Possession – Ask Sharon



Possession - Ask Sharon Residential Landlord

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Tenant Empty Room

I rented a room in a multilet property to a tennant on dss, on assured tennancy, 18 months ago. He gave £60 his first weeks rent then moved some stuff in to the room. He appeared for a few months on and off as there were letters in his room. He rang me and told me he was getting his rent paid to me which it has done but i have not seen him for over a year.

His mail is still getting sent to the property ie. his signing on letters, so he is still claiming his dole or jsa at the property but the only thing in the room now is his bedding and a clock radio. 6 months ago I had to change the front door lock for security reasons but he has not contacted me for a front door key. I have left letters and my phone number in his room telling him to contact me but nothing.

so i dont think he even bothers calling at the property, he said when he moved in he would be staying with his girlfriend a lot but im getting a tad techy now as i dont want a big clawback off the housing for overpayment. If he says he is living somewhere else or he has moved out he still has the keys and a letter from dss came last week for him.

So do i tell the housing he has moved out or is he entitled to do this as I have had a similar case and told the housing benefits but they say its his claim and its up to him but on another similar tennant they tried to clawback 33000 on an overpayment even though the tennant still had all his stuff in the room and the keys and his mail was still getting sent to the property but i appealed that and won your advice would be appreciated.

These cases are always difficult. I am quite impressed that you won your case re. the over-payment, but how likely is it that you would win this one? Might the benefits section feel that once is perhaps arguable, but twice? I don’t know Dan, but I would rather not risk it, myself.

My view is that you now suspect abandonment and you should serve a 28 day notice to quit. Strictly speaking, only at the expiry of the notice should you change the locks.

My main concern is that you state you changed the locks 6 months ago. As he did not contact you within the month, you knew he was not living there but continued to accept the rent.

Issue the notice to quit and contact housing benefits to tell them what you have done. Of course, if you issued it a month ago, he would not have seen it anyway as the locks were changed. Did you do this, lnot realising it was a notice to quit? If so, contact housing benefits now , them it has expired and you have changed the locks. If you are lucky, lthey will take it as you say and stop the benefit with immediate effect. The next best thing would be that they stop it with effect 4 weeks ago. The worst scenario is that they will question when you suspected abandonment etc. If they discover you changed the locks 6 months ago, they may believe that you have received rent fraudulently for 6 months.

Landlord wants to sell the property and facing homelessness

We rented our house out to council tenants through Brent Council and we have now decided to sell the house in order for us to pay off bills and put down on another smaller property. The tenants have been issued with a notice to move out in 2 months times but my concern is that they won’t. The agency is convinced the council will tell them to stay and wait for a warrant which is what Brent has a reputation of doing. Can we issue an eviction notice or apply for a warrant before they move out? We really need our house back by October otherwise we will also be homeless with kids in tow. How can we guarantee that we won’t be homeless?

I am afraid that guaranteeing you won’t be homeless is nearly impossible. The Council will be behaving as most Council’s do, in telling your tenants that they are not homeless until the case has gone to Court and they have been found homeless. Even then, they could stay in the property until after the date the court has ordered possession and until a Bailiff’s Warrant is issued.

The notice you have issued (a s.21, I would assume) must expire before you can apply to the Court for possession. If it has been issued correctly, it is an accelerated possession procedure, which should not take very long to have the court action, though holiday periods can delay it. The tenants could make a case that they should not be evicted immediately, if they have children, which could delay it a little. In my local area, the Homeless section would only ask for a court warrant and not the Bailiff’s, before treating them as homeless, but it will depend very much on the way your local authority works.

In view of your own difficult circumstances, it may be worth discussing with your tenants whether they would be prepared to move to another private rented property, if you were prepared to compensate them, perhaps by helping with removals? Please put no pressure on them, you are only trying to assist and you must ensure nothing you do could be seen as harassment or an attempt to illegally evict. You should also discuss this with Brent Council – was the agreement that they could use it to house homeless people to meet their statutory obligations? If so, they may feel that it is out of order to expect to end the agreement at this stage.

Rent in arrears

I have a tenant who is three months in arrears and in receipt of housing benefit. In May I issued a two month notice requesting telling the tenant that either she must bring the rent up to date or she would be evicted. I have since written to her on three occasions reminding her of her rent obligation and that if rent wasn’t paid by the 24th July, her two month notice would have expired. She is in the second year of a fixed term tenancy.

I would like to seek quick possession. Please advise me where I can find the correct forms to seek possession and what grounds I should use.

First things first – contact housing benefits and ask that future payments be paid direct to you – they must do this if she is in 8 weeks or 2 months rent arrears. Possession – provided the notice you gave her was correctly worded or was a formal notice, either of which can be used for s.21 notice, you should be able to go to court for an accelerated possession procedure. Although accelerated, this could still take several weeks, hence the reason for getting the rent paid to you for the remainder of the time she is with you.

You can apply for possession online through at www.hmgov – which is £50 cheaper than doing it through the courts?

If you have any doubts about the notice you have issued, you could issue a s.8 notice, using grounds 8,10 and 11 that the tenant was in rent arrears. Although requires only a rwo week notice, getting a court order will probably take longer than the s 21 route.

Depending on whether you are using s.21 or s.8, you will need three copies of form N5 or N5B, with particulars of claim form where you are not using the accelerated possession (available online as before). Very best of luck.

Do I have possession?

As I am currently living overseas I have let my property in the rural Midlands. There are two separate assured shorthold tenancy agreements in place – one for the house and one for the land (approximately 6 acres used for grazing the tenant’s horses).

The tenant currently owes me four months rent. He gave two months’ written notice that he would relinquish both tenancies – the notice period starting on 1 April 2009, so he should have moved out by 31 May 2009.

This did not happen. Since then he has made numerous assurances to both my agent and prospective new tenant that he would be out ‘within a few days’ . As things stand at the moment the tenant has removed all his furniture and no longer lives on the property. He promised to leave the keys at the property for my agent to pick up – however when my agent went to collect them there were no keys. There are still three horses and two vehicles belonging to the tenant that remain on the land.

My question is this – do I now legally have possession of the house? Can I change the locks and allow the new tenant access to paint the interior? What are the implications of the cars and horses still remaining on the land.

He has said he will return the keys – he has not done so, therefore you can only assume he is in residence, I am afraid. If you change the locks, he could make a case for illegal eviction, which is not pleasant as such claims are taken very seriously by local authorities.

Get your agent to issue a Notice to Quit, which basically says you believe he has abandoned the property. It is a 28 day notice but if you hear nothing from the tenant over that period, on the 29 th day you can enter the property and change the locks. Hopefully, that will prompt him to get something done.

I am afraid I have no idea about the horses, but if the vehicles remain, I believe that at the expiry of the Notice to Quit, you could advise the police they have been abandoned and they should be able to take action.

Form 21(4)

The form for section 21(4) (a) for a periodic rent does not have a space for ‘acknowledgement by tenant’. Is this not important since it is on the s21 for an AST.

I think the reason it is included in the s21 is that this can be issued at the start of a tenancy and could be acted on as soon as the tenancy expires and, if going to court for a possession order, the court would need to know that the tenant acknowledged when it was served that he had received it. I think 21(4)a would not apply until the tenancy has expired and converted to a statutory periodic tenancy, hence an acknowledgement would not be deemed necessary. I think I would always advise that an acknowledgement be signed, so draw up your own for signature, keeping a copy with the notice, to prove what you have done.

Changed locks

We have tenants who are two months behind on their rent and the tenancy does not expire for another month. We have experienced several problems with them since the tenancy began: mainly unreasonable demands and the like, but have dealt with things.

During the course of the last three weeks we have noted that on four separate occasions the front door to the property has been left wide open onto the street, electric lights have been left on but no one has been home. In addition we have discovered that the tenants have trashed the flat and in fact have moved out leaving belongings and some pets in the flat.

On the fourth occasion we decided to secure the building by changing the lock on the front door and put up a notice advising the tenants not to attempt to enter because of the locks being changed but instead to contact us.

As you can imagine the tenants are not pleased that we have been forced to take this action and have gained entry to the flat via a roof and climbing through a window. The tenants have also attempted to hack away at the wood on the front door in order to expose the lock. This has caused total damage to the door which will now need to be replaced.

We have allowed access to the flat in order that the tenants may finish clearing the possessions out and clean it to an acceptable standard but they have since changed the lock again and have stated that they will not allow access.

Is this legal? Can a tenant reclaim possession of a property which because they were living elsewhere and the property was left unsecured had its locks changed by the landlord? Do I now have a right to gain entry into the property by whichever means in order to secure the property fully against further criminal damage by the tenant?

Obviously, you had concerns about the security of the property and securing it to safeguard your goods and theirs was acceptable. However, to cover yourself, the notice you left at the house should have stated “this property has been secured to safeguard it, not to deprive you, the tenant, of the tenancy. Please contact us for access”. Whilst the tenants may not be pleased, you are fortunate that they have only tried to gain access, rather than go to the local authority about what could clearly be seen as an illegal eviction and could have created a very serious situation for yourselves. Yes, I know you felt you had justification, but that is rarely acceptable in law.

The only way to legally gain access is to serve a legal notice and, as the tenants are 2 months behind with the rent, serve a section 8, ground 8 notice, which is two weeks, then go immediately to court, once the notice has expired.

I did not change the lock on his room door only the front door that was a security issue i had a key cut and left it in his room but he never collected it is mail is still going to the address  I did leave him a letter 2 months ago telling him I wanted the room back as Ii thought he wasnt living there because I thought you had to give them 8 weeks notice that you were taking possesion of the property it was never in my mind to commit any type of fraud  but I will go and explain it to the housing and see what happens and get a stop put on his rent.

I know you didn’t and we have to be so careful simply because CAB and Shelter will go all out to lhelp the tenant – who it appears to me is committing fraud.  Almost certainly they are living as a couple but claiming separately as this would give them higher benefits.

You would therefore tell benefits that you served what amounted to a notice to quit 2 months ago, but gave him the 2 months that a s.21 demands, unaware that that was unnecessary when you had justifiable reason to believe he had abandoned.

You are sure no-one else was letting him in though?  If nobody has let him in, clearly you were right to suspect abandonment.

Hope this goes ok for you.

For future reference, always get a next of kin so you can make careful enquiries of them – the girlfriend would have been a good one, seeing as he volunteered he would be staying there quite a bit.  And if they have no next of kin, no close friends?  Then he’s not the tenant for you.

Evicting a relative

My brother and I bought our house from my mother. We have another brother who lives in the house but refuses to contribute any money at all. Two months ago we told him he must leave, but he still hasn’t left. We want to change our locks and arrange for him to pick up his belonging at a date convenient to us. He keeps claiming beneficial interest, but as far as we are concerned he doesn’t have an interest. Can we just move him out?

I can find no mention of ‘beneficial interest’ in my housing law guide, but this may be a term used in family law which I am unaware of. I cannot see that he has an interest, but I think I would see a solicitor. It is a great shame when family disagreements occur as it leads to unhappiness all round. Is there no possibility of mediation, to try and come to an amicable resolution?

You ask whether you could ‘just move him out’ – where do you visualise him going? As a single man, there may be little help available to him from the local authority.

Giving notice

My tenant’s contract expired in July. He had initially agreed to stay on until 12 of October. I gave him the contract to sign for the extension of the contract only to be told that he no longer wanted to stay and wished to leave this month.

I have asked that the sign the contract confirming his last day, but he refuses to sign and is now staying in the property without a contract.

He has paid me rent less the deposit amount which he paid when moving in, saying he does not trust me to give back the deposit after he leaves.

What notice can I issue to them so that they are aware that they must vacate the property by the agreed date?

As the original tenancy expired without a new contract being signed, it converted to a statutory periodic tenancy. You are still required to give him two months notice. Without any other ground, this is the only way you can be certain that he will leave, eventually. At the expiry of the notice, you would have to get a court order, should he still remain in residence.

I am a little concerned that the deposit was held by you and that the tenant felt he could deduct it from the rent you were owed. If it was protected by one of the tenancy deposit protection schemes, the Dispute Resolution Service should have been the ones who handled the situation. If not protected, be thankful he is unaware of the possible penalties to you.

Completing section 21 notice

I let my property on a 12 month assured shorthold tenancy agreement commencing in September 2004 at a rent of £825.00 per calendar month. Rent was to be paid on the ninth of every month. A section 21(I)(b) notice was also signed at the same time.

I have not renewed the agreement since although the tenant stayed on. However in April this year he stopped paying rent.

Reading your web site, which is excellent, it seems that to seek possession I should issue a section 8 notice citing ground 8. Do I also cite grounds 10 and 11? And what date should I enter for the date before which proceedings should not begin?

Are there any other forms I need to complete?

How sad when someone has been a tenant so long that they have to be evicted. I trust you have sent warning letters etc. advising of the rent situation? If so, then the section 8 notice is your only option, though you could still try and use the section 21 notice, though I usually advise that when it is signed at the beginning, it does not seem fair to use it when some time has elapsed, and a court may also feel that served at the beginning, it was to protect you should the tenancy not work out well, rather than that four years down the line, it would still stand.
However, a section 8 notice for rent arrears should always use ground 8, but also include grounds 10 and 11. You need to quote the exact wording as shown in the act, quoted here:

Ground 8 – Both at the date of the service of the notice under section 8 of this Act relating to the proceedings for possession and at the date of the hearing –
if rent is payable weekly or fortnightly, at least eight weeks’ rent is unpaid;
if rent is payable monthly, at least two months’ rent is unpaid;
if rent is payable quarterly, at least one quarter’s rent is more than three months in arrears; and
if rent is payable yearly, at least three months’ rent is more than three months in arrears;
and for the purpose of this ground “rent” means rent lawfully due from the tenant.

(NB: this ground was amended in the 1996 Housing Act. In the 1988 Act, time periods for rent arrears in a) were 13 weeks rent and in b) were three months)

Ground 10 – Some rent lawfully due from the tenant –
is unpaid on the date on which the proceedings for possession are
except where subsection (1) (b) of section 8 of this Act applies, was
in arrears at the date of the service of the notice under that section relating to those proceedings.

Ground 11 – Whether or not any rent is in arrears on the date on which proceedings for possession are begun, the tenant has persistently delayed paying rent which has become lawfully due.

The notice, which is 14 days, should end on the last day of a tenancy period. So, if your tenancy agreement was dated 13 of the month, the notice would end on 12 of the next. So, tenancy began 13 September 2004. The notice should be given on 29 July to end 12 August. You would go to court on 13 August. I think you are asked when court proceedings would commence.

If the tenant remains after the notice expires, you would go to court for possession. The court will give you three copies of the appropriate form and three particulars of claim. You can also apply for possession on-line, which is supposed to be quicker and cheaper. Good luck.

Giving notice

I have a tenant who has been in my property for the last 20 months. The tenant signed an assured shorthold tenancy agreement under part 1 of the Housing act 1988, for a period of six months. A standard tenancy agreement form was used which I obtained from a legal stationers (Oyez). I added several special conditions to the form, including that ‘the tenancy agreement may be continued in six months blocks by mutual agreement’.

I now wish to give the tenant notice (in excess of two months).

I have obtained a form under the Housing act 1988 section 21 (1) (b) for seeking repossession of the property. It is a notice requiring possession for a fixed term tenancy (assured shorthold tenancy), but I have noticed that on the back of this form there is a note which states that ‘The lengths of the notice must be at least two months and the notice may be given before or on the day on which are fixed term comes to an end’

As the tenancy has gone on longer than the fixed term of six months, is this the correct form to use?

As the tenancy is now a statutory periodic tenancy, the form you require is section 21 (4)(a).

Notice required

I own a house that I rented out and have now decided to put the house up for sale. Has the tenant got the right to refuse to leave by the date I have asked him to leave by? I have given him two month’s notice.

The tenant has been in the property over two years and has two very young children. I renew the tenancy agreement every six months and it is now due for renewal again.

Please can you advise me in my rights and there rights in this matter.

Provided you give the correct legal notice, which is two months which ends either on the date the tenancy ends or after, the tenant has no right to stay. However, if she does remain, you will have to go to court to evict on an Accelerated Possession Procedure. That can take several weeks, and the tenant has the right to remain until a court orders her out. Really, it would be better to do it by agreement with the tenant, rather than having to go to court as it costs £150. Discuss it pleasantly with the tenant, having issued the notice. State you are happy to give a good reference and see what response you get. If you are not satisfied that he will move, and you need to be very confident that he means what he says, you must protect yourself by going to court. Do not let the fact there are young children affect you – they are not your responsibility.

Buying house with sitting tenant

I am about to buy a house from an old family friend. The house, which formerly consisted of nine bedsits, is now vacant apart from one sitting tenant who is reluctant to leave after more than 16 years of occupation. After trying to evict her, the current owner has offered her a cash lump sum, but she is still not willing to leave. I am reluctant to buy the house without vacant possession as I have plans to refurbish the property before moving in with my family. The current owner thinks that I may have more luck dislodging the tenant, given my plans to develop the property, and he has suggested that I explore my options. Is there a legal avenue that I can pursue, or does the tenant effectively have unimpeachable rights here?

I am not a great fan of buying with sitting tenants, unless you are doing this to continue the business of letting the property. There is also a difficulty in answering as you have not given very exact details. You say she has been in the property ‘over 16 years’ – if you mean she moved in 1991/92, she is either an assured shorthold tenant, which lapsed into a statutory periodic tenancy at the expiry of the original term, or an Assured tenant, which again has lapsed into a statutory periodic. As you say your friend has tried to evict her, and presumably failed, I can only assume she is an assured tenant, and therefore has very good security.

The only ground I could think of that you may be able to use, if she owes no rent, is ground 9 ‘suitable alternative accommodation is available for the tenant or will be available for him when the order for possession takes effect’. (This is the wording in the Act, so could be used in the Court paperwork). However, it is a discretionary ground, so a court would have to decide whether it was reasonable for you to want possession and you or your friend would have to be in a position to offer alternative accommodation, which you may not be. It would have to be very similar accommodation with the same facilities, same distance from facilities and the like.

You must obviously not attempt to harass her or force her out. You could have a civil conversation and ask whether she has any sympathy with what you intend to do, in which case she may move. But I would not normally expect your suggestion would have any weight with someone who does not wish to leave what she sees as her long term home.

I think I would not sign anything until your friend has taken steps to secure vacant possession, if that is possible, but it may not be.

Tenant refusing to leave

I want help to evict a tenant who has breached the terms of the agreement. She leaves the common areas untidy, does not clean up after using the kitchen and though she has allocated cupboards decides to use what she wants creating an untenable environment with insults and foul language hurled at me anytime I make mention of the untidiness and her behaviour in the house, playing loud music etc.

I have served her notice to leave. The agreement was for six months but since she is in breach of the agreement, do I have the right to evict? She is claiming she is not going to leave the house. What can I do?

Is she a tenant or a lodger sharing the house in which you are resident? If a lodger, you can give her ‘reasonable notice’ which would be one week, I would say, and would serve a notice to quit on her. If she remains, you would go to court and get an order.

However, if she is a tenant, you would have to serve her a notice seeking possession using ground 12, ‘Any obligation of the tenancy (other than one related to the payment of rent) has been broken or not performed’. This is a two week notice. However, the difficulty is that it is a discretionary ground and a court would have to decide whether it was reasonable for you to want possession.

Courts don’t really like to evict on a discretionary ground so it could be an expensive and futile exercise. If you want to go that route, you must get supporting evidence from the other tenants, make sure you have copies of the warning letters you have sent about this appalling behaviour.

You could throw in ground 13, ‘The condition of the dwelling-house or any of the common parts has deteriorated owing to acts of waste by, or the neglect or default of, the tenant or any other person..’, and also ground 14, ‘”The tenant or any other person residing in the dwelling-house has been guilty of conduct which is a nuisance or annoyance to adjoining occupiers, or has been convicted of using the dwelling-house or allowing the dwelling-house to be used for immoral or illegal purposes has caused or is likely to cause a nuisance or annoyance to adjoining occupiers’.

I really think, if you can keep the other tenants pacified, the best way to handle this is to serve a s.21 to end when the tenancy ends. If she insists on remaining, you would still have to go to court, but there should then be no argument, she could not turn up in tears and say she didn’t know she was being a nuisance, as you need give no reason to the court why you wish to evict.

Agent could not help

My problem is that I let my one bedroom flat through an agent using its full management service. The firm found a tenant who moved in last July but who has since caused severe problems for me due to late payment of rent and to his neighbours due to constant noise and anti social behaviour. Following continued abuse of his shorthold tenancy agreement I asked the agent to serve a section 21 notice last November, giving him two month’s notice to quit.

On the anniversary of this he claimed no knowledge of the notice and refused to leave. The agent then informed me the firm could do no more and recommended I seek legal advice. Having instructed a solicitor, she told me to write to the tenant with 48 hours notice that I would be inspecting the property. I did this and found the property was empty of furniture with only a few personnel belongings left. The keys have still not been surrendered and as far as I am aware I have no legal right to change the locks and re-let.

I have decided to take action myself. I have the forms for possession and accelerated possession and would like to know the time difference between the two. I am also aware that the accelerated procedure does not include reclaim of costs and overdue rent. If I take this path can I claim the rent arrears in the small claims court?

I am sorry to sound like I have a downer on agents, as I work with some very good ones. The very least this agent should have done is advise you, in January, that the next step after the expiry of the notice, is that you go to court for possession. A date for accelerated possession should come through within about two to three weeks, depending on how much the court has to deal with. I am sorry that it has taken until now for this question to come through, and again, I wonder how much help your solicitor has been. Having been to the property (and you should not have entered without invitation) and finding it abandoned, I would have expected the solicitor to advise either a) the tenant has vacated to save a court case as costs would be awarded against him, or b) that you pursue the route for abandoned properties, which is a 28 day notice to quit. Did the agents not get a next-of-kin? Have they attempted to trace him at all? Which brings me to your final point – yes, you can pursue him through the small claims court – but can you trace him? Have you an address? Without an address, there is little the small claims court can do. Sorry.

Gaining access

We bought a property on the basis that the seller would rent this back from us. She did not supply us with the keys, she has not paid her rent and is in arrears. We are trying to gain access to the property to carry out works, but she is refusing us entry.

What process do I need to follow legally to gain entry to the property?

You would need to get a court order to gain access, but to be honest I would not bother until I had got this tenant out. You entered into an agreement with her, that she would rent it from you and behave in a tenant-like manner. She has broken that agreement. You are in business, or it is at least an investment and cannot afford to allow this to continue. If she is like this now, what will she be like in a couple of years? As soon as she is eight weeks in arrears, serve her a s.8, ground 8 notice, which gives her 2 weeks notice. If she realises that you mean business, she may become more amenable and sort the rent out – you don’t need to act on the notice, if you don’t want to.
I think I would be very concerned that the solicitor who did the conveyancing did not insist on receiving the keys. It may be worthwhile discussing with him, in case you need assistance in taking her to court. As soon as you get possession, change the locks – but not until she vacates, as otherwise, it would be seen as illegal eviction and harassment.

Behind with rent

I have a house split into four flats. In November 2007 a tenant moved into number 3. The rent of £280 was paid for one month but since has been paid in bits and bobs by either him in cash or via his friend’s Paypal account. He is now two months behind and I want him out.

He has no tenancy agreement as he has avoided me each time I have been round. He did not pay a deposit. Does he have any rights or can I just evict him?

I am afraid he still has the right to legal notice. You need a s.8, ground 8 notice and should use grounds 8, 10 and 11 – 10 and 11 are discretionary grounds but cover you in case he pays a sum that takes you below 8 weeks arrears when it gets to court.

If I had a tenant that behaved like this, he would not last beyond the first six months. I also would not give keys or access to the property without him receiving a tenant agreement. If there is no tenancy agreement, you cannot use the accelerated possession procedure, which makes things quite difficult when eviction is required.

Lodger not responding

Last year I inherited a flat from my late father. There was a lodger who had been living in the house for 23 years. I served notice for him to quit the flat and extended the notice by two months at his request. Now I cannot reach him on the phone – it always goes to the answer machine. In what way may I remove him legally.

I am afraid this is another question that is difficult to answer. You refer to him as a lodger – is he a lodger, having lodged with your father, or is he a tenant of a property owned by your father?
If he was a lodger, he has had the necessary notice and you should be able to go for a court order to remove him, though I would be inclined to write to him and offer him a little longer, as he may have been unable to find anywhere.

If he was a tenant, his tenancy began prior to the 1988 Housing Act, and he is therefore a protected tenant. He has very good security and as in an earlier answer, it will be difficult to evict unless there is suitable alternative accommodation. I think you need to see a solicitor who specialises in housing law.

Wanting to sell

I am the owner of a studio flat which was passed onto me by my father. There is currently a tenant in the property – a lady of approx 60 years old who she has been a tenant since May 1982. There is no tenancy agreement or anything in writing except a rent book. She is an excellent tenant and pays for much of the decoration herself. However the time has come when I need to sell the property.

I understand that I am unable to evict her (not that I would want to) and am considering selling the property with her as a tenant. Her current rent is £300 per month which is currently about £100 under the market price.

My problem is that with vacant possession the flat is worth about £110,000 whilst with the tenant only about £70,000. Is this right? Also would it be possible to advertise the flat suggesting that an investor could apply to put the rent up and this in itself would allow for the flat to be advertised at a higher price? Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Yes, I am afraid it is correct – vacant possession allows a buyer to do what they like with it, in certain circumstances to demolish and re-build expensive new developments, whilst a tenant more or less dictates what can be done with the building. You say she has been an excellent tenant.

Have you discuss the situation with her? Would she move if you compensated her? A difference of £40,000 should put you in a position where you can be generous, if she has any inclination at all to move. However, no pressure must be put on her, it is only a suggestion. If you sell with her in possession, any investor worth his salt and buying a property with a sitting tenant, would know that an application can be put through every two years to the Rent Assessment Committee to have the rent increased. It would probably not get to market levels, as they limit the amount of increase that can be applied for. Has she been happy with rent increases over the past years? Has the rent increased recently? If it is due for a rise now, that may make it seem a more attractive proposition.

One good turn

In 1992 a friend of mine had a stroke so I allowed him to live with me on the basis that he was a lodger. However, I then moved out of the house but allowed him to stay in the room which he occupied on the ground floor. Since then, he has done major structural work to my house and has made a new kitchen and bathroom and is currently renting out the top of my house a self contained flat. I sought legal advice but was told that as he didn’t have a tenancy I did not have a leg to stand on.

He then took me to court saying that I verbally gave him my property, which I obviously did not (as was confirmed by the court). The case left me over £10,000 in debt.

He is threatening and aggressive and if I go to my house to collect my mail will argue with my children and deny them access to the house. If they go to pick up my letters he will not give them my mail. Please help.

I am really sorry, but I cannot help on this – you need a good solicitor. Whilst you lived in the property, he had minimal security, he was your lodger and could have evicted him at any time. You moved out, so he took on the status of a tenant, but as he was not given a tenancy agreement, presuming you moved out before February 1997, he automatically became an assured tenant. This gives him a lot of security. You don’t mention – is he paying rent? A solicitor may be able to make a case that if no rent is being paid, he has paid rent in kind by the work he has done on your property and may go for possession on that basis. Check the telephone directory for solicitors experienced in housing work and very best of luck! This is a very poor return for your kindness to him.

Accelerated possession

We have a tenant who only paid the first month’s rent. She is now two months in arrears and has been served with a section 8 notice. She has also changed the locks, and our agent didn’t check references properly and we find that her ‘ex-landlady’ is her sister who seems to be living with her.

We would like to get her out quickly and intend to go to court but we are not sure about the next step. Could you tell us about the difference between a N5 possession order and a N5B accelerated possession?

The N5 possession order is the standard notice, which is what you need for a section 8 (rent arrears) notice. N5B Accelerated possession notice is only used for certain grounds, like a section 21, 2 month notice, so does not apply here. Complete the N5, along with the other document you should have been given, for Particulars of Claim and take to court. If you rent again, make sure your agent does a proper job on the references and asks for at least 2 past landlords – the last (even when not a relative) could give a good reference to a bad tenant to get rid of them. The one before last has nothing to gain by giving a good reference to a bad tenant.

House needed by landlord

Landlord moves abroad to work, he lets his house for 12 months. His employment ceases and now wants to move back into his home – this is the only property he owns. The tenants have eight months left on there tenancy agreement. Can the landlord issue notice to quit and gain possession before the end of the tenancy?

Not without a ground, he can’t. There is ground 1, that the property used to be your main home and you require it back to live in, but this cannot be used before the fixed term ends and a notice would have to be given to the tenant before the tenancy started that you may seek to re-possess on this ground. You could try and negotiate with the tenants, and see if they are sympathetic to you, but I think I would not be happy if I was your tenant. You should not harass them at all, nor of course, illegally evict, but they may be prepared to move if you provide some small compensation, for example, moving expenses. By the way, it is a Notice Seeking Possession or a Notice of Possession Proceedings – a Notice to Quit is where there is an abandoned property.

Bank wants to force sale

I have a mortgage on a house that was an ex-council house which I purchased some years back. It is the house that my mother has lived in for 48 years and continues to live in. In effect I am landlord and Mum is Tennant, she would like never to move, she is now mid 70’s age.

Very sadly I have had some business problems which have become extreme. The most important issue is a £25,000 debt with NatWest which dates back to 2002. I borrowed the money personally to prop up the business while Nat West processed a loan application for the business. When this came through I was to pay myself back via the business. Sadly for reasons never quite made clear, NatWest decided not to go forward with the business loan and I was left with the personal debt.

This was initially an unsecured facility but sometime last year they took me to court to turn the loan into a secured facility and to get a second charge against the property I own (in which my mother lives). They succeeded in this and in getting a CCJ against me.

Now they say they want to proceed with a forced sale on the property and will be applying to the court for this and I will be advised of this via themselves or more likely a solicitor within the next 30 days.

I have not told my mother quite yet as I want to try to find out if she has any rights in this situation, or is there any way I can stop this happening.

I have no funds to make any form of legal defence. The mortgage is £81,000 approx. I am not sure on the value of the house but I doubt it would be worth more than £95,000 especially in a forced sale.

As far as I am aware, your mother will be in the same position as any tenant of any landlord where a sale is forced – that is to say she has no rights. You must see a solicitor immediately, I presume you have asked the bank whether there is any possibility of your mother staying there and paying rent to them? It’s a long shot, but I don’t see what else you can do. Good luck.

Tenant who quit wants to return

I have two tenants – young women, aged around 20 – who are joint tenants on a assured shorthold tenancy that expires in about two months time. One of the tenants (‘A’) has just informed me that the other tenant (‘B’) left the property two months ago and before that was not fully contributing her share of the rent, but that ‘B’ now wants to move back in.

Tenant ‘A’ does not want this to happen as she would only end up with the same problems. Tenant ‘A’ has also expressed, incidentally, an interest in buying the property at some stage (and I am not averse to selling, providing it is at the market price). I should mention that the rent has always been paid on time and in full by Tenant ‘A’, who has taken responsibility for this from the outset.

It would seem to me that the only course of action I can take here is to resolve the current situation is for me to issue a Section 21 notice so as to formally end the tenancy.

What I am not certain is whether I can do this for tenant ‘B’ only (the one who apparently left and now wants to move back in). If I can, tenant ‘A’ would be happy to take on full responsibility for the tenancy. Also, if I can, would I need to then draw up a new tenancy agreement to commence when the old agreement expires, or would I simply have the existing agreement amended without reference to Tenant ‘B’?

On the other hand, am I obliged to issue the notice to quit to both tenants, so as to fully terminate the existing arrangements? If so, can I then issue a new agreement to tenant ‘A’? Any notice to quit I issue will be organised via the local estate agent who found the tenants but who does not manage the tenancy.

I should add that I am unable to visit the house and sort out the matter personally as I am living in Australia. The house, by the way, is my sole UK property and my intention is to either return in three years time to live in it (once due notice has been given to any tenant in place) or to sell it (again once the property has been legally vacated) and use the proceeds to buy another house in the UK to move into.

I would end the original tenancy totally, just to be on the safe side. From what you say, it does not sound as though you have spoken to tenant B and it is possible, therefore, that there is more to it than you have been told. Ending it makes it very clear to B that there is no entry back to the property. Then issue a new tenancy to your tenant A, who whether she has told the full truth or not, is a very good tenant.

Tenants not paying or signing

I have been letting my property out for a number of months, I currently have two tenants living in there and am having problems with them – namely refusing to sign a new assured shorthold tenancy agreement when their original one was up, and not paying any rent for the last two months. I need to either get them out of the property, or get them to sign a new AST and pay any rent monies due as I am in the process of selling my property to a buyer who has agreed to keep the tenants on, but who will not complete until either a new AST is in place, or the property has been made vacant. Despite repeated attempts to contact the tenants I have not been able to speak to them for a number of weeks, and am finding it difficult to discover what my rights are in these circumstances, as the term of the AST is now up, so no one is in a contract.

The tenants originally moved in at the beginning of July, and signed up to a three month AST, expiring on 7 October 7. This was handled by a friend of mine acting as a letting agent on behalf of her father’s property management service. The tenants indicated that they wanted to remain in the property and renew their AST to continue for another three months. My agent drew up a new AST and this was meant to be signed by both parties in October. Around the same time I decided to sell the property and gave the tenants indication (through my agent) that I intended to do this, but that they shouldn’t worry that they would be homeless as I was negotiating with the father of my letting agent, who was willing to purchase the property, keep on the existing tenants and continue to have his daughter act as agent.

The purchaser made an offer on the property, which I accepted, and we began the usual processes of buying/selling a property. The information was cascaded to the tenants, who then refused to sign a new AST as they declared that this would be void once my agent’s father bought the property. We did try to explain that the new owner would be obliged to honour any existing agreement, but they would still not sign any paperwork. They also began to be very uncooperative as tenants, became very hard to contact in terms of trying to arrange for my buyer’s mortgage valuation to take place etc. However they DID pay rent for the month of October, and again for the month of November. Although I was still hoping that they would sign the AST this did not materialise, however as they continued to pay rent I didn’t think there was anything sinister going on, and we would continue to act by the rules of the AST although no formal agreement was in place.

At the beginning of December the next month’s rent was due and it did not come, neither myself nor my agent received any contact from the tenants to explain why this was – or for them to let us know they were having financial difficulties etc. To be honest the rent had rarely been received on time prior to this date so I didn’t think too much of it for the first couple of weeks, however my agent was leaving messages for them, and put a note through the door reminding them that the rent was due and asking for payment. When it started drawing towards January (and I still hadn’t had rent) my agent started pressing them further but will no success, it is now mid-January and I have not only had no rent from the tenants for December, but none for January either and I am completely clueless as to what their intentions are now as we have not been able to contact the tenants for several weeks.

The sale of my property cannot complete until the tenants either vacate the premises, or sign a new AST – however I feel that the latter option is unlikely as the behaviour of the tenants of late leads me to believe they intend to stay in the property and not pay rent for as long as they can. I am finding it very difficult to ascertain what my legal standpoint on this now is. I believe that although the original AST was for three months, the tenants are protected under the Housing Act for six months, meaning the period of cover would have expired on 7 January. During this time I believe I could have served a section 8 or 21 in order to remove the tenants from my property.
Now that the cover period is over I’m not sure what my rights are at all. I have read somewhere that if the cover period ends the landlord can serve notice for possession, but they need to give the tenants two month’s notice if they intend to do this (and don’t have to give a reason). However I am in the situation where the tenants already owe me two month’s rent, and I cannot afford to have them stay another two months without paying. I need to get the property sold, or have other tenants in there who are willing to pay the rent, so the current tenants need to be out ASAP.

It appears that I have no right to enter the property without the tenants’ permission, there does not appear to be an official ‘notice’ I can give them as there is no AST and no cover in place, basically there is very little I can do to get them out which is not illegal. Last week I gave them a letter saying that if the rent was not in my bank by the end of the week I would assume that they intended to vacate and would expect them to be out ASAP so I could begin finding alternative tenants. They have completely ignored all attempts at contact and now I am extremely worried about how I will get them out, whether they’ve damaged the property etc. I’m really stuck to be honest!

I have a feeling you will say all I can do is give them the two month’s notice to get possession and then enforce it if necessary. However, this will then mean that I will have had no rent payment for four months, my buyer may well withdraw his offer on my flat because of the long wait, and the tenants may ‘moonlight’ just before the two months is up, so I can’t recover my monies.

If a new tenancy agreement was not signed, the tenancy automatically converted to a statutory periodic tenancy. As you have a tenancy agreement, albeit for the first three months only, you should be able to issue two month’s notice, provided the tenancy has run six months either before or at the expiry of the notice. However, as they owe you more than eight weeks/two months, get a section 8 notice and complete it citing grounds 8, 10 and 11. This is only a two week notice and provided the notice ends at the end of the tenancy period (ie if the tenancy runs from the fifth of the month to the fourth of the next, your notice should end on the fourth). The day after it expires you should go to court for an order. The tenants are only protected from the accelerated possession procedure, not from eviction when other grounds apply.

The grounds must use the wording in the act as follows:
Ground 8 – Both at the date of the service of the notice under section 8 of this Act relating to the proceedings for possession and at the date of the hearing –
a) if rent is payable weekly or fortnightly, at least eight weeks’ rent is unpaid;
b) if rent is payable monthly, at least two months’ rent is unpaid;
c) if rent is payable quarterly, at least one quarter’s rent is more than three months in arrears; and
d) if rent is payable yearly, at least three months’ rent is more than three months in arrears;
and for the purpose of this ground “rent” means rent lawfully due from the tenant.

(NB: this ground was amended in the 1996 Housing Act. In the 1988 Act, time periods for rent arrears in a) were 13 weeks rent and in b) were three months)

Discretionary grounds on which court may order possession

Ground 10 – Some rent lawfully due from the tenant –
a) is unpaid on the date on which the proceedings for possession are
b) except where subsection (1) (b) of section 8 of this Act applies, was
in arrears at the date of the service of the notice under that section relating to those proceedings.

Ground 11 – Whether or not any rent is in arrears on the date on which proceedings for possession are begun, the tenant has persistently delayed paying rent which has become lawfully due.

If ground 8 applies, so do the other two and just offer some protection in case the tenant decides to pay something to take the arrears below eight weeks.

Abandoned following notice

The tenants of the flat we let have not paid rent for the past five months and have been served with both a section 8 and a section 21 notice. Both notices have now expired and we visited the property but been unable to contact the tenants – certain of their belongings remain in the property and they have not returned the keys, but it is not clear whether the tenants have abandoned the property or not. I have spoken to the people in the neighbouring flats who state they have not seen the tenants for over two weeks and despite leaving written messages and telephone messages we have been unable to contact them.

We have been given conflicting advice on whether it is better to pursue possession through the court, issue an abandonment notice or simply assume the tenants have gone and re-take possession. What is your advice?

You should not just re-take possession, despite the strong indications that they have left. You could issue an abandonment notice, but this will mean that for 28 days you are still waiting to get the property. However, on the 29th day, if you have had no contact from the tenant, you should be safe to change the locks. The final option is let it go through the court. That will cost you in the region of £150, and you may still have to wait, depending on how busy the court is, for the order. Using a Notice to Quit is cheaper and probably will take no longer than the court process.

Missing lodger

I want to give my lodger notice because he is in arrears with rent. This decision I have already made and have written a letter stating when I need him to leave by. We do have an agreement in place that states one month’s notice but as he is in breach of this for owing me three month’s rent I have given him until Friday 18 January – allowing just over one week’s notice. But the problem is that he has not returned back from his Christmas trip home (or wherever he has gone after that). His things are still in his room but I cannot get hold of him via his phone (it appears that it has been disconnected) and have no other contact details for him at all (he is currently not employed and on sickness benefit so have no employer to contact). I am worried he will not return soon and I will not be able to re-let the room because his things are still in there. I assume I have to serve notice in writing to him in person, but if he doesn’t appear soon, I wondered if there was time limit I have to wait for before I clear his things out of his room? I’m not sure what to do on this one but believe there must be way of sorting it out as I can’t have his things in there forever! Do I have to report him as a missing person for instance?

Did you get no next of kin when he moved in? Have you met none of his friends that could assist with this? I think he may feel it is a bit extreme to have him reported missing, but the police may be able to help trace him if he has a vehicle. I would not remove his goods just yet, particularly as he is unaware he is being asked to leave and, even if he guessed, would assume he had one month. See what the police say, but for future reference, ensure you get references and next of kin, who may be prepared to take responsibility for his goods.

Gaining possession of tied house

We have a tenant who lives in ‘tied’ housing. His contract of employment says that if he leaves the job he has to vacate the property. Unfortunately he has been on long term sick leave since last summer, and there is now no possibility of him being able to return to work with us. We therefore have no choice but to dismiss him so that we can employ a replacement for him. Obviously we also want him to vacate the ‘tied’ house so that this can be given to the new employee.

When we give him his four week’s dismissal notice, will this also count as a Notice to Quit the ‘tied’ house, or will we have to put specific wording in the letter to cover the house, or will we have to issue a separate notice for the house.

Obviously we want to do things correctly, because we need the house vacant as soon as possible so that the new employee will be able to move in.

I would expect your tenant will realise he must leave the tied property, but may feel he deserves formal notice. This would be given under ground 16 (the tenancy was granted because the tenant was employed by the landlord, or a former landlord, but he or she is no longer employed by the landlord) which requires two month’s notice. He may be prepared to go in less than two months, particularly if you assist him with removal expenses, but if not, he will need legal notice.


My mother has died and in her will states that a house she bought 18 years ago in her sole name has to be sold and shared equally between the four siblings. My sister has lived in the house for the 18 years, constantly making excuses to my mother as to why she could not move out. She has a live-in boyfriend who owns a house himself that he is renting out. She has also been declared bankrupt and is currently claiming benefits.

Your sister is being very unfair on her siblings. I would suggest a family meeting where you discuss the sale and the notice which you as a family feel it is fair she should have – I would suggest two or three months, which should be sufficient time for the partner to evict the tenants from his own property. Your sister needs to accept she has to move out when required or has the property valued professionally and obtains a mortgage to pay the three of you off. Instruct an estate agent. If she remains obdurate, you will need to see a solicitor, which will reduce your inheritance, but I cannot see she will win this one as she was not a tenant.

Validity of 2004 order

I obtained a court order for possession in March 2004 to evict a tenant from a house I own. Due to various personal circumstances I did not apply for a Warrant of Execution. I have continued to accept rent but there has been no new tenancy. I now wish to evict the tenant. Am I able to apply for Bailiff’s on the Order dated March 2004 or must I start the whole procedure again.

I would be dubious about using this, though by all means, try. However, I think if I was the tenant I would be kicking up quite a stink, on the basis that whatever the reason you decided to seek possession very nearly four years ago, it may not still apply and the tenant could rightly say that he had insufficient time/notice to find alternative accommodation. I think you need to start the process again.

Long or short?

We started letting our property in August 2007, giving the tenants a six month shorthold tenancy agreement. The tenants have never paid any rent, they have broken the terms of the tenancy agreement (pets, smoking, noise..), they have caused a nuisance to neighbours, they falsified information encouraging us to sign the tenancy agreement (lied about previous addresses so we would not find out they were evicted from their last house for all the same reasons we want to evict them!)

A Section 21 was included in the original tenancy agreement that was signed.

After two months of non payment of rent, we issued a Section 8 Notice listing the above grounds. The notice was issued by our letting agent.

We waited the required two weeks and then requested a court date based on the various grounds listed above and sent the required documents to the court.

We finally got a court date in December but the judge refused to conduct the hearing because our witness statements relating to the additional grounds (noise, nuisance etc) had not been written in the correct way, even though the tenants admitted to paying no rent for four months. The judge asked for the witness statements to be re-done and for a new date to be found for a hearing.

We now have a new court date in March, but the tenancy agreement will expire on the 3 February!

Are we able to start the accelerated procedure after the date of 3 February has passed, given that we have already begun the ‘long’ procedure?

The priority for us is to get the tenants out of the property. We know that with the accelerated procedure it isn’t possible to request the money for the rental arrears and that is OK. What is not clear is whether, having started the Section 8 process we are still able to use the accelerated process, once the tenancy agreement expires. (Our other problem is that we are living abroad so coming back to attend court hearings is difficult and costly which is why the accelerated process is more practical).

If you are sure the section 21 was issued correctly when the tenancy agreement was issued, on 4 February apply to court for accelerated possession. Many landlords, and I advise it, often issue both types of notices, as if the tenant pays sufficient to take the arrears amount to less than 8 weeks, which means a section 8 could not proceed, they can continue on a section 21. Good luck!

Unwanted bankrupt

Two years ago I bought a house in Northern Ireland with my son from a friend who was being made bankrupt. We agreed that he could stay on for a couple of months after the purchase went through so as to give him time to sort himself out. As time went by he came up with a string of sob stories as to why he needed more time and is now refusing to leave point blank.

He has never paid rent and has no tenancy agreement, and is now wrecking the house. I have also found out that six months ago he ordered £300 worth of heating oil in my name and has not paid the bill (and has been hiding the threatening letters sent to me at the house.

I have had my solicitor send him a letter telling him he has a month to leave.

My question is: what action can I take to remove him or stop him entering the house.

I believe the legislation in Ireland is the same as in England. I would therefore say he is an illegal occupier and would issue a 28 day Notice to Quit. After the expiry of the notice, you would go to court for a repossession order. This will usually be immediate. If your ‘friend’ remains, you would have to get a bailiff’s to enforce the judgement. You would then go to the house, with the bailiff, who would usually ask a policeman to accompany, and you would take a locksmith. If needs be, the locksmith would remove the locks, the bailiff would enter with the police and the illegal occupier would be encouraged to leave. At that point, the locksmith would install a new lock. I don’t know how good a friend he was, but if he realises you will take it as far as you can to remove him, is it possible he will go quietly? I hope so.

Tenant jailed

I have a tenant who has been put into prison for 13 years, I know the children’s belongings have been removed from the house and I have had one phone call from the next of kin to say to use the deposit monies for one month’s rent while they empty the property. There are now only a few days before the next payment is due and telephone messages, letters, serving 28 day notice are being ignored. I am in possession of a section 21 notice served on day the tenancy was signed. Where do I stand on removing the tenant’s items, as these items are quality furniture and the property has been looked after?

You have a section 21, so I would go straight to court with it and a copy of the tenancy agreement. This is the accelerated possession procedure. The court will order possession. BUT – if after this date the goods remain (and I would try and contact next of kin to advise what is happening), you still cannot remove goods. Only a bailiff can do that, so you will need to get a bailiff’s warrant/appointment. For future reference, make sure you state in the tenancy agreement how long you are prepared to store goods for.

Leaving with keys

I have a rental property which has just had a tenant in it. As he failed to pay the correct rent and also behaved badly during his tenancy, I served a Section 21 notice on him and also a Section 8 notice. Although the section 21 notice has a little way to run he has left the property but has not given back the keys. I would like to know how I get these back and when I can legally gain access to the property.

I am afraid that if he has not returned them, you must treat this as an abandonment and serve a 28 days Notice to Quit. If day 29 you have heard nothing from the tenant, you can change the locks as you are unlikely to get the keys back. Although you have served a s.21 and s.8 at the expiry of either of these notices you would need to go to court, which costs. The notice to quit does mean you can change the locks. Failure to go through the procedure means you could be accused of illegal eviction or harassment, if the tenant returns.

Acting for brother

I act as my brother’s attorney and look after his rental property for him: he is ill and is living in Australia. The house is in Cardiff and the sitting tenant has been there for about 15 years. The first four of these were as non-rent paying guest of by brother who was also living in the property.

There is no written agreement and the informal arrangement was that the tenant would pay the interest-only mortgage and council costs and insurance and could look after the house until my brother returned.

However, as he is now unlikely to come back he wishes to sell the house as soon as possible.

I have served a section 21 notice on the tenant requiring possession. Can you help with what sort of tenancy this would be and if the tenant would be a protected tenancy? What would be the best route to gaining possession?

My belief would be that the tenancy dated from 1996. I think you will struggle to get possession. A section 21 can really only be used where the paperwork exists to support what the situation is – ie dates, which generally mean a tenancy agreement. A clear rent account may help, showing when the costs started being met by the tenant.

Another difficulty is that it depends when in 1996 the tenancy started and what support there is to show this is a tenancy without a tenancy agreement. The 1996 Housing Act, which amended the 1988, allowed for an assured shorthold tenancy to be created, even without a tenancy agreement – prior to that, if a notice of assured shorthold was not issued, the tenancy was automatically an assured tenancy, which gave good rights of occupation and is not easy to end without a good reason (which you have not given me). The easiest way will be if the tenant voluntarily agrees to move, but he may be very comfortable after 15 years. You could try a s.21, but you cannot use the accelerated possession procedure without a tenancy agreement, so you do need your supporting documentation for court.

Making tenants ‘homeless’

I was hoping if you can inform me what actions need taking in order to give an eviction notice to tenants.

The tenancy agreement is up in two months and the people are wanting to go into a council house as soon as possible as they are unable to pay rent of the property. They have been told that they cannot get a council house unless they receive an eviction notice and are declared homeless. I am happy for them to leave my property but need advice on giving a notice.

Is it just a letter to the council or are there special documents that need filling?

Section 21 is the easiest, though this is a two month notice. You can handwrite it yourself, so long as you use something along these lines: (ie change dates and names, but rest should be as written)

Landlord’s address

Tenant’s Address
Dear xxxx,

Your tenancy of the above mentioned property expires on 5 July 2005. I now find that I do not want the tenancy to continue and therefore ask that you accept this letter as Notice Seeking Possession.

As specified in the 1988 Housing Act (amended 1996), section 21, I hereby give you the two month’s notice as required by law, commencing 6 May to end 5 July 2005.

I will contact you two weeks before the end of the Notice to discuss the arrangements for the hand over of keys/property inspection. Should you remain in occupation after 5 July, I will ask the Court to order re-possession.

Please do not hesitate to contact me, if you wish to discuss this matter further.

You should contact Housing Advice Services/Housing Aid/Citizens Advice Bureau/a Law Centre or a Solicitor if you wish to discuss your rights as a tenant.

Yours sincerely,

J. Smith (Landlord)

Always use words in the Notice when writing the date, it means there can be no argument about dates when the notice begins and ends.

Notice periods

I own a house managed by an agent. The tenants moved in at the end of 2006. The agent set up a tenancy agreement expiring in June 2007. The contract did not allow for any notice to be given.

Subsequently the agent produced a second tenancy agreement running from June to December 2007, again with a stated term of: six months with a break option of one month’s written clear notice to be given by either tenant or landlord to vacate the property.

The rent is paid in cleared funds in advance of 10th of each month.

What is the earliest date I can get my house back? I have asked to give one months notice but have been told that might cause ‘difficulties’ and that I should serve notice to expire when the tenancy expires. But I have to be out of my own rented property by the end of November. Where do I stand? What difficulties are the agents referring to? Am I being paranoid?

The difficulties are that to end the tenancy using the straightforward method, the tenant has to have two full month’s notice which cannot end before the end of the tenancy. The same, of course, applies to you – your landlord needs to give you two months. You could try and negotiate with the tenant, but be very careful that nothing you say could be construed as illegal eviction or harassment. I am afraid I can think of no advice which would allow recovery of the property sooner than the end of the tenancy, unless the tenant wants to.

Access for viewing

I would be grateful if you could clarify whether, after a section 21 notice has been served so that the property might be sold, the outgoing tenant has the right to refuse access by an estate agent or landlord for viewing?

We use a tenancy agreement with a clause stating that viewings can be conducted within the final two months at reasonable times of the day and with advance warning, and our solicitor has advised that the wording of the clause is approved buy the Office of Fair Trading standards and is therefore enforceable. However I have read elsewhere that a tenant’s right to ‘quiet enjoyment’ overrides any such clause.

Quiet enjoyment is very important, but to be honest, I would not want anyone viewing the property if the tenant is still there – would they tidy, clean it? Would they tell the viewers lies about the property? I think that for the sake of a month, I’d keep prospective buyers away. Even if the tenant is in agreement to viewings, I think two months is a bit much, final month only is the norm.

Giving lodger notice

For the last four months I have had a lodger in my spare room, with myself as live-in landlady. She has been late with the rent every month.

About seven weeks ago I wrote her a letter saying that this situation was intolerable and that any further repeat would result in me giving her a week’s notice.

At the beginning of October I went away and she said her mother would pay the rent (although the date of payment kept moving, but in fact no rent was paid.

On my return I found she had disappeared but most of her stuff was still in her room. Over the last week I have tried speaking to her but when I did make contact all I got was ‘I can’t talk right now’.

I did receive a text from her saying ‘hello, my mum is not well and that is where I have been the past few days. This is a serious problem. My dad said he will give you the (deposit) cheque and the £490 (sum outstanding) later in the month because we needed the money’.

I have found my lodger has lied about a lot of things and takes stuff from within my part of the house, moving them into her room (nothing valuable but I have told her off numerous times for not asking me first!)). I happened to know where mother worked and called to see if she was off sick – she wasn’t (although it is possible, perhaps, that my lodger may have a step mother who she is choosing to call ‘mum’).

Anyway I left another answerphone message enquiring about her ‘mother’, when would she be returning, and the like, and reminded her that she had agreed to pay the outstanding sums during the month. When there was no reply I sent another text saying ‘I hope your mum is ok? As per your last text I fully expect all payments to be in my bank or in ‘my hand’ by the agreed date. However due to your track record, I’m starting your week’s notice from today (Friday just in case this money fails to materialise. This is non-negotiable and no excuses!

Can you advise me as to what my rights are if she doesn’t pay by the agreed, or if she does pay but only within the week’s notice period?

I may be a cynic, but I don’t think you will get the money and your only recourse then is to go to the small claims court. However, even if she pays some or all of the money, you cannot go on like this. I would accept any money with a smile, assure her you will provide her with a reference that she had left no debt (no more) but that the eviction stands. If she won’t go, go to court – she has no rights to stay if you have given her reasonable notice – one week is finre. For future reference, don’t give keys until you have received the deposit and the first week’s or month’s rent in advance – and if payment is made by cheque, not until the cheque has cleared.

No written agreement

My partner has been renting his house near Manchester for around four years but, for the last three years, following difficulties with the letting agents not arranging maintenance and the like, he has been dealing directly with the tenant rather than using an agency. However, as he knew the tenant, he has never made a formal tenancy agreement, only a verbal arrangement.

We are getting married this year and would like to buy a house in London. To do this we need to sell my partner’s house. We gave the tenant notice that we would be looking to sell at the end of this year. However, she has says there is ‘no way’ she will move out. She said she would like to buy the property but she is on benefit and cannot afford to and there is nowhere else that suits her.

My partner has decided to wait, hoping she will change her mind. However, she is not being very reasonable and I am concerned that we should be following some form of proper process and paper trail. Can you advise us?

You could try selling it as a tenanted property, though whether you would get the full price is difficult to say. The difficulty is that unless there is a good reason (ground) for evicting the tenant, you are limited in the steps you can take. Without a written tenancy agreement you cannot use the accelerated possession procedure, for example.

It might be worth contacting the letting agent to see is a tenancy agreement was issued by the firm at the outset of the tenancy and whether it has a copy in its archives. I think I would be inclined to issue a new tenancy agreement for six months, (she may accept a new tenancy if she thinks that you have changed your minds, so make a note that you will serve notice after four months to end at the end of the tenancy). I know it extends her tenancy a little longer than you would want, but I think this is the only way of being certain to get her out. I know agents can sometimes not do what is wanted, but they would generally keep the paperwork in order and can save this kind of unpleasantness with acquaintances who abuse the privilege.

Refused entry

I have a tenant whom I am in the process of evicting as he is now over five months in arrears with his rent. I am waiting for a court listing. In the meantime, the lease does allow for me to enter the property for inspection or to show the property to a perspective buyer provided I give 24 hour’s notice. I sent a hand written letter giving the tenant notice of longer than this but he has refused me entry? Is there any way I can gain entry with my own keys? I am feeling very frustrated with the whole legal process.

I would not recommend it; some tenants get into difficulties with the rent but regret it and remain amenable to the landlord. This is clearly not the type of tenant we have here. I think he is the type that knows the law, would go to Citizen’s Advice or a Housing Aid centre, tell them you have entered without his permission, thus affecting his quiet enjoyment of the property and may even accuse you of theft. I know it is a drag, but I really think you should wait until you have got him out. In future, serve a section 8, ground 8 notice as soon as the tenant is 8 weeks in arrears.

Tenant’s belongings

I took possession of my property recently via a court bailiff. The tenant was not in the house at the time and therefore the bailiff instructed me to change the locks. My tenant’s possessions are still in the property. How long do I need to keep these possessions, I cannot re-let the property while these goods are in the house and am keen to get a new tenant as soon as possible.

The tenant should have been present to arrange this with you. How long is it since the possession? Do you have any contact numbers at all? His mobile, next of kin, guarantor, and people you took references from? You can make courteous enquiries of any of these. Did he speak to any of the neighbours? For future reference, state in your tenancy agreement how long goods left in the property after the termination of the tenancy will be kept before disposal. The only other option would be to store the possessions, but this would incur a charge and if the tenant never makes contact again you will have to pay.

If you cannot make contact and over two weeks have passed, I would check what furniture there is. Does it look to have any value? You could, of course, ask the advise of the court – I recently spoke to our local court and it seems ludicrous that having gone to the expense of eviction and bailiff’s warrant, the tenant can choose to inconvenience you even further by leaving his goods in your safe keeping!

Change of ownership

I am thinking of buying a property with sitting tenants. Their tenancy agreement with the current owner has ended, but they are continuing to stay at the property. I have been told that they no longer have a ‘fixed term’, and are now on a periodic stage. I’ve been told this makes a difference to how and when the tenancy can be ended. If I buy this property, would they still be in the periodic stage, or would a whole new fixed term be created?

As only the landlord can evict, and you need a tenancy agreement stating that you are the landlord, I believe you would have to issue a new tenancy agreement for the minimum six month period. If you would really like them out of the property it is really best for the current landlord to evict before you take over. But of course the current landlord probably wants to maximise his rental income by not having a vacant property whilst the sale goes through.

Denying receipt of notice

I rent out rooms in a two storey house (not an HMO) and one of the tenants, who has reached the end of her six month assured shorthold tenancy, is refusing to go – despite being issued with the contract and with the S21 at the start of the tenancy. She is now claiming that she has never seen these documents before and that her signature is a fake. Instead she is trying to stay for another month by relying upon an earlier hand written receipt for part payment of the deposit which I had issued a few days prior to our signing the agreement.

At this earlier meeting we agreed and put in writing that the tenancy would begin a month later than that stated in the subsequent contract that we both signed and which also bears a witness signature. In support of her case, she has now persuaded other tenants in the house to claim that they have also never seen such documents. (I obviously have copies of everyone’s documentation).

She has now stayed two weeks beyond the six month fixed term period and has told me to keep the deposit in lieu of the rent owed for the extra month that she wishes to stay. However, I am unsure whether she can be relied upon to leave (I would be happier if she did) even though she has stated this in writing and signed the letter (I have noticed that her signature is also now beginning to change from that supplied at the time she signed the contract, inventory, and deposit receipt.

I am concerned about supplying proof of service of S21 – hand written onto the contract (which we have both signed and bears a witness signature) is the statement: ‘S21 issued at the time of the contract’. Is this sufficient?

If I delay serving the N5b will I create a periodic tenancy? I wish to avoid this at all costs.

You read that the courts will always favour the tenant. Do you think it likely in this case? If I issue the N5b, how likely is it that the court will be swayed by her allegation of a forged document and the fact that she can supply statements from other tenants who claim that they have not received similar paperwork (albeit witnesses whose contract dates do not correspond with hers and who also have a vested interest in seeing how much she can get away with).

Since she refused to go, the washing machine has suddenly been so seriously damaged that the insurance company has declared it an uneconomic repair and authorised a replacement machine. This has taken nearly two weeks to sort out (my own inspection to check if it warranted a call out, time spent awaiting the insurance call out itself, time spent awaiting the report and authorisation letter for a replacement, time spent awaiting the next available delivery date) and I am expecting she will try and use this against me to try and stay for longer. What can I do about this except to offer to pay for use of a launderette? How can I protect myself from further damage to the property being explained away by the tenant as “wear and tear” and then being used to offset against rent owed.

I cannot see that a broken washing machine justifies her staying longer – it would encourage me to go. The day after the tenancy expired, you should have gone to court and applied for a possession order – a section 21 is the accelerated possession procedure and you should therefore get possession quite quickly. The court would want to see all the paperwork – the tenancy agreement and the section21, which you may have served at the same time but is a separate piece of paperwork.

My understanding is that there is no defence or mitigation when a section 21 is served, so there should not be any discussion. However, if the tenant insists on fighting this, then it will be up to a court to decide whether they believe the signatures are correct – I think that handwriting is very difficult to change completely so try not to worry about it too much.

I think offering to pay for the launderette to enable the tenant to do her washing over the two weeks without a machine is very fair. I am afraid there is no safeguard against further damage, but if you take your tenant to court for any lost rent or damage, you need a good inventory and photographs of any damages; a court is not stupid – they will be able to tell what appears to be normal wear and tear, and therefore a hazard of private renting, and what is due to carelessness or malice.

Notice period required?

I rented out my house to my boyfriend in October 2006 with a verbal agreement to get a signed lease and for him to give me one month’s rent as a deposit. I was eight months pregnant at the time and just wanted to get my house rented out. He is now my ex-boyfriend. Although he has finally signed an assured shorthold tenancy agreement I got of the internet, he has still not given me a deposit. We signed the agreement in May 2007, with a fixed term of one year from October 2006.

It also has the following clause: ‘It is agreed that either the Landlord or the Tenant may terminate this agreement at any time after the expiry of the first six months of the term by providing one month’s written notice to the other party. Such termination shall not affect any rights or liabilities, which may have arisen under any of the clauses of this agreement’.

The other problem is that I realised only a couple of months ago that I should have had permission from my mortgage company before I rented out my house, which is another reason I want him to move out.

I’m desperate to get my house in London sold before starting work in Scotland at the end of August. I wish to serve him one month’s notice. Can I do this? Or do I need to give two month’s notice?

If I can serve him notice, is it a ‘fixed term notice’ or a ‘periodic notice’? And what should it include? Can he contest the lease because I don’t have permission from my mortgage company?

You can have anything you like in a lease, if the person you are dealing with does not dispute it, but is that likely to be the case? This is a person that unfortunately, does what he wants, not what you want – a tenancy agreement is available from this website (free), so why did it take seven months?

He has not paid a deposit. Will he move if you give him one month’s notice? You know him. I think he is more likely to insist on what the law says he is entitled to, which is two month’s notice, to end when the tenancy ends.

My advice would be to talk to him and see if you can gauge the situation to ascertain whether he will move without argument if you give him one month’s notice. If he says he will, by all means serve the one month, but you must also issue with the notice the law requires, to end when the tenancy ends – this protects you if he then starts arguing – you don’t have to start the process at the end of the month’s notice, if he then says he is not going because he does not have to.

The other action you could take would be to discuss in depth with your mortgage company and see if they can exert any pressure on your ex.

Tenant is uncontactable

I have a tenant who receives housing benefit which is paid to me direct.

I can never get hold of him and his contract, which was due to be signed last October 2006, remains unsigned. I have written to him on numerous occasions and tried to reach him by telephone almost every other day.

The flat is full of rubbish, the electricity is off, and it looks as if he is not living there. He has not opened – there are letters from the courts and utility companies as well as the letters sent by myself – but his things are there.

Can I change the locks and leave his things outside as I feel he is a hazard to my flat because he is using candles and has broken the cooker?

I am sorry but you must not change the locks without going through the legal procedure. If you strongly believe that he is not living there, you must serve him a 28 day Notice to Quit at the property. After the 28 days have expired, if you have had no contact from him, on the 29th day or later, you can change the locks. If he contacts you within 28 days, then serve him with a section.21 notice seeking possession, as your property is obviously deteriorating and, as you say, it is at risk.

From the way you have worded your question, I am assuming he had lived there prior to October. 2006, but that his tenancy expired. As he has not signed a new agreement, the tenancy converted automatically to a statutory periodic tenancy and that means two month’s notice can be given at any time during the course of the tenancy, though must still follow tenancy dates.

I understand your concerns about candles and the like, but if you do not believe he is there, the risk is obviously not great. If you believe he is there, then you would need to issue a notice seeking possession and I would use ground 13 – condition of the property has got worse because of the behaviour of the tenant and ground 15 – the condition of the furniture has got worse. There may be something in your tenancy agreement about safety, in which case you could use ground 12, the tenant has broken one or more of the terms of the agreement. All these grounds, though, are discretionary, so a court would have to decide it was reasonable for you to want possession.

If the property is left insecure, the locks can be changed but a notice in a clearly visible place should indicate that the locks have been changed to secure the tenancy and not to deprive the tenant of occupancy. The notice to quit would still have to run to the end, or, if the tenant made contact, you would have to give him the keys and as I say above, serve a section.21.

Did you take a next of kin or useful contact when the tenancy commenced? If so, a courteous call (once) to ask if they know what is happening to the tenancy should not be construed wrongly. I personally would say I was concerned about him and why you have been unable to contact him. If they give any indication of knowing where he is, then pleasantly assure them that if he contacts you to regularise what is happening, it is better for you to know he has gone and you can re-let rather than having to go through the notice to quit procedure. If this is the case, make sure you get something in writing and signed, relinquishing the tenancy.

My other concern would be housing benefit. If you are receiving payments direct, if he has put in a claim for a new address, there may very well be an overpayment, which will not come to light for a few weeks.

For future reference, always add a clause to your tenancy agreement that you must be notified if the property will be left empty for more than two weeks; that if abandonment is suspected, the tenancy can be terminated at the expiry of a notice to quit; that goods left in the property will be disposed of after a certain date.

Abandonments are always dreadful and hassle for the landlord, but the one time in a thousand when the tenant has had to go to care for a sick relative can land the landlord who does not follow this procedure in quite a lot of trouble.

Violence threatened

Last December my mother-in-law took on a DHSS tenant with a five year old daughter. The tenant came via a letting agency.

Approximately three months ago her former partner (not the child’s father) came out of prison after serving a sentence for assault, and has been practically living there ever since. The tenant, who is a manic depressive, and her partner have frightening rows throughout the night into the early hours and on one occasion she put her fist through the upstairs window. Unfortunately my mother-in-law lives in the attached house (it is a semi) and hears everything. She has approached the tenant on a number or occasions as this behaviour is unacceptable and has been threatened by the tenant in the doorway of her own home – which resulted in the tenant being escorted away by the police (thankfully the daughter spends plenty of time with relatives and doesn’t see all that goes on). They have not received housing benefit for last month as the tenant has not put in the relevant forms.

My question to you is what route do we need to take to evict her?

Ludicrous as it appears, there seems to be only one ground that could be used to evict, which is ground 14 – the tenant, or someone living in or visiting the property has caused or is likely to cause a nuisance or annoyance to someone living in or visiting the locality. You could possibly add ground 12 – the tenant has broken one or more of the terms of the tenancy agreement, except the obligation to pay rent, presuming that there is a clause in the tenancy agreement that the property is let to only the named tenant.

Both of these are discretionary grounds so she would need some very good paperwork to support a court case. As the landlady would be the main person that is affected by the behaviour in ground 14, a court may not feel that the case is strong enough. Ask her to speak to the person on the other side and see whether anyone else in the area has been affected. If so, statements from them would help. Get incident numbers from the Police and report it whenever there is a disturbance.
If you feel you have sufficient supporting evidence to evict, then you can go for a court date as soon as you have issued the notice.

I would advise that you seek whatever help is available to you locally – speak to your local authority – do they have any officers in place that deal with anti-social behaviour. Environmental Services may also be able to assist with noise nuisance and provide supporting documentation for an eviction.

The other alternative will depend on when the tenancy comes to an end – if it was a 6 month tenancy, it may now be a statutory periodic and you can serve two month’s notice. If it was a 12 month tenancy, then the tenant will have to be allowed to stay to the end, unless you can get possession on the grounds mentioned above, though you can issue a section 21 now to end at the end of the tenancy

If the tenancy agreement stated that rent was payable monthly in advance, it may be possible to issue a section 8, ground 8 notice that the tenant owed at least two months’ rent.

If you issue a notice seeking possession, please ensure that the full wording as stated in the Housing Act 1988 (amended 1996) is used.

Sister staying put

My mother has died and in her will states that a house she bought 18 years ago in her sole name has to be sold and the proceeds shared equally between the four siblings. My sister has lived in the house for the 18 years, constantly making excuses to my mother as to why she could not move out. She has a live-in boyfriend who owns a house himself that he is renting out. She has also been declared bankrupt and is currently claiming benefits. Six months after the death of my mother she is still refusing to move. Can we other three siblings evict her? Probate has just been granted on the will. My other sister really needs the money as she is divorced and living in rented accomodation.

You must see a solicitor. She has rights in the property, simply because she is now part-owner with you and your siblings. Under those circumstances, eviction is not the answer. However, what is required, the sale of the property, is in jeopardy because of the presence of sister and partner, who clearly do not want to move. The favoured option, I think, is to have the house valued and for sister and partner to buy the other three quarters, therefore treating the three siblings not living in it, fairly. But this does not sound possible if she is on benefits. That’s why you must have legal advice. I know from personal experience how difficult situations can be which need regularising whilst someone is alive, but become dreadful and even more difficult to sort out following a bereavement. Best of luck.

Sitting Tenant

My Father, who died recently, owned a property with his sister which they had inherited from their father.

There is a sitting tenant who has lived in the property for the last 50 to 60 years. My father and his sister had managed to get the rent increased from a meagre sum to £69 per week.

The property is a two bedroom house in Bookham Surrey and is managed through a local letting agent. There is no contract or written agreement in place. My father’s share has now passed to myself, my brother and sister.

We have all agreed we would like this tenant out of the house.

I am currently living in a pub and the family has agreed that I can move into the property when the tenant leaves. She must be in her 80s and also has a 57 year old son who lives with her. How do we serve notice for her to quit the property and ensure that on her death her son does not have the right to continue living there?

I think you will struggle here as she has very good security. You will only get possession if you have a case for evicting her. Almost certainly, her son will be entitled to succeed to the tenancy. This is a case where you must see a solicitor who specialises in housing law.


Termination letter

How should I word the landlord’s residential lettings termination letter to my tenants?

There can be various reasons and grounds for giving notice, and the form of words you need to use varies according to the grounds you are citing. Visit the Residential Landlord Landlord Forms sections (https://residentiallandlord.co.uk/landlordforms.htm) where you can find forms and notices to suit most circumstances.

Serving a notice to quit

I would like to know how to go about serving a notice for my tenant to leave my property due to non payment of rent. I believe that she has moved her partner in without informing the benefit department. I’ve never served notice before and would like some advice. Can I terminate?

You can terminate by two ways. The first is via a section 8 Notice, for non-payment of rent. This is a two week notice that you serve when the tenant is either eight weeks or two months in arrears (depending on the tenancy agreement). You serve this notice and if no monies are forthcoming to reduce this amount under the eight8 week/two month threshold, then you can enforce the notice at the court. This is a formal, legal notice obtainable from this website (see Landlord Forms).

The other route is via a section 21 notice. This is a two month notice which grants you automatic possession of the property, however the earliest date this can expire is the last day of a fixed term tenancy. So if you issued a tenancy agreement three months ago, the earliest date you can end the tenancy is the last day of the six month term. You can issue the notice at any time within the tenancy, provided it gives a minimum of two month’s notice and ends not before the last day of the tenancy. In fact, some landlords issue a section 21 notice giving six months notice on the day the tenancy begins! Again, see our Landlord Forms section.

Section 8 Notice

I have served section 8 notice three of my tenants. I used recorded delivery, but have checked with the Post Office and found that as the tenants were not in at the time of delivery a message was left advising them, to collect the mail from the Post Office. They have not done so,. Does the 14 day notice still stand even though the tenants have not received the Section 8 notice?

This is always the problem with recorded delivery. I am afraid if your tenants have not received the notices, you should not really go to Court. Re-serve at the property and take a witness to the fact you have posted it yourself. Then they can make no excuse that it has not been served.

Violence and harassment

I have a tenant, whom lives in a self contained flat on an Assured Shorthold Tenancy. The flat is in a cluster, which is located within a block.

The tenant has presented serious violence and harassment to both staff and other tenants/visitors to the building. I would like to know if there is any recourse to use a shorter notice period before applying to court, rather than the section 21 two month notice or section 8 28 days.

There certainly is, but whether it can be used will depend on the seriousness of the situation and what actions you have taken already. Has he been advised in writing that his behaviour is unacceptable? Have you asked him to sign an Acceptable Behaviour Contract? Are the people he has harassed, threatened or used violence against, prepared to give statements which can be used in evidence against him? You need as much evidence as you can provide about his behaviour and why you are seeking possession as the ground you will be using, ground 14, is a discretionary ground and the court will have to believe it is reasonable that you gain possession. Once the notice is issued, you can go for a court date immediately. It may be worth speaking to your local authority, to see if they can provide any assistance with this as Anti Social Behaviour is viewed very seriously and they may be able to help you with the process.

Buying tenanted property

I have just bought a property which has a tenant living in it. I want to move into the flat myself but told the vendor that the tenant could stay on for a couple of months while I obtained planning permission. We have been trying to arrange a meeting with the tenant but couldn’t get hold of him. I finally saw him yesterday and he said that the vendor had given him a tenancy agreement and he still has 10 months left on it.

We are unable to get hold of the vendor so I will have to sort out the mess myself. Can you please advise me as to where I stand legally?

The tenant has already been in the flat for about a month (and he hasn’t paid me anything). My plan was for him to move in early February. This seems unlikely. How soon would I be able to get him out? He is also talking about being recompensed for the inconvenience but I will meet him next week for further discussions.

Tricky one! I think I would be inclined to hand this over to the solicitor who did the conveyancing – I cannot believe that under the circumstances, the vendor would give a one year tenancy! Have you seen the tenancy agreement? Are you sure he is being truthful? If he has an agreement, I think you would be seeking compensation from the vendor as you are unable to use the property for the purpose it was purchased – your own home.

If the tenant really does have a 12 month tenancy agreement (which would have had to be given him while the property was being sold) you may have difficulty getting him out, certainly for the first six months – unless of course he does not pay the rent. Once he is eight weeks or more in arrears you could serve notice using ground 8.

Landlord selling house

My friend and his (now-ex) girlfriend moved into a flat in December. As the landlord wanted to get someone in quickly he gave them one month free, meaning that their tenancy agreement did not start until 15 January 2007. Although it was signed on 14 January 2007, he sent them an email saying that he wanted to sell the flat, giving them first option to buy. Obviously they do not want to buy together any more, and could not have done so even if they wanted. Where do they stand on notice now?

The landlord didn’t say anything in his email about them moving out, nor has he given them notice. However, if he sold the flat to someone who didn’t want tenants, would he be able to turf my friend out, saying that he gave notice before the tenancy officially started, or does he still have to abide by the two months’ which is in the agreement?

I’ve told my friend to start looking for another place just in case, but he loves the flat, and when the ex moves out in a month (which she has now agreed to do), his friend is more than happy to move in. I don’t want to see my friend (and indeed his friend) being dumped on the pavement in a month!

If the tenancy agreement established a joint tenancy, then technically speaking when one of the joint tenants relinquishes the agreement it is broken for everyone. This does not mean your friend has to move, yet. If a friend moves in, this can only be by agreement of the landlord. The current landlord may be happy to allow the friend to move in, though this would have to be on a new tenancy agreement for the balance of the tenancy.

A verbal or text notice that the landlord wishes to sell the flat does not count as legal notice and the landlord would have to go through the legal procedure to bring the tenancy to an end.

Your friend needs to speak frankly to the landlord, reminding him that he has no duty to allow viewings until the last month of the tenancy. Has there been any interest from anyone who looks like he or she want tenants? I don’t think that your friend loving the flat will help him stay there – it sounds as if ultimately he will have look for something else and be grateful for the rent free month.

Lodger misery

I own and live in a three bed property and rent out two of the rooms. I recently had a disagreement with one of the lodgers and served him four week’s notice (neither lodger has any sort of agreement and pays one month in advance).

Since serving the notice this lodger he has made our lives a misery. He gets up at 4.30am and makes sure that we are all disturbed. I really want him out before the four weeks is up. Am I within my rights to insist on this?

A lodger has few legal rights, other than that of reasonable notice. Four weeks seems more than reasonable. For future reference, always draw up a lodging agreement and always say one week’s notice, though you can vary this later by negotiation if circumstances make this appropriate.

Also make rent payable in advance, and should it become necessary to serve notice, repay any balance when the lodger moves out.

In your current circumstances, the lodger’s behaviour is not acceptable and I think you should re-issue the notice giving him one week, stating this is because of unreasonable behaviour. The problem is, however, that he may not accept it. You will then have the hassle of getting a court order, which could well take you beyond the date he is actually leaving.

Mortgage problems

We rent a property and have recently received a letter addressed to ‘the Occupiers’, so opened it. This turned out to be a letter from our landlord’s mortgage company informing us that court action was to be taken for repossession of the house we are living in. We have a year tenancy agreement and have been in the property for only seven weeks. We have not been advised to move out and we have not heard from our landlord after calling him all of last week. We do not know what our rights are and we don’t want to be left homeless as my husband and I have two young children.

You should check your tenancy agreement. Our own free download contains the optional clause: ‘The Premises are subject to a mortgage granted before the beginning of this agreement and the mortgagee is or may be entitled to exercise a power of sale and may require possession of the Premises for the purpose of disposing of the Premises in the exercise of that power. The Landlord hereby gives notice to the Tenant that possession of the Premises may be recovered on Ground 2 in Part I of Schedule 2 to the Housing Act 1988’.

‘Ground 2’ cited above is a statutory and mandatory ground for possession requiring prior notice. So if there is such a clause you can be given two months notice to quit.

However, possession procedures instigated by mortgage lenders do not always end in repossession – either because the borrower makes good the arrears or the court does not order immediate repossession. Even if successful the procedure will take a little time.

As you cannot reach your landlord, I suggest you contact the mortgage company immediately, to advise it that you are in occupation and to ask whether it is aware of this and if so whether it intends to allow you to see out your tenancy. The very least you need to know is, should it require you to leave, how much notice it intends to give you (you are entitled to at least two months from the date you receive the notice).

I am sorry to say you will probably have difficulty in getting your deposit back from the owner – Small Claims Court is likely to be the only option.

Accepting rent

I am a landlady who has started an eviction through the Courts after serving the correct Section 21 notice (accelerated procedure), as the tenant has not left. The tenant’s husband, who does not live at the property, pays the rent for her. Is it OK to continue to accept rent payments from him even though the two month notice period has expired and we are trying to get her out?

You are entitled to rent until the date the court orders possession, so there should not be a problem.

Moving out sooner

My partner and I have been renting for the past 18 months on an Assured Shorthold Tenancy. The contract expired at the end on November when we went onto a periodic tenancy.

When I came home from work last week I found a letter from the letting agents advising us that the landlords intend to sell the property and that they wish us to vacate the property in two month’s time. As far as I can see they have done this correctly by issuing a Section 21 notice.

The following day I called the letting agency to find out when was the earliest we could move out and they advised me that it would be in one month’s time. Is this right?

I have found a property that is £25 a month cheaper and just round the corner from where we are. We stand in good stead of getting it as all the other people that have applied either have kids or pets or are reliant on housing benefit. The only thing going against us is that we can not move out for a month and the landlord is looking for immediate occupation.

When can I legally move out and will I have to pay any charges? I have been told by friends that as the landlord has given me notice I can move out whenever and they have no right to apply charges or withhold any deposit.

I have only ever had contact with one landlord, who felt that having given notice, he could still hold the tenant to a month’s notice on the tenants side. I advised the landlord that this was unreasonable and he accepted the advise.

I think the landlord may feel he can withhold your deposit, in which case you would have to go to the small claims court to recover. I would try and negotiate with the landlord – it sounds as though he wants it all his own way and the rent for as long as possible, but maybe I am being unfair. I do not think a court would think it unreasonable that having found a suitable property, considering you would be homeless at the end of the landlord’s notice period, that you would wish to move out sooner.

Speak to the landlord pleasantly, advise that moving out sooner means viewings can take place at any time if the property is vacant and you may find he is more amenable than you believe. If not, the small claims court is the answer. Whatever result you have from discussions, confirm in writing as this will be helpful in court.

Informal arrangements

I rent my house with my partner from my father and have no tenancy agreement. We allowed two of our friends to move in as we were struggling with the rent. As they were friends no tenancy agreement was drawn up and we simply trusted that everything would be fine. They have now told us (with 9 days notice) that they are moving out as they have paid their rent until that date. They have since become very difficult to live with are not willing to cooperate, purposefully making things difficult. We would like them gone before the 9 days is up as they are completely unbearable to live with. Is there anything we can do as technically they have not paid any rent to the landlord (my father) only given us in cash.

Technically speaking, they are lodgers or sub-lettees. They therefore would not have a tenancy agreement, only a licence or lodging agreement. As the law says you need only give reasonable notice, you could ask them to leave before the nine days, but if they choose not to go, it will probably take longer than they intend staying to get a court order. Bite the bullet and be patient. But if you get more lodgers, draw up your own agreement and specify one week’s notice on both sides. Try not to mix friendship with letting in the future – it can lead to trouble.

Garage occupancy

I recently purchased some garages, one of which was occupied by a tenant who pays rent quarterly in advance. There was no written agreement between the tenant and the previous landlord. I wish the garage to be vacated and have written to the occupier giving him three month’s notice. He is requesting six months notice. I would just like clarification of my legal position. Ultimately I wish him to vacate sooner rather than later.

This is an interesting point, not covered by housing law. These kind of agreements are generally just on goodwill bases and three months does seem reasonable notice for a garage being used to keep a vehicle. If the tenant is running a business from the garage, or using it for storage for a business, it is understandable that he may require longer than the three months he has paid rent for. You need to talk to the occupier and find out where he is coming from, here. I cannot see that he would have grounds for further action if you insist he vacates after three months, though if you possibly can be amenable, that would be preferable.

Boiler repairs

I live in an unfurnished rented house. The boiler has broken down and I have no hot water or heat. My landlord says it is my responsibility to pay for the repair.

He says if it was furnished accommodation it would be his responsibility. I feel he should pay. We have lived here for five months. It is an Assured Shorthold Tenancy.

Who should pay?

Your landlord, without a doubt. It is part of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 that all installations for the heating of space and water are the landlord’s responsibility to keep in order. That applies whether furnished or unfurnished. If he does not do what is required, let him argue about it to Environmental Services!

Partner’s troublesome 18 year old son

I plan to evict my partner’s 18 year old son, who has become increasingly troublesome since moving in with me (with his mother) four and a half months ago. Last night I was threatened with assault after telling him to mind his manners (swearing directed at me), as he did not like being disturbed in his television viewing by an argument between his mother and myself.

His response to being told to pack his bags and get out was (surprise) ‘f–k off’. I believe he has no legal rights to be in my property (he pays £25 a week towards housekeeping and considers himself hard done by). Do I need a court order if he refuses to go (which he has)? Should I seek an injunction to keep him away from the property?

I hesitate to answer this one – I think this could cause massive problems to your relationship. I understand the lad is being a pain, most families go through something like this. The difficulty is, yours is a brand new family. It may have been a huge shock to him to move into your house and have a new man calling the shots. You could issue a notice to quit and take it to court, if you really want to, but 18 is very young to be out on his own. An injunction seems a terribly hard step to take. What is his mother saying? I think I’d be inclined to threaten notice but not act on it.

Statutory notice

My landlord has become most unpleasant since we informed him that we would not permit viewing of the house that we presently rent from him.

We have a shorthold tenancy agreement which is due to expire in a month. As with previous years we assumed (wrongly) that our agreement would be renewed. However our landlord informed us in August of his intention to sell the property and did not wish to renew our agreement. We have no idea where we will be living next, nonetheless he is quite within his rights to do as he wishes.

In fact neither I nor my wife signed this year’s tenancy agreement although previous agreements were signed. Also, we did not sign the Section 21(1)(b) ‘Notice Requiring Possession’.

The letting agents sent us a Section 21 Notice but this was considerably different to the aforementioned previous agreements, in that, there was not a space for signature. Our unsigned copy of the tenancy agreement featuring the Section 21 notice does have a space for signature.

We usually make rental payments via BACS transfer or cash directly into his account. Unfortunately due to further unforeseen circumstances we have not been able to pay the last two month’s rent (due on the 13 of each month). This amounts in total to £3,200.

We informed our landlord of our intention to make payment as soon as possible and we gave assurances that we would not leave the property owing rent. He presently holds £1,600 as an initial holding deposit for when we first moved in.

During our tenancy we have made various refurbishments to the house as agreed by the landlord. It was our intention to purchase the house in the next two years if all went well.

This week we received a statutory demand for non-payment of rent from his solicitors.

As the relationship between ourselves and the landlord seems to have broken down completely we wanted to know whether or not what he has done is technically legal. Considering he holds £1,600 as a deposit, can he make a demand for £3,200 rent via this statutory demand process whilst we are still occupying the property? Is this not an abuse of this procedure?

We were due to pay the outstanding arrears in the next few weeks irrespective of what he’d threatened.

This year’s tenancy agreement was unsigned by both me and my wife. Previous agreements were signed. Also, we did not sign the Section 21(1)(b) ‘Notice Requiring Possession’.

Our previous agreements terminated the tenancy on the 12th of January. The unsigned agreement concludes on the same date. The letting agents sent us a Section 21 Notice but this was considerably different to the aforementioned previous agreements, in that, there was not a space for signature. Our unsigned copy of the tenancy agreement featuring the Section 21 notice does have a space for signature.

As soon as you were eight weeks/two months in rent arrears, he was entitled to issue you a two week notice. The deposit he was holding does not really enter into it – that is for use or return after the expiry of the tenancy, when the property has been inspected and signed off as in good condition, no deduction being needed from the deposit for repairs. If the arrears are paid up at the expiry of the notice, he cannot get a court date. Even at the court date, if they are paid up, it cannot proceed to a possession order using a rent arrears ground. A section 21 does not really require a reason to be given.

The fact that the tenancy agreement was unsigned is unfortunate, but if it went to court, it could be said that the fact the rent has been paid has established that there has been an agreement between you.

Most landlords would not think it unreasonable that people should view in the last month of a tenancy.

Lithuania let

I have let a flat to a girl from Lithuania. She has been no problem and has paid her rent on time – until now. She has disappeared, her clothes and all her stuff – luggage, stereo, DVD player and the like – is still in the flat. Her mobile phone is transferring calls to her mailbox.

I have left many messages but received no replies. I have sent a registered letter asking her to pay the rent but had no response.

I check her flat two or three times a week and it seems that no one goes in at all – everything is always in its exact place.

I would like to know what I can do to gain possession.

Did you take any next of kin details when she moved in? Any references? Do you know where she was working? If the answer to any of these is ‘yes’, then a very polite letter asking whether they are aware of the whereabouts of your tenant may get a response.

If the answer is ‘no’, then you will have to serve a 28 day notice to quit, which basically is saying you believe the property has been abandoned. It should be served at the property, even though you do not think she is there, though send a copy to any other likely address, such as that of her next of kin or workplace. If she responds within 28 days, fine. If not, then on the 29th day, you can change the locks. You would have to bag and store her goods for a reasonable period.

You should not enter the property or change locks until after this period, unless you have to change the locks for purposes of security. If you find you need to do this, put a notice in the window stating it was not your intention to deprive the tenant of occupation, only to safeguard your, and their, property.

For future reference, make sure your tenancy agreements include clauses about notifying you of absences of longer than two weeks – and payment arrangements, if going to be away for longer; also stating that the tenancy can be terminated if abandonment is suspected on service of a 28 day notice to quit; also a clause stating how long you will store goods left in the property, when abandonment occurs.

Camping out

I allowed an individual and his girlfriend to be accommodated in my home rent free, whilst I renovated another property of mine for them to eventually live in. They said they were pleased with the arrangement because it allowed them to visit the other property with me in order to clear and do up the garden – this was in March 2006.

In May 2006 they asked to be able to camp out in the property being renovated in order that they would be on hand to get on with the garden.

It has taken me longer than anticipated to complete the renovation and meanwhile they needed to establish an address for state benefits. Housing benefit was also claimed but never paid since which time I have cancelled my approval of the claim, directly with housing benefit department, as they have refused to sign a contract.

They have also changed the locks and refused to let me have a key and have denied me entry to complete refurbishment.

What recourse do I have in law?

Provided they have never paid any rent, they are illegal occupiers. You should serve them a notice to quit. If they refuse to go, you will need to get a court order. I would suggest you see a solicitor – I think this could get very unpleasant.

Tenant’s possessions

We have just been granted a possession order requiring our tenants to leave on or before a certain date. They have been on holiday for a week and return shortly. They have been terrible tenants and owe us six months’ rent. The house is a complete mess, and is really dirty and smelly. They have wrecked a new dishwasher we provided, they have damaged electrics, wallpaper, and more. We will have to get cleaners, gardeners other people in to sort it all out.

Although the tenants have told us they have somewhere to go when they get back, we have changed the locks to prevent them breaking in when we believe they would wreck the place even more and stay until we could get bailiffs – which in our area takes at least eight weeks.

We are at the point of having the house repossessed by the bank as, because the rent hasn’t been paid, we haven’t been able to keep up the mortgage.

The tenants have removed their personal items but there is a lot of furniture, clothes and the like still in the house. We are very loath to hand these over as they owe us a fortune. They keep sending us threatening text messages to say we will know about it if we touch their stuff and they are going to get there stuff one way or another when they get back.

We have asked the police to keep an eye on the place as we feel they will break in.

Do you have any suggestions about what we can do with their clothes, furniture and other possession? Can we get rid of it after so long or do we have to give it back to them?

These have obviously been very unpleasant tenants and you have my sympathy. However, I do not quite understand why you have changed the locks, if the date that possession has been granted hasn’t arrived yet. You should not deprive them of access; even if the date the court order possession arrives and they are still in residence, you still cannot deprive them of access – you have to get a Bailiff’s warrant and only the Bailiff can remove them.

Only then can you change the locks. Changing locks before that point could be seen as illegal eviction and/or harassment. They would be unlikely to get much in court, as the order has been made, but it could be more cost for you and damaging to your reputation.

My next thought is: why keep their goods? If they were goods of any value, you could get advice from the bailiff about keeping the goods to compensate for what they owe. But you talk about getting rid of it – do you mean trash it? If so, I think this could be viewed quite seriously as spite rather than restitution. I think if possible, and it may not be, try and arrange a meeting to discuss the situation. You could even assist them in moving it – which would get you their address, which you will need for a claim through the small claims court.

Wrong address

My lease is a short assured tenancy. The initial period was for six months and month to month thereafter. I have been in the flat, which is in Scotland, for nine months but have now been served with notice to quit.

The flat had only just been completed when I moved in and it turns out that the address on both the tenancy agreement and the notice to quit is incorrect – they have the right flat number but the wrong street name.

Am I within my rights to say that the notice to quit is invalid and ask the letting agents to re-issue? This would give me a little more time to move.

In fact the is supposed to be two months but the letting agent did not allow for the five days it took for the notice to be delivered.

Yes, I would suggest it is invalid. I also thought the Notice should come from the landlords, not the agents. Good practice would be to issue 2 full months, following tenancy dates, which for preference would be to issue say on the 20th, but to take effect from 28th May to 27th July, actions to commence after that date. However, the landlord may want to take it to court anyway, and then it is down to a Judge to decide.


We have a tenant we housed in temporary accommodation. He has an assured shorthold tenancy but has never occupied the property and does not have any of his possessions in the property. We require the property back for other homeless families. How do we approach this situation?

There are a couple of ways this can be approached. Firstly, has any rent been paid on the property? If no rent has been paid for two months or more, then an s8 Notice Seeking Possession can be served which has a twp week notice requirement, enabling you to gain possession that way. A second approach could be to serve a Notice To Quit (in effect an abandonment notice) where you believe nobody is in occupation, if no response is received within 28 days then you should be able to take possession the following day. For future reference, your tenancy agreement should always state that where abandonment is suspected, possession can be regained by taking these steps. There is no legal requirement to have that in place, but it does make it clear to the tenant that this will happen.

Notice to quit

I have been given two month’s notice to quit my house and must leave by the end of September. If I wish to leave before that time, will I have to give one month’s notice?

I would speak to the landlord. If the landlord has issued notice then I would be surprised if he or she held your one month notice against you. Speak informally to your landlord and if it is agreed I would confirm the discussion in writing.

Only one month

I am a tenant and signed a basic agreement to rent a room in a property on 19 May 2006. On the 10 July I got a call from my landlady explaining that my housemate would be moving out and she had decided to rent the property through an agency. Her reasoning is that she would be financially better off and also because it is difficult for her to manage the property as she’s living in London.

She gave me the option of finding people to fill the rooms to cover £775 rent plus bills, plus agency fees. This isn’t feasible for me so I will have to leave and do not want to be staying there. I haven’t had anything in writing but the landlady said to take as ‘long as I want’ to find somewhere else (I know this isn’t strictly true as when my housemate moves out she will be struggling to pay the mortgage).

My agreement just states that either party need to give a month’s notice and doesn’t say a minimum length of time I should live there. I have been a cooperative and tidy tenant and have gone out of my way to wait in for workmen and the like.

Needless to say that I am upset after only living there just over a month, I haven’t fully unpacked, I turned down other nice accommodation at the time and I also had the expenses and hassle of hiring a van, having friends help me move, having my post redirected through the post office, as well as all the time it takes to look around properties to find the right one.

Do I have any rights as the agreement actually said she only had to give me one month’s notice and that’s what she’s done? I think it just a bit much asking me to move out after such a short time with no sort of compensation.

Despite what the agreement says, she has to give you two month’s notice in writing, going from the tenancy dates. I think you should raise the matter of some form of compensation with her, perhaps to cover removal costs. Also explain the legal notice you are entitled to, perhaps stating you will move as soon as you can, but that you require the legal notice. I think this is very disappointing for you and cannot understand why she should be asking you and another tenant to cover agency fees. The only good thing you can say is that she is being fairly amicable, but that does not help a disappointed tenant much.

Notice by text message

I currently have a tenant residing in my property who has served me with one month’s notice according to our contract. This came via a text message. However, in the interim the tenant has encountered some personal problems. She has been signed off work until September and is trying to claim housing benefit. In order to do that, she needs a notice of eviction from me.

I am refusing to evict her as she has already given me her notice to leave. Are text messages a valid form of notice in the eyes of law? If so, what are my rights? Can I sue her for possession?

If I were a landlord, my reaction on receipt of a text would be that she must confirm this in writing – she cannot sign a text, someone could have picked up her ‘phone and sent it maliciously for all you know. I do not understand why she needs an eviction notice from you to claim housing benefit. Benefit is only payable on the property where she is living (your property) and therefore a copy of the tenancy agreement should be sufficient for her housing benefit claim to be activated. However, if you feel that for security you need to serve her notice, then serve her a section 21, accelerated possession.

Behind with rent, but behind enough

I am the joint owner of a property with a friend of mine. We had a tenant in the property on a six month tenancy and at the end of this period we issued a new tenancy agreement and allowed the tenant to stay in the property – even though she had occasionally been late with her rent.

Three months into this new tenancy and she has stopped paying rent altogether and refuses to answer our telephone calls or reply to letters.

She now owes us 12 pence less than two full month’s rent. My agent believes that because of this 12p shortfall, and claim for possession based on arrears will be thrown out of court.

Do you think I need to wait until she misses another month’s rent (£1000 which I can ill afford to cover) before I issue a grounds 8, 10 and 11 or should I simply do this know? Is there any way to expedite this process and what do you think is the quickest way I can evict the tenant from the property?

I should add that she is the only named tenant though the house is being lived in by at least three other people suggesting that she is perhaps sub-letting the property – which is contrary to her tenancy agreement. There are three months of her tenancy left to run.

If this situation continues much longer I stand to lose the house and the large deposit that was put down. This is a very stressful situation and I simply don’t know the best course of action to take.

I am sorry, but I can only agree with the agent – 12 pence less than two month’s rent could mean the claim was thrown out of court, though it is possible that a judge may favour you. It is all a matter of interpretation and some stick with the exact two month’s worth. I think the ground 8 probably is the quickest way of getting the tenant out. You could issue a notice to quit, on the basis that you believe she may have vacated the property as she has paid no rent and is not answering the telephone, but if she responds and says she is living there, you are back to the current situation.

Are you receiving any complaints about the action of the other residents? If there was noise nuisance, police reports etc., you could try on ground 14, but it is a discretionary ground so you would have to prove it was reasonable for you to want possession on that ground. How on earth did you manage to get 12p to take you under two months? What is the agent doing to assist you? I would expect a number of strong letters to have been sent. For future reference, issue tenancies stating rent is payable one month in advance, then when the fifth week ends without a payment, you can issue the notice. The other option is to get a guarantor.

I hope you do not lose your property – discuss it with the mortgagors, on the lines that you are evicting this tenant. Hopefully, they will be patient.

Section 20 notice

I have a tenant with an expired agreement which was written on 28 of the month terminating on 27 of the month. Irrespective, the tenant pays rent in advance on first of every month.
If I give section 20 notice, on what day of the month should it expire?

The tenancy dates are what matter, as her payments, though in advance for almost all of the month, are actually relating to the month that started on 28th of the month before. Therefore, your notice should start on 28th, to terminate on 27th.

Landlord selling up

My landlord recently phoned me and informed his their intention to sell the property that I am renting. My lease continues until next year, and the owner is already preparing to show the home. At first the landlord asked us to view another home that would soon be available but then changed his mind and said he would be selling that too.

I have now been given written notice asking if we ‘intend to invoke amicable termination of lease or wish to wait & see if the home is purchased by an investor that is willing to take over the lease agreement’.

I am not sure what ‘invoke amicable termination of lease’ was intended to mean.

What are our rights as tenants at this point? Are we supposed to be given at least a two month’s notice of intention to sell? What are the obligations of the landlord?

Basically, he is asking you whether you are happy to accept the notice and therefore leave, or see if the property is purchased by someone willing to let you stay on. You are entitled to stay in the property until your lease ends and only leave then if you are given two month’s notice in writing to end when your tenancy does.

If I were you, I would make it pleasantly clear to the landlord that you are happy to co-operate with him, in that you will allow viewings in the final month of the tenancy, after you have received valid notice. Which means your quiet enjoyment of the property will not be disturbed until next year.

If any pressure is brought to bear on you, this could be construed as illegal eviction or harassment. I suggest negotiating with the landlord, enquiring about what compensation would be involved.

With regard to how much notice you require of his intention to sell – obviously the longer the better, but if his intention is to sell it as an investment property, with an income coming in from the tenants (you) it could be argued that this could happen without you being aware at all – but you certainly should not be expected to allow viewings at this stage.

Liability to pay rent

I belong to a housing cooperative that does not own any of its properties. My question, is does a tenant have to pay rent after the notice to quit expires. If we have a tenant who does not leave at the end of notice we apply for eviction. But we still have to pay rent on the property until the keys are handed to the owners. As legally the tenancy has ceased, is the tenant liable for rent between the expiry of the notice to quit and the time we gain possession of the property?

A notice to quit should only be used when it is believed a tenant has abandoned a property. If this is the case and it has been correctly served, the locks should be changed.

However, as you mention applying for eviction, I believe you have served a Notice Seeking Possession, at the expiry of which you would apply to court for a possession order. If this is the case, there is a rental liability until the date the court orders possession. So the answer is that the tenant is liable for the rent until the date the court orders possession – though that may not be when possession is gained, given that the tenant could choose to stay until a Bailiff removes him – though I would hope this does not happen as this will be further debt that the tenant could find against him.

Family eviction

My Grandmother has died leaving her estate to her four children, one of which is my mother.

My Uncle still lives in my Grandmother’s house and has done so for about 10 years. Probate is completed but the house cannot be sold as Uncle will not move out. He also wants the other family members to pay a share of his bills while he lives there. Personally I think he should be paying the estate rent!

The situation is causing bad feelings between the family and I fear he will drag it out forever as he has already threatened. Is there anything that can be done?

I think this is a case for a family meeting to discuss when the house is to be put up for sale. His asking for help with bills is curious – which bills? Utilities are, as in all private rented houses, the responsibility of the tenant, because they are utilities he has used, so cannot be anybody else’s responsibility. The only bill I can think of which should, fairly, be shared between the joint owners are buildings insurance. He has the option of buying the remaining three siblings out so he owns the property outright. If he starts to pays the estate rent, he creates a tenancy and would therefore have some rights, though if you want to suggest this in the short term, you could create an Assured Shorthold Tenancy, but this could be problematic, given that he is a part owner and, of course, may lead him to believe that it could be a long term situation, which is not likely to be a satisfactory solution for the three not in residence. If you can’t reach an agreement with him, you need to discuss with a solicitor.

Evidence for Ground 14

I intend to apply for a possession order on Ground 14 – causing nuisance to neighbours. As this is a discretionary rather than mandatory ground for possession I am worried that a possession order may not be granted.

To give you the background my tenant moved into a flat I own on 5 June 2006. Two days later I was called at work by several of the neighbouring residents. There had been arguments between my tenant and his girlfriend (who is not on the tenancy agreement) which were so violent that one of the residents had threatened to call the police had they not have been able to get hold of me.

During the course of the day the neighbours heard shouting, screaming, abusive language and banging of doors on two separate occasions, each lasting over an hour. The girlfriend was continually shouting ‘get off me, get off me’ and the neighbours were concerned that my tenant may have been hurting her. In addition, two of the neighbours overheard a conversation in which my tenant said be was going to buy some drugs. There have also been reports of lots of young people coming in and out of the property and I am worried that there may be illegal drugs there.

I called my tenant immediately and arranged to come home from work to talk to him. On entering my property I noticed a large dent in the plaster work of the living room wall and also a large cigarette burn in the middle of a brand new carpet (this is a no smoking flat). My tenant said it had all been his girlfriend’s fault, she had caused the damage and they had now separated. He asked for another chance.

A similar incident happened on the following day and the other residents asked me to try and evict the tenant as they were afraid of what had happened and were worried that these incidents would continue. I served a Section 8 notice on Ground 13 and 14 on 11 June 2006 and intend to instruct my solicitor to begin court proceedings this week. The residents of the block of flats have put together a signed statement of the events to use as evidence for Ground 14. As a responsible landlord I feel a duty to the other residents to ensure they can live peacefully and without fear in their own homes. Do you believe the above is enough grounds for the courts to grant a possession order?

It is difficult to say, I’m afraid. If I was the judge, I would grant possession, provided that you had everything clearly documented, including details of conversation with the tenant and the like. However, I am not the judge and I am thinking about a tearful tenant, yes, males can be tearful, telling the court that he was the victim of abuse from his partner, that her screams were part of him defending himself… you get the picture?

Were the police called the property at all during these very worrying incidents? If so, they may be able to act as professional witnesses. You mention instructing a solicitor – is he a housing specialist? If so, he will have a very good idea of whether he thinks you stand a good chance of success. The statement from other residents should carry a lot of weight. What I think may go against you is that these incidents took place over a very short period of time, which the tenant could argue was untypical, Some judges might feel that he needs a second chance.


Making an offer

We have tenants who have been in our property on an assured shorthold tenancy which we renewed a year ago.

The tenants are a family comprised of a disabled mother (deaf), her carer partner and six children aged two to 16. The youngest child has medical problems and, I am told, is on some sort of special ‘watch’ list with the council/health carers. The property is a five bedroom maisonette.

I served a Section 21 Notice a year ago which gave the statutory two month notice period expiring on 31 May 2006. The Tenants have made no effort to move or to find alternative accommodation and have told us that they ‘intend to stay’.

I have no problems with my tenants except that they do not pay the agreed rent in full. The rent which is paid is made up of a very low (but maximum level) housing benefit payment and a small proportion of the shortfall which the tenant pays weekly. Housing benefit is based on the historically low rents for the area which in no way reflect current rents obtained by us in our neighbouring properties, nor by other landlords in the area.

At the beginning of May we wrote to the tenants reminding them of the Section 21 Notice and the end of May deadline. In this letter we stated that we would be prepared to renew their tenancy on similar terms provided that a new rent could be agreed, with a commitment to pay the rent in full.

We have written to the tenants again this week, one week after expiry of the Notice, and reminded them that their AST has ended, offered to provide new tenancy provided new rent agreed, and pointed out the possible difficulties for them in finding new accommodation if we need to apply to the Court to remove them.

Have we followed the correct procedure? Have we weakened our case by offering a new tenancy if a new rent can be agreed? Is there a route other than applying to the court to remove them? How soon can we apply to the court, do we need a solicitor for this, and what costs are involved?

You appear to have followed the correct procedure, although I personally do not like notices issued at the start of the tenancy as I do not believe that tenants therefore have an incentive to behave correctly as proved to be the case here. I do not believe that offering a new tenancy at a new rent invalidates your case. – the tenants were being given a choice, to pay up or go. As they have not responded before the expiry of the notice, I would have sent a brief, polite letter, stating that as they have not intimated that they wish to renew the tenancy, you will be asking the court for a possession order, using the accelerated possession procedure.

The notice has now expired, so you should go to court now. I would always recommend you see a solicitor in possession cases, just to ensure the notices have been correctly served. But as you will be using the accelerated possession procedure, you should be able to do it yourself as it is fairly straightforward.

Costs are usually in the region of £150 to £200, but your local court will be able to give full information.

Is it worth having one final discussion, to see if you can assist the tenants, say by giving them time to go, as this may assist you also and save you money. But unless they give a very clear indication that they are getting ready to leave, go to court – and almost certainly, moving out is going to be difficult because they are not going to want to go into smaller accommodation and few, generally speaking, would be the size of your property.

Kicked out after three months

My sister in law rented a house and has a proper contract. The contract length is six months and the landlord has allowed her to decorate the house nicely.

She’s only been there for three months, but now she has been issued with week’s notice to leave because the landlord wants it back for her aunt to like in.

Isn’t there a law that prevents the landlord from doing this? It wouldn’t be so bad but she spent good money doing the house up, and the landlord has knowingly let her do this.

I think the landlord knew her aunty was moving in but not for a while so found a tenant for a short period of time to pay her mortgage while the house was empty and as a bonus let my sister in law decorate it. I think she was done!

I am sorry, but so do I. In my work with tenants, I always state that they should spend no money on the property – the most I suggest is that the landlord pays for materials and the tenant gives his or her labour for free.

The landlord cannot issue her with a week’s notice – the tenancy has to last six months before it can be legally ended.

Your sister in law needs to discuss this with the landlady, preferably with a witness, advising her that this is invalid notice. A court would not grant possession on this basis. She needs a minimum of two month’s notice which cannot end before the expiry of the tenancy. If the landlady wants her out before then, she really needs to come up with some compensation for this, which may enable your sister in law to get another property quickly – though if she accepts something, she will have no other recompense in law. In addition, she needs some recompense for the cost of decorating and labour.

If the landlady is not amenable, she needs to see a solicitor and she will be able to stay for the full six months. She could still pursue a claim for the decorating.

I am afraid it is a hard lesson to learn and most landlords would not act in this manner, but tenants need to be aware, some landlords do.

Access and noise

I am on the point of breakdown because of our tenant:
• owes us six months rent (we have a CCJ on him but he is pleading poverty);
• is causing us concern that he will not move out on the day specified in the section 21 notice we served (he has emailed that he will move out on that day although though we are not convinced;
• has changed a lock (with our consent) at the beginning of the tenancy but has consistently refused to give us a key; and
• for the last two weeks has had parties almost every night which go on until six or seven in the morning. The other residents of the property are beside themselves.

My husband wants to change the locks (leaving him a key for the remainder of the tenancy). The tenant does not agree to this.

Is there anything we can do about the noise nuisance? I am convinced this will go on until the end of the tenancy and beyond if he does not go then?

I am so sorry about the situation you find yourself in. I am afraid it does illustrate that kindly behaving to someone can sometimes lead to greater problems for yourself. He should have been served a notice on ground 8 – owing more than two months rent arrears, as soon as his rent account reached that stage.

However, you did issue a section 21 notice. If the tenant remains in the property after it expires, you should go for a court order using the accelerated possession procedure. This should be a fairly speedy option. If he still remains, you will need a bailiff’s warrant.

Your husband should not change the locks, this sort of tenant would be likely to claim harassment. But I change the locks after he has left as I would also not trust this guy not to make copies of the key.

As the noise is so bad, why not speak to the neighbours and see if they are prepared to make statements that could be used to issue a notice on ground 14, that the tenant has caused a nuisance – though you would need supporting evidence which as well as neighbour statements would include warning letters you have sent. If you have served a notice using ground 14, you can go to court immediately for possession.

I would speak to your local environmental services and accreditation scheme – they may have strategies that could help. Good luck.

Arrears due to illness

Your advice on the website is awesome but I am writing you today to please help my mother who is finding her landlady a nightmare.

My Mom has an assured shorthold tenancy which ran out in April. The landlady said prior to the end of tenancy, that she will not be renewing the tenancy and in fact will be wanting my mother to leave (when she fell ill with shingles and could not work she was unable to pay rent which fell into 12 weeks arrears).

It isn’t like as if my mother hasn’t made an effort to try and pay the arrears and will do so when she recovers. Even so, the landlady has had a lawyer send my mother a notice to quit. But my mother has nowhere to go.

Is the landlady allowed to do this and also how long will it be before my mother is literally thrown out on the streets?

Sorry to hear about your mother’s illness – I know shingles can be very painful and debilitating. Has she applied for housing benefit? It sounds as though her income has reduced sufficiently for her to be eligible.

It is not easy to have a claim backdated, but you could assist her in making a case that because of her illness, she was unable to claim.

With regard to eviction, unfortunately, as your mother owes more than eight weeks rent arrears, the landlady can issue a ground 8 notice on the grounds that she owes more than eight weeks rent. This is a notice of possession proceedings, or a notice seeking possession, not a notice to quit. It gives two weeks notice, but if your mother remains in the tenancy at the expiry of the notice, the landlady would have to get a court order to evict her – which could take some weeks. The other option for the landlady is to issue a section 21 notice, which is a two month notice followed by accelerated possession procedure, which is usually quite fast.

It is horrible when someone is ill and, through no fault of their own, ends in a position like this. However, the landlady is within her rights and some would say, had been quite patient. Some landlords need that regular income to live on or pay mortgages. Sorry to say it, but even if your mother makes a very speedy recovery (and I hope she does), she would have quite a debt to clear which would probably take some time. If the circumstances are that the rent is required for mortgage payments, you can see the difficult position in which the landlady may find herself.

If the landlady does issue a valid notice, your mother should see if the local homeless welfare service would be prepared to help in view of her ill health.

Best wishes for a speedy recovery, and thanks for the compliment.

Demanding re-admittance

My tenant was in rent arrears to the value of £2,600. I got a court order and an eviction date set. But when my agent visited the property on that day he found the front door open and no sign of the tenant. He suggested we call the police to report a burglary, which we did. The police came and took one look at the house, which looked like it had been ransacked. Milk had turned to cheese and bread was bright green etc.

So far our repair costs are in excess of £1,200. There was also a rat problem I was trying to get sort but tenant would not allow me access to property with the pest control people.

The police told me to secure the property and change the locks, which we did. I left a note on the door giving details of what had happened and who to contact. The next day the tenant showed up demanding access. The agent informed her what had happened and said she is not going back into the property as she abandoned it and left it unsecured and that as it was her eviction date, he considered her evicted. He also said that her belongings were available for her to collect.

She sent friends to collect her stuff, which we gave them, although we said that they should come back for all the electrical goods.

The tenant is claiming housing benefit but we have reason to believe she was sub-letting as we have found documents with other people’s names registered to this address.

I have now had a phone call from the council saying we evicted her illegally and it will be taking legal action against us.

Is this right, do you think a court of law will look at the evidence in our favour? I have photographic and video evidence as well as all the correspondence with the agent, the courts, and pest control company, plus an incidence number from the police.

I think you have a strong case, in that the agent went on the date for eviction set by the court. Had the tenant remained there, then you would have had to get a bailiff’s order, but clearly the indicators were that the tenant had vacated not on that day, but some time previously.

I would not get embroiled in your discussions with the council about sub-letting, but stick to what you know applies: you knew the legal procedure; were quite prepared to get a bailiff’s warrant but this was unnecessary, in that the tenant did what was expected by vacating the property. If the local authority continue with its action, I am afraid you need to see a solicitor – authorities take these accusations very seriously and although I think they should take account of the circumstances, if they don’t, you need to protect yourself.

Tenants return

My tenants gave me I month’s notice but moved out early. They paid me the month’s money, but now they have been into my property and taken pictures of the rooms and are demanding their money back.

As the tenants decided to leave early, were they trespassing when they re-entered my house. What is my position?

I would feel much easier about answering this if I knew on what grounds the former tenants were demanding their money back. My view would be that unless they return the keys and tell you they are not returning, they still have the right of access. After all, the notice period gives them time to move out. It also gives you time to find a new tenant. If you have already done that and moved somebody else in, it is not unreasonable for the former tenants to ask for their money back to the extent that you have received payment twice for the same period.

If they have they taken photos to show that somebody else has moved in, there are other considerations. Unless the tenants told you they had moved out and would not return they could claim illegal eviction or harassment, or perhaps removal of their goods? I think you need to discuss the situation with them, find out the exact nature of their complaint, and take it from there. I hope you can come to some agreement, but if not you may need to see a solicitor.

Enforcing possession

We have just served section 8 notice on a tenant. If he does leave within this period how do we ensure handover of our keys and that he does not take our furnishings with him.

Will we be required to be at the property on the 14th day, how does it all work?

The only thing I can advise is that you try and keep lines of communication open. Your tenant may wish to stay until you get a court order, or leave before then. I am afraid that ensuring nothing is stolen is impossible, without being on guard. Though there have obviously been problems, hence the eviction, a pleasant conversation, asking whether there is anything you could do to assist in removal etc. may get a favourable response and allow for some proper arrangement for the hand-over of keys.

Claim struck out

I wish to evict a tenant whose assured shorthold tenancy agreement ran from 5 July 2005 to 4 January 2006. During the agreement the tenant moved her boyfriend in, and he now also lives in the property.

This has been a difficult tenancy. The rent was at first paid by housing benefit, although because of some change to the tenant’s circumstances this was stopped. The tenant has done nothing to resolve this situation despite saying she will. She now owes me a significant amount of rent. I have a separate judgement on this which is in the hands of the bailiff.

In November I gave the tenant two month’s notice to quit the property.

My main concern is getting her (and boyfriend) to leave the property. A month has passed since they were due to quit and they are still there. They now lock the door from the inside and refuse me access.

I instigated proceedings myself using the HMCS on line service and submitted a claim for possession of property to the county court in Manchester on 10 January. This was deemed to be served on 12 January to which there was no response from the tenant. I then took the next stage of filing the request for possession order and costs which was referred to a judge on 12 January. I have now received a letter stating that the judge has struck this claim out on the basis that the notice I served on the tenant back in November doesn’t meet the requirements of S.21(1)(b) of the Housing Act 1988.

I find this completely frustrating although appreciate that the law doesn’t have grey areas. Can you advise me on next steps, I am hoping that I don’t have to serve another two month’s notice? If I do have to serve additional notice on the tenant perhaps you can advise if there is any template or what wording I need to use.

I would serve a Ground 8 notice. This covers situations where the tenant owes eight weeks or more in rent arrears and involves giving two month’s notice. It is a mandatory ground, so should be swifter.

The correct wording states that it is a two months notice as specified in s.21 of the 1988 Housing Act, amended 1996; gives the dates from and to and also says the tenant can get assistance from Citizens Advice or Housing Advice Service or Solicitor. Think about buying my guide – it has the wording in and examples. I am afraid I am hard on tenants – as soon as they are eight weeks in arrears, I advise issuing a notice and before that, send warning letters that this is what you will do.

Giving notice

I have decided to sell a rental property which I own. The assured shorthold tenancy agreement issued to my tenant is for months ending in April 2006. If issue notice on 16 January 2006, can I expect the property to be vacated two months after that date – which would be 16 March 2006?

I don’t think so, unless your tenant wants to go. If the tenancy ends in April, so should the notice. Also, if your tenant does not have anywhere to go to, may stay until you get a court order, which could be another few weeks, especially with Easter in the middle of April.

Form of notice

I have a tenant in my flat who is two months behind in his rent payments. I can’t get hold of him but his possessions are still in the premises and I think he only comes back occasionally. I would like to issue an eviction notice, if only to scare him into paying up. Is there a basic template of eviction notices, or are they all different depending on circumstances?

I advise landlords to get in touch with Oyez-Straker, which sells notices seeking possession. Ask for the one for eight weeks rent arrears.

However, I also wonder whether it is worth asking for a ‘Notice to Quit,’ which provides for four week’s notice where you suspect a property has been abandoned. If the tenant is not living there as his main home, he is not entitled to any housing benefit. The NTQ gives the tenant the opportunity to advise you that he is there. If you issue both, you are covered if he gets in touch to say he lives there, and you can still go for eviction on rent arrears. If he does not get in touch, you should be ok without going to court as he has abandoned.

Section 21

On 18 January I have served my tenants with a Section 21 notice, which means they should move out on the 17 March. However, they are not forthcoming when asked by the agent if they have found somewhere else to live.

I have been led to believe that if on the 17 March they have not moved out I will need to take them to court and that it might take another three to four months (depending on the local courts) before I can regain possession. Is this timescale correct?

Also, I am told that although I have rent protection insurance I am not going to be able to make a claim since I served Section 21 notice. Is this correct?

The main reason I decided to give the tenants notice was that they have been late in paying their rent about five times in the last 12 months, usually only paying part of the rent.

Using a section 21 notice is the accelerated possession procedure. Provided it has been correctly served, I would not expect it to take three to four months to get possession, though with the Easter recess only a month later, I suppose it could take longer than the three to four weeks I would expect.

It may be worth opening dialogue with them, along the lines of ‘can I assist in any way, with references, help with removals’ – it would be better to ascertain what they are doing and whether there is likelihood of them moving out soon, if not on 17 March – there are costs involved in going to court. No pressure should be put on them, of course, as we do not want them alleging harassment.

I cannot say whether it is correct that you cannot claim for outstanding rent arrears because you chose to evict them in the least problematic way. I am afraid it is a question of reading the policy closely, small print particularly. This should clearly state that there is a restriction on the criteria for claiming. If you can’t find the clause, ask the insurance company which section it is in – they cannot remake policy conditions.

Suspension possible?

Assuming a landlord successfully proves the case using ground 8 against an assured tenant, can the court grant a suspended possession order or must it make an outright order?

As a ground 8 is a mandatory ground, my understanding is that there is no argument – possession must be granted. The only matter on which there is any leniency is over immediate possession or possession at a later date – the maximum being eight weeks, I think. It is different for secure council tenants – in which case ‘reasonableness’ has to be proved.

Resistance to bailiffs

We have a problem tenant against whom we were able to obtain a possession order (she has not paid us any rent since she moved in and now owes us about £5000). The possession order was for 5 January 2006 but she refused to leave. Consequently I have now applied for a court bailiff to get her out.

But I am worried that when we do get a date for the bailiff to take action what will happen if she will not let the bailiff in (I have a key for the door). And what if she barricades herself in the flat, and does not let the bailiff in, or changes the locks?

What can we do in the bailiff can’t get her out? She is using delay tactics at every turn.

I believe the Bailiff will ask a police officer to be in attendance as a matter of course. This may be sufficient to persuade your tenant to co-operate, but if not, be prepared to remove doors to allow access for the Bailiff to remove goods. The police should remove the tenant, if she won’t go willingly.

Buying at auction

I’m considering purchasing at auction a property currently occupied by tenants. The sale catalogue tells me it is ‘a terraced house being sold subject to and with the benefit of an assured periodic tenancy at a rental of £3,300 per annum).

If I buy the property, how much notice will I have to give the tenants if I want them to leave the property, which I intend to modernise and re-sell?

I would suggest the seller serves the tenants with notice himself. However, if left with a tenant, you need to see the tenancy agreement before purchase, to ensure that it is a valid assured periodic tenancy which has expired and has automatically converted to a statutory periodic tenancy. If it is, you should be able to give the tenants two months’ notice. If they are still there at the expiry of the notice, you would need to get a court order.

Newly acquired flat

I have recently completed on a flat in which tenants are living. They say they have a rolling assured shorthold agreement with the previous landlord. I have not seen a copy of this. I was under the impression that I would take possession, and verbally gave six weeks notice at the point I completed on the flat. They now say that I have to give them a full two months notice. I do not have a deposit from them, and have not signed a tenancy agreement with them.

What options do I have to take possession as soon as possible? Am I entitled to a deposit? What is the minimum notice period? Is it from a rent payment date or any date? And can the rent be increased?

My view is that the person you purchased from should have taken the necessary steps to end the tenancy before you took possession of it as landlord. You could try and use ‘accelerated possession proceedings’, but this would require a minimum of two months anyway.

But have you received rent from the tenants since you took over? If so, I would be inclined to think a new tenancy has been established. And in that case, you would find it difficult to get the tenants out in less than six months, the minimum period of Assured Shorthold Tenancy.

The only way to end the tenancy more quickly is if there are legitimate grounds in law – rent arrears being the most common.

In the case of a continuing tenancy that has run six months or over, the minimum notice period without grounds for possession is two months. The Housing Act 2004 did away with the necessity of notice being served from the rent payment date. However, I would advise that you do go from the rent payment date, as some courts are not aware of recent changes – we had a case in our area which was thrown out because it did not follow the rent payment dates.

You can increase the rent – if you want to issue a new tenancy agreement for a minimum of six months.

With regard to the deposit, did the previous owner not take one, which should have been passed to you? If not, it is extremely difficult to see how a tenant, aware that you want to repossess as soon as possible, can be persuaded that he should pay you a deposit. If a deposit has been paid to the original owner, who will pay it back?

Sorry – it seems all bad news for you. You could try and persuade your tenants to leave early – by giving a good reference, offering to assist with removals or with some other inducement, but make sure nothing can be construed as harassment or illegal eviction – they are not a good start to a new career in property management.

As always, you may be well advised to consult a solicitor who specialises in housing law for his opinion on whether a new tenancy has been created.

Home alone

Although I rent a room with shared facilities, I am the only person living in the property. The heating is inadequate and it’s freezing, and my landlord says he wants me to leave as he let the property to a family. I am not behind with my rent. Can he do this?

Difficult for me to say without seeing the tenancy agreement. If you have a standard, assured shorthold tenancy for a house in multiple occupation, even though nobody else is living there, you are still a tenant. The landlord can go through the normal procedure to evict you by serving a notice seeking possession. It would involve giving you two month’s notice, to end when the assured shorthold tenancy does, or on the monthly anniversary if it is a statutory periodic tenancy. Unfortunately, this is accelerated possession and there really is nothing you can do about it, if the landlord serves legal notice.

Notice to quit

A client of mine has split permanently from his partner and they no longer live together. By mutual agreement she currently occupies the house he owns where she lives with their children. She is happy to move on so he can take possession and sell the house to repay the mortgage and other joint debts.

There is no intention to create hardship for the lady or their children but so as to be re-housed she needs a formal notice to quit.

She has no formal tenancy and pays nothing in rent while my client pays the mortgage and all the bills. I think she may have just a bare licence to occupy. So what form of notice should be served to obtain vacant possession by or before the end of March 2006?

I would have thought she had rights under matrimonial law to continue occupation. Whilst I realise she wishes to move on, I think any notice her partner serves on her would be discredited by the people who are asking for it because of those rights. She would need to prove that it is impossible for her to continue to live there, because she could not afford to do so. I’d advise that they see solicitors specialist in family law, to be quite clear about her rights, simply in order to prove to the local authority that every avenue has been explored and she cannot remain in occupation.

Possible defence

Assuming that my section 21 notice and six months assured tenancy agreement are in order, what defence could my tenant produce to prevent a court order being given – I have a letter from him which confirms (since he refers to the notice) that he received it more than two months before the end of the tenancy.

I am not aware of any defence against a mandatory ground such as section 21 notice.

Validity of notice

I have tenants who signed a six month shorthold assured tenancy nearly two years ago. At the same time the agents (who were on a let only basis) served an s21 notice that required possession at the end of the first six month tenancy. The tenants were fine, they stayed and the tenancy reverted to a periodic tenancy.

However, over the last year they have fallen behind in paying and now are over two months in arrears. I would like them to leave. Is the original s21 notice still valid, and can I proceed directly to accelerated possession or do I have to serve a new s21 notice and wait two months before proceeding on mandatory grounds?

I think you would have to serve a new section 21 because the original notice presumably made some reference to the time period of the tenancy. You could try and use the original notice but you are unlikely to know whether this will work until some weeks after you have attempted to get an order – and if it does not, you would then be faced with re-starting the process. You could go to court on the original section 21 notice, but in addition, serve a new one. In this way, if the original is thrown out, you have not wasted any time. I would also issue a notice seeking possession on ground 8 – that the tenants owe two months or more rent arrears.

Notice periods

When an assured shorthold tenancy agreement changes to a periodic tenancy agreement, the notice period for possession used to be two months from a rent payment date. And this is the position still confirmed on Internet advice sites. However my solicitor says the law has changed and notice can now be two months from any date. Is he correct?

I am not aware of the change your solicitor has mentioned although I do know of a local case in which it was agreed notice from any date could be valid, but a claim for possession was thrown out by the court. So even if your solicitor is right my concern would be that the court might not have heard of the change and could throw the case anyway. In which case, you would have to start again. I always advise people to go for more than they have to, be it safety measures or notice period, just to be on the safe side.

Ignoring notice

Last July I rented a room to a couple. I drew up a tenancy agreement myself and we both signed it. This commits the tenants to pay rent every week, and gives either party the right to give one week’s notice (I took one week rent as deposit and there is no rent book).

After three and a half months I find I cannot live with them any more because they are noisy, dirty and rude. I worry about leaving them alone in the house.

In mid October I informed the tenants verbally that I need the room back by end of November (giving them six week’s notice). They said they would move out when they had found somewhere else.

At the beginning of November I gave the tenants a written reminder that they should move out by the end of the month. They again said that when they find a place they would give me notice.

What should I do if the tenants do not move out at the end of the month? I have the feeling they might do something bad to me.

I am so sorry for you. This sounds terrible. If I am correct, the people are living in your house, with you. If so, they are lodgers. They have no security, other than that you will give them reasonable notice. You have done so. If the notice comes to an end, I cannot see that waiting for them to go out and then changing the locks would be wrong. Obviously, bag their goods and leave them outside. I am afraid that you may be right and they will try and something bad to you – your only recourse then is the Police. Although I am certain that in the circumstances the actions I have suggested are fine, perhaps you may feel more confident seeing a solicitor and getting him to write to them – then at least they know you have sought legal advice and other people are aware of them.

I want my possessions back

I have been evicted from by apartment. The Sheriffs came to around when I was not there and changed the locks.

I had been in dispute with the property manager over my lease and she made it difficult for me to pick up my property.

I have spoken to her about this on a number of occasions and actually went to the apartment with some helpers to pick up my things. However she did not allow me in since she said she was going home (she lives in the same building).

When I went back a second time, again with helpers, I was told that my property had been thrown away. All of my furniture, my laptop computer, jewellery, my own and my daughter’s clothes, as well as important and confidential documents such as my birth certificate, immunisation record, and social security card had been dumped – in fact everything I owned including family photographs.

I consulted a lawyer who was told a few of my belongings had been stored: namely two speakers, a fan, a television, half of my dinner service and a CD case. Apparently everything else had been thrown away. I later found out that my dinner table and laptop had been given to somebody else in the same apartment, and my clothing had been distributed among a number of people.

What I can do about this?

This sounds very serious, notwithstanding the eviction. I would usually advise the small claims court, but that does not help with the hassle you will have of getting a new birth certificate and the like, and the distress of having lost personal photos and papers. Go through the items you have lost, list and value them. See what (realistic) figure you come up with. Have you asked for the furniture from the people who have taken it? Have you discussed this with the Police, because it would constitute theft, unless a Bailiff had ordered that your possessions were to be kept to cover the debt, which is quite a rare occurrence? I think I would go back to the solicitor and ask him whether he would take the case for civil damages.

Correct procedure

We have just let a flat on a shorthold assured tenancy and the tenant has not paid the rent. We cannot get hold of her to ask about this. As she is proving so difficult we would like her to leave.

Also, we need to do some work on the flat at some point which will render it uninhabitable for a short while.

I believe the unpaid rent means I can gain possession, but what is the correct procedure?

The correct procedure is: if she owes a full eight week’s arrears, you obtain a notice using ground 8 – see various answers in this section. Alternatively, if you believe the tenant has abandoned the property or not moved in, you can issue a Notice to Quit. This is a 28 day notice, which should allow you to change the locks at its expiry, although unless your agreement stated that the tenancy could be ended by this means, you could still risk the tenant returning after 29 days claiming she has been illegally evicted. If you took references, or next of kin details, you should contact them, and courteously ask if they know of the situation with the tenant.

Worried about damage

I currently have tenants who at the start seemed great. Now both are causing nuisance to neighbours and have damaged my property during bouts of domestic violence.

They are a young couple who were expecting their first child when they moved in nearly months ago. The neighbours have complained on three separate occasions about shouting and other nuisance, and the police have been called out four times to deal with domestic violence.

The woman has now moved back in with her mother and does not live in the property any more although her possessions are still in the house. When she comes to the property the situation between the two escalates and often ends in the police being called.

I went to collect the rent today only to find that the woman has turned up with some ‘muscle’, and had forced the back door causing considerable damage. The police had been called again. Meanwhile the remaining tenant did not have the rent money to pay me.

I have now served a section 21 notice on the remaining tenant, whose name is on the tenancy agreement, to vacate due to causing a nuisance. However, I am worried there will be further damage done before he leaves.

Do I have any rights as this is an impossible situation. In view of the criminal damage that has occurred can I get possession back any sooner?

You can serve a notice using ground 14, that ‘someone living in or visiting the property has caused a nuisance to someone living in or visiting the locality’ (you need the full wording for the grounds).

You should also include ground 13, ‘that the condition of the property has got worse because of the behaviour of the tenant or any other person living there’.

Ground 13 requires two weeks notice, ground 14 means you could go to court immediately for an order. The difficulty, however, with both these grounds, is that they are discretionary, which means a court has to decide whether it is reasonable that you want possession.

It sounds as though you have a good case, but you need evidence. Police reports help, as do statements from people living next door that have been disturbed. Speak to your local accreditation scheme, if there is one – they may have officers that can help with this. If not, you really need to discuss the situation with a solicitor, who may be able to tell you whether there is sufficient evidence to get possession. Otherwise, go through with the section 21 – which is why it was devised, to provide a simple way for landlords to be guaranteed possession, provided it is issued correctly.

Section 21 not mentioned

Our tenants moved in to our property in June – the agreement is dated 22 May and is for a ‘certain term’ of six months commencing on 8 June and expiring on 7 December. I wrote to the tenants on 7 October advising that we would not be able to extend the lease and that we would like them to vacate on the 7 December as per the tenancy agreement.

When I subsequently called them to ask if there were any problems or anything I could do as we had not heard from them, one of the tenants told me that they could not afford to move and had been advised by the local council to stay in the property until they are evicted.
I realise that the notice period has not yet expired but I am conscious that when it does expire on the 7 December I will have to initiate the accelerated procedure to regain possession of the property. I have the necessary claim form from the courts but I am concerned that the notice I served on the 7 October may not be accepted by the judge as I did not make reference to Section 21 of the Housing Act in my letter.

Please can you advise me whether you think the letter that does not mention Section 21 will be acceptable to the court. If not, am I right in thinking that I will have to serve notice again, which will ultimately give the tenants until the new year before I can apply for the accelerated procedure?

I am sorry, but my advice is always to include both reference to the fact that you are evicting under section 21 of the Housing Act and the advice that is available to them: solicitor, citizens advice and the like. You could try to evict on your existing notice, but if it fails, you are stuck. I am afraid it is better to re-issue to take effect 7 December. When the notice expires on 7 February you still have to get a court date, so expect the tenants to be there well into the New Year.

You don’t mention your tenants’ circumstances. If they are hoping to be classed as ‘vulnerable’ under the homeless legislation, there is probably little you can do. However, if they really cannot afford to move, and have no children (the usual reason for vulnerability), they may be prepared to move if you assist them with removal costs.

Claiming protection

In 1998 I bought a property comprised of four self-contained flats. Two of these were vacant at the time the other two had tenants and I was handed two assured shorthold tenancy agreements between the two tenants and the previous owner, both dated December 1997. One tenant subsequently departed but the other entered into a new six month assured shorthold tenancy agreement with me on the day that I assumed ownership.

All went quite well for some years. However, the tenant has been troublesome for some time now and has been in disputes of various types with all the other tenants, in fights, and has even threatened to shoot a visitor to another tenant with a gun he claimed he kept in his flat.

I am not alone in assuming that his unreasonable behaviour has developed as a result of excessive consumption of alcohol made possible by the cash he receives as a ‘disability allowance’.

Out of a sense of duty to my other tenants I finally resorted to issuing a final written warning followed by notice to quit. The tenant took legal advice and has totally denied all allegations, but claims to have been resident at the flat since 1994 and therefore to have ‘sitting tenant’ status.

What is my position and what action should I now take?

The law which introduced assured shorthold tenancies was the 1988 Housing Act. If a notice of assured shorthold was issued with the tenancy in 1994, he is an assured shorthold tenant. A sitting tenant would have to pre-date 1988.

Check what you hold in the way of tenancies and also what you issued. I would expect you to go for the accelerated possession procedure by issuing a Notice of possession proceedings, giving two month’s notice, to end not before the expiry of the current tenancy period (at the expiry of which you would go to court to obtain an order). There should be no argument about possession as this is a mandatory ground.

However, because of the severe nuisance, you may have tried to use ground 14, that he has caused nuisance. This is a discretionary ground and no notice period is specified. You must make a good case, though, that it is reasonable for you to want possession. You would do this by providing statements from the threatened neighbours, Police Incident numbers and the like.

Presumably the Police have investigated and the gun is licensed. If your local authority runs an accreditation scheme, it may be able to advise and widen the options available to you.

I really think you need to see a Solicitor – when evicting on a discretionary ground, it is always a good idea. Good luck.

Notice periods

My tenant’s agreement runs out at the end of the year. I’m a bit confused about the notice period I must give. Does this have to expire on the same date as the agreement or can it run just over? If this creates a periodic tenancy, is the notice period affected?

An assured shorthold tenancy runs until the expiry of the tenancy term. If notice has not been served, it converts automatically to a statutory periodic tenancy. As your tenancy expires at the end of the year, I would assume it commenced in June. We’ll use 28 June for ease of reckoning.

In which case, to end the tenancy at the end of the term (27 December), notice would have to be issued before 28 October. You could issue it any time and give more than two month’s notice, but it must be issued before 28 October and state that it will expire on 27 December. However, adding the day, to expire on 28 December, means there can be no misunderstanding, he has had a minimum of two month’s notice. I would also ensure that in the section that says ‘action will not be taken before’, you use the date of 29 December – again safeguarding you. If, however, you wish the tenancy to run a bit longer, and no notice is given, it would automatically convert to a statutory periodic tenancy on 28 December. The same notice period would apply, the same tenancy dates, and the same rules. If in doubt, always seek a solicitor’s advice when evicting.

Demanding payment to move

Our tenant is being very difficult – he entered into a shorthold tenancy agreement 18 months ago at which point we told him the property was being sold to a developer. Because the tenancy could only be short term, we offered the property at a very low rent.

Recently we gave the tenant the normal notice of two month and offered him alternative accommodation. Out of the blue he told us he wanted a large lump sum to move out.

On top of this, we have realised he is running a business from the premises and has been served with two week’s notice to desist.

How long will it take to get rid of him from then?

If he has been given a legal notice, at the expiry of the two months, go to the court and get an order. You would be using accelerated possession procedure and this should be a fairly speedy process. I would rescind the offer of alternative accommodation, you had no need to make it and the tenant is obviously an unpleasant character. Make it clear that you will go for possession and that large lump sums are not necessary when you have behaved in a legal manner and gone further than you need have by offering him alternative accommodation. You can do what some landlords do, which is assist with removal, if you wish.

Unclear wording

The final paragraph on an order for possession reads: ‘…ground 8 Schedule 2 Housing Act 1988, and is governed by section 89 Housing Act 1980, and, subject only to a successful appeal, the last date to which the court has any jurisdiction to delay the giving of possession (whether by variation of the order or suspending any warrant for possession issued under it) is six weeks from the making of the order’.

I am note sure what this means. Could you please explain?

This limits the length of time the court can give before possession is required – it would usually be immediate or 14 days. It is unlikely that a court would allow a bad tenant to stay six weeks, though suppose it is possible if children are involved.

Notice given three times

My parents own a home which they have rented out for over a year through a lettings agency. They now wish to sell the property and have told the agent to give the required notice – which he says he has done – and have since been notified that the property has been vacated. However, when my mother tried to make arrangements to pick up the keys, the agent said the tenants had not moved out after all, and were refusing to leave because the council had nowhere for them to go. The agent said he had given notice to the tenants three times, each time for three months.

What are my parents’ rights? They need to sell this home to generate an income.

What is the agent doing here? Why serve the notice three times? The next time it expires, go to the court for a possession order. If this has been legally served used the accelerated possession procedure, there will be no argument in court. It is not your parents responsibility to provide housing if the local authority have a responsibility towards the tenants. Nobody likes to make people homeless, but this is why the assured shorthold tenancy was devised – to allow maximum re-possession rights to the landlord. The agent does not seem to be acting for your parents – make a complaint to ARLA, the organisation most letting agents belong to.