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View Full Version : Tenant signed surrender of tenancy & is now taking legal action....Please help!!



coley8
03-03-2010, 09:59 AM
Hi,
I had a tenant move into my terraced house in December. To cut a long story short, I foolishly didn't take any references etc as I have never experienced a troublesome tenant - until now!
She couldn't afford the rent and told me she wanted to move out in her own good time. I gave her until the end of the month of february. She asked me to write her a letter confirming she was moving out to help her get a council property. I again foolishly, did so. Then I receive a call from the council saying I am illegally evicting her and she had told them I had been harrassing them and banging on the door every night demanding rent! I have only ever been really decent to the girl considering she moved into my house and decided not to pay rent! I certainly hadn't been to the property at any point. I am a respectable Lady and that simply isn't my style. I explained to the lady at the council my shock and horror that she had suggested such a thing and that I believed it was said to try and get her a council property quicker. The lady at the council agreed.
I spoke to the Tenant about if she wanted to stay in the property and pay through DSS or did she want to leave. She confirmed she wanted to leave but needed the contract terminating which would then give her a better chance at the council.
I did some research on the internet and printed off a surrender of tenancy form as both parties agreed to end agreement. From what I read as long as both parties did agree and sign this document it ends the tenancy and severs all ties between landlord and tenant. She was really pleased when I told her about this and asked me to go to the property for us both to sign it. She turned up an hour late saying she had been to the council to tell them she has signed it and that she is now classed as homeless so should be in a council house in no time! Charming! She signed it and again we exchanged pleasantries as always. Her bad landlord act was saved for the lady at the council.She signed it on the Wednesday and said she would have all of her belongings out by Sunday. On Sunday I could not contact her so was worried she hadn't moved out. We went to the property and it was in total darkness and no furniture was in there except for my table and chairs. I continued trying to call her asking for the keys with no joy so by Tuesday had no option but to get a locksmith to change locks to allow me access to the property. When this had been done and I entered the property, she had took everything but left some dirty washing, a bag full of rotting food, a wet towel, and some other items that looked unwanted. To top it off she has dumped a load of furniture in the back yard! right next to about 100 cigarette butts.
This morning I receive a call from the council saying they are taking legal action against me for illegal eviction! This really upset me as I have tried my hardest to do this the correct way. I explained the detail above to the Lady and she was understanding but I am so worried that I can get prosicuted for this.... What are my legal rights and any advice would be much appreciated!!? :(

ram
03-03-2010, 10:39 AM
What are my legal rights and any advice would be much appreciated!!? :(

I don't know the legal implications of the "surrender of tenancy" document, but you have it in writing that your tenant wanted to leave, has in fact left, so at least you can prove she wanted to leave, and has left, and that she has been lieing to the Council about you.

You should not have changed the locks others will tell you here, but you had it in writing that she wanted to leave, and left when she said she would, so to change the locks for your next tenant could be acceptable as a security measure in case privious tenant returns to steal anything.

At least you have contact with the council if you wish to sue for damage / clearing up / malicious lies.

Suggest you get the correct name, department and address of the council offcial that phoned you, put in writing your version, and include copies of the "surrender of tenancy" document, and STATE that your tenant has told base face lies about you in order to be re-housed by the council. i think you said you has 2 signed documents.

Provided you can prove your situation, via copies of documents, and your written version of events to the council, then you should not worry too much just yet. You are in the right, as your tenant lied.

Others will may be able to comment on your "surrender of tenancy" document.
See http://www.tenancyagreementservice.co.uk/ending-a-tenancy-agreement.htm ( If both parties agree, ( first paragraph ))

( www.tenancyagreementservice.co.uk/ending-a-tenancy-agreement.htm (http://www.tenancyagreementservice.co.uk/ending-a-tenancy-agreement.htm) )


info :-

Express Surrender
This involves the Tenant signing a legal document known as a Declaration of Surrender, confirming his intention to end the tenancy.
By Operation of Law
This involves both the Landlord and the Tenant, by means of their conduct, indicating that they intend the tenancy to come to an end. It is important that both parties have shown by their conduct that they intend to end the tenancy. Examples include the handing over and acceptance of the keys to the Property, the removal of furniture and personal effects by the Tenant, etc.

islandgirl
03-03-2010, 11:57 AM
as I understand it, a surrender within the fixed term (6 mths) can be revoked at any time by the tenant and is not worth the paper it is written on.
however I would not be too worried as the tenant actually seems to have left (mine just changed their mind and did not go!)
I would set out all the info to the council as suggested above and hopefully all will be well.
By the way, would it be the council to prosecute or the tenant to seek damages in this case? Why would the council get involved?

jeffrey
03-03-2010, 12:01 PM
as I understand it, a surrender within the fixed term (6 mths) can be revoked at any time by the tenant and is not worth the paper it is written on.
Not so, if the surrender by T is either:
a. by way of Deed, executed by both parties; or
b. in writing or oral, effecting a binding contract (= supported by consideration).

westminster
03-03-2010, 12:28 PM
Why would the council get involved?
Because s.6 of the Protection from Eviction Act 1977 gives them the authority to prosecute.

islandgirl
03-03-2010, 13:45 PM
Thanks both - Westminster, what is their interest? Is it because the people want a council house? I just wondered how they were involved in the above scenario.
Jeffrey - I understand now, thanks. Mine was just a letter saying they were going and surrendered the tenancy...

westminster
03-03-2010, 13:49 PM
Thanks both - Westminster, what is their interest? Is it because the people want a council house? I just wondered how they were involved in the above scenario.
AFAIK, it's just one of the many and various powers conferred on local government.

islandgirl
03-03-2010, 18:30 PM
I should have known! Thanks Westminster!

Emma1973
03-03-2010, 19:04 PM
The council are probably involved because she's been daft! When you present as homeless and you've been in private accommodation they want you to prove why you cant live there anymore
My guess is that she hoped the deed of surrender would be proof enough, however giving up your tenancy voluntarily makes you voluntarily homeless (exceptional circumstances excluded), in which case the Council has no duty to rehouse her, she's found that out and is trying to push her luck this way!

westminster
03-03-2010, 21:40 PM
The council are probably involved because she's been daft! When you present as homeless and you've been in private accommodation they want you to prove why you cant live there anymore
My guess is that she hoped the deed of surrender would be proof enough, however giving up your tenancy voluntarily makes you voluntarily homeless (exceptional circumstances excluded), in which case the Council has no duty to rehouse her, she's found that out and is trying to push her luck this way!
Probably exactly what happened, an ignorant attempt at being made 'homeless'. It's a quite ridiculous situation which the government needs to address - i.e. either T deliberately not paying rent in order to get evicted (and LL taking the hit with the arrears), or a situation like OP's (where again LL is the fall guy).

islandgirl
03-03-2010, 23:00 PM
Makes sense now....