damaged property - tenant awol

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  • damaged property - tenant awol

    Hello,

    I'm looking for some advice. My tenant had 1 month left on a 6month AST. Rent was due on 20th Aug. He did not return my calls (phone goes to voice mail directly). When I went to the flat after a week, I found that the door lock had been changed but the door was open. His belongings have disappeared, as well as my fridge and sofa. The flat is in a mess.

    The tenancy ends on 20 Sep 06. I have a 'Notice Requiring Possession' on 19th Sep. that he signed when starting the tenancy.

    What should I do? I can't lock the door as I don't have the new keys. I can't leave it open as that would just invite squatters. Can I replace the door as it's damaged beyond repair?

    Finally, should I inform the police as well? Will they come round to have a look? Afterall, my fridge and sofa are gone.

    This is a first time for me. Any advice would be much appreciated.

    Regards
    ak

  • #2
    Originally posted by gjuk View Post
    I'm looking for some advice. My tenant had 1 month left on a 6month AST. Rent was due on 20th Aug. He did not return my calls (phone goes to voice mail directly).
    You know, I have a rule now that I never leave voicemails on mobiles unless I can actually hear a recording of the person speaking. I assume that if I just hear the prerecorded message that means that the user doesn't know how to use voicemail, or just doesn't bother. Many times I've eventually caught up with people for whom I've left messages to be told they'd never received them - they just won't be bothered to pay money to listen to them. Text messages are a much better option but still not foolproof obviously!

    Originally posted by gjuk View Post
    What should I do? I can't lock the door as I don't have the new keys. I can't leave it open as that would just invite squatters. Can I replace the door as it's damaged beyond repair?
    I'm sure you're aware that technically you aren't allowed to change the locks and that by doing so you could be inviting this low life to come back and sue you for ££££ for so doing - you can imagine the story he could concoct. Who knows, a real low life might even have changed the locks himself and left it unlocked deliberately to trick you into this course of action! But clearly you can't leave it as it is...[/QUOTE]

    Originally posted by gjuk View Post
    Finally, should I inform the police as well? Will they come round to have a look? Afterall, my fridge and sofa are gone.
    I would definitely do so. They might try to fob you off by saying it's a civil, not criminal matter, but if your stuff has been stolen - maybe even by a burglar, not the tenant? then I can't see how they can't. You should ensure they take note of the fact that the lock has been changed by the tenant and you have no way of securing the property other than by changing them again yourself; that way they can back you up in court if need be!

    Take lots of photographs of everything - again to cover your backside. Leave a note addressed to the tenant on the front door or visible in an adjacent window asking him to contact you. That should cover you I'd have thought!

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    • #3
      Good advice from eric. Only thing I would add...if he does contact you, you must provide him with a copy of the new key, as he still technically has possession.
      Any posts by myself are my opinion ONLY. They should never be taken as correct or factual without confirmation from a legal professional. All information is given without prejudice or liability.

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      • #4
        It's all very well sticking exactly to the law.

        However, at some stage, common sense HAS to prevail.

        This thief is extremely unlikely to return. I say change the locks, take possession back and report the theft to the police.

        Mind you, if you have no forwarding address for the tenant, the police will do nothing.

        Also check your insurance policy. Mine states that if theft is by the tenant then the items are not covered

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Tassotti View Post
          This thief is extremely unlikely to return. I say change the locks, take possession back and report the theft to the police.
          I agree with the common sense part, hence changing the locks. But you have no basis to retake possession. What if, for example, the tenant is on an extended holiday, and someone has burgled the place while he has been away? Unlikely, I agree, but if that is the case, and he comes back to find he has been kicked out...big money and criminal claim! It actually is common sense to cover your back, hence leaving the note visible in the window, and giving a key if the tenant later asks.
          Any posts by myself are my opinion ONLY. They should never be taken as correct or factual without confirmation from a legal professional. All information is given without prejudice or liability.

          Comment


          • #6
            Hi,

            Thanks for all your comments so far. Since, I have a signed 'Notice Requiring Possession' in September (which he signed at the start of tenancy 5 months ago) does possession revert back to me automatically in Sep 06?

            I thought about the holiday hypothesis. But the fact that all his clothes/bed linen have gone makes that unlikely.

            To cover my back, I'll report the matter to police and take lots of photographs. I'll also leave a note for the tenant.

            Cheers
            gjuk

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            • #7
              Possession of the property does not automatically return to you. You need to proceed through the courts if the tenant has not given possession of the property back to you. However, I am not sure how this would be affected by the apparent abandonment of the property. However, at first glance, the date on your notice may be wrong...surely it should be dated after the 20th, when the fixed term ends, not the day before? However, again, I am not totally sure.
              Any posts by myself are my opinion ONLY. They should never be taken as correct or factual without confirmation from a legal professional. All information is given without prejudice or liability.

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              • #8
                sorry .. my mistake ... the notice of possession is indeed dated after then end of the fixed term.

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