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Our tenant's done a runner

(30 Posts)
Jux Wed 22-Mar-17 14:36:50

What can we do?

He owes rent, but not really enough to go through small claims - we've done that before and it just cost us money we couldn't afford to spend.

He's taken a load of stuff which we had provided for the flat, but nothing expensive like white goods, just nice crockery, decent tin opener, bottle opener, spatula etc. Oh, and the duvet!!

The place is a mess, really dirty. It's going to cost us a fair bit to get it inhabitable again.

He was a friend. We'd known him for over 10 years. He's lived there for 2 yrs. He knows we're nice enough, he knows we wouldn't have thrown him out no matter how far behind he fell with rent, we would have worked with him to sort it out. We now find he owes some substantial amounts elsewhere too, and he's being threatened with bailiffs, but he's got a good secure job.

He's still got the keys.

We don't thinks cops will be interested - "he nicked our kettle guv!", they'll tell us to jog on.

It was an informal agreement between us so no deposit and contract was loose.

We are reeling and shocked. He has such a major reputation in our small town for honesty and decency and all round good bloke.

So, we don't think using official channels will work, but are toying with the idea that a FB status might shame him, maybe he'd at least return the keys.

Could I put a status on FB, like "what do you do when your tenant does a moonlit flit owing rent and taking all your crocks and the duvet!"

If there is anything any of you know of, apart from small claims and/or police I'd be grateful to hear from you. Wd shaming him on FB be legal or would it put us in legal peril?

Sorry it's long.

vaginasuprise Wed 22-Mar-17 14:40:50

Can't you claim on your landlords insurance?

ImperialBlether Wed 22-Mar-17 14:42:37

But why should she do that and have her premiums go up?

If he's in a good job why don't you visit him at work and ask to have a chat with him?

kingscrossnoodle Wed 22-Mar-17 14:45:01

But why should she do that and have her premiums go up?. Because that's what it's for confused

I never understand the mentality of paying for insurance month after month but never wanting to make a claim, we pay it to cover these circumstances.

MovingOnUpMovingOnOut Wed 22-Mar-17 14:48:28

If he's definitely gone and owes money all over the place I'd see that as a positive in the circumstances. Change the locks, get the place up to scratch and find a new tenant.

If he's not definitely gone then that's a bit of a problem.

Also just because you didn't have a paper contract doesn't mean there wasn't a contract.

Jux Wed 22-Mar-17 15:55:41

Thanks.

It's possible - the tiniest bit - possible that he might come back but I guess he's moved back in with his partner. They'd been together years and then she kicked him out so he came to us. He's almost certainly gone back there.

He hasn't said he's gone, but the flat's abandoned clearly. We haven't served him with notice or (can't remember proper name). He doesn't owe over the legal amount in rent before you can act, yet, but if we pretend that we think he's still there and keep adding on another month etc then he'll get there pretty damn quickly. But it still wouldn't be worth the bother of doing it through Legal Notices to this that etc, or to go to small claims. The latter, I know will just cost us, and eventually we'll have to use a bailiff and pay for that, and dh will get more and dejected and it simply won't be worth it.

Someone has just told me that he drinks in a particular pub on his way home from work, so I'm going to try to send dh there at sixish, while I'm cooking.

Forgot about LL insurance, will look that up.

I do quite fancy shaming him on FB. It's a small town and most local people who are fb friends with me know him too. Just hoping that somebody would persuade him to do the decent thing.

ImperialBlether Wed 22-Mar-17 16:46:51

I know that's what insurance is for, but why shouldn't he have to pay up?

specialsubject Wed 22-Mar-17 20:06:07

Theft from a landlord is a civil thing, not criminal. Police won't care.

What you need now is advice from a lawyer who knows their stuff on this, because the tenancy hasnt ended. There is no way for you to end the tenancy other than section 21, wait two months, court and bailiff. It will probably be cheaper to bribe him to sign a notice of surrender.

Might be unwise to piss him off as he has the keys and could really wreck the place.

Some hard lessons, I fear.

memyselfandaye Wed 22-Mar-17 20:11:20

Change the locks, take photos of the state he's left the place in.

specialsubject Wed 22-Mar-17 20:13:43

Changing the locks risks a claim for illegal eviction.

Crockery and duvet are really the least of your worries. Please get legal advice asap.

MovingOnUpMovingOnOut Wed 22-Mar-17 20:15:03

So it sounds like at the moment he is still your tenant but with some rent arrears and he may well have taken some things away from the property which would be his right to do so long as he returned them before the tenancy ended.

How did you get access to the property? confused

MovingOnUpMovingOnOut Wed 22-Mar-17 20:17:19

What would you be shaming him on FB for? He's allowed to live like a slob so long as he returns the property in a fit state.

How do you know he's actually left? He might just be staying with his girlfriend or on holiday??

QuiteLikely5 Wed 22-Mar-17 20:18:45

Don't think your insurance will be valid without a signed tenancy

kingscrossnoodle Wed 22-Mar-17 20:25:36

I know that's what insurance is for, but why shouldn't he have to pay up?. No one is saying he shouldn't have to pay, of course he should have to pay. However, in the event that he does not pay, which is looking likely, that's what insurance is for

Frouby Wed 22-Mar-17 20:29:34

You need legal advice OP.

There are strict procedures to.follow before you can assume abandondment. And even then it can still be contested. And an 'illegal eviction' carries a criminal charge.

See a solicitor that specialises in tenancy issues. Or if you have ll insurance ask them for legal advice.

Jux Thu 23-Mar-17 10:43:41

I know. We had to go through the Section 21 procedure once before about 10 years ago, and right now his arrears aren't quite high enough.

We're pretty sure he's gone because
a) he's avoiding us - in a small town that's noticeable
b) his car is never at the property despite parking being difficult all over town and there being a space which goes with his tenancy
c) his girlfriend is avoiding us
d) his mates are avoiding us
e) he's not taking our calls - dh phones him/texts when he's a couple of weeks late with rent, and he pops up a few days later with some money. He has ignored calls/texts for the last 4 weeks + and we know he's about because we've seen him. Also our friends have seen him around too.

Sorry it doesn't sound like much. None of those people are friends of ours but we've always merited a nod and smile from any of them.

Shaming him on fb is the only thing we can think of which would get to him. He's not on there but most of his mates/employer/clients are, and many of them are fb friends with me.

specialsubject Thu 23-Mar-17 10:45:36

Shaming him on fb won't get him out! Get advice and start the eviction process with a section 21. You send it to the property with a proof of posting. The fact he isn't there isnt your problem.

You are looking at six months to a year before you get the place back so waste no more time.

Frouby Thu 23-Mar-17 11:09:43

In your situation I would send him a message saying you are aware he isn't living in the property. His arrears to date are X. You will write off the arrears if he agrees to formally surrender the property over to you.

Make it as easy as possible for him to do so. It gives you the property back so you can relet. Saves arrears accruing and saves you legal expenses.

Jux Thu 23-Mar-17 11:53:49

Frouby, my heart lifted when I read your post. Thank you.

SpecialSubject, yes, you're right. It's getting dh to follow procedure!

Jux Thu 23-Mar-17 11:54:51

But, actually, Frouby, he's not on fb so I can't. For a moment there, I thought you'd sorted it for me! Thanks for the heart lift though grin

Sleepinghooty Thu 23-Mar-17 12:00:20

Can't you send the message Frouby suggested by text?

LIZS Thu 23-Mar-17 12:02:40

If he's been the under an ast and the initial 6 months has passed you should be able to issue notice anyway , regardless of arrears etc.

Frouby Thu 23-Mar-17 13:51:01

Send him a txt message or email! Or leave a voicemail. It doesn't matter how he gets the information it just gives both of you an easy out.

You would need him to write you a letter stating he is surrendering the property and either enclose the keys or post them through the letterbox of the property if he doesn't want to meet in person. Ideally you would do a checkout and final inventory of the property with him present but I wouldn't push for that if you think he will back away.

Jux Thu 23-Mar-17 14:27:03

Thanks all. I'll do that, I have no idea why I didn't think we could give him notice by text, probably because we've tried to contact him that way and he's ignored us.

Yes, we'll do that. flowers

Thanks all.

HmmOkay Thu 23-Mar-17 14:38:17

"It was an informal agreement between us so no deposit and contract was loose."

What do you mean by that? Did he have an AST? Was it signed by both parties? Did you have an inventory?

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