Tenant in Prison

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    Tenant in Prison

    Hello
    Could I ask people their opinion on a predicament we find ourselves in.

    Background.
    I started taking care of a small portfolio of lettings on behalf of my father. They are all within a courtyard setting on his farm.
    Arranging tenants and collecting rent is taken care of by an agent.

    Problem.
    We have a tenant who had visits from the police in August 2019
    In September 2019 it was apparent he was not at the property.
    We had no correspondence from him.
    I informed the agent.
    Further investigation by myself turned up that he had been in prison and upon release had changed his name, the agent was aware of this and hadn't informed us.
    It seems he was on early release, he re offended and so was returned to prison.

    Rent continued to be paid until April 2020, but then it stopped being paid and then covid 19 started and has made things extra difficult.
    I have recieved a number of correspondence from the tenant asking that he is not evicted and will repay rent on release, but no indication when that would be.

    The agent has given the 3 months notice that ended in August 2020 , but all his belonging and his car remain at the property.

    I have asked the agent to write to him and ask that he vacates and have offered to put his belongings in storage on my parents farm as a good will gesture to get things resolved quickly, as we just want the property back to rent.

    When the agent arranged the letting I expressed concern he would be high maintainance as just had a feeling about him.
    If I remember correctly he did fail the credit check, but the agent did put it though somehow.

    1. Should the agent have informed us of his background?
    2. What are our options for getting the property back?
    3. Do we have a claim against the agent?


    Regards


    #2
    I don't see how you could have a claim against the agent for what the tenant has done. And in fact, it seems like he was resident there before you learned about the prison sentence, how could the agent have known any sooner? Ongoing criminal proceedings are not public knowledge and not something the Agent could reasonably look for. Though the credit check is concerning, that it usually mitigated by a guarantor, so there's no real negligence there - unless that is not the case and they placed somebody in full knowledge of inability to pay and criminal activity, unlikely and would be insanely hard to prove.

    Your only option to reclaim the Property (legally) is eviction via Court. Given the notice period of s21 is now pretty lengthy, I'd suggest moving forward with Section 8 is he hasn't paid since April, it will be faster and you can also seek to reclaim arrears, though I mean, kicking a dog while it's down and that...

    You can't just go in, remove his stuff and store it for his release, you might personally feel that's "being nice", as far as the law is concerned it's illegal eviction and if he brought a claim, he'd certainly qualify for legal aid on this btw, then you could be on the hook for decent money.

    Try to look at it from both angles, guy is in prison, had everything taken from him, then landlord wades in and unlawfully evicts him making him homeless when he comes out. I don't see a Judge looking favorably on that, go through the proper channels.

    Comment


      #3
      Is this AST or agricultural tenancy?

      Just because someone is in prison does not end tenancy. Is he on remand or convicted? There is the case of someone sentenced to 12 years found to have continuing tenancy.

      Suggest you get a solicitor SPECIALISING in landlord/tenant.

      And if not done both already join NRLA & do landlord courses.

      Welcome to LLZ
      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


        #4
        Depending on the nature of the crime committed, you might also be able to consider Section 8 ground 7A. See here: https://england.shelter.org.uk/legal...ed_tenancies#8

        Comment


          #5
          DPT57,

          I mean, that's an interesting suggestion, but I doubt he's been convicted of slavery or human trafficking as per Schedule 2A of the Housing Act 1985...

          Stick to the simple stuff, he hasn't paid rent...

          Comment


            #6
            My understanding is that its mainly cases of extreme anti-social behaviour, so selling drugs on the premises, violence toward or harrassment of another resident or landlord, sexual offences etc.

            Comment


              #7
              I have often wondered who pays the rent when someone goes into prison. Same as community charge etc.

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by DPT57 View Post

                My understanding is that it's mainly cases of extreme anti-social behaviour, so selling drugs on the premises, violence toward or harrassment of another resident or landlord, sexual offences etc.
                I think you're referring to Section 8 Ground 14, which is discretionary and not where I'd hang my argument. Better to go in on arrears as it's a mandatory ground, obviously also cite ground 14 into the mix to make it more convincing, assuming you have proof that is the case - if you don't, it would just seem prejudicial to assume he's a drug dealer when he could be in there for non-payment of TV license as far as you know....

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by hybrice View Post
                  I think you're referring to Section 8 Ground 14
                  No, I'm referring to ground 7A. See examples here: https://www.landlordsguild.com/groun...cing-act-2014/

                  Comment

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