Land­lords must not rush to en­ter an aban­doned prop­erty

Yorkshire Post - Property - - PROPERTY - Olivia Wild

FOR any land­lord, the aban­don­ment of a prop­erty by a ten­ant is a ma­jor prob­lem. Ten­ants may leave for a num­ber of rea­sons but if they leave with­out no­tice or sim­ply dis­ap­pear, the re­sults can be dev­as­tat­ing. Yet, tak­ing over an aban­doned prop­erty can be fraught with legal and prac­ti­cal dif­fi­cul­ties.

As soon as you are aware that a ten­ant has aban­doned your prop­erty, there are a num­ber of key points to be aware of. The ten­ant re­mains legally en­ti­tled to re­turn and take up res­i­dence again. The land­lord has a re­spon­si­bil­ity to safe­guard any be­long­ings left in the prop­erty by the ten­ant and may be li­able for crim­i­nal pros­e­cu­tion if the prop­erty is re-let and the ten­ant then re­turns.

An aban­doned prop­erty may also be­come a tar­get for van­dals and squat­ters.

Con­se­quently, in the par­tic­u­lar cir­cum­stances of ex­tended hol­i­days, hos­pi­tal stays and prison sen­tences, a ten­ant re­tains the right to re­turn to the prop­erty, and a land­lord can face crim­i­nal penal­ties and civil dam­ages for il­le­gally evict­ing a ten­ant. So what should a land­lord do? If you are us­ing an agent to man­age your prop­erty you need to check the fol­low­ing with them:

Do I have a legal right to reen­ter the prop­erty?

The ten­ant has ob­vi­ously cleared out and left the prop­erty – can I be­gin mar­ket­ing to re-let?

What do I do with any pos­ses­sions left be­hind?

What hap­pens if I re-let and the ten­ant re­turns?

There is only one guar­an­teed safe way to deal with an aban­doned prop­erty and that is to get a court or­der for pos­ses­sion. This is es­pe­cially ad­vis­able if the ten­ant’s pos­ses­sions are still in the home.

At the very least, a land­lord should ob­tain an agree­ment in writ­ing from the ten­ant that they have aban­doned their rights to the ten­ancy, prefer­able in the form of a no­tice to quit.

If a ten­ant has re­turned their keys, this is of­ten re­garded as a clear in­di­ca­tion of the ten­ant’s in­tent.

If you are un­able to con­tact the ten­ant, or you do not have any writ­ten con­fir­ma­tion, it is use­ful to con­sider these im­por­tant points when as­sess­ing whether the prop­erty has been aban­doned: Is rent still be­ing paid? Have the keys been re­turned? Is there a rel­a­tive to con­tact? Do the neigh­bours have knowl­edge?

Are there pos­ses­sions left in­side the prop­erty?

If the an­swer to the ma­jor­ity of these ques­tions is no, or the prop­erty has been left in an in­se­cure state, or you suspect in­ter­nal ap­pli­ances may present a dan­ger, then, and only then, may you have a case for en­ter­ing the premises.

If you do de­cide to en­ter the prop­erty, get a re­li­able in­de­pen­dent wit­ness to con­firm the cir­cum­stances in writ­ing eg a mem­ber of the clergy and leave a clear no­tice on the door in­form­ing the ten­ant who to con­tact for ac­cess, par­tic­u­larly where the locks have been changed.

The most ef­fec­tive way to avoid prob­lems is to keep in reg­u­lar con­tact with your ten­ants.

If you are us­ing a good agent, they will value the client­tenant re­la­tion­ship and will com­mu­ni­cate reg­u­larly with both land­lord and ten­ant. In al­most all cir­cum­stances, it is im­por­tant that the orig­i­nal ten­ancy ap­pli­ca­tion is han­dled cor­rectly and to have the ten­ancy agree­ment drawn up by an agent. There should al­ways be suf­fi­cient in­for­ma­tion to con­tact the ten­ant, a friend or rel­a­tive.

The ten­ant’s ref­er­ences and iden­ti­fi­ca­tion must be thor­oughly checked prior to them mov­ing into your prop­erty.

In the un­for­tu­nate event of aban­don­ment, and if in any doubt at all as to how to pro­ceed, then you should take im­me­di­ate ad­vice from both your let­ting agent and so­lic­i­tor.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.