Council advises tenant to 'break in' to vacated property

Understanding when a tenant has legally vacated a property can be tricky, especially if you and your tenant are potentially receiving conflicting information from sources such as your local council, or housing association.

Essex-based landlord Lewis Selt has found himself in a sticky situation, after his local council – Havering – advised his tenant to break back into his property, despite having vacated!

His tenant had lived at the two-bedroom property for a number of months, but chose to leave of her own accord. She advised council staff that she had handed her keys back to her letting agent and moved her belongings back into storage - in fact she had left her keys inside the property.

When she decided to return, she contacted staff at the local Public Advice and Service Center, who, in a bid to support vulnerable residents from becoming homeless advised her to return to the property as she still had the right of occupation. She was told that her Mr Selt would have to complete a section 8 or section 21 procedure, and that she had a legal right to remain in the property during this time.

Despite not having received rent for several months, Mr Selt has decided not to serve legal action against the tenant under a trespassing law, instead serving both a section 21 and a section 8 notice in an attempt to recover both the possession of his property, and as much unpaid rent as possible – this will take a minimum of eight weeks.

Understanding whether or not your tenant has abandoned your property, and when you are allowed to act is tricky, and understanding your legal rights is this situation is vitally important. For an overview of Tenant Abandonment, join Richard Blanco from the NLA, and Polly Rivers of Landlord University on a free webinar on Tuesday, December 12 at 7pm, where they will be discussing this tricky topic.You can register here

The client reached out to staff at the Public Advice and Service Centre (PASC), where she was informed she still had a number of months in the property, as the landlord would need to follow the legal eviction process. Council staff later advised her to return to the property as she still had the right of occupation. The agents were also reminded that as the case had not gone through the courts, the client had the legal right to remain in the property. Havering Council will always do its best to support vulnerable residents from becoming homeless, and we urge both private landlords and letting agents to act responsibly and follow the correct legal procedures.

A Havering Council spokesperson

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