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View Full Version : Problem tenant does a runner- good!



AndyT
26-04-2008, 14:56 PM
I have no question - I'm trying to decide if happy about tenant.

Our rental property is next to close personal good friends. They called to say get over here quickly, they walking along the street, saw tenant moving lots of items into large van. Tenant knows our friends live next door and we visit frequently.

I've been over, saw lots of boxes going into a van, not the big furniture yet. Both flats have front door at side, tenant has to remove a fence panel between the flat and friends to move large furniture in/out, very obvious when panel removed.

Every month tenant in partial rent arrears back to Nov 07, we served S8 mid Dec. During the 14 day notice tenant complained to council health officers who issued us with a disrepair notice, never mind she caused the mould problem using unvented dryer, we responsible for lack of adequate ventilation.

Tenant refused entry 5x when we or contractor tried to do the remediation work. EHO were advised 3x's and intervened on our behalf to gain access, solicitor since advised us to give EHO notice if tenant fails to give written confirmation, work will not commence. This has happened twice to date and EHO notified - they keen to close the case and are happy with work we've done to date, we advised them we want to complete the work but unable because of tenant.

In the past 2 months tenant and her boyfriend have verbally threatened my husband if we dont cash compensate for items affected by mould. Tenant brought this up with my husband in front of EHO at an onsite inspection, EHO advised her mould can be washed off clothes and tins. Our solicitor wrote her a letter advising her to redirect smalls claim notices to him. This hasn't eventuated.

The tenant on benefits so no money to chase after. I'll be calling benefits agency on Monday to see if she has advised them to stop rent

We want to be rid of her, were advised to sit out the AST rather then use s8, sadly we need the rent to pay mortgage. Hopefully she'll give back the keys then do a runner.

I think I'm happy if she runs, and peeved if we looking at finding up to 4 months rent + court costs on top to get the place back.

Beeber
27-04-2008, 09:31 AM
Who advised you not to use the S8 procedure? For rent arrears of 2 months + at the time of serving and at the time of the court case means the judge has to award mandatory possession back to the landlord - there's no discretion on this ground. Is it because the level of rent owed is less than that amount? Otherwise, you appear to have abandoned a procedure that could have got your property returned to you much earlier.

Also, it is a common scenario posted here that the local authority advises the tenants to remain in place until a court order has been sought - some won't assist tenants with re-housing on the strength of an AST coming to an end and insist on making the tenant/landlord go through the formal eviction process.

It is a less common scenario that a tenant tricks a landlord into believing they have abandoned the property with the aim to seek compensation for being illegally evicted.

"Abandonment is a major problem for landlords: although the tenant is in the wrong for many reasons, they still have a legal tenancy and can return and demand to take up residency at any time, despite not paying rent. Taking over an abandonded property is frought with difficulties for the landlord."

http://www.landlordzone.co.uk/legal/abandonment.htm

Colincbayley
27-04-2008, 09:54 AM
Also, it is a common scenario posted here that the local authority advises the tenants to remain in place until a court order has been sought - some won't assist tenants with re-housing on the strength of an AST coming to an end and insist on making the tenant/landlord go through the formal eviction process.

Although some local authorities do this, it is against local authority guidelines to do so, when the LL is certain of obtaining a possession order. I.e. S.21 or S.8, G8.

As such, if a council advises a tenant to stay put against these guidelines, then you would be well within your rights to pursue the council for any lossess.

justaboutsane
27-04-2008, 13:41 PM
If a tenant has been issued a section 8 for rent arrears they will be classed as intentionally homeless and WILL NOT Be assisted by the Local Authority. If you issue a section 21 the tenant will be assisted as its considered no blame.

agent46
27-04-2008, 15:06 PM
If a tenant has been issued a section 8 for rent arrears they will be classed as intentionally homeless and WILL NOT Be assisted by the Local Authority. If you issue a section 21 the tenant will be assisted as its considered no blame.

I wouldn't be so unequivocal on that point if I were you.

Whilst it is true that The Local Authority will frequently try to claim the applicant is intentionally homeless in such cases, IIRC, the Code of Guidance on Homelessness issued by the Secretary of State provides that the local authority must examine the circumstances of such cases very carefully indeed. They must come to a reasonable conclusion based on all the evidence, if necessary, by holding an interview with the applicant, and if appropriate, corresponding with the LL.

Tenants are frequently evicted on rent arrears grounds when the reason for the arrears arises from delays within the Local Authority HB payment system. It would be a Kafkaesque state of affairs if one department of the council could cause a tenant's eviction through maladministration only for another department to deny the tenant a legal duty to provide homelessness assistance under HA 1996 s.193(?) on the grounds that they are intentionally homeless.

If a Local Authority has an infexible blanket policy to the effect that all persons evicted as a result of rent arrears are intentionally homeless, then they are setting themselves up to be judicially reviewed to b*ggery on the grounds that, amongst other things, they are fettering their discretion.

At least that was the case last time I represented someone in a homelessness matter a couple of years ago. If things have changed since, I'm happy to be corrected.

IME, Local Authorities (at the decision making end) are staffed by individuals who display an unfortunate combination of character-traits, namely arrogance and single-mnded stupidity almost to the point of automatism. There is generally a culture of high-handedness and insularity, which manifests itself in the staff demonstrating something approaching contempt for their "clients"/"customers"/"service users"/"community" (or whatever mendacious buzzword they've adopted that week). Regrettably, all this leads to an institutional belief that they can ignore the law and/or statutory guidance with impunity until they are absolutely forced to comply by way of someone dragging them kicking and screaming into the High Court.

and breath..........

susanne
27-04-2008, 15:19 PM
""ME, Local Authorities (at the decision making end) are staffed by individuals who display an unfortunate combination of character-traits, namely arrogance and single-mnded stupidity almost to the point of automatism. There is generally a culture of high-handedness and insularity, which manifests itself in the staff demonstrating something approaching contempt for their "clients"/"customers"/"service users"/"community" (or whatever mendacious buzzword they've adopted that week). Regrettably, all this leads to an institutional belief that they can ignore the law and/or statutory guidance with impunity until they are absolutely forced to comply by way of someone dragging them kicking and screaming into the High Court.""

absoutely - absolutely

Beeber
27-04-2008, 15:45 PM
Thanks for the debate around how the HB claimant could be treated by the local authority if they choose to seek advice or housing with them when the AST expires.

I guess my main observation is that the OP should hope for the best (that the tenant leaves of their own volition and gives them written notice and/or hands over the keys to effect a proper transition of the property back to the landlord's possession) but prepares for the worst (namely that the tenants will abandon the property but the landlord still might need to get a court order to be on the safe side, or that they will stay put until the bailiff's are sent in).

AndyT
27-04-2008, 21:06 PM
Sorry about delay in responding been dealing with the fall out of tenant doing runner.

Advised by 2 different experienced property disputes experts, "...it would not be in our financial interest to pursue notice. Reasonable grounds on both sides, the significant difference is tenant has access to limitless legal aid so potentially drag the process out, we out of pocket more then the balance of reminding rent..."

It appears tenant has removed most of her belongings over the weekend. Police called twice because of run ins with tenant boyfriend and his brother with our friends. The boyfriend admitted to police they only want to move out the rest of furniture, and get out of property quick.

No notice given, no keys returned. We will speak to solicitor tomorrow to get property back sooner then later - perhaps expedite S8 notice and hope she wont contest as not living there now.

If our property has been stolen during the procedure or property damaged we would consider criminal charges against tenant, the boyfriend and his brother as all openly involved in the moving out process. The men stupid enough to use a work logo'd van, and van registration number taken. So easy to track back to the fools.

AndyT
27-04-2008, 21:26 PM
I apologise for not clearly listing the s8 was not full rent arrears g8,

We used g10 & 11, discretionary not mandatory

To date our experience with the LA Benefit Agency service varies depending on which administrator we get. Environmental Health officers have been very helpful and given great support and advice.

We expect to progress along the abandonment guide, and will be interested to see what the solicitor advises.

sam333
27-04-2008, 23:10 PM
Hi,

Sorry to hear about your problems. I've refused to take any housing benefit people, as they will almost always cause you problems, so learn from this experience.

I own a number of properties in central london and our consortium of over 10,000 properties have refused to let to Westminister council HB or any other council as they are absolutely useless, if you have a problem they will not help as its not their concern.

My advice to you is as follows:

1) If you are coming up to the last few months of the AST, then issue the S21 notice and the tenant will have to go, very easy to enforce.

2) If you are going to and i think you have issued a S.8 notice, the only problem with you evicting the tenant on these grounds is the tenant has complained about disrepair, if the tenant challenges or defends himself in court, you need prove that you went to the property at scheduled times to carry out the disrepair, this can be simply done by sending them recorded delivery letters, show these to the judge with some witnesses and the judge will evict the tenants, if you can prove they have stolen furniture, take pictures using a camera, they will help your case.

Whats important is you have an agreed signed iternary with the tenant on them moving in, if you have this and you know for a fact furniture is being taken. firstly try and get into the property for an inspection, failure to achieve this, call your tenant and tell them that unless you move in the next 14 days i am going to start criminal proceedings as i have been told you are removing furniture, if they agree to leave then wait, if there defensive go to the police and they will investigate, if you can provide proof items are missing, they will arrest the tenant.

Dont sit back and wait for them to do what they like, my experience is your property will be damaged extensively.

Dont hesitate to go to civil court, judges are very friendly, ask your solicitor to assist in helping fill out the relevant forms and go to court yourself, just tell the judge what the issues are and tell him the financial stress this causing you and your family etc... and he will do the right thing.

I have lost hundreds of thousands of pounds with evicting HB tenants over the years, when i say lost its all in legal fees, but in terms of cases, i have never lost a case. I have had tenants going back to the civil court 10 times , i have high court appeals, petition to the house of lords appeals, you name it i've had the worst of some tenants, always remember its your property and noone can take this away from you.

These things happen in life, dont stress about it, sometimes you have to take a commerical decison of should you pay the solicitor thousands of pounds to evict the tenant or should you offer a without prejudice offer to the tenant. I once offered 15,000 to a tenant, he refused, i ended up in court several times costing me 50,000 pounds, so from my experience its always better to settle than go to court, if you go to court, go yourself, if you dont have the confidence of this then use a barrister, always use your solicitor for advice, but remembers lawyers are very expensive.

House
27-04-2008, 23:54 PM
The ironic thing is that if Councils didn't unlawfully tell tenants to stay in the property till they are evicted and if they didn't have such useless HB departments then LL's would be more willing to take HB tenants who then wouldn't need the Council to help them in the first place.

AndyT
29-04-2008, 19:10 PM
Sam333 - Thanks for the info, will bear in mind for the future. We are learning so many lessons this our first tenancy.

The tenants big furniture items were removed from the property Saturday evening. We have peered through the windows, it appears most rooms have been cleared, however lights have been left on, and curtains and general debris remain.

The LA benefits office confirmed tenant advised them on the 20th she would be leaving property 26th not quite true..

I spoke to our "experienced" property disputes solicitor, his advice quite frankly seems crap; wait 2 weeks before we do anything, enter the property if we think there are hazards - nothing about taking independent witness.

Spoke to the chap from RLA, who said solicitor should go back to school. His advice was we get court possession order asap and let the tenant run up her own power bill.

If I was a rich landlord rolling in the profits of many rentals I'd take the hit, I'm not unable to cover both mortgages for a sustained period of time waiting for the justice system to sort itself out.

I'm surprised at the solicitor response and would like to give him the flip now.

Should we issue a new s8 for similar grounds and hope it wont be contested , or wait out the 2 months rent arrears for mandatory possession - possibly 2 months till court date.

justaboutsane
29-04-2008, 19:19 PM
Be advised that while the tenant is racking up her own utility bills the benefits office will STOP any payments to you as soon as the tenant shows she is residing elsewhere and applying for benefit on a new property.

Have been in this situation countless times!

AndyT
29-04-2008, 19:55 PM
Yes, unfortunately we realised this immediately and have been crunching numbers contemplating quickest, financially viable, and legal options to regain possession.
The horror stories put us off attempting to enter the property other then legally.

Our friends happy to keep watch over property which appears to be secured.