Tenant on Benefits, moved out without notice, all stuff still there...

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    Tenant on Benefits, moved out without notice, all stuff still there...


    Hi everyone,

    I have a tenant who is a young lady with a young son aged around 5 years. She signed an Assured Short hold tenancy agreement on 17/12/11 and moved in the same day. It was a 6 month contract and kept rolling until now.

    A few months in, I found out the T had a 'support worker' who worked for 'Stencil' and that the T wanted to cut all ties and wanted me to make all contact via her support worker.

    After the 6 months contract, my tenant contacted me and seemed very eager for me to give her a new 12 months contract as she said she wanted security. I understood this and we arranged to meet to sign new contracts with her support worker present. When I met them, the T said that she has changed her mind after discussing matters with her support worker and her support worker stated that it's in T's best interest to keep the contract rolling. On that day, T mentioned she had got a sofa on finance for £40 per month.

    A few weeks later, I received a phone call from support worker saying that T can no longer afford the house and requested that I evict my T so that she can get a council house. I spoke with Tenancy relations regarding this matter and they assured me I didn't have to do anything. I contacted the support worker and said I am not willing to do that.

    T then stopped topping up her rent by £50 per month so she now owes me £250. I sent many letters to T asking her to contact me to arrange a way of paying me gradually. I have had no response and T has changed her number. I then got a call from support worker saying that T's boyfriend has been abusing her and has stolen a key to back door, I asked how it happened, she said he was at T's grandma's and saw some keys, took the back door key off a keyring. I found it difficult to believe that if the key was stolen in a hurry, the boyfriend had time to remove the key from the keyring. I told the support worker that T owes me a lot of money and that if she wants to change the locks, we can deduct it from what she owes. The support worker dismissed this and demanded I pay for the locks to be changed, I said I would discuss it with Tenancy Relations. TR told me that I did not have to change the locks.

    I did not hear from the support worker for a few weeks so I left her a message, she got back to me about 2 days ago saying "I think she got the key back yes, I can't give you T's number as it's confidential" so I asked her to ring me next time she is with T to discuss what's happening about the locks. Yesterday, I received a letter from council/benefits stating that T has moved out and I owe them £370 rent money back and that T should pay me the money herself.

    T did not give 1 month notice that she was going to move out, T did not return keys, the house is still full of T's things....What is the best course of action to take here? Advice greatly appreciated.

    #2
    This is why I now avoid HB tenants.

    In your heading you say 'all the stuff' is still there. I guess you mean personal possessions. Even though you've had a letter from HB saying tenant has moved out, I'd be very careful before formally taking possession of the property.

    There are some people on here who will be able to give you accurate advice and I'm sure they will be along sometime soon.

    Comment


      #3
      The tenancy is clearly not over if the place is full of Ts stuff and she hasn't given due notice.

      However, if she is no longer living there, she is not entitled to housing benefit for the place - meaning she is liable to pay the full rent out of her own pocket - like that's going to happen!

      Ideally, you'd appeal to the council regarding the repayment claim (should work if you genuinely had no idea she wasn't living there) and obtain a deed of surrender from the tenant (via 'worker' maybe) to end the tenancy legally. As we are talking benefits claimant, you may as well include the offer of wiping the debt off in exchange for the surrender.

      If she won't surrender, you have the choice of risking committing illegal eviction or going through the legal eviction process. The first offers a potential £5k fine / 6 months prison / criminal record, the latter offers potential 5 month wait for possession.

      It really bugs me that if the tenant is up-front in these situations, they can give notice, leave when they want and the council will pay the overlap between the 2 places - but the tenant has to ask! If thy did that then you wouldn't have this hassle.

      Comment


        #4
        Thank you very much for your advice,

        I have read a few similar threads and I have decided against changing the locks and re-decorating as the consequences of doing that could be awful.

        My plan is to call Tenancy Relations tomorrow for advice as well as contacting the housing benefit team to explain the situation.

        The contract states the if I have reason to believe the house has been empty for over 21 days, I am free to enter the house which brings the tenancy to an end. Could this help me? The letter from HB states that T moved out on Aug 23rd 2012.

        You mentioned obtaining a deed of surrender, how do I do this?

        I too wish she had been up-front. I can't be sure but I think the support worker is misleading T and giving the wrong advice.

        Comment


          #5
          smoulki02,

          By all means contact the council but they may know no more than you. I would concentrate getting the support worker and/or Stencil to find out if the tenant has left or not. I would have thought that a support worker would have a duty to their client not to allow them rack up unnecessary debts (wether they could pay them or not).

          Dave

          Comment


            #6
            I would have thought so too Dave.

            However, as I have mentioned above the support worker rang me a few months ago asking me to evict my T so that she will be priority to get a council house (and obviously if I am asked why I evicted T I cannot say it's because her support worker asked). Lying about it would have been illegal.

            The support worker told me that if I evict T, then T will pay all the money she owes me. I doubted that.

            After getting the letter from HB, I left a message for the support worker on her answering machine asking whether T has moved out but heard nothing yet.

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by smoulki02 View Post
              The contract states the if I have reason to believe the house has been empty for over 21 days, I am free to enter the house which brings the tenancy to an end. Could this help me? The letter from HB states that T moved out on Aug 23rd 2012.
              No, this clause would not bring the tenancy to an end, only a court order, the end of the fixed term, or a surrender from the tenant brings the tenancy to an end.

              Of course, you may decide that the 'situation' and the confirmation from the housing benefit people implies that she has surrendered the tenancy. The question you have to consider is, is it implied so strongly that a judge would agree with you if it came to that?

              You mentioned obtaining a deed of surrender, how do I do this?
              Ahem ↓↓↓

              Comment


                #8
                Hi Snorkerz,

                The 6 month contract started on 17th Dec 12 and finished on 17th June but was on a rolling contract.
                I'm guessing this makes things a lot easier...I could just issue a section 21 couldn't I?

                I know what you mean, I doubt a judge would agree that I should consider it to be ended at this point...but I have not yet heard from the support worker to ask what she knows about it.

                I am unable to view links as I've made less than 15 posts....

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by smoulki02 View Post
                  The 6 month contract started on 17th Dec 12 and finished on 17th June but was on a rolling contract.
                  I'm guessing this makes things a lot easier...I could just issue a section 21 couldn't I?
                  A section 21 notice does not end a tenancy, though no tenant in situ at the expiry of a s21 is commonly accepted as 'implied surrender', I've never heard of a successful illegal eviction claim in such circumstances.

                  I am unable to view links as I've made less than 15 posts....
                  Then sorry for my jest - I knew new members couldn't use the PM system, didn't realise they couldn't see signatures/links.

                  For you, and you only bit.ly forward slash SN4gvK

                  Comment


                    #10
                    smoulki02,

                    I think you need to speak to the support worker first, I am assuming the message for s/he was left yesterday (Sat) so maybe an office answer machine. If you dont hear first thing call again and if no joy contact Stencil. If you google "Stencil support worker" there is some interesting info - may apply to you.

                    You can cut and paste or type in www.TenancyServices.co.uk
                    to your browser top bar to view the link to a deed of surrender etc.
                    Dave

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Thank you both for your help and advice.

                      I have bought and downloaded a deed of surrender, the only problem is I am unable to get in touch with T.

                      I got no response from leaving messages on support worker's mobile phone so I rang Stencil land line and the support worker happened to pick up the phone. She said that she has not spoken with T yet and is unable to contact her but will get back to me. I'm not sure if that's entirely true...
                      Should I contact the manager to see if this will get a quicker response?

                      Does anyone know if Stencil have the authority to sign deed of surrender on T's behalf?
                      The other thing is, I'm wondering if T is okay due to abusive ex...Should I contact police?

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Unless you have something from the tenant saying that 'stencil' or any 3rd party can sign on their behalf - then no.

                        However, the Councils statement that she has moved and any similar statement from stencil stating that she wants to give up the tenancy all add to the 'implied surrender' in post #7.

                        Did you tell the worker that the tenant is liable for rent until she ends the tenancy?

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Unfortunately, I don't have anything stating that Stencil can sign for the T...
                          So far, the only evidence I have that T has moved is the letter from Housing Benefits and when I rang them up and gave a ref number, they told me a different address was coming up on the system. Meaning, T has told them her new address, so it's officially changed.

                          That's the only evidence I have. I have heard nothing at all from the support worker. The last time I spoke with her (when she happened to pick up the company land line) she told me she is unable to contact T as of yet.

                          How can you end a tenancy with a T that seems to have disappeared? When do I go from here?

                          Comment


                            #14
                            If the tenant is no longer resident, it is no longer an AST, so section 8 & 21 do not apply.
                            Therefore you need to evict (through the courts) based on the written agreement.

                            Have a read of the tenancy agreement and see under what circumstances (that apply here) it says you can regain possession. Let us know what they say

                            Comment


                              #15
                              ... Shift+R improves the quality of this image. Shift+A improves the quality of all images on this page.Excellent idea.

                              Here goes...

                              General Background Reminder:
                              Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement - Fixed for 6 months
                              Began 17th Dec 2011 to 17th June 2012 and is now 'on-going'
                              Housing Benefit sent letter to me (L) informing me that T moved out on 23rd Aug 2012.
                              I rang HB and they told me T's name is linked with a new address.
                              T's support worker rang me back today (26/09/12) says she can't discuss T's situation without permission from T first. She said 'Do what you need to do as a Landlord' (Support worker asked me to evict T to ensure she can get a council house in previous months)

                              Statements taken from the Tenancy Agreement that may apply:-
                              3.11 The End of the Term and the Removal of the Tenant’s Belongings
                              3.11.1 To give the Landlord reasonable prior notice if the Tenant intends to leave at the end of the fixed term of this Agreement.

                              3.11.2 At the expiration or sooner determination of the Term:
                              (a) to deliver up to the Landlord the Premises, and the items set out in the Inventory, free from rubbish and in such order, condition, and state as shall be consistent with the due performance of the obligations of the Tenant contained in this Agreement;
                              (b) not to remove any of the items listed in the Inventory from the Premises and to leave them in the several rooms and places as described in the Inventory or as found at the commencement of the Term; and
                              (c) to deliver to the Landlord all keys [and security devices or codes] for the Premises on expiry of the Term and to pay all reasonable charges incurred by the Landlord in securing the Premises against re-entry where the keys are not returned.

                              3.11.3 If any of the Tenant’s goods or any goods belonging to the Tenant’s household shall not have been removed from the Premises at the expiration or sooner determination of the Term, the Landlord will remove and store such items for 28 days or such other period as is reasonable in the circumstances. The Landlord will notify the Tenant at the last known address. If the items are not collected within the said storage period, the Landlord may dispose of them in such manner as is reasonable in the circumstances and the Tenant will be liable for all reasonable removal and/or storage and/or disposal charges incurred by the Landlord. The reasonable costs incurred by the Landlord in removing storing and disposing of the items may be deducted from any sale proceeds and/or the Deposit and, if there are any costs remaining after such deduction, they will be recoverable from the Tenant as a debt.

                              5.3 Recovery of Possession
                              5.3.1 The Landlord may bring a court action to recover possession of the Premises, even if any previous right to do so has been waived, if and whenever during the Term:
                              (a) the Rent is outstanding for 14 days after becoming due whether formally demanded or not; or
                              (b) there is a breach by the Tenant of any obligation or other term of this agreement; or
                              (c) the grounds for possession in the Housing Act 1988 Schedule 2, Part I grounds 2 or 8, or any of the grounds in Part II of that Schedule other than grounds 9 or 16 apply (the said grounds are set out at schedule 3 to this Agreement); or
                              (d) the Tenant becomes bankrupt, has an administration order made in respect of his assets, has a receiver appointed, makes an arrangement for the benefit of his creditors, or has any distress or execution levied on his goods.

                              [5.3.2 The Landlord (or, in the case of joint Landlords, at least one of them) has occupied the Premises as his only or principal home and may require the Premises as his or his spouse’s only or principal home. The Landlord hereby gives notice that possession of the Premises may be recovered on Ground 1 in Part I of Schedule 2 to the Housing Act 1988.]

                              [5.3.3 The Premises are subject to a mortgage granted before the beginning of this agreement and the mortgagee is or may be entitled to exercise a power of sale and may require possession of the Premises for the purpose of disposing of the Premises in the exercise of that power. The Landlord hereby gives notice to the Tenant that possession of the Premises may be recovered on Ground 2 in Part I of Schedule 2 to the Housing Act 1988.]

                              5.5.1 Any notice or other document to be served on either of the parties under the terms of or in connection with this Agreement shall be sufficiently served if it is left or delivered at, or sent by special delivery or by recorded delivery addressed to:
                              (a) the address of the party to be served as specified in the Tenancy Particulars; or
                              (b) such other address as may from time to time be notified in writing to the other party; or
                              (c) (in the case of any notice which is to be served on the Tenant) the Premises.

                              5.5.2 Any notice or document of the kind referred to in this clause if sent by special delivery or by recorded delivery, addressed as required above, shall be deemed to have been sufficiently served 48 hours after the time of posting (unless returned by the Post Office undelivered).

                              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

                              Advice greatly appreciated.

                              Comment

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