Tenant's wife changed locks and refused to hand over key to letting agent

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    Tenant's wife changed locks and refused to hand over key to letting agent

    Hi,

    I have been renting a house to a couple for the past two years. Only the husband is on the tenancy agreement as the sole tenant. His wife just lived with him and does not work.
    They decided to divorce- and it's messy they are not speaking to one another. The husband moved out and the wife is alone with the kid.

    The husband handed in his notice, and my estate agents found out that the wife changed the locks. In the TA it states "Not to install or change any door locks or alarm codes and agree that the Landlord should hold a spare set of keys."

    When we requested that they make give two spares to the letting agent (one for me, one for the agent) she refused because she said she changed the locks for security reasons. I did say that I will not hand over a key to the husband until their move-out date. I never had the impression that she would not move out, but now that she changed the locks and refuses to hand over the keys I am wary.

    I am worried that she might not leave the property at the end of the tenancy. I have a new tenant family who gave notice on their house to move into ours soon after. I would hate to make them homeless.

    What are my options? She is not legally the tenant. But now neither the tenant nor we have access to the house.



    #2
    She is occupying the house unlawfully, as she is not named on your contract. .I do not think this will be resolved quickly.

    Comment


      #3
      She may be a squatter or an unauthorised occupier, either case you need to speak with a specialist eviction company about how to deal with this case, after all she is now residing in a property which you have no access to rent free, for the forcible future.

      Was there a reason why initially she wasn't put on the tenancy, if you or the agents knew it was a couple moving in? As it would have then been easier to evict, and the tenancy wouldn't have ended, and the Husband would still owe the rent until the possession of the property was yours again.

      Comment


        #4
        Originally posted by ash72 View Post
        She may be a squatter or an unauthorised occupier, either case you need to speak with a specialist eviction company about how to deal with this case, after all she is now residing in a property which you have no access to rent free, for the forcible future.

        Was there a reason why initially she wasn't put on the tenancy, if you or the agents knew it was a couple moving in? As it would have then been easier to evict, and the tenancy wouldn't have ended, and the Husband would still owe the rent until the possession of the property was yours again.
        That is not really correct IMHO.
        a) If it was a joint tenancy with husband and wife, and the fixed period had ended the husband can give unilateral notice and owe nothing
        b) If wife was not a named tenant, arguably the husband has not given vacant possession (and the tenant) even if they gave notice, so the tenancy may be continuing for him.

        In any case OPO says "I am worried that she might not leave the property at the end of the tenancy." - so no valid notice was given (why on earth was it accepted - or was it...). I think urgent step to take now is to sue the husband via MCOL if rent is not paid - or is it paid???

        Comment


          #5
          The wife can’t be a squatter, and when the tenancy ends, she would be a trespasser.
          Im not at all clear how the the tenancy is going to end, but if the tenant gave valid notice, when it expires the wife’s permission to occupy ends.

          You have three options if she doesn’t leave.
          If the tenancy agreement or notice references vacant possession, you could take the approach that the tenant hasn’t met the terms of the notice. Most tenancy agreements don’t work like that.
          You could take court action to recover from the trespasser, which isn’t that simple.
          You can exclude the occupant from the property by locking them out (changing the locks) or using reasonable force. That’s practically difficult, even if legally viable - the police can get involved for example and are not great on the law of property.

          The complicating factor is the classic error of letting a property that the landlord doesn’t have control over.
          If the occupant doesn’t move out, the few extra week’s rent is going to prove to be expensive.
          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 AndrewDod View Post

            In any case OPO says "I am worried that she might not leave the property at the end of the tenancy." - so no valid notice was given (why on earth was it accepted - or was it...). I think urgent step to take now is to sue the husband via MCOL if rent is not paid - or is it paid???
            The husband is paying the rent for now. So that is good.

            The husband also gave her notice to vacate the property via his solicitor by the end of the tenancy date- several times in writing. My worry is that she refuses to give me a copy of the new key - which can be interpreted as a sign that she will make it difficult to leave.

            So I guess I have to wait until the end of tenancy and see if she leaves voluntarily?

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by jpkeates View Post
              You can exclude the occupant from the property by locking them out (changing the locks) or using reasonable force. That’s practically difficult, even if legally viable - the police can get involved for example and are not great on the law of property.
              I do still have the keys to the patio doors (which I think she did not change), so I could let myself in through that and bring a locksmith and change the locks. If this is legal I could do this at the end of the tenancy.

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by ash72 View Post
                Was there a reason why initially she wasn't put on the tenancy, if you or the agents knew it was a couple moving in? As it would have then been easier to evict, and the tenancy wouldn't have ended, and the Husband would still owe the rent until the possession of the property was yours again.
                It was Corona, and the Estate Agents did not seem to have a problem with that but in retrospect I should have put her on the AST.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Is the tenancy in a fixed term or has it become periodic?

                  Comment


                    #10
                    It has become periodic. The husband who is not living there has given notice and is due to end later this month.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      You'd better ask the husband to let her know that she will be a trespasser when the tenancy ends and can be excluded.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by DPT57 View Post
                        You'd better ask the husband to let her know that she will be a trespasser when the tenancy ends and can be excluded.
                        Better to let the husband know that his notice will not be valid if vacant possession is not supplied and all keys returned, and that the tenancy will not end and he will remain liable for rent. He will have given notice but not departed -- it is hardly up to the landlord to act as a spy to determine who is living there, and it may in fact be the husband.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Originally posted by DPT57 View Post
                          You'd better ask the husband to let her know that she will be a trespasser when the tenancy ends and can be excluded.
                          If he does that will that not put her on '' warning '', she may then never leave the house un-occupied .........can the OP simply go in when the house in empty and change all the locks ? But it would have to be planned like the D Day landings.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Originally posted by AndrewDod View Post

                            Better to let the husband know that his notice will not be valid if vacant possession is not supplied and all keys returned, and that the tenancy will not end and he will remain liable for rent. He will have given notice but not departed -- it is hardly up to the landlord to act as a spy to determine who is living there, and it may in fact be the husband.
                            It will be valid and the tenancy will end. Vacant possession is not a condition of a tenancy ending.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Originally posted by Hudson01 View Post

                              If he does that will that not put her on '' warning '', she may then never leave the house un-occupied .........can the OP simply go in when the house in empty and change all the locks ? But it would have to be planned like the D Day landings.
                              I think that's more likely to scare her into calling the police, but to be honest it could just as easily go the way you describe.

                              Comment

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