Extrication from garage let

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    Extrication from garage let

    Some advice would be useful. One of my properties has a detached garage which is specifically excluded from AST. Someone has been letting this with a formal agreement for about 6 years, and paying rent monthly. Suddenly the rent stopped 4 months ago. I had a peep through the door crack and there seems to be a massive amount of stuff stored there, looks like mostly trash and some unidentified heavy equipment (?gardening) but hard to be sure -- but really a massive amount (full length of garage filled to the roof with what looks like jumble).

    Some facts:
    a) Rental agreement specifies that no notice need be given if rent is not paid. I have not yet given formal notice but have written about 20 letters to various addresses, including the one in place at the time of the contract. Phone calls and texts and emails are not answered.
    b) The rental agreement is written as if it is an individual agreement, and names a particular person only. However the address given is that of a company (a shop). The company which appears to own the shop is listed as a private company at companies house (without any indication of any defaults). The shop itself has a notice in the window to say "closed".

    I want to put an end to this as soon as possible: So questions:

    a) Could it be asserted that this is a company let (simply in view of the address, not the wording of the agreement or the name of the tenant). If so are there any implications.
    b) Would it be reasonable to send a letter before action and initiate a claim after a couple of weeks, and also serve notice (which can be zero, but I'd allow a week). I then plan to break the garage open, call a local scrap person and get the contents carted off, and have them offer an amount for the goods (which if in excess of the outstanding rent, cost of reinstating the door etc) I would return to the tenant.

    Do I need to do anything more elaborate to protect myself? I presume I don't need to bend over backwards to get the highest price?

    As a complete aside, I recently realised that it's probably a bit unfair that the tenant is paying full council tax on a house to which they only have 80% access. They have not raised it, but I plan to refund some money - anyone come across this before and what would be reasonable? Obviously the garage does not use the local schools, but might use the police.

    #2
    IMHO if garage is part of property then you ARE CURRENTLY responsible for council tax. Suggest you repay.

    It's would be I think a HMO for council tax purposes. (Not any other sort of HMO)
    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


      #3
      Originally posted by theartfullodger View Post
      If garage is part of property then you ARE CURRENTLY responsible for council tax. Suggest you repay.

      It's a HMO for council tax purposes. (Not any other sort of HMO)
      Indeed though I very much doubt the main tenant is going to care much about this. Although it's correct what you say, the tenant can still be contractually liable to pay Council Tax (even though the Council could place me first in line, leaving me to sue the tenant).

      But yes, I would not do this again -- the tenant pays a lower rent in view of the garage (which is a far way away) non-use.

      Comment


        #4
        Maybe not CT HMO then.
        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


          #5
          1 - It sounds like a commercial let (in which I have no experience), but I think you are ok to end the agreement if that's what the contract says.
          2 - You have to give the tenant notice and time to collect the goods. You can't automatically use the proceeds of the sale to settle the tenant's debt, but they probably don't know that. It might be a problem if anything is leased or financed.
          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


            #6
            Originally posted by jpkeates View Post
            1 - It sounds like a commercial let (in which I have no experience), but I think you are ok to end the agreement if that's what the contract says.
            2 - You have to give the tenant notice and time to collect the goods. You can't automatically use the proceeds of the sale to settle the tenant's debt, but they probably don't know that. It might be a problem if anything is leased or financed.
            Many thanks JP. What if they are simply not responding at all (I know they are "around", alive, and getting mail and messages)?
            I'm somewhat nervous of being accused of theft, but this can't carry on forever. I'm less worried about having the debt cleared, than I am of getting rid of the stuff and getting them out. I suppose they could be asked whether they wish to use any proceeds to clear the debt or if they would prefer to be sued for it.

            But what if they don't respond, I sell the stuff (whatever it is) for £200, and they say it was worth £20,000?

            I had thouight to get a process server to deliver a final letter before action and clearance by hand -- "this is to let you know that stuff will be cleared at 2pm on xx date - feel feel to be present if you wish..... "

            Comment


              #7
              Was the rent paid by standing order? You might be able to get some information from the bank - obviously there are data protection issues but there might be a way they can help.

              Have you googled the tenant? Looked on Facebook? Checked Companies House for the shop?

              I think if you have exhausted all avenues - and can show that - you can clear the garage. Perhaps you need to be careful about anything of obvious value, but photograph what you do dispose of. It does sound like a possible death - but even so there might be heirs.

              Good Luck.

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by AndrewDod View Post
                I suppose they could be asked whether they wish to use any proceeds to clear the debt or if they would prefer to be sued for it.
                That would be good.

                But what if they don't respond, I sell the stuff (whatever it is) for £200, and they say it was worth £20,000?
                They'd have to sue you for £19,800 and prove they were right.

                I had thouight to get a process server to deliver a final letter before action and clearance by hand -- "this is to let you know that stuff will be cleared at 2pm on xx date - feel feel to be present if you wish..... "
                That sounds more than reasonable.

                I'm not personally familiar with commercial lets, and this must happen all the time with shops and workshops, so it might be worth checking in the commercial thread.

                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


                  #9
                  Originally posted by jpucng62 View Post
                  Have you googled the tenant? Looked on Facebook? Checked Companies House for the shop?

                  I think if you have exhausted all avenues - and can show that - you can clear the garage. Perhaps you need to be careful about anything of obvious value, but photograph what you do dispose of. It does sound like a possible death - but even so there might be heirs.
                  No they are very much alive. That's at least one thing I know for a fact...

                  Comment


                    #10
                    There are two issues here.

                    The first is how to end the tenancy. If you let the garage to house a private car then it is not a business tenancy unless the tenant has, with your acquiescence, used it for business purposes. If the tenancy is not a business tenancy you can end it in the same way as any tenancy which is not subect to a statutory regime, that is, if it is periodic, by a notice to quit or, if it is not, by exercising any right to break or, if the terms of the tenancy so provide, by forfeiture. The provision that the tenancy can be ended without notice if the rent is not paid sounds dubious, and. depending on the wording, may even have meant that the tenancy was void. What does the agreement say? If the tenancy is a business tenancy then it can be ended by forfeiture if the terms of the tenancy so allow, Failing that, you may have to serve a section 25 notice.

                    The second is how to deal with the contents. What you cannot do if the tenancy is not a business tenancy is take the contents and sell them and take the rent from the proceeds. If the tenancy is a business tenancy you can use the commercial rent arrears recovery procedure, but that can only be exercised when the landlord and tenant relationship exists, so not worth considering (if worth considering in any event) if your priority is to end the tenancy.

                    What you can do, but only once the tenancy has ended, is to invoke the procedure under the Torts (Interference with Goods) Act 1977, which I think is explained somewhere on this site, but if not can easily be found by Googling, if not actually reading the Act. Note that the Act requires the person selling to account to the owner with the proceeds deducting only the costs of sale.

                    Absent any notification to the contrary, as to the giving of any notice you are entitled to assume that the person named in the agreement is the tenant and that the address in the agreement is the address to which the notice should be sent. The law does not really recognise such a thing as a "company let". Whether the tenant is an individual or a company is only relevant to determine the status of a tenancy if there is a possibility that it can be an assured tenancy under the HA 1988. Since the property is a not a dwelling the Act has no application.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      On the council tax, I researched this some time ago, and came to the conclusion, which is not the one I was hoping for, that the excluded space has to be habitable for the council tax HMO rule to apply. This was in connection with the landlord of a neighbouring flat breaching the no partial sub-lets rule, but that not being enforced.

                      The described use of the garage, or the part sub-let may be breaches of the lease. The use of the garage may be a planning breach.

                      Hardly anyone uses garages for cars, these day.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by Lawcruncher View Post
                        There are two issues here.

                        The provision that the tenancy can be ended without notice ....
                        It says (after the section about 2 month of notice for a usual termination) "If rent is not paid according to this agreement, then the landlord is not required to provide any notice to terminate the agreement"

                        Yes it is poorly worded so don't remind me of that..... A similar form of wording is used in some Council agreements which involve garage lets.

                        e.g "2. If a tenant fails or neglects to observe any of these conditions, the Council may end their tenancy at any time"

                        Yes it would probably be unreasonable to kick the tenant out with one day of notice if the rent is one day late, but I guess the clause could be used to shorten the notice period if there is a fundamental breach.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Torts (Interference with Goods) Act 1977 as suggested by Lawcruncher. Give them a date after which goods will be sold. Proceeds less any debts owing to you less cost of removing them will be returned...used this successfully many times
                          Unshackled by the chains of idle vanity, A modest manatee, that's me

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Originally posted by islandgirl View Post
                            Torts (Interference with Goods) Act 1977 as suggested by Lawcruncher. Give them a date after which goods will be sold. Proceeds less any debts owing to you less cost of removing them will be returned...used this successfully many times
                            Many thanks. And how do you normally sell them islandgirl ? Is it OK to sell then to some random scrap merchant from the yellow pages (or whatever might seem appropriate based on what the goods are) without getting multiple quotes or somehow valuing each item of minor junk?

                            Comment


                              #15
                              "the best method of sale reasonably available in the circumstances"
                              It seems that multiple quotes, or an auction, would be safer, if you were ever asked to prove it.

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