Problem with legal company as well as tenants

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    Problem with legal company as well as tenants

    Hello,

    My tenants are almost 6 months behind with the rent (tenancy expires on 19th Feb 2010). In emails they made lots of apologises and promises but never returned my calls and after 2 months I got fed up so back in October I engaged with a specialist legal company advertized on this site to help me evict them and claim back the arrears.

    They served section 8 and 21 notices and after 6 weeks of waiting I finally went to court, fully expecting to get a possession order because the tenants didn't turn up to contest the case. Unfortunately, my case wasn't heard because apparently the claim form wasn't signed by a solicitor.

    The legal company has resubmitted the paperwork (with my signature this time) but now I have to wait for another court date not to mention all the expenses and loss of earnings from attending court in a different city.

    I think they realise that they have been very incompetent and that I could potentially seek compensation, so now they have sent bailiffs round to the flat on 3 consecutive nights with a view to claiming abandonment. It is true that the post box is full of about 2 months of unopened letters and that nobody answers the door. However, when I tried unlocking the door I found that the heating is on full and that the tenants have fitted a chain on the inside of the door which has a lock on the door frame side so I can't actually get inside.

    What should I do?

    #2
    Sounds like your best course of action is continue with your possession action and seek redress from your solicitor for any additional losses arising from their error, I am afraid.

    Comment


      #3
      Originally posted by limefizz View Post
      I think they realise that they have been very incompetent and that I could potentially seek compensation, so now they have sent bailiffs round to the flat on 3 consecutive nights with a view to claiming abandonment. It is true that the post box is full of about 2 months of unopened letters and that nobody answers the door. However, when I tried unlocking the door I found that the heating is on full and that the tenants have fitted a chain on the inside of the door which has a lock on the door frame side so I can't actually get inside.
      I would agree with Preston, but how did they fit a lock on the inside AND manage to leave the property? Is there an open window somewhere?

      Comment


        #4
        yes, how did they fit a chain on the door if there is no-one present?

        Perhaps there was someone sleeping,or dodging debt/collectors or the bailiff or just too scared to answer the door


        It is not without risk but only if you are absolutely certain the place has been abandoned by your ex-tenants you could just go in and take back possession.

        This cant legally be done if there is anyone residing at the address and there remains a slight risk that suddenly the old tenant will turn up and claim interference and damages so it only something that you could consider doing if you are certain they are gone and never to return.

        Others will tell you that you must always get a court order and even then if the tenant is still in occupation and does not depart wait another few weeks for the court bailiff's appointment.

        Best of British &c

        Comment


          #5
          Thanks, that's what I thought.

          Since the chain has a lock on the doorframe end you can lock the chain from the outside and then pull the door shut as well as the inside. The fact that there is about 2 month's worth of unopened post in the box, the bailiffs haven't seen them and they have not replied to any legal letters makes me think they have disappeared. However, they both have good jobs (one is a probation officer and the other works at a funeral directors no less) so I hope it won't be hard to trace them and attempt to get back the arrears.

          I assume since I gave the utility company their details that I am not liable for all the unopened bills (heating still on..)

          Comment


            #6
            It's not much comfort to you, but when I regained posession of a house that had been unoccupied for six months the utility company told me that I was responsible for the fuel. (The cheeky tenant had notified them they were leaving six months previously, but not me. The rent was only payable yearly.)

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by jamesknight0 View Post
              It's not much comfort to you, but when I regained posession of a house that had been unoccupied for six months the utility company told me that I was responsible for the fuel. (The cheeky tenant had notified them they were leaving six months previously, but not me. The rent was only payable yearly.)
              I hope you didnt pay!

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by limefizz View Post
                .... and the other works at a funeral directors no less) so I hope it won't be hard to trace them and attempt to get back the arrears.
                You might come to a dead-end tracing that one
                I also post as Moderator2 when moderating

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by Mars Mug View Post
                  You might come to a dead-end tracing that one
                  So get a solicitor's Undertaking!
                  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


                    #10
                    Originally posted by limefizz View Post
                    However, they both have good jobs (one is a probation officer and the other works at a funeral directors no less) so I hope it won't be hard to trace them and attempt to get back the arrears.
                    Even if you can't trace their new residential addresses via a tracing agent, you can hire a process server to serve the claim in person, i.e. physically hand it to the defendant, as they're easy to find if you know where they work. (NB if you do this, don't use Money Claim Online, get the claim issued in your local court and ask for papers to be sent to you for service). Enforcement of CCJ also fairly easy as you can apply for an attachment of earnings.

                    I assume since I gave the utility company their details that I am not liable for all the unopened bills (heating still on..)
                    T is liable for utilities, not you.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      This is what my legal company are saying:

                      I have spoken with the bailiff, they have visited the property again today,

                      The notice has been removed from the door, however there is no sign of entry or mail being collected. The chances are a neighbour or cleaner has removed it.

                      The bailiff can not make tomorrow, however we have looked at the evidence;

                      We have sent emails
                      We have made phone calls
                      We have sent the relevant notices
                      We have sent a bailiff to the property and put a notice on the door

                      With all of this in mind we can only presume that they have left the property, if you are going to the property tomorrow speak with the neighbours and knock on the door, if they are in leave the property and do not gain access, however if there is no sign of them and the neighbours haven’t seen them then you can gain entry because we have made every attempt possible to confirm they have left.


                      I would prefer to wait for the next court date but even if I get a speedy eviction date I will then have to apply back to the court for bailiffs as I'm pretty sure they have abandonned so won't be there to let me in.

                      Could I do what my legal company advise, ie. cut chain to get in if nobody answers, but not change the lock so that if they come back before the eviction date they can't say I evicted them?

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by limefizz View Post
                        This is what my legal company are saying:

                        I have spoken with the bailiff, they have visited the property again today,

                        The notice has been removed from the door, however there is no sign of entry or mail being collected. The chances are a neighbour or cleaner has removed it.

                        The bailiff can not make tomorrow, however we have looked at the evidence;

                        We have sent emails
                        We have made phone calls
                        We have sent the relevant notices
                        We have sent a bailiff to the property and put a notice on the door

                        With all of this in mind we can only presume that they have left the property, if you are going to the property tomorrow speak with the neighbours and knock on the door, if they are in leave the property and do not gain access, however if there is no sign of them and the neighbours haven’t seen them then you can gain entry because we have made every attempt possible to confirm they have left.


                        I would prefer to wait for the next court date but even if I get a speedy eviction date I will then have to apply back to the court for bailiffs as I'm pretty sure they have abandonned so won't be there to let me in.

                        Could I do what my legal company advise, ie. cut chain to get in if nobody answers, but not change the lock so that if they come back before the eviction date they can't say I evicted them?
                        Hi, the advice sounds reasonably good to me. In my day job, we have to make these assessments regularly and the issues your advisor has referred to are all relevant. Other key indicators include, amongst other things, physical signs of occupation (furniture and belongings) and payment of rent (or of course, the absence of these things). The key question you are trying to answer is, have they ceased to reside at the premises? If they have, you are perfectly entitled to enter into possession and, if you wish, to change the locks.

                        It is clearly your decision, but I would be quite comfortable following your lawyer's advice.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Hi,

                          Since sending me this email the legal company have not forwarded me the unanswered emails they sent to my tenants, or photos of the abandonment notice that they say the bailiffs put on the door so it seems I have no evidence at all!

                          I will be going up to Sheffield again on Monday and hopefully will get my possession order on that day, but I'm keen to use the opportunity of being there to put my own abandonment notice on the door if I find that the bailiff one is not there. Does anyone have any wording for this?

                          I've been told by the court that there is at least a month's wait to get court bailiffs so I'd really rather break the chain to enter the flat now and at least see whether all their possessions are still there.

                          thanks, Jemima

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