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My letting agents had a call from my tenants employer who advised them that because they hadn't seen or heard from him for a month they had terminated his employment. They had been paying his rent, although the tenancy is in the employees, not the companies, name. This means that the rent which had been due at the end of July has not been paid. The tenant has been renewing his assurred shorthold tenancy for about two years and up until now we have only had one late rent payment.

 

My landlord has tried on several occasions to contact the tenant by telephone, however he has not answered or returned any calls. They wrote to him advising that they needed to carry out an inspection of the property and advised him they would let themselves in if he was not available. The inspection day arrived without any contact from the tenant. When the agent arrived at the property she was unable to gain access, it seemed the locks were very stiff or had been changed. She asked me to go to the property and try my key.

 

On arrival I noticed the large amount of mail which was on the floor in the hallway. The top pane of glass had been replaced by a piece of flimsy hardboard, which was extremely insecure and fell in as soon as I touched it. The lock had indeed been changed. The agent agreed that we should secure the property and instructed a locksmith to change the locks which he did. I have now replaced and secured the hardboard with some thick ply screwed on the inside of the door. The tenants possesions are still in the flat. Both the gas & electric meters have been changed to card or key types, they were previously normal meters. The heavy glass has taken a chunk out of the floor in the hall and was left pretty much where it had fallen, although I have now cleared it up and put it in the bin store. The inside of the door frame is smashed as is the door, both will need to be replaced. The flat, which was previously my home is now a complete pigstye. I have left contact details attached to the door in case the tenant returns.

 

My biggest problem is that without the rent I am not earning sufficient money to cover all of my outgoings. I have an overdraft facility which I am already in, due to the nature of my job, if I fail to meet my financial obligations I will no longer be able to work. I really have been living hand to mouth for the last year and have been trying to weather the current credit crisis until such time as things pick up.

 

I have no way of covering the cost of the damage as well as the mortgage payment and my other bills. I do also work part time which is helping to keep me solvent enough to continue trading, but I cannot do more work than I currently do.

 

Can the landlord and I attach a notice to the door stating that we will be taking possession of the property due to it being abandond if the tenant doesn't make contact within 14 days. His tenancy agreement is up for renewal at the end of August, although he hasn't been given notice to quit.

 

I need this resolved or I will be out of a job due to my being unable to pay my commitments. I only moved out of the flat so I could pay my tax bill without resorting to borrowing the money, now it looks as if I'm going to lose the place anyway.

 

I'm really frustrated by how few rights the property owner has. I rented him the property which gave him the right to live there, does it also give him the right to willfully damage my property and fail to keep to his side of the agreement? Unfortunately it appears that it does and there is diddly I can do about it.

 

The right are always in the wrong and the wrong are always in the right... Hmmmmm. I think I'm getting to grips with this now and I don't want to live in this screwed up country any longer, everything is back to front. The wrong get all the rights and the right get none. The saddest thing is, the law will never prevent rogue landlords from taking the law into their own hands, fear is a very powerful weapon in certain hands. The criminal lowlife landlords will always get their way. All the laws have done is allowed rogue tenants to do exactly as they please, safe in the knowledge that their law abiding landlord can do absolutely nothing about it.

 

I realise that nothing I can do will allow me to relet the property quick enough so that I do not fall behind with the mortgage and my other bills and ultimately lose my job, my flat and everything else I have worked so hard for. But it doesn't matter just so long as the tenant, who decided not to comply with the agreement we made, is ok. There really wasn't much point getting him to sign a tenancy agreement, it really only protects him, not me!! Good job I have life insurance, or will he get the payout from that too?.

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Can the landlord and I attach a notice to the door stating that we will be taking possession of the property due to it being abandond if the tenant doesn't make contact within 14 days. His tenancy agreement is up for renewal at the end of August, although he hasn't been given notice to quit.

 

Yes. Start the abandonment procedure. That is a notice on the door to that effect and state on it clearly that because the property was insecure you have had to enter, change the locks to resecure the premises, and any persons requiring legitimate access can contact ......... State that if no contact has been made by 14 days hence you will re-enter and take possession. Prepare S21 NOSP and post through the door (just in case tenant turns up - I have a suspicion and I'll go into that next), make sure you do a proof of service. Also put copy of abandonment notice in with this. (You can use 7 days if you like and want to speed things up, I'm just thinking what would seem more reasonable should this ever get into a Court).

 

I would point out to you that you should never, ever enter a tenanted property either unannounced or uninvited, you and the agent should not hold keys to the property and if the agents do they should not use them to enter as and when they like, and if the tenant changed the locks, he's within his rights to do so. Imagine what you could be accused of if you kept entering whenever you liked or in his absence. Similarly he has the right to privacy.

 

Now, my suspicions arise from your description of the damage you found at the door. How well do you know your tenant? Was he ill? Or was he known to have problems with the police? From what you describe I reckon the police or ambulance service have had that door in at some stage. I rather suspect the first. So, a nice little tip coming up now about how to extract information from your friendly beat bobby! You find out who this might be, and then arrange to go and talk to them at their office, and of course you are extremely concerned about the whereabouts of this tenant, who you have known for 2 years and never had a problem with. You found that the house appears to have been entered by force previously, damage to the door, and are worried sick that he has died or is ill somewhere and please, please could they do a quick check and put your mind at ease. Play it up a little, like your agents are saying do this and that but you just want to be sure he is ok before you go any further. You may not be told the precise circumstances but I bet a pound to the dollar that you will be told something like "worry no more sir we are looking after him for now!" Don;t let on you are angry/worried about money - the way to a good coppers heart and mind is to show concern for others! (And to tell them everything they want to know, when they want to know it whether they are allowed to know it or not - friends for life that way!)

 

Back to the abandonment procedure, because you must get this right or you'll end up losing more money when he resurfaces and wants his belongings. Lets pray he doesn't turn up within the fourteen days, then you enter. The very first thing to do is photograph everything before anything is touched. Then you need to inventory everything that belongs to the tenant, and for large items, beds, white good etc, take a timed and dated photo. Pack up all personal letters, documents, etc into a separate box, seal it, sign and date over the seal, set this aside safely. You must not dispose of anything yet, good practice suggests storage for up to 28 days.

 

I know that you will want to crack on and get the property ready for relet so you now need to decide where you are going to store his things. If I were you, I would have them all moved into one room, so that you can work around them. So that they aren't taken out of the property at all until disposal, 28 days from the date you entered using the abandonment procedure.

 

This is your safest and best bet to get your property back quickly, I expect you know if the tenant returns, you have to action to S21, you have to wait for it to expire, wait for a court date, pay for it, let the tenant argue for his extra 42 days and probably get it, then have to have the bailiff, and only THEN will you be able to get on with sorting this out. So, fingers crossed, he's abandoned.

 

Good luck and let us know how you get on.

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Nice post and some good and correct advice here.

What I would change in it though is this statement:-

 

"you and the agent should not hold keys to the property"

 

I disagree here and would say "you and the agent should ALWAYS hold keys to the property"

 

Trust me, spare keys should be held, in a safe place for every property that is let out for many reasons.

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Ok, but landlords and agents shouldn't be entering except in extreme emergencies, and the tenants can change the lock if he fears this is happening.

 

LA's and HA's do not hold keys to tenants' front doors, only communal areas. Except where it is a scheme for elderly etc., in which case they have a master key.

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Ok, but landlords and agents shouldn't be entering except in extreme emergencies, and the tenants can change the lock if he fears this is happening.

 

LA's and HA's do not hold keys to tenants' front doors, only communal areas. Except where it is a scheme for elderly etc., in which case they have a master key.

 

I didn't suggest that anyone should be entering the property in any circumstance I just think keys should be held.

 

I checked a girl into a house a few months ago and said to this new tenant that we hold keys if they lose theirs etc. That was 3 o clock in the afternoon, 2am the next morning she called to say she'd lost her keys when she was out with mates celebrating the fact she'd got a new house.

Had I needed to call a locksmith this would have been an almighty headache rather than what we did which was go around, let her in, give her the spare and ask her to get a new one cut and return it to us. Plus of course it worked out much cheaper for HER.

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Ah, now, this is where I'm not so soft with my tenants! I'll help them with most things if I can, but when it comes to keys, and they lock themselves out, they pay for it!

 

Occasionally a vulnerable tenant might ask for a key to be held in the offices, and that's ok so long as we have a letter from them to that effect, but as a rule of thumb, locks are changed at every turnover, this prevents the owner of the property having any access whatsoever, all keys are handed to the new tenant, and they are warned that we don;t hold spares.

 

If I have to get in for an emergency or such like, I have to break in with the copper present.

 

Its different with social housing!

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Hi and thanks for the help and advice.

 

I did post the abandonment notice and the letting agent has heard from the tenant. There appear to have been some extenuating personal circumstances on his part which I won't go into, however had he handled things differently things wouldn't have got to the stage they have. As it stands the tenant has been very reasonable & given up the flat immediately, neither I nor the agents have pressured him in any way. He has apologised for the condition the flat was left in and according to the agent was genuinely remorseful about the situation. If only he had contacted his employers so they knew where he was and told the letting agents about the situation he would probably still have his job and the tenancy.

 

However there has been a very surprising and alarming twist to this tale, read on... :confused:

 

To cut a long story short, since Friday I have replaced the front door and started cleaning the flat, yes it really is that dirty. This morning as the neighbour came out of her flat opposite I apologised for the noise etc and said that I would ensure the next tenant was quieter. She said that she rarely saw him and never had any problems with noise. I said she must have heard the noise of him trying to smash the door down considering all the damage and broken glass etc.

 

Her reply came as a complete shock, she said "The damage was done by the men who had come to change the gas & electric meters, they were there ages and still couldn't get in even after breaking the glass, they ended up having to get a locksmith"!!! :eek::eek::-x

 

I now have the dilema of claiming damages against Scottish Power for breaking my door and the glass in it, which on falling has taken some huge gouges out of the laminate wood floor. It has taken me and a friend the whole of Friday and most of yesterday to fit a door. I didn't realise that electricity and gas suppliers had the right to force entry, I could almost accept it if there had been a leak, but that wasn't the case. It was them who left the property insecure and caused the damage, the tenant hadn't cleaned the flat in two years, but he hadn't willfully damaged the place like the utilities suppliers have.

 

I will let you know as things progress with Scottish Power, I may even have to get some help with things on that front. Back to the flat, thus far the living room has been degrunged, as has the bathroom. I have started the kitchen and am about a third of the way through degreasing it. Then there is just the bedroom and the hallway before I have finished the clean up. I will need to lift the damaged laminate floor in the hallway, which is going to be a pain in the backside, I have to do it asap to get the place re-let or at least on the market by next weekend. Rest assured I will take a lot of photographs of all the damage first.

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