Upcoming Court Date - Tenant changed the lock - what I do?

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  • Upcoming Court Date - Tenant changed the lock - what I do?

    My tenant is 4 months in arrears and a section 8 had been issued and court date is set for next month. We believed the tenant had abandoned the property, there's been no contact or sign of him for four months - we went to inspect the property today to find that he's changed the locks and didn't inform us. Is there anything I can do? And what is likely to happen at court? We're assuming he won't turn up so how do we evict him?

  • #2
    Once you have a possession order, you call a bailiff and a locksmith to attend at the same time.

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    • #3
      So as long as the tenant is still at least 2 months in arrears at the court date will I almost certainly be granted repossession? Also how long does it take for a bailiff? I'm assuming even if the tenant doesn't show at court the judge will award him 2 weeks to leave the property?

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      • #4
        Originally posted by dhughes View Post
        So as long as the tenant is still at least 2 months in arrears at the court date will I almost certainly be granted repossession? Also how long does it take for a bailiff? I'm assuming even if the tenant doesn't show at court the judge will award him 2 weeks to leave the property?
        Only if tenant does not show up at court. Bailiffs vary around the country. Yes, I think they get two weeks, then you can call the bailiff if they haven't gone.

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        • #5
          Apologies for all the questions - what happens if he turns up? Can he argue/delay the process? Even though he's so far in arrears and has broken the agreement again and changed the locks?

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          • #6
            Yes, of course he is entitled to mount a defence, including arguing that your paperwork is incorrect. He should submit in advance but....

            Judges are understandably cautious about making people possibly homeless so they tend to allow them to argue their case: (we do have values, good old British justice, after all...)

            Appreciate lock has been changed but are you sure nobody going in or out? (The usual checks...) . Any back doors, windows>>??
            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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            • #7
              No it's a top floor flat so unable to see anything. Changing the locks is breaking his tenancy though and he's four months in arrears at this point and not responded to any form of contact. I just want to repossess my home. I guess there's no way of knowing if he will turn up to court but would we be notified in advance if he files a counterclaim? Though he's not raised any grievances in the time he's been at the flat.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by dhughes View Post
                I just want to repossess my home.
                To repossess your home requires a court order ( normally)

                but would we be notified in advance if he files a counterclaim?
                Of course a defence is given to you.

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                • #9
                  Tried the old tiny-bit-of-sellotape top of door which will pop off if opened??

                  You'll have to wait for court date to see what tenant does - or doesn't - do..
                  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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                  • #10
                    It sounds as though he is still there.

                    He would be silly to have abandoned and not informed you as he remains liable for the rent and all bills.

                    There's little you can do to gain entry unless a neighbour reported a smell of gas or something, or you report your concerns of the tenants welfare to the police.

                    Four months with no contact is a long time and although doubtful you have no idea If he's OK. Have you spoken to the neighbours? Checked if gas and electric is being supplied?

                    If you do gain access and find it empty you can consider assuming abandonment. Tenant has 6 months I believe to make a dispute. As you have already paid and applied to court I would be tempted however to ensure you get that possession order.

                    You should mention that you believe it has been abandoned as you may not need a bailiff and the judge has the discretion to award immediate possession

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                    • #11
                      Yes spoken to neighbours and they've not heard from him in months. He's phone ha been disconnected and we've not heard from him since 1 February. We've been in previously for inspections and there was large piles of post and gone off food etc. It's just in the last two weeks the locks have been changed but we have no idea by whom. The court date is 2 weeks so I guess we just have to wait until then.

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                      • #12
                        Sounds like he's using it to claim benefits.

                        Ring the fraud hot line and also housing benefit.

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                        Latest Activity

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                        • Abandonment
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                          I have had a phone call from the tenants daughter, (didnt know she existed), telling me he is leaving in two weeks. I told her he has nearly 4 months left on his 12 month AST. I subsequently got two calls from a housing association. asking for a reference for him, I told them the situation but they...
                          20-09-2017, 19:56 PM
                        • Reply to Abandonment
                          KTC
                          If the tenant holds a material interest of 6 months or more (i.e. during the 12 months AST), then the tenant is liable for council tax whether they are resident or not. During a SPT, the liability revert to the landlord when the tenant is no longer resident.
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                        • Reply to Tenant having parking issues trying to hold me responsible
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                        • Reply to Tenant having parking issues trying to hold me responsible
                          security2
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                        • Reply to Abandonment
                          Wannadonnadoodah
                          May only be tenants who have housing benefit paid then.
                          20-09-2017, 21:17 PM
                        • Reply to Abandonment
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                          This I believe is incorrect, I do have experience of that part happening before and sent the council a copy of the AST and they cancelled my charge....
                          20-09-2017, 21:14 PM
                        • Reply to Abandonment
                          Wannadonnadoodah
                          In the eyes of the council as soon as he starts paying CT at his new property the liability will fall to you regardless of what else is happening.
                          20-09-2017, 21:02 PM
                        • Reply to Abandonment
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                          I thought you could have it so that property was marketed but he still had liability as he wont be able to pay anything as he is unemployed and would reduce his liability to council tax if let before the end of his tenancy.
                          20-09-2017, 20:48 PM
                        • Reply to Abandonment
                          KTC
                          Either you recover the property, or the tenant is still the tenant with liability for rent & council tax (during fixed term of 6 months or more). You can't have it both ways of getting the property back but not liable for council tax.
                          20-09-2017, 20:38 PM
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