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It has been widely reported that in a bid to cope with Britain’s housing shortage, councils often advise tenants facing eviction, and in need of social housing, to stay put in buy-to-let properties when landlords ask them to leave. This is because, with resources already stretched, councils are reluctant to rehouse tenants until they are legally evicted and ‘technically’ homeless. Now for the first time, specialist tenant eviction company, Landlord Action, has been instructed by a landlord whose tenant vacated his property only to subsequently break back in, allegedly on the advice of Havering Borough Council.Mr Lewis Selt, a landlord from Hertfordshire, has owned his two bedroom first-floor flat in the town centre of Romford, Essex, for many years. A little over a year ago, he let his property to a single mother in receipt of housing benefit.A local letting agent, which manages the property for Mr Selt, confirmed that the tenant and the rent guarantor, in place to ensure the tenant’s ability to fulfil her tenancy obligations, passed all referencing checks.However, after 4-5 months payments became irregular and eventually stopped altogether. By this point, the twelve month tenancy agreement had come to an end and with £2000 rent arrears accrued, the landlord had no choice but to serve the tenant notice. The tenant surrendered the property and left with her belongings on the agreed date. The agent retrieved the keys from the property on the same day whilst carrying out his check-out report.However, the next day the tenant along with her guarantor returned to the letting agent to ask if she could have the keys back and return to the property. She informed them that Havering Council had said they would not rehouse her because she had voluntarily made herself homeless and that she should have remained in the property until she was evicted. When the agent refused, she explained that Havering Council had advised her that if the agent would not give the keys back, she should get a locksmith and break back into the property.Robert Gordon, Property Manager for Mr Selt said:“I went to the property the next morning to ensure everything was ok but my keys no longer worked. I could see that furniture had been moved back into the property. In an attempt to resolve the matter, I drove straight to the local council but no-one would speak to me or identify who had issued such ludicrous advice to a tenant who felt she had no choice but to break the law.”Mr Selt is now faced with a sitting tenant and having to start eviction proceedings. Although he could take legal action against the tenant under a trespassing law, he has decided to serve a Section 21 notice and a Section 8 notice in a bid to get his property back and recover money owed as quickly as possible. It will now take approximately six to eight weeks for a judge to grant a possession order and if the tenant still refuses to leave, which she is likely to do based on advice by Havering Council, bailiffs will be called.Landlord, Mr Lewis Selt, said:“Not only am I not receiving rent on my property, I’m now faced with eviction costs and yet I’m powerless to do anything about it. The agent has done everything possible to protect my interests but landlords and agents are facing a losing battle if local authorities are going to issue such ridiculous advice.”According to National Landlords Association (NLA), nearly half (49%) of tenants who have been served with a section 21 notice by their private landlord say they have been told to ignore it by their local council or an advice agency such as Shelter or the Citizen’s Advice Bureau (CAB). In March 2016, the former Housing Minister Brandon Lewis wrote to all chief executives of local councils telling them to stop routinely advising tenants to stay put until the bailiff arrives.Paul Shamplina, Founder of Landlord Action, the company instructed by Mr Selt to evict his tenant, says:“Local authorities are forcing landlords to go to court to gain possession, running up considerable costs. Landlords are losing confidence in the system and turning away from communities which rely on their private housing to bridge the gap in the chronic shortage of social housing. This advice is exasperating the problem and something needs to be done.”SEE ALSO - No pram = Tenant threatening to go to CouncilUP NEXT - 5 threats that should be on landlords' radarDON'T MISS - Enfield Council desperately seeking landlordsNOW WATCH:
Vanessa Warwick Landlord and Co-Founder of PropertyTribes.com **If you have got value from Property Tribes, find out how you can support it in remaining a free to use community resource**
"voluntarily made herself homeless" and "remained in the property until she was evicted".
As I understand the Government told Local Councils not to give this advice - it was a nod rather than a regulation mind.
Then the Homelessness Reduction Bill last year was supposed to put it into law but it was revised at the last minute (wrote about it here).
This is something Landlords should be aware off, that councils often advise tenants to stay put - after expirty of notice, after court order and only when the baliffs turn up.
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Sorry but the LL had received the keys and a surrender letter and the tenant had vacated
If I was the LL I would have removed the ex tenant and had her arrested if she refused to leave.
The tenant is now a trespasser in a residential property.
This is now a criminal offence.
If the tenant was stupid enough to vacate before being evicted that is her lookout.
She can't then undo that voluntary vacating by breaking into the property!!!!
It is irrelevant what the council have told the tenant.
The LL would not be committing any offence by having the tenant removed by police.
The LA should not have handed keys to the ex tenant.
If this tenant is not prosecuted for breaking and entering it makes the validity of a surrender letter; return of keys and vacating by tenant as pointless.
If all a tenant has to do is break into an ex rental property to await eviction that is a squatters charter.
How many tenants end tenancies by a surrender letter, returning of keys and leaving the property!!??
Are we now saying that all those tenants can break back into their former rental property and await eviction!!!!!!!???
If I was the LL I would be breaking back into my rental property and removing the tenant and her furniture.
She is a squatter not a tenant.
Squatters don't normally qualify for council housing.
They are after all now criminals if squatting in residential accommodation.
"Sorry but the LL had received the keys and a surrender letter and the tenant had vacatedIf I was the LL I would have removed the ex tenant and had her arrested if she refused to leave." this would have been my go-to also. Im not sure the police would have played ball though.
They would have no choice
The law requires them to arrest residential squatters if they refuse to vacate.
If the criminal squatter ex tenant refused to leave then police would need to he called to prevent a breach of the peace whilst the LL removes the squatter.
Well said Paul Barrett
I go to court this month for a possession order,a UC tenant that's £3.5 grand behind.
No more of them thx, let the council house them.
If they can't, contact George Osbourne.
I feel for you.
Been there far worse
Got the T shirt!!
What surprises me in this case is that the tenant was stupid enough to sign a surrender letter, return the keys and remove their goods.
99% of tenants know not to leave until evicted.
This LL had an idiot tenant who did not bother learning about her rights.
She can't then undo her ignorance and recover a situation she legally surrendered!!!
When will someone put an end to this rubbish system. Yet again it seems that another council want to be an enemy of a landlord. Why as landlords do we allow ourselves to have people take the mickey out of us in this way. Why don't we just collectively say NO! ENOUGH!
I think you know the answer to that
Jus read the stupid comments on the many Guardian articles
If anything the LL haters want to make it even harder to evict
RGI is my only defence strategy
Eviction still takes the same time but at least I'm not bankrupted!!!!
Name me any of the usual LL haters that would care if any LL was bankrupted because of a rent defaulting tenant!!
We are where we are
You only have to see the new Scottish PRT that getting rid of wrongun tenants is going to get a whole lot harder.
I doubt there is one LL in the country that would disagree with your sentiments.
I have expressed similar for years.
Never got me anywhere
5 evictions later has destroyed forever my viability.
Landlord Action have sent me this comment to add to the thread:Our solicitor recommended to the landlord from the outset to take the trespassers route, but the landlord was worried about the risks of a judge dismissing the action and costs incurred. The tenant was trying to deny the surrender the tenancy. He reluctantly went with the safer option of the S21 route. According to the agent the police were called to the property once they broke back in to the property, as it was believed they were trespassers, but the police would not act and said the landlord had to take the court possession action route. Unfortunately still some police fail to act when it is believed there are trespassers in a residential property, its frustrating. We were one of the organisations that successfully campaigned to the government to change the laws in 2012.
Personally I would still remove the tenant irrespective of what police advised
Then wait for police to wrongly arrest you under the Prevention of Eviction Act.
Nice load of compensation
The law is unambiguous even if police don't understand this.
A trespasser is an a illegal occupier and commits an arrestable offence if they refuse to vacate a residential property they no longer have any right to access..
The LL needs to grow a pair.
You don't need a judge to adjudicate whether a trespasser may be removed.
Just boot them out of the property with a few buddies etc.
To assist police in their difficult task and to avoid them having to mistakenly arrest the LL; the LL volunteers to attend the police stn to allow police to conduct their relevant inquires.
After all a LL is a good citizen and would naturally wish to assist police in ensuring they didn't make arresting mistakes! !