Tenant arrested/jailed- effect on Tenancy Agreement

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    Tenant arrested/jailed- effect on Tenancy Agreement

    My tenant appears to have been arrested, several weeks ago, by either Fraud or Immigration (you can tell I'm having a lot of luck getting information from the police, can't you?). I certainly get the impression he won't be back. Where on earth do I stand here? I'm obviously going to have to take legal advice for myself, but any other hints welcomed, or links to appropriate web pages. Presumably I also need to take steps to evict him/give him notice, but what do you do if he's been absent for weeks? Just serve the notice to the flat and hang whether or not he's there? There are so many potential complications. Am already getting going with the credit report from Experian, BTW. Then there's what to do with his things, his post and so on ...

    #2
    Serve notice, he may be bailed back to your address. Go through the motions. Otherwise you may be illegally evicting.

    Comment


      #3
      Tenant in prison; may have used house for illegal ends

      Let me put an only partially hypothetical situation before you:

      Landlord rents flat to Tenant for a couple of years without too many problems. L becomes aware that he hasn't heard from T for several weeks which, under the circumstances is rather unusual, but hey, T's entitled to his privacy, isn't he? T isn't answering his mobile, email or anything else, and L eventually becomes concerned enough for his wellbeing to go round to the flat and check that he's all right. No sign of tenant, but door has been broken in. After much ringing around, L discovers that it was a police break-in and T was arrested, but current whereabouts unknown - it's assumed that T has done a runner - and immediately issues an S21 notice (legal advice being that this is probably easier than an S8, given that the tenant is absent).

      While keeping an eye on the now-empty property and the post coming in, it becomes increasingly obvious merely from looking at the envelopes that T has been using the flat to commit several illegal, although perhaps not excessively serious (depending on your point of view, of course), acts, including credit fraud. L eventually receives a letter from T, who is in prison, having been found guilty of some of said acts, but about to be released after a short stay. He is to be tagged and released back to the flat for the remainder of his sentence.

      T has not paid rent during his spell in prison, and has already run up a very large phone bill, calling his family back home overseas. He has also lost his job due to his unexplained absence, so will be very short on money when he comes out, and is unlikely to be able to pay the outstanding rent/bills money. Because L respected his privacy and didn't check up on him very soon, the notice period still has several weeks to run. So, L by law cannot prevent T from coming back to the flat despite the fact that T has broken several points of the tenancy agreement and has acquired a criminal record for his activities at the flat! There’s nothing to stop T from carrying on with his illegal activities until the notice term ends, leaving L with a huge credit question mark over the property, as well as no chance of recouping the money owed to him. Presumably at least the landlord can’t be held responsible for any continuing illegal activities …

      The situation may be fair to someone, but it certainly isn't the landlord!

      Comment


        #4
        L can now serve s.8 Notice on T. Use grounds 8/10/11 (rent) plus grounds 12 (other breaches of tenancy)/13 (neglect causing damage)/14 (use for illegal purposes). As g14 is available, L can begin proceedings at once: s.8(4).
        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


          #5
          Originally posted by alywin View Post
          Landlord rents flat to Tenant for a couple of years without too many problems. L becomes aware that he hasn't heard from T for several weeks which, under the circumstances is rather unusual, but hey, T's entitled to his privacy, isn't he? T isn't answering his mobile, email or anything else, and L eventually becomes concerned enough for his wellbeing to go round to the flat and check that he's all right.
          Providing rent is being paid, what reason (or right) does L have to "check up" on tenant? I certainly would not appreciate my L "popping round" to check I'm alright just because I don't communicate with him. My agreement does not specify that I will respond to L's emails/phone calls.

          Having said that I can understand why some people might check up on T.

          No sign of tenant, but door has been broken in. After much ringing around, L discovers that it was a police break-in and T was arrested, but current whereabouts unknown - it's assumed that T has done a runner - and immediately issues an S21 notice (legal advice being that this is probably easier than an S8, given that the tenant is absent).
          So basically T (for one reason or another) is not there. Also there is damage to front door. L then discovers T has been arrested and starts proceeding to evict T. Obviously eviction takes time --- when you let a property you have to manage the risk that a bad tenant might cause you grief. This is no different to a tenant not paying rent --- you can't just chuck them out.

          While keeping an eye on the now-empty property and the post coming in,
          Is it legal for L to "keep an eye" on T's post? If I was arrested I would like to think that my L would not come around and start nosing through my private affairs.

          it becomes increasingly obvious merely from looking at the envelopes that T has been using the flat to commit several illegal, although perhaps not excessively serious (depending on your point of view, of course), acts, including credit fraud.
          Tut tut. But that doesn't give L the right to lock the door and refuse tenant admittance.

          L eventually receives a letter from T, who is in prison, having been found guilty of some of said acts, but about to be released after a short stay. He is to be tagged and released back to the flat for the remainder of his sentence.
          Which, seeing as he is (presumably) legally still the tenant of the flat, seems fair enough, whether T has been in gaol, on holiday, or lost in the desert. Where else does T have to go?

          T has not paid rent during his spell in prison,
          So T owes L money.

          and has already run up a very large phone bill, calling his family back home overseas.
          Well that's hardly illegal or unfair, so long as he pays it.

          He has also lost his job due to his unexplained absence, so will be very short on money when he comes out,
          Assuming he doesn't have any savings. Or did L open his bank statements to check?

          and is unlikely to be able to pay the outstanding rent/bills money.
          Unless he gets another job, which is perfectly possible.

          Because L respected his privacy and didn't check up on him very soon,
          Respecting T's privacy is not something the L does out of kindness. T is legally entitled to privacy from L. I would rather discuss what gave L the right to stop respecting T's privacy.

          the notice period still has several weeks to run.
          That's life. L presumably knew before he let the property that eviction wasn't an instantaneous thing, it takes time.

          So, L by law cannot prevent T from coming back to the flat despite the fact that T has broken several points of the tenancy agreement and has acquired a criminal record for his activities at the flat!
          Quite right! L cannot instantly evict T no matter how many points of the agreement he has broken! There are legal procedure to be followed, and they take time.

          There’s nothing to stop T from carrying on with his illegal activities until the notice term ends,
          Nope. But there was nothing to stop him before he was arrested either. And when L gets a new T, they'll be nothing to stop them. If L doesn't want that risk he either has to check his T's very carefully or not let the property out.

          leaving L with a huge credit question mark over the property,
          I understood that properties were no longer blacklisted, only people.

          as well as no chance of recouping the money owed to him.
          Why "no chance"? Is it inevitable that T will withhold the money owed? What's stopping the L claiming the money back via small claims? And how is this any more unfair than a T who simply stops paying rent?

          Presumably at least the landlord can’t be held responsible for any continuing illegal activities …
          Of course not! L's are not legally responsible for their T's behaviour. If I break the law, the police are going to come to me, not my L.

          The situation may be fair to someone, but it certainly isn't the landlord!
          Life isn't fair! L chose to take a risk, and in this case, lost out. Hardly front-page news. I still don't see how it's any more unfair than T stopping paying rent.

          Peter

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by jeffrey View Post
            L can now serve s.8 Notice on T. Use grounds 8/10/11 (rent) plus grounds 12 (other breaches of tenancy)/13 (neglect causing damage)/14 (use for illegal purposes). As g14 is available, L can begin proceedings at once: s.8(4).
            I understand that L is entitled to start proceedings at once, but surely that doesn't give L the right to lock T out of the property with immediate effect?

            And has it been or can it be proved that T used the property for illegal purposes? Surely that is different to the tenant breaking the law whilst living there --- he might have done the illegal stuff at another address, and only slept in the property.

            Peter

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by pcwilkins View Post
              I understand that L is entitled to start proceedings at once, but surely that doesn't give L the right to lock T out of the property?

              Peter
              No- that's true. Locking-out a legal tenant is probably harassment, criminal, and expensive if a Court decides to impose a fine on conviction.
              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
                Originally posted by pcwilkins View Post
                And has it been or can it be proved that T used the property for illegal purposes? Surely that is different to the tenant breaking the law whilst living there --- he might have done the illegal stuff at another address, and only slept in the property.

                Peter
                OP says yes- credit fraud and other nefarious activities.
                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


                  #9
                  Originally posted by jeffrey View Post
                  OP says yes- credit fraud and other nefarious activities.
                  Hmmm --- T is obviously using property to receive documents relating to criminal acts, but is he using the property to commit those acts?

                  If I make a fraudulent mortgage application using my phone at work, and get the paperwork sent to my home, does that mean I'm using the property to commit the act of fraud?

                  I'm not a lawyer, as you see...

                  Peter

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by pcwilkins View Post
                    Hmmm --- T is obviously using property to receive documents relating to criminal acts, but is he using the property to commit those acts?

                    If I make a fraudulent mortgage application using my phone at work, and get the paperwork sent to my home, does that mean I'm using the property to commit the act of fraud?

                    I'm not a lawyer, as you see...

                    Peter
                    1. Easy answer: why not commit acts that (you argue) aren't criminal, then repent at leisure in HM's penitential holding establishment?
                    2. Better answer: receiving fraud-linked correspondence at home is reasonably good evidence of home's use, is it not?
                    3. Best answer: L should just serve the bloomin' s.8 Notice, include all possible grounds, and see which of them stick. As long as L gets mandatory possession from Court, no need to have qualms about whether g14 is proven.
                    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


                      #11
                      Originally posted by jeffrey View Post
                      1. Easy answer: why not commit acts that (you argue) aren't criminal, then repent at leisure in HM's penitential holding establishment?
                      I wasn't trying to justify T's behaviour --- nor was I arguing that T's acts aren't criminal. I was just wondering if it could be proved that T had used the property for illegal purposes?

                      2. Better answer: receiving fraud-linked correspondence at home is reasonably good evidence of home's use, is it not?
                      Ah, but is "receiving fraud-linked correspondence at home" the same as "committing fraud at home"? Are they both illegal? Or should I just stop nit-picking and shut up?

                      3. Best answer: L should just serve the bloomin' s.8 Notice, include all possible grounds, and see which of them stick. As long as L gets mandatory possession from Court, no need to have qualms about whether g14 is proven.
                      Agreed. But L should not have the 'right' to lock T out of his home just because he's a naughty boy.

                      What chance would T have of suing L for breach of quiet enjoyment because L entered property (not to mention looked through post) without T's prior permission?

                      Peter

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by pcwilkins View Post
                        Providing rent is being paid, what reason (or right) does L have to "check up" on tenant? I certainly would not appreciate my L "popping round" to check I'm alright just because I don't communicate with him. My agreement does not specify that I will respond to L's emails/phone calls.
                        It sounds as if rent wasn't being paid though.

                        I was once in a similar situation in that I had a tenant who wasn't responding to any communications from me, despite paying his rent on time, and I did get a bit concerned about what was going on, especially when neighbours told me they hadn't seen him for many weeks. Eventually tracked him down (without me ever entering the property) and it transpired he'd moved out, shortly after commencing a 6-month AST, and didn't bother even telling me as he (wrongly) thought he'd have to pay for the full 6 months rent anyway. So my property was sitting empty for months, which of course is a security risk and broke the T&Cs of my buildings insurance policy.

                        So I do have some sympathy with the 'checking up' issue.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Yet again, the notification of replies feature hasn't worked, and I've only just thought to check up on this. In the meantime, the discussion has veered off into a few byways I had hoped it wouldn't, probably due to my attempts to simplify/fictionalise and what have you.

                          Please note, first of all, that I never made any suggestion of changing the locks on T: that would have been incredibly stupid, as it would have been likely to rebound adversely on L. Also, re the post, the property in question is a shared conversion flat with a single letterbox, and all the post ends up in the hall, where the addressees, L included, sort out what is theirs and leave the rest. Therefore, if the L is on the premises it would be quite reasonable to sort out his post, which obviously requires looking at the addressees on the envelope, whoever they might be.

                          The direction in which I'd originally intended to lead the discussion - and I see now I left off a vital paragraph at the end - was a scenario in which T has committed an offence of varying proportions, has been arrested and charged with said offence and (whether convicted or not) returned to the property, and just how far this could go in terms of the crime committed. Thinking about the implications got a bit scary. I believe it's possible that he could, for example, have assaulted the woman downstairs, or been a paedophile (it's amazing how many of those still slip through checks) and assaulted her child, and still been released back to the property. Obviously, he does have a right of tenancy, and you're innocent until proven guilty, and all that, but if I were the woman living downstairs I would obviously be desperately unhappy about him coming back at all and would be demanding that L throw him out, but L's hands would be completely tied. The only thing that could be done, it seems to me, would be for the woman and child to move out away from him, and why should they be forced to do that? What about their rights?

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Originally posted by alywin View Post
                            I believe it's possible that he could, for example, have assaulted the woman downstairs, or been a paedophile (it's amazing how many of those still slip through checks) and assaulted her child, and still been released back to the property.
                            If T had been charged with crimes of this nature I would assume it would be unlikely that he would be released into the community before standing trial. And once he has stood trial he would either be found guilty (and probably locked away) or innocent (in which case he has every right to return to the property).

                            Obviously, he does have a right of tenancy, and you're innocent until proven guilty, and all that, but if I were the woman living downstairs I would obviously be desperately unhappy about him coming back at all
                            I would hope that he would not be coming back unless he was assumed not to be a danger to the public. The woman downstairs might be unhappy about it but that's her problem, to be honest. The fact is that unless he is proven guilty he is innocent and everyone has to treat him as such.

                            and would be demanding that L throw him out,
                            If she demanded this she would be unreasonable. Is she suggesting that anyone who is suspected of committing an offence should be thrown out of their home?

                            but L's hands would be completely tied. The only thing that could be done, it seems to me, would be for the woman and child to move out away from him, and why should they be forced to do that?
                            They are not being "forced" to, it is their own choice. Again, if the T has not been convicted, he must be treated as innocent, no matter how the "woman downstairs" (or the public in general) feels about it.

                            What about their rights?
                            The woman has every right to stay in her home. That seems to me to be the only right concerned; if woman is suggesting that she has a "right" not to live near people who are suspected of crime, she is wrong. It's her choice where she lives.

                            If she wants to give up her right to stay in her current home, that's her decision!

                            Peter

                            Comment


                              #15
                              On the "locking out" question, would I be wrong as a landlord if I changed the locks on a door that had been broken down because the locks had been damaged? Surely there would be a requirement to secure the property, even if only for insurance purposes, and if the tenant were 'inside' then there might not be a way to get a copy of the new key to him/her.

                              This is purely a rhetorical question based on the discussion that followed the original post, not a situation that I've found myself in I'm glad to say.

                              So if I had to change the locks and couldn't get in touch with absent tenant, how could I protect myself from accusations of harrassment and illegal eviction?

                              Comment

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