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AIBU?

Tenant has abandoned property

390 replies

AccidentalLandlord1 · 18/03/2023 21:28

Hi everyone. My tenant of 5 years has abandoned my property today. She text me to say that due to a change in circumstances, she has left the property and has posted the keys through the door and the stuff she has left behind can either be thrown away or kept. I went to check and she has left her all her furniture such as beds, wardrobes, etc. She had always paid her rent on time so admittedly I'd become a bit laid back with checking but I checked today and she has not paid rent for the last 2 months and she missed a payment in October last year too. She also had the cheek to give me her bank details to give her deposit back...! Where do I stand with getting missed rent back from this tenant? I have no idea where she has gone and she seems to of now blocked my number. I am an accidental landlord as you can tell from my username and also rather stupidly did not protect her deposit. Does this mean I have to give it back?! Even if she owes rent. Help desperately needed...

OP posts:

Am I being unreasonable?

AIBU

You have one vote. All votes are anonymous.

Franceen · 19/03/2023 09:53

You do not have to deal with some ghost person. The tenant must communicate with you. You should show that you have tried to locate her.
She has a duty to contact you - it is not one-sided. All you must do is get your Ducks in a row. Premept her actions. Look for the worst and hope for the best.

Oysterbabe · 19/03/2023 10:02

What does the tenancy agreement say about dealing with possessions?

JustDanceAddict · 19/03/2023 10:03

AccidentalLandlord1 · 18/03/2023 21:58

I did do a gas/elec safety check when she moved in

You have to do them yearly 🤦‍♀️

KillingLoneliness · 19/03/2023 10:05

OP you can get into a lot of trouble legally and financially as you haven’t protected the deposit or done yearly gas certificate.
The easiest route would be to just give her the deposit back and take the hit rather than risking being taken to court!

TriangleSquareCircle · 19/03/2023 10:09

Is this the full story OP? If you didn't protect the deposit did you do any of the other obligations of a landlord like maintenance and gas safety checks?

Perhaps you didn't and this is part of the reason she didn't bother with proper notice period.

Itsneverwhatitseems · 19/03/2023 10:31

ropeycorn · 19/03/2023 08:53

The point being is the industrialist creates wealth through innovation and the use of capital to create more using the worker to achieve that end. The landlord just sweats an existing 'dead' i.e already created asset to extract rent from that worker who requires a roof over their head as a basic necessity. It's a great tragedy that house prices and the rise of the BTL landlord has diverted so much energy and capital away from productive investment in this country and participated in creating such horrendous inequality amongst the younger generation with access to housing. I'm afraid landlords will just have to suck up the fact that society particularly the younger generation doesn't like them and never will I'm sure Landlordzone or Property Tribes can help them with that !

When thatcher allowed council housing to be sold off it was inevitable tenants would eventually have no where to rent.
Hence The number of Private landlords grew.
The council weren’t providing them and people needed homes and not everyone has ready cash to put deposits down or indeed the inclination to buy.

Lets not forget developers who build houses, ……………we need more as the population grows and we also have such a huge rate of divorce ( 2 houses one family ) and single home ownership.

New developer houses are rarely affordable for first time buyers, unless they do a part ownership deal. I’d like to see mainly new terraced housing, 2 / 3 stories so families can grow into them. Terraces also reduce heating costs, material used, land used!!! and are far more environmentally friendly. It’s a win win.

It’s not all about landlords. It’s about Thatcher, Developers, Single home occupants, Divorce statistics……. Democracy and Capitalism.

KTheGrey · 19/03/2023 10:34

So the summary appears to be - she's had a fairly laid back landlord and a decent place to live for several years, with only a very small rent raise, and three months free, which is a pretty good deal. So she's done okay out of this, whatever commenters on here say - and yes, you are supposed to do an annual gas check but I don't do that in my own house so I would not care or notice and can't get agitated about it. Nothing went wrong because it was in good working order to start with.

She has left a load of stuff which it will cost you money to get rid of, which is a PITA, and done a moonlight flit.

She paid a deposit which I assume was one month's rent. She owes you three months' rent.

If she sues you, you're on the hook for three times the deposit. Which would be exactly what she owes you, so - worst case scenario - it's a wash. You are unlikely to get the rent back - but as for the deposit, let her sue. Natural justice says she isn't entitled to anything from you, and real life says you won't get the rent back.

GrasstrackGirl · 19/03/2023 10:37

KTheGrey · 19/03/2023 10:34

So the summary appears to be - she's had a fairly laid back landlord and a decent place to live for several years, with only a very small rent raise, and three months free, which is a pretty good deal. So she's done okay out of this, whatever commenters on here say - and yes, you are supposed to do an annual gas check but I don't do that in my own house so I would not care or notice and can't get agitated about it. Nothing went wrong because it was in good working order to start with.

She has left a load of stuff which it will cost you money to get rid of, which is a PITA, and done a moonlight flit.

She paid a deposit which I assume was one month's rent. She owes you three months' rent.

If she sues you, you're on the hook for three times the deposit. Which would be exactly what she owes you, so - worst case scenario - it's a wash. You are unlikely to get the rent back - but as for the deposit, let her sue. Natural justice says she isn't entitled to anything from you, and real life says you won't get the rent back.

I think you would be in for a nasty shock if you were the landlord.

Arapawa · 19/03/2023 10:39

notgettinganyyounger · 18/03/2023 21:42

I would not respond.
She has blocked you meaning she doesn't intend contacting you again. Send a message back and screenshot the fact it won't send.

Clear the house and sell the contents. Re-let the property and sit tight with the deposit until you hear something. I very much doubt you will. If she contacts you, then you can discuss missing rent, the cost of clearing and cleaning out the property. She will disappear.

THIS. You'll never hear from her again. She's done a runner. She chancing it trying to get her deposit back. You'll have to spend more than the deposit to clear out the flat etc. She hasn't got a leg to stand on.

dawngreen · 19/03/2023 10:42

Exactly some one with no cash is not going to sue her, and she has blocked her so done deal.

Arapawa · 19/03/2023 10:42

www.gov.uk/tenancy-deposit-protection The return of any deposit is "agreed" between a tenant and landlord. This cannot be agreed because the tenant has done a runner.

viques · 19/03/2023 10:44

Savoury · 19/03/2023 07:51

Anyone who is stuck in a cladding nightmare may be an accidental landlord. They can’t sell their flats as there is a huge wait for documentation and/or repairs, and often need to move out of their studios/1 beds as their circumstances change.

So yes it’s very possible to be an accidental landlord.

It doesn’t absolve them from their legal obligations as a landlord, which the OP seems to think “accidental landlord” status does.

reesewithoutaspoon · 19/03/2023 10:44

Arapawa · 19/03/2023 10:39

THIS. You'll never hear from her again. She's done a runner. She chancing it trying to get her deposit back. You'll have to spend more than the deposit to clear out the flat etc. She hasn't got a leg to stand on.

I, think you will find she does indeed have a leg to stand on.
The lack of rent and the landlord's legal requirements are two separate things

OP can be liable to pay 3 x deposit because she failed to protect it, she can be fined/face prison for failing to carry out safety checks, we still don't know whether she informed her mortgage company she was letting, or her insurance or the tax man. Potentially this could be a massive can of worms with legal and financial repercussions for the OP. I wouldn't want to open that can if I could just refund a deposit and be done with it.

If she wants to try and chase for rent, the cost of removing possessions then she needs to make a claim herself. Even then there are legal requirements for disposing of property, you can't just sell it or dump it.

Needmoresleep · 19/03/2023 10:48

KTheGrey · 19/03/2023 10:34

So the summary appears to be - she's had a fairly laid back landlord and a decent place to live for several years, with only a very small rent raise, and three months free, which is a pretty good deal. So she's done okay out of this, whatever commenters on here say - and yes, you are supposed to do an annual gas check but I don't do that in my own house so I would not care or notice and can't get agitated about it. Nothing went wrong because it was in good working order to start with.

She has left a load of stuff which it will cost you money to get rid of, which is a PITA, and done a moonlight flit.

She paid a deposit which I assume was one month's rent. She owes you three months' rent.

If she sues you, you're on the hook for three times the deposit. Which would be exactly what she owes you, so - worst case scenario - it's a wash. You are unlikely to get the rent back - but as for the deposit, let her sue. Natural justice says she isn't entitled to anything from you, and real life says you won't get the rent back.

No...not worth the risk.

If she goes to a Citizens Advice Bureau or any other place where they give tenants advice, she will pursue the deposit.

My own experience of when a tenant did a flit two months into a year long contract (he had not been in London long and my guess is he failed his work probation and so left with just the suitcase he arrived with) he demanded his deposit back. The deposit was properly secure so we went to arbitration, me seeking to retain it in lieu or notice and to cover cleaning etc.

I had done everything by the book. Proper inventory, proper prof clean at the beginning and had all the paperwork in place. I got nothing, bar ÂŁ5.79 for my costs of going to the property to empty the fridge of perishables. It was a complete pain as the paperwork/evidence/receipts took forever. The agency said I was exceptionally unlucky but there is always a strong bias is in favour of the tenant.

The bright side was that he was gone, and with no real damage.

You can't go to arbitration as you have not protected the deposit. If you don't repay it might be considered stealing. Not having up to date certificates is criminal.

Take the hit and get on with your life.

And be sad for the tenant who has lost all her furniture etc. She must have been desperate.

dawngreen · 19/03/2023 10:49

My tenant of 5 years has abandoned my property today. She text me to say that due to a change in circumstances, she has left the property and has posted the keys through the door and the stuff she has left behind can either be thrown away or kept.

She gave her permission to get rid of the contents and blocked her from been able to contact her.

KTheGrey · 19/03/2023 10:53

@GrasstrackGirl

Why do you think? Do you know landlords this has happened to? There's someone on this thread describing losing their deposit to their landlord last year. They don't appear even to have known about the protection scheme. I think it's just another government racket myself and I hear courts are busy now the government doesn't fund them so much.

My maths is right according to the government website, although they might impose the ÂŁ10k fine I have not seen it happen myself.

Blossomtoes · 19/03/2023 10:54

dawngreen · 19/03/2023 10:42

Exactly some one with no cash is not going to sue her, and she has blocked her so done deal.

She doesn’t need cash to claim her deposit x 3.

dawngreen · 19/03/2023 10:54

Get your legal ducks in order for you let, and look for a new tenant. Then if any one asks you are fully legit.

dawngreen · 19/03/2023 10:56

How would she claim her deposit back then ? @Blossomtoes

reesewithoutaspoon · 19/03/2023 10:57

If you piss her off or make her life difficult then in revenge she can just report you to the HSE over the gas safety and they will take the prosecution up, doesnt cost her anything.

fyn · 19/03/2023 11:00

@Kiopa suing a landlord for three times the deposit is incredibly easy. The landlord has no defence at all, the tenant doesn’t need lawyers to win and can do it all by themselves. Even so, there are loads of no win no fee lawyers who will take on the case.

dawngreen · 19/03/2023 11:06

What to do if a Tenant Skips Rent

When a tenant skips, rent is not a sign a tenant may have abandoned the let dwelling. After you have tried to speak to the tenant and send emails and texts, you should then serve a section 8 notice for rent arrears grounds if everything else fails.
Surrender of a tenancy

This applies to England and Wales only.
Surrender occurs when both the landlord and tenant, by consent, agree to bring the tenancy to an end. After the surrender has taken place. Then thereafter all obligations and rights under a tenancy also come to an end.
There are two types of tenancy surrender legally known as – express and implied surrender.
Express surrender
Express surrender is when you use a written agreement (or declaration) to surrender the tenancy agreement. Express surrender is usually made by written deed.
Since mutual consent is required, both the landlord and tenant will have to sign the agreement, and both signatures must be witnessed. Once the agreement has been signed, both parties will be released from any future obligations to each other.
Note that the written agreement must clarify that it is a deed and set out that the tenancy will come to an end with immediate effect.
Suppose the tenant does not give up possession of the property to the landlord, despite surrendering the tenancy. In that case, the landlord can still recover possession of the property through a court order.
Implied surrender
A surrender will operate as a matter of circumstance where it is implied from the parties’ conduct. For example, where the parties enter a new tenancy on different terms to the existing tenancy, the current tenancy is considered surrendered.
The basis of an implied surrender is the consensual giving up possession of the premises to the landlord by the tenant. The landlord must accept the surrender when they accept the keys from the tenant to the subject property.
The landlord’s belief that the tenant has surrendered the property must be genuine. Example: evidence that the tenants have removed all signs of them living there, including furniture and belongings.
Unless the proof of surrender by the tenant is apparent, the landlord runs the risk of unlawfully evicting the tenant.

I would not call it an abandonment its a type of surrender!

ginghamstarfish · 19/03/2023 11:08

I think you can get a massive fine for not protecting the deposit - assume you are not a 'proper' landlord or you would know this? Otherwise the good news is that she is unlikely to pursue you for the return of the deposit unless it is greater than what she owes you in missed rent, having to pay for disposal of her stuff, etc.

dawngreen · 19/03/2023 11:10

This applies to England and Wales only.
Surrender occurs when both the landlord and tenant, by consent, agree to bring the tenancy to an end. After the surrender has taken place. Then thereafter all obligations and rights under a tenancy also come to an end.

MumOf2workOptions · 19/03/2023 11:30

Don't give her the deposit back I'd let her contact you then get a professional cleaner and house clearance in and that will likely wipe the amount anyway

Oh and a locksmith

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