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View Full Version : Tenants' property left behind and idiotic policemen



Webranger
27-02-2010, 15:56 PM
A tenant left my property - thank goodness because he was a thug - 4 days after his tenancy ran out. He made no communication with me, changed his mobile number, and damaged the front door on his final parting. At least I assumed it was his final parting and changed the locks.

He also left some property behind, so some days later I was clearing out the flat but a neighbour (another criminal - literally) called the police. I explained what I was doing and said that I would sell anything valuable to set against the £600 rent I was owed (not including damage repair).

The two coppers - who were well aware that I had had to call them to both these characters on several occasions - got all officious and told me that I could not do that. If I did they would have to arrest me for theft. They accepted that I had to clear the flat for the next tenant but then I would have to store safely anything of value; I certainly could not sell it.

I told them that they were wrong but they wouldn't have it at all. They knew the Theft Act and would have to arrest me if I did not let the complaining neighbour have it on behalf of the departed tenant. I pointed out that this man was a liar and might not hand it over the the ex-tenant, but again they insisted.

When I reached home I had a look at the Landlord Zone ASTA which I had used and low and behold it reads, "The landlord may remove, store, sell or otherwise dispose of any furniture or goods which the tenant refuses or fails to remove from the property at the end of the tenancy. The tenant shall be lawfully due to the landlord from any money realised from the disposal of such furniture or goods. responsible for all reasonable costs which the landlord may incur. The landlord shall be entitled to deduct such costs and any monies lawfully due to the landlord from any money realised from the disposal of such furniture or goods."

I'm certain that is correct and I intend to complain to the Chief Constable of South Wales, insisting that he instruct his officers to learn the law properly and not go around pontificating in civil matters, and to claim compensation for the loss of the sales.

However, I would like to be able to quote the legislation or case law which supports that clause in the Landlord Zone Tenancy Agreement. Could someone please supply that for me.

westminster
27-02-2010, 16:39 PM
See
http://www.landlordzone.co.uk/uncollected_goods.htm

Webranger
27-02-2010, 18:07 PM
Thanks for this, Westminster, but I'm a bit concerned to note that the Landlord Zone Tenancy Agreement I'm using does not have the bits about 30 days and three months in the clause. Perhaps it has been updated recently?

I'm mystified by this bit, "•If you are owed monies you must keep goods for 3 months before disposing of them. If you are not owed money a reasonable period, typically 28 days is acceptable before selling the goods."

I would have thought it should be the other way around. So if a tenant who owes rent turns up for his goods in less than three months - what then? Is one supposed to meekly hand them back? Or refuse to do so until the debt is paid?

In any event, am I not correct in saying that this is a matter of civil tort and nothing to do with our "not fit for purpose" police force?

Actually, I have just added a new clause for all new tenancies reading,
" The tenant by signing this Agreement gives to the landlord the following right:
If any sum amounting to more than half a month’s rent is more than 21 days in arrears, then the landlord may without notice enter the premises and remove furniture, goods, or valuable to keep as surety against the debt. If the debt is paid within 28 days the items must be returned, but otherwise they may be sold and the proceeds used to cover the debt."

Presumably, if a tenant signs that, it is enforceable?

matthew_henson
27-02-2010, 19:16 PM
I presume you are joking? the only way to take goods to pay debt is with a court order.

You could always try but I imagine the Protection from Eviction Act 1977 may be a reasonable defence or perhaps the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999. The first has rather big teeth!!

westminster
27-02-2010, 20:02 PM
Actually, I have just added a new clause for all new tenancies reading,
" The tenant by signing this Agreement gives to the landlord the following right:
If any sum amounting to more than half a month’s rent is more than 21 days in arrears, then the landlord may without notice enter the premises and remove furniture, goods, or valuable to keep as surety against the debt. If the debt is paid within 28 days the items must be returned, but otherwise they may be sold and the proceeds used to cover the debt."

Presumably, if a tenant signs that, it is enforceable?
I can't answer your other questions but I can tell you presume wrong. The above clause is not 'enforceable' and, if you did what it says, such actions could expose you to charges of harassment (potentially a criminal offence for which you could be prosecuted, and fined and/or given a custodial sentence), as well as civil proceedings for damages. In short, a very bad idea.

See the Protection from Eviction Act 1977 (http://www.statutelaw.gov.uk/content.aspx?LegType=All+Primary&PageNumber=44&NavFrom=2&parentActiveTextDocId=1499483&ActiveTextDocId=1499483&filesize=103706).

I also suggest you have a look at this case (http://nearlylegal.co.uk/blog/2009/05/unlawful-eviction-and-harassment-quantum/), to give a very general idea of the sort of damages awarded in the civil court for a fairly unexceptional case of harassment and illegal eviction.

The only people who can legally enter and seize goods to use to pay for a debt are bailiffs in possession of a warrant of execution.

If you want to gain possession or enforce a debt, pursue via the proper legal procedures.

Webranger
28-02-2010, 16:37 PM
Thanks again. Obviously the case you quote was an illegal eviction and I wasn't intending to use a clause to justify an eviction. After the experiences I've had of tenants only too keen to take advantage of someone who tries to be fair and understanding,it seems to me a very reasonable clause; but I'll take your advice.

As for proper legal procedures, they really are a joke - no, a tragic farce with the only rule being "heads the tenant wins, tails the landlord loses." I'm about to submit another post on a court ruling against a friend of mine only last week.