Tenant in arrears and disappeared - advice on next steps

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    Tenant in arrears and disappeared - advice on next steps

    My tenant is just about to fall 2 months behind with his rent so I am preparing to serve a section 8 notice on him but just looking for some advice on how this process works. He’s on a two year fixed contract with a break clause not until July.

    The tenant has not responded to any phone calls (phone is switched off), letters or emails and the letting agency have been round numerous times and it appears that he has left the property – there are some of his items still there but there food has gone mouldy and post has piled up etc. He has still got the keys though.

    After I serve the section 8 I know there is a two week wait until he responds but how long until I can get a court date roughly? And also once there will I be able to be awarded possession straight away or have the farce of giving him time to move out even though he has left?

    I just want to sell the property now and just keen to get an idea of how long this whole process will take.

    This is my first property and first tenant so very unlucky it seems.

    #2
    Does the AST permit you (LL) to serve s8 during the fixed term?

    Comment


      #3
      Has agent posted an abandonment notice on the door?
      To save them chiming in, JPKeates, Theartfullodger, Boletus, Mindthegap, Macromia, Holy Cow & Ted.E.Bear think the opposite of me on almost every subject.

      Comment


        #4
        Yes I am able to serve a section 8 and I haven't served an abandonment notice as I don't want to take the risk of him turning back up and claiming unlawful eviction so felt I had no choice but to go down the court route.

        Comment


          #5
          The court route is always safest but you can still take steps towards abandonment.

          First of all if the property is left insecure and you found the doors to be open, you can change the locks whilst leaving a notice of abandonment advising how tenant can contact you should they return.

          Obtain statements from neighbours as to when they last seen them, and if fuel is on prepayment meters check with the suppliers when they were last funded.

          Report any action you take to the private rent team at your local council and as it is these people the tenant would go to to pursue illegal eviction, they would be unlikely to fund a case for a tenant you are seeking help for.

          If the tenant is in receipt of benefits it's likely they are using your property only to obtain these benefits and never intend to live there. Report them to both the DWP and housing benefit/council tax depts and get their benefits suspended.

          Once two months rent is owed you can apply to have any housing benefit paid directly to you, but you need to be careful that this does not put them in a position where they can afford to reduce the arrears under 2 months and you lose the mandatory ground for possession.

          When your two week notice is up you then apply for a possession order which will Likely take a few months. Tenant still does not have to leave until removed by a bailiff and your looking at more months again.

          If you are confident they have truly left then abandonment is not a bad option

          Comment


            #6
            I wouldn't report the tenant to the benefits people and then ask for benefit to be paid directly.
            When the DWP / local authority decide that the tenant abandoned the property x months previously, they will require the landlord to repay the housing benefit paid directly in the intervening period.

            Otherwise you are asserting to a court that a) you believe the tenant has abandoned a property and simultaneously b) requesting that rent be paid for it.
            When I post, I am expressing an opinion - feel free to disagree, I have been wrong before.
            Please don't act on my suggestions without checking with a grown-up (ideally some kind of expert).

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by jpkeates View Post
              Otherwise you are asserting to a court that a) you believe the tenant has abandoned a property and simultaneously b) requesting that rent be paid for it.
              Nothing wrong with that.

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by jjlandlord View Post
                Nothing wrong with that.
                Except that Housing Benefit paid without entitlement is repayable by the person to who it was paid: including a landlord.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by StuartH View Post
                  Except that Housing Benefit paid without entitlement is repayable by the person to who it was paid: including a landlord.
                  Not necessarily, and that wasn't the point.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    I don't agree with any of that.

                    It isn't for DWP to decide when a tenancy ends and while its in place then the landlord has done nothing wrong.

                    It can only be reclaimed from the landlord if he was involved in any fraud, else any overpayment belongs to the tenant.

                    They would not cancel a claim based on the landlords claim that the tenant is not there either. They SUSPEND the award until tenant can prove residency.

                    If tenant subsequently admits they have left then surrender can be agreed. It gives the tenant the chance to do the right thing and avoid a possession hearing when they no longer have anything to gain.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      The DWP/L Auth aren't concerned about whether there's a tenancy, they're concerned about whether benefits are payable.
                      When I post, I am expressing an opinion - feel free to disagree, I have been wrong before.
                      Please don't act on my suggestions without checking with a grown-up (ideally some kind of expert).

                      Comment


                        #12
                        In terms of recovery of overpayment in benefit, the general rule (Social Security Administration Act 1992 s75(3)(a)) is that the money is recovered from whom it is paid to. So if HB was overpaid to a tenant, who then use it to pay rent to a private LL, the T is the one who's chased. If HB is paid direct to the LL, and it was overpaid, then the LL get chased. That's why you'll see in contracts clauses to make T liable to repay LL if overpayment of HB was recovered from the LL by the council. Not a lot of use of course if the T don't actually have any money.

                        Reg. 101 of the Housing Benefit Regulations 2006 does provide an exception to the rule but not if the overpayment was the result of "any change of dwelling occupied by the claimant as his home".
                        I am not a lawyer, nor am I licensed to provide any regulated advice. None of my posts should be treated as legal or financial advice.

                        I do not answer questions through private messages which should be posted publicly on the forum.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          I think you will find those very regulations protect the landlord from recovery from anything but fraud.

                          Reporting a tenant for not living in the property does not prove fraud. It enables them to investigate and PROVE the tenant does not live there. Benefit is merely suspended throughout that investigation, it is not closed.

                          If tenant continues to claim they reside at the property and benefit is reinstated then the landlord will receive the direct payment he has requested and it won't go to the tenant.

                          Usually, if it is a case of fraud then once the tenant realises they are being investigated and receiving no money they admit defeat and move on.

                          There is nothing to lose by advising them if it suspected tenant is not there. If it transpires they are not and landlord was aware THEN the landlord is in breach and any any benefit could be recovered. It is actually the reverse of not keeping them informed.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Note that I only commented that there isn't anything wrong with "asserting to a court that you believe the tenant has abandoned a property and simultaneously requesting that rent be paid for it."

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Wright76,

                              But as I noted above, that's not what the regulations actually says. It doesn't matter whether the LL has committed any fault, if the money was paid direct to them, then it is recoverable from them unless exception applies and the exception is very narrow - a payment has been made, the LL tell the council that he suspects there was an overpayment, it wasn't because the claimant actually no longer live there, the claimant was basically committing fraud to get the HB or deliberate failure to notify change of circumstances. Warning the council in advance doesn't qualify as an exception as far as I can tell. What'll happen in practice would be any benefit suspended, and unlikely to be reinstanted.

                              Anyway, in terms of the OP, when did HB come into this discussion?
                              I am not a lawyer, nor am I licensed to provide any regulated advice. None of my posts should be treated as legal or financial advice.

                              I do not answer questions through private messages which should be posted publicly on the forum.

                              Comment

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