Penny for your thoughts on a crazy situation.

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    Penny for your thoughts on a crazy situation.

    Thankfully this is nothing to do with me, as it is even worse than some of the silly messes I've got myself into.

    A friend of a friend (who knows I'm a landlord) sought my advice. I gave it, they weren't sure that they liked it and so consulted a solicitor, who gave markedly different advice. Anyway, it all adds to the flavour. Enjoy....

    The landlady in question is mad, i.e. literally is mentally ill and has been sectioned, so this might have had a bearing on her behaviour.

    OK, so the landlady puts in a tenant from Poland. All is going well. For reasons unknown to me the landlady goes along and collects cash for the rent each month rather than having the tenant put it in her bank. One day the washing machine is broken, and the landlady has a row with the tenant, accusing her of running an illegal washing business and wearing out her washing machine (!) and also of being a prostitute. Later on she comes to her senses and feels very embarrassed about her outburst. So she doesn't go back to collect the next lot of rent - FOR 2 YEARS lol.

    So recently the landlady is talking to her daughter and son-in-law and all the above comes out. They - naturally - want to bring the situation to a close. The son-in-law goes to the house to speak to the tenant and finds she's gone and 6 people of indeterminate origin are living there. They are under the impression that the missing tenant is the landlady and have been paying her about £1k per month in rent for the last year or so.

    When asked my opinion I said that if it was me I would serve a section 8 on the original tenant, get a possession order and let the bailiffs get rid of the sub letters, as they have no legitimate tenancy.

    They weren't sure about this and so went to see a property specialist solicitor. Bearing in mind the potential for Chinese Whispers, this solicitor apparently told them to serve an abandonment notice to end the tenancy with the original tenant, at which point the law governing the tenancy as an AST would cease to apply and they could then proceed to end the tenancy as per the terms in the agreement because it becomes just a 'contractual tenancy' under law. So at that point the landlady can change the locks and take over the property. The solicitor also told them the subletters had legal protection under the protection from eviction act and so couldn't be turfed out by bailiffs. She suggested instead that the landlady accept this and start collecting money from them and get them to sign an agreement with her.

    Now I'm no lawyer and this might all be correct, but it seems a bit fishy to me. Can anyone comment?

    The thing that struck me straight away was what if the tenant, faced with losing her cushy income, simply claims she has not in fact abandoned the property and starts proceedings for illegal eviction? I very much doubt the current residents - who might not even be here legally - are going to want to get involved in this, so it comes down to the landlady's claim that the tenant has abandoned the property against the tenant's assertion that she hasn't! Doesn't sound a very sensible scenario to put yourself into to me.

    Even if the sub letting tenants do have rights under the protection from eviction act, the landlady suddenly ends up with an HMO she never expected.
    Last edited by tired old chap; 06-03-2014, 15:34 PM. Reason: spelling mistakes

    An abandonment notice does in no way end the tenancy with the old tenant. She still has a tenancy, just no longer an AST.

    Your advice is also "wrong" in that the tenancy is no longer an AST, so a Sec 8 is not the correct process.
    Saying that, if a Sec 8 was used, then I doubt the tenant or sub tenants would show up in court to defend it.

    I would not tell the court that the tenant is no longer there. There is a proper way to deal with this situation, but I do not know it, as I have taken a different unconventional route when faced with similar situations.

    Your way is definitely the way I would head for possession out of the two though.
    Allow tenants to protect their own deposits. I want free money when they do it wrong


      She's lucky she's been sectioned, makes it somebody elses problem

      Any reason they cant use Section 21? Even if it means returning the deposit. Sec 8 likely to be a nightmare.

      If the LL has never accepted rent or otherwise allowed the subtenants then AFAIK their tenancy ends when their immediate LL's (the tenant) tenancy ends. If the actual LL does anything to 'allow' their tenancy, like accepting rent, then they acquire protection and have to be formally evicted too.
      I'm not a lawyer, what I say is the truth as I understand it. I offer no guarantee except good intentions.


        Originally posted by thesaint View Post
        An abandonment notice does in no way end the tenancy with the old tenant. She still has a tenancy, just no longer an AST.
        This was the bit I didn't understand (and what made me think her son-in-law had relayed the solicitor's advice to me incorrectly): when does the tenancy stop being an AST?


          Originally posted by monkeysee View Post
          She's lucky she's been sectioned, makes it somebody elses problem

          Any reason they cant use Section 21? Even if it means returning the deposit. Sec 8 likely to be a nightmare..
          I thought that a section 8 would be the way to go as it would allow them to get an order for the unpaid rent. They have no way to return the deposit (which was never protected) as the landlady doesn't have a number for the tenant anymore. I guess they could make overtures with the sub letters to get in touch with the tenant, but I would imagine it would stick in the craw for them to give the tenant another £1000 when there's £20k of unpaid rent. Crazy stuff eh? I never thought I'd say this on this forum, but she should have used a letting agent lol.


            Originally posted by tired old chap View Post
            when does the tenancy stop being an AST?
            When it is no longer their main residence.
            Allow tenants to protect their own deposits. I want free money when they do it wrong


              That's the sticky bit then, isn't it? What if the tenant simply says it IS her main residence? How would this mad landlady (or even a sane one) prove otherwise? It would seem to be the word of one party against another.


                You want the tenant to say it IS their main residence. That way, a Sec 8 and Sec 21 are the correct forms to use.
                Allow tenants to protect their own deposits. I want free money when they do it wrong


                  I would serve a common-law NTQ, a S21 & a S8 and then see what happened before any of the expired.

                  Best option would be for "the tenant" to evict his tenants, the current occupants (who have an AST with him...).. then leave & sign a surrender deed..

                  Oh, and I suggest occupants (who may be viewing this thread) should contact Shelter **free** helpline on 0808 800 4444 as they need info & advice to hold onto their home, their property.

                  'twer me think I'd stay well out of this one & suggest they contact a solicitor themselves, rather than trying to advise l**n%"s,,,,

                  I am legally unqualified: If you need to rely on advice check it with a suitable authority - eg a solicitor specialising in landlord/tenant law...


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