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Tenants are supposed to be leaving but have stopped replying to messages...(12 Posts)
I'm hoping you might be able to get my head around what I need to do about my tenants. I have a horrible feeling that the answer is that I'm buggered.
I gave them notice in late November 2012 that I wanted them to move out at the end of January 2013. Their tenancy was a one year fixed term, which lapsed into a periodic tenancy at the end of the first year. They pay rent on the last day of every month. They were given a section 21 notice when they moved in, back in August 2011 (on the advice of the estate agents who rented the flat out for me). I have not reissued this as I understand that it still stands, and that either side can give notice to end the tenancy.
To be clear, I gave them over 2 months notice in November, via the estate agent, that I needed them to move out on 31st Jan this year.
Towards the end of January, they sent me an email to say that their new place had fallen through, could they stay til the end of Feb. I agreed to this, and we set a date of 28th Feb for them to move out.
I've been trying to get in touch with them since 8th Feb to arrange a date to do the final check and pick up the keys. I emailed on 8th Feb, didn't hear anything. Sent a chasing email on 24th Feb, still nothing.
As it's getting rather close to the deadline, I phoned the flat today - their landline is now dead. I do not have a mobile number for them so have no other way of getting in contact.
To complicate this slightly, I then phoned the estate agent who I let the property through originally. The estate agent also held the tenant's deposit. Their line is also dead and a google search shows they went into liquidation on 31st December last year.
So I'm a bit stuck as to how to proceed. Are the tenants even still there? Have they done a runner? Can I send them a letter giving 24 hours notice of my intention to visit, and go round and try to sort out what's going on? I thought of doing this to fall on Friday 1st March - so after they are supposed to have moved out. Would that be fair?
I have a separate concern that the estate agent has effectively run off with the deposit - I assume I'm liable for this and will have to reimburse the tenant myself and try to recover from the estate agent via legal means if possible? That's probably a whole other thread.
I should add that until this month the tenants have been great - they pay the rent on time, they're not in arrears, and we have had a good relationship. I am very far from being a professional landlord - as you can probably tell. I am only asking them to leave as I need to sell the flat (it was my home before I got married, and we need to free up the money to buy a bigger place as I'm 8 months pregnant).
I don't want to harrass them - and I'm really unclear about how I can proceed, but equally I need to know what's going on.
Sorry this is so long. If there's anyone who has experience in this field who can advise me what steps I need to take next I'd be really grateful!
Can you be sure EA served the notice ? Can you visit (or a friend/relative) to check whether they are still there send a recorded delivery letter that you intend to go? Is the deposit in a scheme and maybe ring the local Trading Standards to see if they can help with what the situation is with the company .
I really don't think I can be sure the EA served the notice, given what has happened. I do have email correspondence between me and the tenant agreeing the move out date.
I can certainly visit - but the flat is in a big block, so I won't be able to tell if they're still there from the ground floor. I have keys - can I let myself in if I've sent the letter stating that I intend to go?
Trading standards is a great idea. I hadn't thought of that. I'll give them a call tomorrow.
The deposit should be with a deposit company, and won't have been held by the agency.
When you say you originally let it thought the agency, did they manage it at first or just find the tenant?
The EA shouldn't have personally held the deposit - that would be illegal (and has been for a number of years). It should be in a tenancy deposit protection scheme. I've both been a landlord, and rented, and in each case I've had details of the scheme where the deposit is.
If memory serves, there's only two schemes - perhaps a quick google to find them and give them a call to see if you can see if your deposit is in one?
It's worse than that you're liable for the deposit - if it wasn't in one of the schemes you're potentially liable for 3x the deposit (although you sound like you'd be co-operative so that's not likely)
I have no intention of making the tenant pay for the estate agent's default and will return the deposit from my savings (it's £1200, which is really going to hurt). But 3x the deposit is very, very depressing. Would I really be liable for that?
I suddenly feel very naive!
They (EA) told me they were putting it in an official deposit scheme, and that it would be easier for them to do that as they already had an account set up. I suspect they didn't, given that they didn't give me any details. Unless they'd have just given them to the tenant?
I'll try your suggestion of tracking via the two schemes to see if it was held properly.
reluctantbeing they found the tenant, and I paid a monthly percentage to them for the first year (though they didn't do any actual managing). Since it's been on a rolling basis I've managed it myself - rent comes directly to me etc.
Well, turns out you can track online which is great - but that they didn't register the deposit. Which really sucks.
Does the block of flats have on-site management or maintenance staff? Perhaps they could tell you if they've seen the tenants, or know anything that might be helpful.
So they have taken the money and run ? TS are probably aware as doubt you are alone. Surely tenants wont have moved on without asking for it back. If tenants have emailed you re. leaving date already then they can't claim not to know but I doubt the EA would have got involved if not being paid so your notice may not be binding.
When the agent stopped managing at the end of the first year, they should have passed details of the deposit to you. Have you had a check through your paperwork just in case it has been overlooked?
It hasn't been overlooked. I wish it had! They didn't pass over any paperwork at all.
I guess I need to find a way of getting in touch with the tenants and take it from there. If we can agree a move out date, and I pay them back their deposit (and they don't insist on this 3x thing...) Then at least (at least! can't believe I'm saying that about this much money) I'm "only" £1200 out of pocket.
I wish they were answering my emails! I'm hoping it's just that they don't have internet access (if the phone line is dead) rather than that they've destroyed the flat and everything in it.
But after everything else that has gone wrong today, I'm not holding out much hope...
Are details of the deposit not in the original agreement? I've always had the details (deposit number etc) in the tenancy agreement.
Do you know who lives around the flat? They should be able to tell you if it looked like they'd moved out/if anyone has been going in. Collection of post (if visible from outside) would also be telling.
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