Criminal Tenants & invoking Abandonment Clause?

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    Criminal Tenants & invoking Abandonment Clause?

    Hi all

    Apologies for the following saga but I could really do with some advice as I feel like a bit of a mug and I am going out of my mind with worry about whatmy position is here and what I can do.

    I let my home to tenants in October (young Chinese couple) they had refs and all seemed OK - even went round first couple of weeks to deal with initial requests and all seemed above board. BTW - had to let privately in end as 4 agents could not let it in 6 months.

    Got concerned when rent was not paid at end Jan and tried to contact them - no reply to phone, mail , text - also went round a few times this week and knocked on door and got no answer - looked through window and place seemed rather odd (messy but half empty).

    I got a shock yesterday as they were still not responding to contact and went round to see them. Neighbours then told me that the house was raided by police on 29th Jan as part of a drugs investgation. Also according to neighbours they have had a large amount of people staying in the property with many cars parked across the street coming and going at all hours - needless to say neighbours very angry.

    Trouble is the place is not sealed up and the police have not been in contact with me - almost 10 days after the event. I have now contacted the police and have a call with the relevant officer on Monday - I checked the web and found a report that said that the house was raided but nothing illegal was found in it and that a number of people have been arrested and bailed on suspicion of supplying drugs and immigration offences.

    Neighbours said that the day after event 2 chinese people went into the house and removed a lot of stuff (including TV's etc) and I can see a set of keys on the mat. They are not responding to any calls (now I know why) but no-one has been back to the property since that day and my rent is unpaid.

    It seems (and what I am being told is) that I will not see them again but in any case I do not want these people back in my house after all of this and I need to know my rights.

    A standard AST (which I found on a Landlord website) was used but to be honest I am not even sure that the tenants gave me their real names or if their ID's were fake - as they seemed to use a number of names.

    My AST has the following clause (see below) which I am hoping will mean I can end the contract soon and get rid of them and move on with my life and sort my property out with decent tenants.

    ==== AST CLAUSE ====

    5.6 Abandonment
    5.6.1 If it comes to the attention of the Landlord that the Premises have not
    been occupied by the Tenant for more than 21 days and the Tenant has not
    given the Landlord notice in accordance with clause 3.6.4 above, and if,
    following further investigation by the Landlord, the Landlord forms the belief,
    and has reasonable cause to believe, that the Tenant has ceased to reside at
    the Premises, the Landlord may treat the Premises as being abandoned by the
    Tenant and re-enter the Premises and thereby bring this agreement to an end.
    Such entry by the Landlord will not affect any right or rights the Landlord may
    have against the Tenant in respect of any subsisting breach by the Tenant of
    the Tenant's agreements and obligations under this agreement as at the date
    of the re-entry

    =====================


    Any advice you can give that on the steps I need to take that would allow me to end this nightmare quickly (and as cheaply) as possible. Or am I OK to enforce the abandonment clause and be done with it with that?

    Thanks very much
    Last edited by sorenlorensen; 08-02-2009, 16:38 PM. Reason: email updates

    #2
    Read this link about serving a Section 8 Notice, using probably Grounds 12 & 14. http://www.letlink.co.uk/letting-fac...-8-notice.html
    The advice I give should not be construed as a definitive answer, and is without prejudice or liability. You are advised to consult a specialist solicitor or other person of equal legal standing.

    Comment


      #3
      Hi

      Well, there are probably a couple of options:

      a) you serve notice and apply for possession by the quickest possible route. This may be a section 8 and Paul F has suggested, or a section 21 (as with the section 8, search on this and you will find lots of advice on how to word and serve). From what you have said, the 2 months notice required for a section 21 will take you past the initial 6 month period (I assume it was a standard 6 month AST, but if not, then do say so).

      b) the tenant(s) have offered a surrender. If you accept, for example by entering into possession, then the tenancy ends at that point. In order for there to be a surrender, the tenant must have clearly indicated their wish to end the tenancy, either explicitly or implicitly. To explore this one further, you will need to give more information. Are they no longer there simply because they have been arrested? Or is there evidence that they have gone away for good?

      Preston

      Comment


        #4
        You say that there are keys on the mat. Are these the keys you originlnally supplied to the tenants at the start of their tenancy? If they are, and particularly if you know of no other keys that you have supplies to them this could possibly considered as implicit surrender of the property as the tenasnts have given up any way of gaining access to the property. Subject to what anybody else says here, it may be possible to justifiably ener the property to regain its possession and change the locks if you feel this is necessary. Although, the only certain way is to have a possession order for it granted by a court in your hand.

        P.P.
        Any information given in this post is based on my personal experience as a landlord, what I have learned from this and other boards and elsewhere. It is not to be relied on. Definitive advice is only available from a Solicitor or other appropriately qualified person.

        Comment


          #5
          Just spoke to the police - basically confirmed what I was told. They arrested and bailed them - they gave my property as their address but since the day they took stuff away no one has been back. Police seem to think that it is common for them just to move on.

          I can only assume the keys that I found are the only ones and I believe them to be the originals but I will be changing locks anyway. I am sort of inclined to just go in and take it back but I understand the issues being raised with that. My worry here is the length of time it takes to get possession as I will not be getting any rent and I need to cover the mortgage in the meantime.

          I would be grateful for any view of how much time it will take and how much it will cost me to go through the courts on this one.

          Obviously keen to sort the place out and get some decent tenants in asap.

          Thanks all.

          Comment


            #6
            Thanks very much - very useful.

            I am assuming that if the tenants do come back I will have to go to court and this could take some time to have this go through? Do I need to get a solicitor (if so are there any recommended ones by members out there?).

            But it is looking like the tenants have grabbed the stuff they want and have gone - and have not shown up at the property since their arrest and bail. Keys have been left behind as well. If this is the case do I still need to go through with this process or can I just take the property back?

            Also - where do I serve notice to? If they have gone do I just send it recorded delivery to my property as proof of serving notice?

            They may still return - just don't know - but was hoping to use the abandonment clause if they don't turn up at 21 days - if this happens can I just take back the property, change locks and clear them out - or do I have to follow this section 8 process at that point or another process?

            I know it seems risky but I don't think they are coming back so my instincts are almost to just go over tomorrow change locks and start clearing the place - once I get OK from police of course - is that wrong?

            Thanks

            Comment


              #7
              The Police cannot authorise you to commit what a 'clever' T will claim is unlawful eviction/harassment.
              JEFFREY SHAW, solicitor [and Topic Expert], Nether Edge Law*
              1. Public advice is believed accurate, but I accept no legal responsibility except to direct-paying private clients.
              2. Telephone advice: see http://www.landlordzone.co.uk/forums/showthread.php?t=34638.
              3. For paid advice about conveyancing/leaseholds/L&T, contact me* and become a private client.
              4. *- Contact info: click on my name (blue-highlight link).

              Comment


                #8
                In about 99% of cases if a tenant has surrendered the keys to the property then this means that he has surrendered the property back to it's owners. However, there are a few "professional" tenants out there who, on seing that their landlord has retaken possession of the property, will appear out of the woodwork scream "unlawful eviction" and with the aid of legal aid or a shelter instructed free solicitor provide to take you to court and extract substantial compensation. If you re-enter the property and change the locks you do take a small risk. The only certain way is to obtain a possession order under section 8 or 21 from your county court.
                In any case, if you do decide to re-enter, it would be wise to do so with an independent witness who observes you pick up the keys left by the tenant and confirm that these are indeed the keys to the property.

                P.P.
                Any information given in this post is based on my personal experience as a landlord, what I have learned from this and other boards and elsewhere. It is not to be relied on. Definitive advice is only available from a Solicitor or other appropriately qualified person.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Understood

                  I went round this morning with my builder to look at the state of the place - it is very clear that they have cleared out all of their valuable belongings - in fact all the wardrobes and drawers had been cleared - what has been left is a big mess of clothes and other cr*p on the floors and the kitchen is full of rotting food - I have tidied up the food from a Health & Safety angle and I had my builder witness me take the keys. I then had the locks changed - again I am seeing this as Health & Safety.

                  If these people seriously want to come back then fine - they have my details and they can contact me and I can give them a set of keys. But they have not paid rent, they have extremely inconvenienced the neighbours, there has been some damage to the property and it is clear that they have had many many more living there than the 3 tenants agreed contractually - and they have been arrested on suspicion of criminal activity.

                  I am looking to clear the place and store the detritus they left behind so that if (as I suspect) they have not been near after 21 days I can then end the agreement as per the AST clause and take back the property clean it up and then re-let it.

                  Am I wrong here - appreciate the advice.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Question - how can I serve a Section 8 notice if they are not there? If they don't come back how do I prove I have served notice if I don't know where they are? Sending it recorded delivery to the property requires someone to sign for it and that doesn't look like it will happen.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Also meant to ask - If I do serve a S8 notice to the property (likely citing grounds 12 or 14 at this point) with 2 weeks notice and the tenants have still not come back after that point - does that legally satisfy the requirements for taking back the property or do I still have to get a court order even though they have not come back after almost 3-4 weeks and not paid rent.

                      thanks

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by sorenlorensen View Post
                        Also meant to ask - If I do serve a S8 notice to the property (likely citing grounds 12 or 14 at this point) with 2 weeks notice and the tenants have still not come back after that point - does that legally satisfy the requirements for taking back the property or do I still have to get a court order even though they have not come back after almost 3-4 weeks and not paid rent.
                        Serving a s.8 Notice itself does not end the tenancy. It just advises T that L intends to start possession proceedings.
                        JEFFREY SHAW, solicitor [and Topic Expert], Nether Edge Law*
                        1. Public advice is believed accurate, but I accept no legal responsibility except to direct-paying private clients.
                        2. Telephone advice: see http://www.landlordzone.co.uk/forums/showthread.php?t=34638.
                        3. For paid advice about conveyancing/leaseholds/L&T, contact me* and become a private client.
                        4. *- Contact info: click on my name (blue-highlight link).

                        Comment

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