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FRESH
06-03-2007, 21:05 PM
I would like advice on the following situation. Last year I bought my first buy to let, and through a letting agent we found a family with two young girls. They were very good as tenants for one year, during that time they hinted they were going to look for something bigger as they had just had a baby. Now the mother has sent me an email claiming her partner has left her, and I should go through the motions of evicting her to make her homeless, as she cannot pay the rent. She was advised by the local council office to take this action, as it is the only way she would get a council property. She has not paid rent for a month. The letting agent has served a S21 giving her two-month to vacate the house. This means she would have to be out by the 9th May. Therefore I would like advise on when I should start proceedings, in a small claims court for a loss of rent? Also what steps can I legally take to ensure she leaves the property by the 9th of May? I have kept the email of her asking me to go through the proceedings making her homeless. I may be a cynic but I feel she had this planned from day one in the hope of jumping the council queue. I feel she has made herself intentionally homeless. Advise PLEASE!:mad:

P.Pilcher
06-03-2007, 23:05 PM
This is a pretty common situation I'm afraid. The council will wait for as long as they can before finding a home for your tenant and will do absolutely nothing until you have taken court action. As soon as the two months are up, you will have to apply to your local county court on form N5B (fee £150) for a possession order - your agent may do this for you. If the paperwork is correct, the court will issue a possession order. When the tenant shows her copy of this to the council they MIGHT find her some acomodation, but often they will wait until the last minute. So when the tenant still doesn't leave, the possession order must be enforced. A further £95 is needed, this time for the bailiff. They will write to the tenant and give a date and time when they will be evicted. Ususally this letter will finally spur the council into action and the tenant will be accommodated elsewhere.
The whole process will take quite a time after the 9th. of May I'm afraid and although she will owe rent up until the time she finally leaves, you will be unlikely to get anything as she will have no money. All you can get is a CCJ against her which will cost even more.
I should keep quiet about her making herself intentionally homeless - this will give the council an excuse not to re-house her so (and I'm not joking) the bailiff will throw her and her children out onto the street. Alternatively she might persuade a judge to let her stay in your property for a few more weeks (rent free of course). Do you really want that?

Oh the joys of being a landlord!!

P.P.

FRESH
07-03-2007, 06:36 AM
Thank you for you sound advice! My funds are limited so I want this to end as quickly as possible. She lived at her parent’s house with the kids prior to renting my property, and I’m sure she could go back there again. I know this sounds hard but I feel betrayed. In her email she has said, “sorry to do this as you’ve been a good landlord”. I want to use the email as a bargaining tool for her to understand that if she doesn’t leave by the 9th May, the council will know her intentions? Her partner is on the tenant’s agreement form, and he is working. I expect I could give his work details to the small claim court, so payment could be gained from him? I have sent her an email asking her to contact me, but I some how think this will not happen. Is it a matter of timing when I can start the county court procedures against her partner?

Joannepowell
07-03-2007, 07:38 AM
Dear Fresh

You are saying that your tenant can't afford the rent now that her partner has left and I just wondered has she not made any mention of applying for housing benefit? If not, then she should make an application as a matter of priority. This would be in both her and your best interests!

Regards

J

Beeber
07-03-2007, 08:34 AM
This topic, either explicit or suspected requests by tenants to be evicted in order to qualify for social housing under the statutory homelessness provision by local authority, regularly crops up.

Here's some historic threads for you on this subject.

http://www.landlordzone.co.uk/forums/showthread.php?t=4871

http://www.landlordzone.co.uk/forums/showthread.php?t=1533

Beeber
07-03-2007, 08:41 AM
Here's some helpful info from Shelter for tenants on what council's look for to determine if a person has made themselves intentionally homeless and don't qualify for assistance

Can the council decide that I am intentionally homeless?
It is up to the council to prove that you are intentionally homeless, not for you to prove that you aren't. The council has make enquiries into the reasons you became homeless and must be satisfied that allof the following points apply:

you deliberately did (or didn't do) something
that caused you to leave accommodation
which you could otherwise have stayed in, and
it would have been reasonable for you to stay there

Deliberately did or didn't do something
The council should look at the whole of your circumstances in deciding whether you deliberately did or didn't do something. It may decide that you deliberately did or didn't do something that caused you to become homeless if:

you didn't pay the rent or mortgage when you could have afforded to
you were evicted for anti-social behaviour
you left accommodation that you could have stayed in

If you didn't pay your rent or mortgage because of financial difficulties that were beyond your control, the council should not consider you to be intentionally homeless. This is especially true if you can show you did everything you could in order to save your home.

http://england.shelter.org.uk/advice/advice-156.cfm

justaboutsane
07-03-2007, 08:54 AM
I would advise the tenant that if she does not pay her rent then she will be evicted using a section 8 which the council will then see that she has made herself homeless and will NOT rehouse her! If she applies for HB and pays you what she can then you can proceed with section 21 and the council need not know her plans. If they call to ask why you have issued a section 21 (which they will) I usually tell them that the LL is considering selling the property and wants to market it with vacant possession!

Use the section 8 as a bargaining tool! If she doesnt pay you have every right to issue it, it may not be as quick as the section 21 in the long run, BUT if she wants a council place you should get some money from her!

Beeber
07-03-2007, 09:30 AM
Good advice re: section 8 with the caveat that it becomes invalid if the tenant reduces their arrears before the hearing to under 2 months.

A cunning tenant, for example, one who is trying to engineer a situation in which she will be entitled to subsidised public housing, will probably know this and pay a little towards arrears to get around this.

Therefore, it should only ever be issued with an S21 to fall back on.

Uncle Fester
07-03-2007, 16:43 PM
Surely there has to be, some sort of case against her partner?

Miffy
07-03-2007, 17:08 PM
The tenants are jointly and severally liable for the rent.

However, what happens when one gives up the tenancy and the other doesn't also leave voluntarily? Can the first tenant then actually bring the tenancy to an end?

Has the husband actually told you that he is giving up his tenancy, by the way? If not he is definitely still liable.

caroline7758
07-03-2007, 19:20 PM
Think I mentioned in a previous post (or two!) that the latest code of guidance for local authorities says that if it's obvious that the landlord is likely to get possession, housing officers should not wait for the court's decision as a matter of course before accepting a person as homeless, so this might save a bit of time.

FRESH
07-03-2007, 20:26 PM
Thank you all for your advice! I do feel frustrated that it is now a waiting game. I have left numerous messages for her to contact me to no avail. I am under the impression that she will hang on till I take her court. Can anyone tell me whether I need to get a solicitor involved, as the letting agent was very keen to recommend a solicitor? The agent said the process would cost me around £800. I have been told I don’t need a solicitor? If so what would be a rough estimate? Her ex partner did not give us any warning that he was leaving, but he is still on the tenancy agreement and I believe in work. Any more ideas would be greatly appreciated.

P.Pilcher
07-03-2007, 20:49 PM
Many of us on this board DIY it! A section 21 procedure does not involve a court appearance so provided you get the form filled in correctly, you pay your £150 and await your possession order. There is tons and tons on this board as to the correct way to do it and the forms are also available as a free download from the agreements section. If you eventually need to use the court bailiffs, then just ring up the court and ask to speak to the bailiffs' office. The bod on the other end of the telephone should be helpful and tell you what you have to do to get them to carry out the eviction.
From what Caroline 7758 tells us the well known L.A. policy may be changing and the production of a correctly served section 21 notice might get your tenant what she wants. Note I said "might"!

P.P.

FRESH
09-03-2007, 08:23 AM
I finally received a phone call from my tenant, after informing her I was going to move back into the house, after her two-month period had ended. I know she went to the council who advised her that she would not be re-homed, if she could not pay the rent. I now have a meeting with her and want it to go smoothly. As I have suggested my family will be moving back into the house. Is there anything else I could tactfully ad to make her not want to stay past the section 21 period?:confused:

Beeber
09-03-2007, 08:38 AM
Be aware of giving any grounds for them to cry 'harassment'.

http://www.landlordzone.co.uk/harassment.htm

"Particularly avoid personal confrontations....If you must visit tenants under strained circumstances try always to take along an independent witness.

If relations become strained, and even if rent is not being paid, avoid visiting the premises personally, or take along a witness to avoid being falsely accused of harassment. "

Ask yourself whether meeting in person is really necessary - can I ask you to outline what you hope to achieve with it, for example, is it to discuss a repayment schedule for the arrears?

Essentially this amounts to an audience with a couple who are frustrated that not only has their ploy failed to get them a council house, it has led them to being evicted from their current private rental property.

If you decide to have a meeting, perhaps the other posters on this forum can advise you whether you need to make clear very diplomatically that you are being very serious about getting the property back, will not retract the S21 and will follow up any overstay with additional legal action, that you will provide the next landlord with a good reference if all rent arrears to you are repaid and so on.

FRESH
18-04-2007, 09:11 AM
Hi sorry not to get back to your post. The situation has moved on. Her partner has left. She receives H/B into her bank account and spends it. I want to move back into the house at the end of the S21. The tenant has said she will move out on the date set, but I have my reservations. She receives H/B, which is not being paid to me, should I notify the council or let it rest in case it inflames the situation?

Also I'm considering serving a S8 prior to the end of the S21. The only reason I'm in two minds, this may give her more time to stay in the property:confused: were she may vacate the property without a problem.

The council has informed the agent, that the tenant has always claiming H/B, which will be now diverted to the agent.

If that were the case, would it be pointless issuing a S8 as it could be thrown out of court?

Another general question!

For legal representation what amount could I be expected to pay?