Tenant has done a runner, keys through letterbox

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    Tenant has done a runner, keys through letterbox

    We had a tenant move into a property at the beginning of December, she paid one months rent and then we never heard a thing from her. We tried calling, texting, and visiting the property, no answer.

    We got in touch with a neighbour who said she hadn't seen the tenant for a number of weeks and had not heard their dog barking. I had another visit to the property, and from looking through the windows it looks like the tenant has left leaving a load of old furniture.

    I dropped a letter through the door explaining the situation and giving the tenant 24 hours to get in touch before I would be entering the property to secure it. Windows has been left open and others unlatched.

    When I got into the property, there's none of the tents personal things, only a load of old furniture, cupboards/fridge with old food it in, a huge pile of post at the front door, and under all of the post, the only set of keys that the tenant had to the property.

    We've tried to content the tenant via text, calling and facebook asking for her to confirm she's terminated the tenancy, but we've had no reply.

    Given the keys have been left, we feel that the tenant has given up the property/tenancy, but my research online suggests that we need to put a not on the door explaining that we think the property has been abandoned and the tenant has 5 days to get in touch before we'll be changing the locks etc. The problem with this is, if we put a note on the door, the property will be broken into that night and the boiler, fire, appliances and copy pipes removed. So we're not willing to do it.

    I just wanted to get some opinions, because the keys have been left, are we save to take possession of the property?

    #2
    Originally posted by TheBinarySheep View Post
    I just wanted to get some opinions, because the keys have been left, are we save to take possession of the property?
    It all comes down to your attitude to risk.

    The correct answer is that you can't retake possession of the property until the tenancy ends without some risk.
    You can't end the tenancy yourselves (without serving notice and going to court and letting bailiffs execute the court order), the tenant can give notice (and the tenancy ends when it expires) or they offer to surrender the tenancy and you accept that offer.

    Pushing the keys through the door might be an offer to surrender the tenancy or it might not (they might have cut some key copies, for example).

    And if you retake possession and the tenant does come back, claiming they haven't surrendered, you might have to let them back into the property or be accused of an illegal eviction.

    The "abandonment notice" process has no basis in law and is just something people have invented.

    The reality is that it sounds like the tenants have done a runner and I'd probably take possession and change the locks.
    If the tenant magically reappears, I'd deal with that problem then.
    When I post, I am expressing an opinion - feel free to disagree, I have been wrong before.
    Please don't act on my suggestions without checking with a grown-up (ideally some kind of expert).

    Comment


      #3
      I think jpkeates has offered good advice. It sounds like your tenancy has done a runner but the law is not helpful to LLs in this situation and you can get caught in a difficult and expensive situation if it goes wrong.

      I think you need to create a strong paper trail - write to the tenant at the house, text and email if you can. Keep copies of everything, perhaps suggest that if they don't answer within a timeframe you will deem the tenancy surrendered.

      Unless you go to court with a section 8 or you have a deed of surrender you run the risk of illegal eviction however if the tenant won't respond its difficult to do this legally.

      Unfortunately, its another example of the law favouring tenants over LLs.

      Good luck

      Comment


        #4
        I don't want to encourage anyone to do anything untoward, but it's easy to overstate the risk of illegal eviction.

        Reasonably believing that the tenant has ceased to reside in a property is a good defence to illegal eviction and it's not easy for a tenant to find someone prepared to prosecute the offence in the first place.
        The police aren't interested (I've never heard of a single police prosecution for the offence) and local authorities aren't likely to be interested unless it's part of a larger issue (a serial rogue landlord).
        A local authority has limited resources for any prosecution.

        It's a risk, but it's not something that happens a lot.
        When I post, I am expressing an opinion - feel free to disagree, I have been wrong before.
        Please don't act on my suggestions without checking with a grown-up (ideally some kind of expert).

        Comment


          #5
          Take lots of photos. Get that neighbour to sign a witness statement. Make detailed records of what you've found. Check the Council Tax situation. Then retake possession.

          Comment

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