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Grange
12-02-2008, 10:22 AM
We had a Rent Act 1977 tenant living in a shared house (which she was sharing with us). She appeared to have abandoned the property (although rent was not in arrears) so we applied for possession.


We have today been granted possession by the court, on a 14 day basis. This presumably means that in 14 days' time we can change the locks?


What of her remaining belongings? Do we email her (only contact we have) in 14 days' time and tell her we are now storing them at £200 per week and when will she be removing them?

davidjohnbutton
12-02-2008, 10:52 AM
Have a look at this link for your answer http://www.adviceguide.org.uk/index/your_world/consumer_affairs/keeping_lost_found_and_uncollected_goods.htm#Uncol lected_or_abandoned_goods

£200 a week is a bit much for storage though it will depend on where the items are stored. An unreasonable charge will not stand up in court if it comes to it, and that is what you have to consider. Maybe £200 would be reasonable for removal from the property to a place of storage and £50 a week until collected or conclusion of the process allowing you to sell them.

Grange
12-02-2008, 11:25 AM
Thanks. I take it we have to wait the 14 days before changing the locks?

davidjohnbutton
12-02-2008, 12:08 PM
I would, then you are in complete compliance with the court order and the tenant can get in to remove her goods if she wants - however, I must stress that if there are any signs the tenant has come back, you must have the bailiffs evict her - if she is simply "not there" after 14 days, then you are generally ok to change the locks.

Grange
12-02-2008, 13:18 PM
Thanks.

Changing the front door locks is easy. Unfortunately, being a shared house, we have no spare key to her room.

Are we OK (after 14 days, of course) to break into her room? Indeed, can we deduct the cost of a locksmith from the s57 Rent Act overpayment that we are due to pay to her?

davidjohnbutton
12-02-2008, 14:17 PM
You are going to have to break in at some point - do so with care and with absolute certainty that the tenant is not within, if she is, then you will have to order bailiffs in.

With regards to the S57 - I quote the relevant part here "Enforcement provisions
57 Recovery from landlord of sums paid in excess of recoverable rent, etc(1)Where a tenant has paid on account of rent any amount which, by virtue of this Part of this Act, is irrecoverable by the landlord, the tenant who paid it shall be entitled to recover that amount from the landlord who received it or his personal representatives.
(2)Any amount which a tenant is entitled to recover under subsection (1) above may, without prejudice to any other method of recovery, be deducted by the tenant from any rent payable by him to the landlord.
[F1(3)No amount which a tenant is entitled to recover under subsection (1) above shall be recoverable at any time after the expiry of —
(a)one year, in the case of an amount which is irrecoverable by virtue of section 54 of this Act; or
(b)two years, in any other case.]
(4)Any person who, in any rent book or similar document, makes an entry showing or purporting to show any tenant as being in arrears in respect of any sum on account of rent which is irrecoverable by virtue of this Part of this Act shall be liable to a fine not exceeding [F2level 3 on the standard scale], unless he proves that, at the time of the making of the entry, the landlord had a bona fide claim that the sum was recoverable.
(5)If, where any such entry has been made by or on behalf of any landlord, the landlord on being requested by or on behalf of the tenant to do so, refuses or neglects to cause the entry to be deleted within 7 days, the landlord shall be liable to a fine not exceeding [F2level 3 on the standard scale], unless he proves that, at the time of the neglect or refusal to cause the entry to be deleted, he had a bona fide claim that the sum was recoverable.
Annotations:
Amendments (Textual)
F1S.57(3) substituted by Housing Act 1980 (c. 51, SIF 61), s. 68(3)

F2Words substituted by virtue of Criminal Justice Act 1982 (c. 48, SIF 39:1), ss. 38, 46
"

make sure you are indeed obliged to pay this back and yes, if you have an offset against this due to charges incurred in employing a locksmith, I see no reason not to offset this against the S57 repayment - just out oc curiosity, how did this arise??

Grange
12-02-2008, 14:23 PM
Thanks, I'm (rather too) familiar with s57. I am happy that the sums are properly due to T (ex T?!) under these provisions.

No fair rent has ever been registered, and no s51 mutual agreement to a rent increase has ever been implemented. However the rent did go up (otherwise than as permitted by the rates exemption) and T was advised by the local housing officer of the error of L's ways.

Esio Trot
12-02-2008, 14:31 PM
Unfortunately, being a shared house, we have no spare key to her room.

Are we OK (after 14 days, of course) to break into her room?

If you mean forcing the lock, then there is no need to do this.

If you have the knack you can use a bump key or some other non-destructive opening device. Alternatively, a lockie will mostly get in okay. The fee should be tax deductible.

davidjohnbutton
12-02-2008, 14:37 PM
I see, so you need really to see what expenses you can offset against this section 57 repayment and show it to be reasonable enough to stand up in court.

Have in mind that a court will allow you £9.25 an hour in litingant in persons expenses if you took the tenant to court - use that as a base to reimburse your work in your attempts to locate the tenant and to remove her goods. Also of course take off the court fee you paid for the possession proceedings plus any legal expenses allowed.

Charge the tenant until the room is clear and in a relettable state - say two persons at £9.25 an hour each plus materials - hire of trailer etc. and then there's storage of course - how fast you do this is up to you, but keep it reasonable because if the tenant re-appears and sues you, you want to be able to maintain a good counterclaim - push it too far and the judge might allow you nothing on the basis you inflated your counterclaim. You may well find that you are in a reaslistic situation to offset a good portion of the S57 monies due back to the tenant.

davidjohnbutton
12-02-2008, 14:39 PM
When you use the word "force" I use that to mean entry through a locked door by any means other than using the key - the force does not have to be destructive!!!!!!!

Grange
12-02-2008, 15:21 PM
David

Thank you, that is excellent advice.

Can we reclaim the court costs from her - and barrister's fee? And the notice to quit? And my time at £9.25 per hour in arranging the notice to quit, arranging the court time, quite apart from attending court.

£3 land registry charge for downloading title to prove landlord's title...

There's a good £5,000 of s57 claim, so any further ideas would be most gratefully received...

davidjohnbutton
12-02-2008, 16:52 PM
As far as the possession claim goes, you can only claim from her what the court allowed which is usually the court fee for the PO UNLESS exceptionally the court ordered additional costs or for costs to be assessed (used to be called taxed).

So quote "Can we reclaim the court costs from her - and barrister's fee? And the notice to quit? And my time at £9.25 per hour in arranging the notice to quit, arranging the court time, quite apart from attending court.

£3 land registry charge for downloading title to prove landlord's title...
" unquote. - are all costs incurred in the obtaining of the PO and unless one of the exceptions above applies, you cannot claim then.

You need to concentrate on the costs you incur post possession order. By the way, if you have no contact from your tenant for six years, unless the S57 was done through a court order, she will lose the right to claim it back - i.e. statute barred!!!!!

Grange
13-02-2008, 10:00 AM
Sadly T has already requested a repayment of the s57 sum so the six year limit will not come into play. But we shall see what money we can spend for her!