Tenant Abandonment: Your questions answered

A worry for landlords all over the UK, tenant abandonment is a very real issue - and a tricky one to deal with. Join NLA expert and London landlord Richard Blanco and Polly Rivers of the Landlord University as they discuss tenant's rights, landlord's rights, and how you can deal with this pesky problem should you find yourself suddenly tenant-less. Listen back here:

Q. Would one retain deposit in case of abandonment?

A. You are only able to retain deposit for actual losses, so if there is damage or unpaid rent you could deduct for this.



Q. What is the position if the tenant cannot be contacted but has sublet the property without the landlords permission?

A. You would then have to serve notice on the named tenant and get a court order if the sub-tenant does not move out.



Q. If the rent is still coming in and the tenant is away for months is this still abandonment?

A. No probably not. You should contact the tenant, they may be working away from home, on holiday, in prison or even passed away, in each of these cases you would need to serve appropriate notice and get a possession order.


Q. Can you let them know that you will charge for any cost of removal of furniture?

A. Yes.


Q. My tenants dog attacked me, when it was empty. What do you do if a pet is left behind?

A. The best option would be to contact the RSPCA and tell them there is an abandoned pet - you wouldn't be obliged to rehome the pet, or house them in case the tenant returns!


Q. Hi, my tenant left with four months left on tenancy. Emptied house and left keys and sent me a text saying left keys in house and we are going abroad for a few months. They are not responding to my efforts to contact them. What do you advise? They haven’t paid rent for one month either.

A. Usually the surrender of keys would be sufficient especially if there is an empty property and they have contacted you to say they have left.


Q. If your tenant has left your property but you're not sure if they've abandoned it yet, can you (temporarily) move in - or a friend or family member to help pay with the rent? (Of course, with the knowledge of if the tenant re-appears, they move out immediately)?

A. No, make sure one tenancy has ended before moving anyone else in.



Q. If tenant is in arrears and is refusing to clear the debt, and makes a 'moonlight' move without telling you, do you still need a section 21?

A. Depends if they have left the keys or not and if the property is empty or not. If they haven’t left keys or left belongings you should obtain a court order. Contact the advice line for more help


Q. Is there /do NLA have a standard tenancy surrender document to use?

A. No, this is not a prescribed form but should mention the property address, the date the tenant is leaving, the tenants full name, signature and date. Is a good idea to get a witness to the tenants signature


Q. What would you do if a tenant has sublet the property?

A. Contact the advice line for advice

If you have any further questions about abandonment and how you can ensure that you are meeting all of the important legislation, the NLA Advice Line is free for all members. For membership contact the NLA at 020 7840 8900.

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