Squatters and letting agents

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    Squatters and letting agents

    Hi

    My wife owns a flat which she has let out, the tenancy has just ended with the tenants failing to pay the last month's rent (due at the start of June, and leaving the property in quite a state (returning overseas).

    The letting agent went to inspect the flat on Friday, to find a guy there who claimed to be a friend of the tenant, and that he was cleaning. He said that he would not have the flat cleaned before their offices closed and said that he would drop the keys off the following day, along with an extra day's rent. He would also get the tenant to contact regarding any arrears.
    Saturday came and went and the letting agents have been unable to contact this friend either in person or via phone since. They now say that they will go to the flat to serve an eviction notice, but we're obviously concerned about the possibility of a tenant without any sort of legal contract, which would presumably make him a squatter.

    Any re-let is obviously now dependent on the removal of this individual and repair of any damage caused.

    My question is surely the letting agent is in some way liable for allowing this to happen in this manner? Shouldn't they have removed the individual at the time of asking in light of the ongoing situation? If we become involved in a legal case on this, do the agents have an liability?

    Thanks

    #2
    If the tenant has not served formal Notice to Quit then the tenancy is still in force, especially if the keys are still in their possession, as they didn't appear to vacate on the final day of the (fixed term?) tenancy.

    The agent will not be able to serve an "Eviction Order" in all likelihood if that is what you are being told.

    Do you mean the fixed term of the tenancy has ended and if so then you need to serve a S.21 Notice to start the Repossession Procedure?

    This isn't usually the agent's fault but many landlords like to point the finger when things like this go wrong, and often it is beyond their control.

    We need a bit more detail concerning dates of start and end of the tenancy etc.
    The advice I give should not be construed as a definitive answer, and is without prejudice or liability. You are advised to consult a specialist solicitor or other person of equal legal standing.

    Comment


      #3
      What was the last day of the fixed term tenancy? Do you know if your tenants were still occupying the property the following day?

      If the tenants are overseas - are they holidaying or living - if the latter then section 21 will not apply.

      Comment


        #4
        Thanks for the quick replies.

        The tenancy ended at 10am on Friday according to the letting agents. It was an assured shorthold tenancy.
        The tenants were from overseas, and returned their to the best of the agents' knowledge.

        Does the failure to pay the last month's rent carry any weight in terms of their removal?

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by andywuk View Post
          Thanks for the quick replies.

          The tenancy ended at 10am on Friday according to the letting agents. ...
          HOW did the tenancy end?? Did the tenant give notice??

          Did they simply leave before the end of the fixed term??

          Had the landlord or agent served S8 or S21 notices??

          If the current occupant has been allowed in by the tenant then they are not squatters but are tenants of (your..) tenant.

          Cheers!
          I am legally unqualified: If you need to rely on advice check it with a suitable authority - eg a solicitor specialising in landlord/tenant law...

          Comment


            #6
            It is most unusual for a tenancy to legally end at any time other than 00:00.

            However, at this moment in time, you do not know there is a problem, just someone who was there, claiming to be there on the tenants behalf.

            If tenants left at the end of the fixed term, there is no tenancy to worry about, so anyone occupying is a squatter. Your agent won't know how to legally remove them.

            Originally posted by andywuk View Post
            Thanks for the quick replies.

            The tenancy ended at 10am on Friday according to the letting agents. It was an assured shorthold tenancy.
            The tenants were from overseas, and returned their to the best of the agents' knowledge.

            Does the failure to pay the last month's rent carry any weight in terms of their removal?

            Comment


              #7
              To my knowledge, the tenants simply walked away. No notice was given, and as I said, the last month's rent wasn't paid.

              They've not returned any keys, apparently they were with the subletting tenant.

              I do not believe that any notices have been served; however they state that they will serve "an eviction notice" (their words) this evening.

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by andywuk View Post
                ,,,, they state that they will serve "an eviction notice" (their words) this evening.
                I presume you mean the agents:

                If they really did state those exact words they don't understand the law or how to evict. An agent (or a landlord) cannot (may not) serve "an eviction notice". They can however serve an S21 or S8 notice.

                Ask agent for email copy of notice then tell us what it says, particularly what expiry date..

                Cheers!
                I am legally unqualified: If you need to rely on advice check it with a suitable authority - eg a solicitor specialising in landlord/tenant law...

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by Snorkerz View Post
                  It is most unusual for a tenancy to legally end at any time other than 00:00.

                  However, at this moment in time, you do not know there is a problem, just someone who was there, claiming to be there on the tenants behalf.

                  If tenants left at the end of the fixed term, there is no tenancy to worry about, so anyone occupying is a squatter. Your agent won't know how to legally remove them.
                  I only have an email to go on, this states that she "explained that the tenancy had ended at 10am that morning".

                  Originally posted by theartfullodger View Post
                  I presume you mean the agents:

                  If they really did state those exact words they don't understand the law or how to evict. An agent (or a landlord) cannot (may not) serve "an eviction notice". They can however serve an S21 or S8 notice.

                  Ask agent for email copy of notice then tell us what it says, particularly what expiry date..

                  Cheers!
                  I shall request a copy of any notice served in the reply to their email.
                  I guess I'm just trying to prepare for the worst case scenario, and wasn't sure whether to frame any reply by shouting at the agent as to why they didn't just chuck this guy out on his ear on Friday afternoon!

                  They have spent the last 2-3 weeks trying to contact the tenants in relation to the unpaid rent, on the assumption that they've left without notice at the end of the shorthold tenancy.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by Snorkerz View Post
                    It is most unusual for a tenancy to legally end at any time other than 00:00.
                    Actually, I think that this happens all the time: On "last day", check out with tenant, tenant hands over the keys, and leaves. Tenancy ends right there.
                    Perhaps the 10am referred to by the agent is the time the above occurred.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      First of all you have to establish if someone is in fact there.If not then you can proceed safe in the LA's assertion that the person was cleaning ( and there were jn personal effects there eg washing up food in fridge etc) A vsit or two at odd hours with your spare keys will let you know.

                      Second if the person is still there then as the named tenants have left as they can at the end of tenancy- you deduct the rent and any other legitimate costs from the deposit.

                      LLZ has this advice http://www.landlordzone.co.uk/squatters.htm

                      Again the agent should have been doing regular inspections and this may have identified the new or extra person in occupation.
                      Based on the information posted, I offer my thoughts.Any action you then take is your liability. While commending individual effort, there is no substitute for a thorough review of documents and facts by paid for professional advisers.

                      Comment

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