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000
15-07-2011, 21:00 PM
It seems to me that there is precious little a landlord can do if a tenant fails to pay rent on time, without ending up being the one breaking the law. However, does anyone have any idea what law I'd be breaking if I quite simply moved back into the property myself whilst the tenant is still living there? This action obviously doesn't comply with the clause regarding access to the property as laid down in the assured shorthold tenancy agreement, but then again the tenant is already in breach of this by failing to pay rent. It would appear that packing the tenant's belongings up and changing the locks is a criminal offense, but by simply moving back into the property myself - on the grounds that I'm the one paying the mortgage - am I breaking any criminal law?

The non-payment of rent has arisen because the tenant wishes to break the tenancy agreement early - I have offered to accept half of what the tenant is legally obliged to pay according to our tenancy agreement in exchange for early termination of the contract. Tenant is obviously opting for the 'non-payment of rent and leaving when they want anyway' option. I therefore do not see any benefit in attempting to evict the tenant.

westminster
15-07-2011, 21:28 PM
It would appear that packing the tenant's belongings up and changing the locks is a criminal offense, but by simply moving back into the property myself - on the grounds that I'm the one paying the mortgage - am I breaking any criminal law?
Yes, the Protection from Eviction Act 1977, see http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1977/43/section/1 (potential prison sentence and heavy fines/criminal record, not to mention T would have grounds for a civil claim for damages).


The non-payment of rent has arisen because the tenant wishes to break the tenancy agreement early - I have offered to accept half of what the tenant is legally obliged to pay according to our tenancy agreement in exchange for early termination of the contract.
That's fair enough, and either party is free to agree/not to agree to the terms on offer.


Tenant is obviously opting for the 'non-payment of rent and leaving when they want anyway' option. I therefore do not see any benefit in attempting to evict the tenant.
If the T stops paying rent then serve a s.8 notice as a prelude to applying for possession as soon as ground 8 is fulfilled. Ultimately, you can pursue the T for any unpaid rent via the county court.

If the T does vacate, and you take possession of the property without a court order, there remains the possibility that T will reappear asserting his right to occupy, potentially leading to a dispute as to whether T has been illegally evicted or whether there has been a surrender by operation of law. So, the benefit in evicting the tenant legally is that it avoids this dispute.

000
15-07-2011, 21:45 PM
Thanks Westminster. Other problem is that tenant is non UK citizen. Tenant is employed by a major foreign financial organisation who also have UK offices. Tenant returning to original job in home country. So once tenant has left UK I think I will struggle to obtain unpaid rent via the county court. My alternative thought was an online court claim for money, which I believe can be enforced through an attachment to earnings, ie. the money is paid back through the tenant's employer via salary. But again, I'm not sure if you can make an online court claim for money against someone once they have left the country. Hence my idea of a 'peaceful protest' by moving back into the property myself whilst the tenant is still living there with rent in arrears.

landlordproblemsolver
16-07-2011, 08:13 AM
In response to your query about whether you can move in while the tenant is still living there, you have no right to do so. You have let the property to your tenant and by doing so, you have relinquished the right to live there for the duration of the tenancy.

I am not an expert on criminal law, so cannot say whether you may be subject to criminal proceedings by moving in, however he would certainly have recourse to County Court action against you.

Snorkerz
16-07-2011, 08:25 AM
Thanks Westminster. Other problem is that tenant is non UK citizen. Tenant is employed by a major foreign financial organisation who also have UK offices. Tenant returning to original job in home country. So once tenant has left UK I think I will struggle to obtain unpaid rent via the county court. My alternative thought was an online court claim for money, which I believe can be enforced through an attachment to earnings, ie. the money is paid back through the tenant's employer via salary. But again, I'm not sure if you can make an online court claim for money against someone once they have left the country. Hence my idea of a 'peaceful protest' by moving back into the property myself whilst the tenant is still living there with rent in arrears.Do you have a guarantor for this tenant, or a very large deposit? If not, what actions did you take to protect yourself in this not-unforseeable situation? If nothing, then there may be little you can realistically do about any financial shortage - other than look for ways to minimise it.

From the little information supplied, I think you may be best to agree to the tenants request to break the contract providing they leave by date X, and then re-let ASAP to someone who will pay the rent. Only this time - protect yourself.

Does the tenant plan to move back to an EU country? It is possible to pursue a debt within the EU, but it is not straightforward.

westminster
16-07-2011, 12:25 PM
So once tenant has left UK I think I will struggle to obtain unpaid rent via the county court. My alternative thought was an online court claim for money
Money Claim Online is simply the online method for starting a claim in the county court. Either way, the claim ends up being heard in the county court.


But again, I'm not sure if you can make a...court claim for money against someone once they have left the country.
As snorkerz says, it is possible to claim against an EU citizen (as well as enforce a CCJ obtained).


Hence my idea of a 'peaceful protest' by moving back into the property myself whilst the tenant is still living there with rent in arrears.
Which is obviously not an option unless you'd like to be prosecuted and/or to defend a civil claim for damages.

000
16-07-2011, 13:40 PM
I do not have a guarantor, but I have 6 weeks' worth of rent in a tenancy deposit scheme. The tenant is not returning to an EU country - tenant is a US citizen. My only hope is that I can pursue the tenant through their employer in the form of an attachment to earnings. The employer is US based with offices also in UK. I will read up on serving a section 8 notice, but am concerned that by the time I actually manage to evict the tenant (if tenant hasn't already abandoned property by then anyway) there could be large amounts of rent owing and no way to pursue tenant for debt once overseas.

westminster
16-07-2011, 13:52 PM
My only hope is that I can pursue the tenant through their employer in the form of an attachment to earnings.
You need to obtain a judgment against the tenant before you can enforce it via an attachment of earnings. If the tenant moves to the USA, you couldn't claim against him there, and I imagine his wages would be paid in America anyway, i.e. this idea isn't going to work unless T remain the the UK.


I will read up on serving a section 8 notice, but am concerned that by the time I actually manage to evict the tenant (if tenant hasn't already abandoned property by then anyway) there could be large amounts of rent owing and no way to pursue tenant for debt once overseas.
Yes, which is why you should have insisted on a UK-based guarantor (their employer would have been ideal).

It may be in your long-term interest to agree an early surrender now, on condition he moves out immediately, and write off the unpaid rent not covered by the deposit - as opposed to the current stalement with T remaining in occupation indefinitely accruing further arrears.