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View Full Version : Tenants - did they or didn't they leave?



juliet2002
30-06-2005, 21:19 PM
Strange situation we're in as landlords. No rent for two months so we raise the alarm (and before you ask: why not sooner? Because of a missing bank statement, and then because it's been late on other occasions but always worked out fine) and their story is: Oh, but we left two months ago; didn't you get our notice of termination? Because we sent it 2m in advance and then on the dot of 31/3 we left and sent you your keys.

Hmm, thought we! having received neither. Wonder why they haven't hollered for their deposit since they left; seems surprising.

Over the next couple of weeks we find two things out: one, they tell us that they retained a set of keys (which as far as I know makes them tenants still, legally) and two: they've been seen using the property on a regular basis for over 2m after they claim they left. They also left the house in a state and full of their possessions and domestic waste.

They are now getting abusive and threatening and clamouring for their deposit (well and truly used up by gardener, cleaner, house clearance etc.).

My question is: IF they still had keys and IF they have been seen to be entering/leaving the house after they claim they left, they were still tenants, right? Even if they claim to have notified us in advance and they claim to have sent us (one set of) keys. I don't see that they have a legal leg to stand on, not that we want to take them to court, we'd sooner just close things as they are and not press for arrears of rent.

Has anyone else ever had tenants who claimed they'd left, but continued to use the house in the meantime? We live a long way away so they know there's no way we'd normally check up on things like that.

Juliet

davidjohnbutton
30-06-2005, 23:42 PM
I have a clause in my rental agreements which cover just this -

"The landlord cannot terminate this tenancy before the date specified as the end of the term above except where the tenant breaches any obligation or duty. The Tenant may give 4 weeks notice in writing and is liable for rent up to the last date of occupation or the expiry of the written notice or four weeks after discovery of leaving without notice, whichever is later. Verbal advice that the tenant is leaving is not accepted."

Retention of keys and evidence that they continued to use the property beyond the period they say they had left is reasonable evidence that they had not given up the property and still had "exclusive" use of it. Apart from that, if they did not leave it in such as condition as to allow another tenant to move in straight away (had you known of course that they "had left"), then you can still charge rent whilst they have goods in there which prevents you letting. Each of these three "pointers" means you have a good case for claiming rent until they handed the house over a-proper as it were and I reckon a county court judge would award you on that basis.

juliet2002
01-07-2005, 17:31 PM
Mmm; that'd have been a useful clause to have had in our agreement! Which was a fairly bare-bones ASTA which didn't anticipate weird situations like the one we find ourselves in now. But thank you for your observations in any case, and let's hope it won't come to a judge's opinion (we really don't want all that hassle).

Juliet

cnrsoper
02-07-2005, 19:35 PM
I would want to avoid court on this one as if you don't have a proper termination then you may find your self up for ilegal eviction.

Raggy
02-07-2005, 23:20 PM
cnrsoper,

Have you actually read the initial post?

How on earth could Juliet find her self up for illegal eviction??

The clue is in the quesion... "but we left two months ago"

You're not a lawyer are you???

cnrsoper
04-07-2005, 18:53 PM
Have you actually read the initial post?

How on earth could Juliet find her self up for illegal eviction??

As she does not have anything in writing from the tenant stating that she wished to terminate, and she has not followed either an abandonment, eviction or termination proceduce she could be done for illegal eviction, but then I admit I don't have enough details to confirm if she would be or not.

The clue is in the quesion... "but we left two months ago"

since when did you go by what a tenant said? sounds like the tenant may be trying to avoid/delay legal process, if you ask me. Does she have a witness to what the tenant said?

You're not a lawyer are you??

no I am not, I am doing an housing degree, while working as a housing officer

juliet2002
05-07-2005, 12:21 PM
Yes, we were indeed concerned about the illegal eviction aspect ... But I think we're OK there because before we went in the house (and changed the locks, since they'd actually been in up to the day before we got there!) they'd emailed us 'copies' of the termination notice they'd allegedly sent earlier, and they'd sent another email (they refuse to talk on the phone or to give a correspondence address!) confirming that they had indeed vacated.

Otherwise yes, it could have been tricky if they'd suddenly decided to play it differently, and we'd gone in with our keys and found them still there.

juliet