords insurance? Lots of questions I am afraid.

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Benji 13th December, 2017 @ 09:29

@David,

"In your latest message you say short term was 3 months, the minimum term in UK for AST is 6 months."

-It isn't, there is no minimum term for an AST.

"The best solution would have been a holiday let."

-It would have been a sham and Anita would be in the same position.

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David 13th December, 2017 @ 10:29

@Benji

Sorry was late at night, I meant the minimum before an S21 can be used, but S8 is possible as I pointed out.

With regard to Holiday let, the point I was trying to make was that she dived into this without considering the legal position she was putting herself in.

She could have structured this a holiday let (probably would have screwed that up too) or a company let, hell, she could have moved her brother in and he could have had the girl as a lodger (with her authority).

She clearly only intended to let for a short period but rushed into it.

Hopefully other will learn from her experience.

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David Carter 13th December, 2017 @ 12:50

Hi can you advise please,

I had my parents renting a house from me and my wife and they were sole Joint tenants on the AST, both my parents passed away this year but they had my brother living with them as a lodger,he was never on the tenancy agreement which we agreed to in writing clearly stating he was not our tenant and had no rights of tenancy but was there as a lodger who we considered to be a "excluded occupier" and they were his landlords, he paid no rent, was told what room he could have and was given free meals and everything done for him by my parents, a freeloader in reality.
Now my parents have passed away and their ast is due to expire in 13 Jan 2018 can we just change the locks on my brother whilst he is out as we stipulated clearly in our letter that upon their death as its written in the agreement their tenancy ends one month after we are made aware which obviously we are and so does his right to remain there, and brother is refusing to move out.

Can we wait for him to leave and just change the locks on him and give him his belongings back, help and advise appreciated.

Thanks

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Nige 13th December, 2017 @ 13:46

@David Carter

NOPE.

The technical way of doing it is a section 21.

I had a similar case. Tenant died. Had darling fcin kids over the age of 18 who wrecked the house when she went into hospital.
They had the right to remain.

There are several ways to handle this. Write to the executors with a section 21 notice .(Post with 1st class stamp with cert of posting...no other way) (Even if the executor is yourself) The reason for this is that the excutors technically wind up the estate. Then the executors write to the occupants saying a section 21 has been issued. (and possibly issuing their own section 21 for safety as it is a sub let) Again 1st class stamp and cert of posting.
This can be followed up in court if it comes to it.

The other way is for your brother to surrender the keys to yourself. Make sure you receipt this and that a witness is present.

PS in my case I couldn't claim against damage on my insurance because the tenancy was in tenants name only and insurance wont pay. Without proof who did the damage as the younger kids were still there the police would not take action. No police report=no insurance.

Thus the real crux of the problem was a single name tenancy and when the eldest became 18 the tenancy renewal should have been changed to joint names. Cost to me £4k and tenants estate was worthless.

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Benji 13th December, 2017 @ 17:10

@ David Carter,

Pretty much as Nige said but also look at section 8 ground 7, or more advisedly, get your solicitor to look at s.8 g.7.

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Nige 13th December, 2017 @ 18:12

@David Carter
Just one other point which you may or may not wish to do. If there is any damage to the house ie rubbish clearing onwards then this can be claimed against the estate and may save inheritance tax if applicable.

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David 14th December, 2017 @ 10:30

@David Carter

What you have not mentioned is whether you have actually communicated with your brother?

To you he is a freeloader but to your parents he was their child, as were you.

Isn't the loss of your parents a time to try to resolve issues?

Even if not, you may find that opening up lines of communications now will save you a lot later.

Is he a beneficiary of the will?

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Lyns 8th April, 2019 @ 21:33

I’m from the other side, I’m a tenant! Never had council home, always PR. I’ve moved out of North London (my home) once to care for mum. Txhen back ‘home’. Never been evicted from being bad tenant. Just been unlucky. 1st PR property (.excuse my words but have problems in head) dirty shithole, cold windows held on by a few taks. After 2 years All OUT they wanna sell. 2nd PRProperty beautiful loved it. I was born there😁 once again good tenant....All OUT AGAIN ..3rd PT In my birth town pretty property outside BUT looks were revieling ....yes looks perfect! But it was far from it Property-still in my Home town ...housing advice after eviction eg paying landlady after left £260 skip £180 lock changes

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David 9th April, 2019 @ 08:25

@Lyns

I am not clear what your problem is after all that history, this seems to be what you are asking advice about

"All OUT AGAIN ..3rd PT In my birth town pretty property outside BUT looks were revieling ....yes looks perfect! But it was far from it Property-still in my Home town ...housing advice after eviction eg paying landlady after left £260 skip £180 lock changes"

I am not clear what a skip has to do with anything or it's cost.

I am going to assume you have been evicted illegally (A tenant of an AST cannot be evicted in the UK without a Court Order, preceded by a 2 month notice S21/S8), if you were a lodger or had a holiday let then rules are different.

If you have been illegally evicted you are entitled to have a locksmith gain entry to the property and change the locks or you can hold the Landlord responsible and get up to £300 a day for loss of tenancy.

As you appear to have a live case it may be better to contact me via the Forum.

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Nick 22nd July, 2019 @ 15:52

Hello,

I stay In Aylesbury, England, and i got your email off a blog post about tenants and landlords. So I was hoping you could help me by giving me proper advice.

I stay in a shared apartment rented out by my landlord(He doesnt stay in the building). I have only stayed for 2months and he says I should pack out giving me 2weeks notice as agreed on at the start of rent( there is no paper signed, no tenancy agreement signed)

I dont have a problem with vacating, but the problem is at the end of that 2weeks, I will be out of England on my vacation which has been planned since February. I calmly explained to him that vacating the property is not physically possible as I wont be around to either search for a new apartment or move into one.

He threatened to throw my loads out, of which I have told him legally he cant. I dont owe him rent, and I intend to pay him this incoming month rent too, even though I wont be on the property.

What do you advise?

Thank you

A desperate tenant

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David 22nd July, 2019 @ 17:37

@Nick

If no tenancy agreement is given then as long as you are not a lodger or it is not a holiday let, then a Statutory Period tenancy is created in law with a minimum term of 6 months, the contract then runs from month to month.

The landlord would still have to do

EPC
How to Rent
Gas Safety
Deposit Protection
Prescribed Information for Deposit

BEFORE a no fault Section 21 notice could be issued

You do not have to leave, you should contact your local Council to inform them, the Landlord may be known to them. You should also try to gather evidence of his threats in emails so you can report to the Police. They can then caution him that any further attempts to force eviction will potentially result in criminal charges and huge fines.

You are entitled to change the locks as long as you put them back when you are legally obliged to leave.

Do you have a friend who can stay in the property to protect your interests?

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Nick 22nd July, 2019 @ 21:06

Thank you so much David!

I sent an email to my local council this evening, explaining the situation to them. Hopefully they get across to me soon enough because i will be travelling by 30 of this month.

Also, a friend suggests i dont renew my rent with him yet, as he is known to be very hard with money, she thinks i might find it hard to get back my 2weeks deposit with him, if i need to move at the end of August, the moment i come back from my vacation.

What are your thoughts on these?

Thank you so much, you have atleast allayed my fears

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Nick 22nd July, 2019 @ 21:08

Also, to your question, I dont have anyone that can stay in the house in my absence. But i can get a friend to check in often while on their way to work and back. Is that legal? As this means i would have to give the person my keys to the house either way

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David 23rd July, 2019 @ 09:20

@Nick

Of course it is legal to have someone check your home, but I would strongly advise you (or they) change the cylinders of the lock, they cost £3.

I can give you a very strongly worded legal letter to email them if you contact me via the forum. Look at post 289 above for details of how to contact me via forum.

I advise people to always pay the rent due.

Are you SURE this was not a holiday let, are there any emails suggesting it was a holiday let?

To be honest he would need evidence that it was a holiday let which is why it was really foolish to not have a contract.

What is the basis for the other tenants you share with? How long have they been renting, to they have contracts?

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Nick 23rd July, 2019 @ 14:57

Hi David. Thanks so far.
I have joined the forum and tried to search for you, but I'm having issues navigating the site. I'm not so tech savvy.

The council has gotten across to me and said the landlord is so much in the wrong that I need to inform him I must stay in the property for minimum of 4months, after which he then gets a SECTION 6A?? Do you know what this is??

I am very much interested in that strongly worded letter you proposed. Could you send it to my email?

Alternatively, this is what i composed myself;
"Dear [Landlord], I have just been contacted by Aylesbury Vale council because I have reported the issue to them. I have been advised to tell you that you cannot evict me from the house until i have stayed a minimum of 4months in the property, also you need to serve me an eviction notice of 2months using either section 6A. I have been advised to involve the police if you try anything otherwise, or alternatively to give them another visit. It is in your best interest to get the WIFI in the house fixed, because living in this house for the past 2weeks has been hell for me. I will be paying my rent for the next 4weeks on Friday, with the WIFI deduction(as you have said on our previous phone conversation), if you have anything else to the contrary proposed, do let me know by replying this message"

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David 23rd July, 2019 @ 16:17

@Nick

I have your email now so I will contact you directly.

Form 6A is the latest version of Section 21 notice that as I advised above in post 302.

CONFUSINGLY FOR LANDLORDS

There is a new version of 6A that is also called 6A, if you serve the old one after June 1st 2019 it may be thrown out, the way to know you have the right one is that is mentions the Tenant Fees Act on First page.

You are actually allowed to regain possession by having a locksmith break in, but I advise you change the locks while you have possession, if he breaks in he will be breaching the prevention from eviction act 1977, fines are eye watering.

I have known cases with charges, fines and sanctions exceed £40,000.

He would probably have to pay you around £400 per day for loss of amenity for each day you are prevented from entry to the property, plus costs of you staying in a local hotel.

Even though he took only 2 weeks deposit he needed to protect it so can face sanctions of up to 3x the deposit for that, whether or not he evicts you.

The only exceptions to the above is whether there is written evidence of a Holiday Let, but the law comes down pretty heavy on Landlords trying to fake those. As I said above he would have been better off giving you a contract.

The other exception is if he is a live in Landlord, he would need to prove he or his family live there and if you found him elsewhere on voters roll etc, then he would lose that argument.

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Sarah 3rd September, 2019 @ 23:01

Hi David,

Here's one for you.

We have a basement with a bathroom and small kitchen. We.rented a room out to a couple. Whom after months have become difficult.

They've been served with a section 21. Since forth lots of drama, council, planning etc. All above board for us.

They've stopped paying rent with 5 weeks to go. What do we do?

Three emails sent over the arrears. No reply.

They are due out october 7th. They live in our home downstairs. They used the council to say it was a separate living area which isn't the case.

Come the 7th can we just walk downstairs and change the locks or?
What can the council do to us?

We have a public order in place due to abusive behaviour.

Thanks

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David 3rd September, 2019 @ 23:10

@Sarah

Why did you serve a S21, did you give them an Assured Shorthold Tenancy?

Is their part of the property self contained with it's own locks?

Do you share ANY common parts of the property?

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Sarah 4th September, 2019 @ 07:47

Hi David,

Served due to abusive behaviour, loud noise, dog urinating on carpets, etc. At this point they were paying rent.

Two months notice was provided. They have an ast that expires october 1st. They have put locks on to keep us from using our own areas. Removing the locks this week as planning and council have approved.

Prior to them barrackading the door, we shared store rooms, kitchen, garden, rear access, etc.

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David 4th September, 2019 @ 17:06

@Sarah

Your mistake was to give them an AST, as live in Landlords they are lodgers, I have fought and won many deposit protection claims where lodgers try to suggest they have an AST.

The difficulty you have is you gave them an AST, unfortunately the A stands for assured, which means they can't now be evicted without a Court order, that means either a S21 or S8.

You have the right to remove the locks they have put on the rooms that are shared, you could also remove the doors just to prevent the too and fro of them trying to put them on again.

I would suggest you use a locksmith so that you have a 3rd party, you may also want to call the Police if there are orders in place, explaining that there is an order of due to abuse and you are repossessing common areas.

You should not let them get or maintain possession of common areas., it is also a fire risk if they have barricaded themselves in with furniture or similar.

I would be wary that they may not leave in October, thus creating an SPT (even though you have issued the S21.

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Sarah 4th September, 2019 @ 21:49

Hi David,

They didn't sign an AST in the first place. They got the council involved whom pressured us into an AST. There is no signed AST.

We spoke with the council today whom tried back tracking over the S21. Our solicitor said it's valid and they are out on October 21st. Hopefully they will disappear before then.

The locks come off on the weekend as they keep tripping the electrics and restricting our boiler use.

How likely are we to get in trouble if we just change the locks on the 7th. First time offender etc. We have had so much trouble from them and beyond stressed. The women has been very abusive to me whilst holding my baby.

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David 5th September, 2019 @ 09:47

@Sarah

I would be happy to check your paperwork, I have had cases where the Landlord had been persuaded to issue an S21 when there was no AST. It will really depend on the communications and other paperwork that established the occupancy.

To be honest my experience of such a difficult situation is that it will probably go all the way to bailiffs.

I would STRONGLY advise changing the locks to deprive them of access without first putting certain things in place. In such cases you can be made to pay £350 a day just for their loss of tenancy, but they could call a locksmith and the Police to regain possession and that would make them think they could do what they like.

Once I get the details I may be able to help you force the Council to take responsibility for them.

As you have a live case I suggest you contact me via the forum using the link below

https://www.landlordforumproject.co.uk

Join the forum, confirm the email and then follow the link below which has an option to send me a private message (at the bottom left of the screen it takes you to).

http://bit.ly/davidpip

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Sarah 5th September, 2019 @ 14:49

Hi David,

It won't let me search you? Any ideas?

Their tenancy expires october 1st. After the 7th, we cannot keep them in our home. The abuse received is too much. I feel we are hiding in our own home. After her being abusive towards me and the baby it's become too much.

The council seem to be playing games with us. Not returning calls, emails, etc.

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Riz 22nd September, 2019 @ 21:10

Hi

I am looking for some advice. I went abroad for 6 months an a friend advised me to rent my house out. She also recommended a young lady to me. To cut a long story short i rented my house to this lady an while i was away she also had a friend move in with her an she started claiming housing benefits. When i arrived back after 6 months i realised she had only paid for rent twice in that 6 months. It has been over a year now an me an my daughter are living with my mum. The tenant an her friend are refusing to move out. She called me an told me she had moved out an left a surprise in the house for me so i went around had to take a lock smith with me who started drilling the locks an the nect minute i hearing screaming an shouting coming from inside the house her an her friend are stood at the window filming an screaming an shouting. Stopped drilling the lock an the police arrived explained the situation to them. A couple of days later i get a letter from the court they are now suing me for stress an anxiety an they are not leaving me house. What can i do ?

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David 22nd September, 2019 @ 22:03

@Riz

I am not clear whether it was the tenant who claimed Housing Benefit or "friend" she had move in.

If it is the friend claiming Housing Benefit, the first thing you do is call the Council, tell them that the person claiming housing benefit is not a tenant, give them a copy of the tenancy agreement.

If it is the Tenant claiming Housing Benefit, the first thing you do is call the Council, tell them that the person claiming housing benefit has not paid 4 months rent and you would like to have it paid directly, at the same time you inform them that she has moved somebody in with her and is subletting.

Either way, give them a copy of the tenancy agreement.

This will cause their Housing Benefit to be suspended pending investigation, it is possible that they did not declare that they live with the other person, so if that is the case they will have to repay maybe half or even more of the Housing Benefit. Note that I say Housing Benefit, but it is possible that the claim is Universal Credit, in which case you call Job Centre Plus and

As you went abroad and did not even check your bank account to notice you were not getting rent, I am concerned whether you carried out the prerequisites for eviction. These are Deposit Protection, Prescribed Information for Deposit Protection, Gas Safety Certificate, EPC, How To rent. You may also need to be licensed, depending on the area of the property (check you Council Website).

As this is live and you have given your name I would not say here whether you have done the above, rather, user the instructions in post 313 above to contact me privately via the forum.

As you have more than 2 months of arrears you can issue a Section 8 notice, this does not have the prerequisites of a S21 notice, you can then ask the Court to hear both matters together. You will need evidence of the call, so take screenshots of your phone that shows the date and time. Also gather other evidence, such as emails. Get a statement from the locksmith to the effect that you were both shocked to find someone in there because the tenant had called you and told you she had abandoned the property.

When a Judge sees the Section 8 and Arrears they are likely to see the case for what it is, a stunt to try and get some easy money.

You might want to employ the services of an Estate Agent to carry out an inspection of the property in accordance with the tenancy agreement terms, it is likely she would object if it was you, but the agent in independent. If she refuses to let the agent in then have them write to you to confirm that. If they DO let the agent in then have them film the condition of the property, this all helps in Court.

You can also add your legal fees to the Section 8.

I am astonished you got Court papers 2 days later because all Courts I know are backed up, are you sure it was not a letter from a Solicitor?

For now all you can do is accept that you have a professional bad tenant, if you did fail to protect the deposit I can help you with that too. Contact me via the forum.

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Caroline 23rd January, 2020 @ 09:12

Hello, I was wondering if you could help me. I am the landlord of an apartment which is let through an agency and since last April my tenant has been defaulting on his rent. He narrowly avoided the Section 8 by clearing his arrears only to slip back into them almost immediately at which point I served the Section 21 with 2 months notice. He is due to leave the property on 5th Feb and is currently in 2 months of arrears. If he doesn't vacate on 5th Feb, can I change the locks because he hasn't been paying and his tenancy is up or will I have to seek a court order to evict him? Any advise would be much appreciated!

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David 23rd January, 2020 @ 10:11

@Caroline

NO you may not change the locks!

Let me be clear for the sake of all readers, NO AST TENANT MAY BE EVICTED WITHOUT A COURT ORDER.

Such a Court Order will come from following the legally prescribed process of Section 21 or Section 8 in most cases.

Professional bad tenants love it if you forcefully evict because they can potentially claim £350 a day plus a range of other fines apply. The worst one I know of resulted in over £40,000 of fines but I am sure that there are others that were higher.

You also risk Council putting you on the bad landlord register which may result in an obligation or refusal to be licensed.

Some Landlords have what I call "bluff" terms, that is terms that are contrary to common law and this void, I have even seen one that said a Landlord may evict a tenant in 3 days if there are arrears. What such foolish Landlords do is then give 30 days (also void) in the hope that the tenant does not call Shelter, the Council or a plethora of other homeless charities. They then end up on the wrong end of all kinds of attention.

At times like this I recommend Landlords check that their S21 was completely valid, this means you have evidence that EPC, How to Rent, Gas Safety, Deposit Protection and Prescribed Information were all valid within first 30 days of first tenancy.

https://www.propertyinvestmentproject.co.uk/blog/i-havent-protected-my-tenants-deposit/

If this was the first tenancy and you did not FULLY comply with the legislation within 30 days, then you need to do so before the tenancy falls into a Statutory Periodic Tenancy or you will face double the sanctions (1x to 3x the deposit for each tenancy).

In your position I would be reaching out to tenant to arrange an inspection, explain that the idea is to give him a chance before the exit inventory to rectify any non wear and tear issues. When you do this, offer him two dates, one an evening in next 7 days and the other a weekend afternoon.

Keep it friendly, his response to this will give you an idea of his mindset.

Once you are face to face you can ask him whether he will agree to a payment plan for his arrears, be sympathetic and ask him how much he thinks he can afford. Try to get 50% and then a commitment to deal with the rest over 3 months but be prepared to go to 6 months.

The carrot you can dangle is that once the arrears have been settled you would be prepared to provide a positive reference.

If he remains then you give him one final warning that if he does not vacate within 7 days you will proceed with the enforcement element of the Section 21 Eviction Procedure which will result in him paying all the fees related to the Eviction (typically £2000).

As he has hit S8 threshold again you can issue another S8 notice, do it in person if you do the inspection, just say "oh I need to give you this, it is just because the arrears are over 2 months". It may encourage him to bring down the arrears.

If you believe the tenant is on Housing Benefit you can apply for it to be paid direct, in my experience, once this happens the professional bad tenant is motivated to go and look for their next mug. If you do not do this then the tenant will continue to get the LHA rate for rent but pay you nothing. If they are in a busy area they know it will takes months to get a S8 hearing and Judgement.

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Rosemary 19th February, 2020 @ 23:32

Dear David

Please help me.

I needed to move from my flat for a year to assist with making care arrangements for elderly family who has health issues and has developed alzheimers ( the long term prognosis was not good). In order to ensure the costs of my flat were covered during that period, and to ensure I align with insurance obligations, I rented out the flat via an estate agent. The Tenants found were a couple and after all the necessary checks were completed, a joint tenancy agreement was signed for a period of one year with a break clause at 6 months. The contract started May 2019.

• 3 month into the agreement, August 2019, the tenants notified that they wished to leave the property, reason being they had split up
• The agent notified the tenants that the earliest point they could leave was at the six month breakpoint in line with the tenancy agreement, which would mean their leave date would be November 2019
• One of the two tenants left anyway, but continued to pay their half of the rent until November. The other continued to stay in the property but confirmed they would leave at the agreed date in November
• The tenant who remained then defaulted on their half of the rent in October
• As the remaining tenant was due to leave in November, we felt that this would have been settled at the end of tenancy
• Due to my changing personal circumstances, I was in a position where I generally needed access back into my flat anyway for the purposes of looking after my son's needs. Timing wise this was ok, as we already had set the date for the tenants to move out in November
• The November date came, but the tenant did not leave
• At this point both tenants were no longer paying the rent
• On attempting to discuss this with the remaining tenant, he told the estate agent that he was not moving out, and had no intention to do so. He had sort advice from the local council, and they told him not to leave my property. This advice was given even though he had defaulted in rental payments, and even thou his earnings meant he should not qualify for council housing
• I sort legal advise, and a Section 21 notice was served giving him the required two months notice. The notice stated he had to leave in January 2020
• During that period he continued not to pay rent
• The estate agent requested access to the flat so they could do the necessary checks, but the tenant ignored all calls and did not provide access
• The date when he was due to leave in January came, but the tenant did not moved out. He continued to state he had no intentions to do so
• As it currently stands he is 4 months in rent arrears. During those months I have had to pay the costs for the flat or risk losing it if I default in payments of the mortgage and council costs
• We have applied to court for hearing to try and regain access and I have received a date for March 2020, however, the lawyers have prewarned that the process could still take months for a number of reason - a) if he contests b) if court gives him more time before he has to leave c) if further order is needed for bailiffs to be put in place, and ballifs may take time come out a d execute if eviction awarded
• To add insult to injury I have incurred a number of other additional costs due to this individual persisting on staying beyond the period he was due to leave.

I physically cannot upkeep paying for this individual. My personal mental health has deteriorated due to the stress of the circumstances as I am struggling to maintain finances to upkeep the costs of the flat (mortgage, council charges e.t.c.) since the tenants continue to default in rental payments. Because the reality of my situation, these are costs I am having to bare on top of covering my own costs of living and maintenance for my child. I am no longer able to provide for my own child as I would like to.

I need my home back.

If this continues even just a couple of months more, I will not be able to keep up financially. The flat is my only home and I fear losing it all together if I dont keep up payments. I will be homeless and the current struggle of this is killing me, I struggle to sleep or eat on a daily basis due to the worry. It breaks me to have to tell my child we cannot do things because I can't afford it as I am being forced to pay for a stranger.

I fail to see how this is legally allowed.

The law is effectively providing protection to individuals who have no legal right contractually as they have breached fundamental terms of a contract. The law and the way it being applied financially imposing strangers on law abiding citizens inforcing them to upkeep them. This is all favourable to tenants, but significantly detrimental to those affected and their families.
This is no different from protecting a theif and giving them the rights to stolen property at the cost of the rights of the rightful owner and I fail to see how a law can be designed to do this.

To add-how can local authorities feel its right to push people they cannot look after onto people who cannot afford it expecting them to take the costs of these strangers, strangers who they have no link to.
How can the law set out that I could face prosecution if I try to gain access to my own home, that I pay for, and instead favour to put me in a position of homelessness.

Throught this process my fundamental rights to enjoyment of my property and enjoyment to my family life have been breached (it is my home).My mental health and family life has been affected which no amount of rebate will ever rictify. Those in charge of setting the law, and those who enforce this, simply need to change the law all together. It is unjust,unethical and breaches all I believed the law stands for.

In addition the way the legal process is set out in dealing with these matters (the slowness of proceedings, and providing extra time for tenants at various stages) simply ensures further financial loss unnecessarily.

To this point, David, I would like your advise firstly on what I can do to get my home back in the quickest way possible.

Also during these periods when forced to go through legal proceedings, do you know if there is any financial support available until the process is over? And or any provisions where mortgage/ council fees are in place?

As a secondary matter I would like to be able to get the money owed back covering all costs incured/lost during this process. In your experience does this happen?

Finally, if the tenant is required to pay, how much time are they given to make those payments? And will the system ensure I get every penny back?

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Sarah 20th February, 2020 @ 09:26

Hi,

I just got on and changed the locks on my home and refused them entry.
They had the council involved etc etc. End of the day they'd had their notice and all above board.

3 months on and I've not. Seen them. Or the council. They tried calling the police there and then. I showed the police the paperwork of section 21 etc. Also mentioned they were beigg abusive to me. In my own home and I felt threatened. I mentioned I had moved back home.

They told them to leave and stayed until I changed the locks.

The council couldn't do a thing as they don't own the property and it's mine.

I haven't had any trouble since. It's funny how you are the one in distress and the council etc try to help the scumbags not paying rent. There is no justification in renting anymore. They wonder why landlords are decreasing.

I would just wait for them to go out and change the locks. Out the notice on the front door and move home ASAP.

Best of luck

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David 20th February, 2020 @ 16:23

@Sarah

You have been very lucky so far but this may still come back and bite you in the tail.

For the sake of other Landlords, let me make it clear, YOU CANNOT BE EVICTED WITHOUT A COURT ORDER IN THE UK and the eviction must be performed by Court Appointed Bailiffs.

Serving a Section 21 is not a Court Order, even if you took them to Court and got the second stage done.

I have had clients charged £11k for re-entering a property that appeared to be abandoned because the Tenants said they were on holiday visiting sick relatives.

You can find yourself banned as a Landlord in the UK, you can also be fined under Protection from Harassment Act and Protection from Eviction Act as well as landlord & Tenant and Housing Act, with elements of each giving fines. You could be made to pay £350 for each day of lost tenancy.

You will find that the Council CAN do something and by supporting or bringing prosecutions in their own right or supporting a tenant in doing so you may face fines and criminal charges.

The Council do not support the scumbags as you call them, they simply follow the LAW.

The ignorance of the Police in these matters will not help you.

You mentioned that you had moved back home, that could have given you Section 8 terms but they would need to have been enforced by a Court. You seem to suggest you used S21 not S8

You may have been lucky or you may face prosecution in the future, but it is very risky

As a landlord to protect yourself it is often worthy to approach the issue as if you were the tenant and to look at your options, If you need further external clarification see the Shelter website.

https://england.shelter.org.uk/legal/harassment_and_antisocial_behaviour/harassment_and_illegal_eviction/what_is_illegal_eviction

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Sarah 20th February, 2020 @ 16:29

They were lodgers whom decided to barrackade themselves into my home. I changed the locks, they were removed by the police. It solved my problem.

They lived in my home. As excluded occupiers the terms are different.

They hadn't paid rent for 3.months and section 21 and 8 had been issued. The police sided with me as they had been abusive.

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David 20th February, 2020 @ 17:13

@Sarah

You did not say they were lodgers, you suggested you moved back into your home which came over as after evicting them.

A s21 brings to an end an Assured Shorthold Tenancy not a lodger agreement.

The terms of a genuine lodger with a live in Landlord have far less protection.

Usually they can be evicted with just reasonable notice, perhaps two weeks, then locks changed, you still have to be careful of their property.

We have had several cases where lodgers tried to get their license deemed as an AST as they alleged the Landlord was no longer resident, one was extremely vexatious and completely without foundation.

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Dennis Bentley 27th March, 2020 @ 15:11

Hi
now had new tenants for two months from Feb 2020, Being new to letting our 1 bedroom flat I didn't make the security checks that was required, took them on trust, told that he had a good job as as groundsman manage in a local holiday park and she a self employed hair dresser.
he had the sack last January so when he took over the flat lied as no job, she works as self employed but now out of work owing to the corona virus.
1st month paid the rent in two payments could not afford the total deposit so reduced to help them out, this month no rent at all.
being retired we rely on the rent to pay our bills.now telling me he has a phone appointment with the universal credits, all i get is convincing lies after lie. HELP they need to go
Dennis

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David 27th March, 2020 @ 16:25

@Dennis

The law has extended the notice period for evictions but you can still issue notices at the appropriate time.

I would drop them a line saying

"We are all in difficult times so we want to support you as best we can. For our insurance can you please provide evidence of your loss of employment for both you and your partner, together with evidence of your claim for Housing Benefit and or Universal Credit for each of you".

If they are on benefits as suggested, then once they are six weeks in areas you can apply to the Council for the Housing Benefit to be paid direct to you, if they are on universal credit then you apply at Job Centre Plus.

If you have a mortgage on the property you can ask for a 3 month payment holiday, this will extend the mortgage by 3 months.

I would be writing to the Council now, enclosing a copy of the tenancy agreement, informing them that rent was not paid on time before we had Coronavirus pandemic. What you can expect is for them to tell you that you need to wait six weeks.

I know this is not as much as you had hoped for but these are unique times.

Do not even attempt forcing eviction, they can break back in and you will face very serious charges and fines up to £40k.

I wish you and yours well.

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