Tenant has given back keys back but left possessions behind to collect at later date?

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    Tenant has given back keys back but left possessions behind to collect at later date?

    Got possession order just over 2 weeks ago using Section 8 rent arrears.

    My solicitor (who just passed away yesterday) negotiated return of keys which tenant subsequently delayed on a number of occassions. Tenant eventually returned keys to estate agent office today however did not want to come inside the office to sign anything due to covid. They said they had still left possessions inside and 'may or may not come back to pick up'. Said possessions are supposedly some cutlery in the kitchen, some white goods 'which they didnt need and I could whatever I wanted with them', and a 'sign' in the garage (which has never been locked)

    I have not spoken to tenant since end of September, my solicitor was dealing with them until last week, after which I got the estate agent involved.

    Is the tenancy considered surrendered?
    What do I do about the possessions?
    Is it safe to change the locks?
    Is this a trap for grounds of illegal eviction?

    #2
    As the tenant has returned the keys to the agent, I think its reasonably safe to assume an implied surrender. What does you tenancy agreement say about how long you will keep goods before disposing of them? Mine says 14 days. I would write to the tenant and tell them that you will dispose of their things in line with the TA if they do not arrange to collect and that you cannot yet refund any of the deposit until you know whether you will incur disposal costs.

    Comment


      #3
      Yes mine is 14 days too. I'm acceptable to holding onto them for that period before disposing. Forget about the deposit, it was a zero deposit scheme and the arrears alone are way more than the amount insured.

      I'm just concerned because I have nothing in writing that they have surrendered the tenancy (not sure if the act of handing back keys but stating possible desire to come back and collect possessions is enough).

      I dont want a situation whereby they try to claim they never handed back the keys (is that even possible as the estate agent was an eyewitness) and therefore the tenancy never ended, opening me up to being sued for illegal eviction. I know I'll never get anything in writing from them. Could possibly show tenant had already started living elsewhere and had history of intent to vacate property through negotiations with my solicitor which was by text, assuming I can get hold of this (which might be tricky now that he's deceased)

      Perhaps I'm overthinking this, but I've had a rocky relationship with this tenant from the start well over a year ago. Only 3 months into the tenancy they falsely accused me of trying to gain illegal access to the property and that if i ever tried to evict them to expect a lengthy legal battle...

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        #4
        I think by giving keys to the agent you at least have an objective partner to confirm they did this.

        Comment


          #5
          I mean, why won't they put it in writing? Tell them until it's down in an email, text etc then you can't accept the surrender.

          Without something in writing you're exposing yourself, your and the agent's word isn't exactly convincing. It;s like a mother saying her son was home with her the night the murder was committed, of course they'd say that :P

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by Chunkylafunga View Post
            Is the tenancy considered surrendered?
            For a surrender you either need an offer to surrender which you (or your agent accept) or an implied surrender.
            If you can get in touch with the tenant, you can accept their offer to surrender and confirm that the tenancy has ended.
            That removes any doubt.
            Otherwise you're proceeding on the implied basis, which is less certain but fine.
            What do I do about the possessions?
            As above.
            Don't let them back into the property to collect anything, they can wait outside while things are handed to them.
            Is it safe to change the locks?
            Yes, and I'd suggest that you do, if only to keep the tenant's property secure.
            Is this a trap for grounds of illegal eviction?[/QUOTE]People worry about this a lot.
            There are almost no prosecutions for illegal eviction.

            They can effectively only be started by a local authority, who will only do so to penalise a seriously bad landlord, usually as part of a number of other issues.
            It's very expensive to raise a prosecution and it's hard to get approval to proceed - particularly in these circumstances when the chance of winning is small.

            The alternative is for the tenant to sue you for illegally evicting them, which makes the possession order and surrender of the keys hard fro the tenant to overcome.
            They'd have to claim some actual losses, which seem to be limited.
            If they threaten it, I'd tell them to go ahead.
            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


              #7
              As jpkeates says, contact them in writing to tell them that you accept their surrender of the tenancy which is now at and end. Don't ask them to sign a surrender document as that could be used against you to show that you didn't believe the tenancy had ended.

              Comment


                #8
                Take LOADS of photos, high definition, on stuff left behind & state of property, ideally date/time stamoed.

                Agree, proceed as though implied surrender.
                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...

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