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Help - Garage Landlord

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I'm not sure if this is the right forum as my query is about a garage I rented and the actions of the landlord of the garage.


We were renting a garage from 2003 to 2005 which was behind a flat we owned. There was no contract and upon receiving the keys we began to pay the monthly rent by standing order. In 2005 we went abroad for a few months and in that time 2 of the standing orders had bounced. By the time I realised it was a couple of weeks after the 2nd SO had bounced, so I paid them directly via internet banking into the landlord's account. We had a friend flatsitting for us at the time who told us that the landlord had posted a compliment slip through the door saying we owed them rent on the garage.


We were just about to phone them up to let them know that we had now paid it and it would be in their bank account in 3 days when we received an email from them telling us that our garage lock had been changed and all the contents in the garage had been destroyed. Amongst those contents was my wedding dress, photos, cine films from over 20 years ago, irreplaceable items.


It's taken me a long time to face what happened, but just recently as I am dealing with my bank charges I received my statements which document every single payment I made to the landlord for rental of the garage.


My question is do I have a chance if I take them to the small claims court and ask for compensation. There was never a contract, simply a verbal agreement?


Please help as I would like to at least make sure they don't do this to anyone else without prior warning, we were never advised that they might destroy our personal items. :confused:

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Surely thats as good as theft.

Have you informed the police? As I'm sure it's criminal damage.

I'm almost certain that the owners have to give you a certain amount of time to empty the contents before they themselves take action.

Even without a written contract they can't take the law into their own hands.

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I've just found the email they sent us, AT - below:


Due to your failure to address the arrears of rent on the above garage we have now:-

1. cleared the garage of its contents

2. changed the locks

3. re-let to a new tenant

4. outstanding rent and clearance costs of £420.


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at the time we owed them £60, this email was sent after they had removed our contents. When we rang up to find out where they had removed them to, we were told they had been destroyed!

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If belongings are left behind by a tenant, a landlord will have a duty of care over these belongings .Therefore, he cannot lawfully simply take possession or dispose of the goods, even if there are rent arrears or damage-Torts (Interference with goods) Act 1977. The landlord should have given you a reasonable period of notice in which to collect the belongings, and should look after the possessions carefully during this period. Sadly, a 'reasonable' period is not defined in law but I would imagine it would have depended on how hard the landlord tried to contact you. After a reasonable period has passed, he could dispose of posessions.

If a landlord has interfered with your belongings without following the correct procedure , you are entitledto take court action, for example, for breach of contract. You may be able to obtain damages . If the belongings are damaged or indeed destroyed, the landlord could be prosecuted for criminal damage.


Even if there were rent arrears, it was still unlawful for a landlord to take or dispose of possessions. In certain limited situations, a landlord could have used a procedure known as distress to take and sell possessions. However,

there are strict rules and restrictions with regards to distress.


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Thanks for the advice Joa - I'm definately taking action. I'm sending off a letter today to the landlords to advise them of this and giving them a week to reply! - I really hope finally that I'll be able to get some compensation :-|

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