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thomas_garbo

Advice on Legal Action

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Hi,

I served a Section 21 two months ago and completed a NB5 a week ago. My tenants signed an AST in October 09 and only paid one month rent but I did have two months deposit. I've been trying to get hold of him for some time and he isn't answering my calls or opening the door. I sent a letter to him on Monday this week saying that i will be inspecting the property as i'm concerned that i've had no reply (he could be dead for all i know!). I should have done this earlier I know. When I visited the property yesterday I found a bunch of youths smoking cannabis outside the house and when i asked them what they were doing outside my house they all did a runner and the back door was left open. Naturally being concerned for the property and the tenant i called the police to search the property and subsequently purchased a lock and changed the front door lock. I've come to learn today that the tenant is actually living there and he broke the new lock to enter the property yesterday night. He has phoned me today saying he will be taking legal action for unlawful eviction.

I'm an honest bloke and this is the first property im renting and i dont believe i've done anything wrong. I had reasonable grounds to believe my house had squatters.

Have i broken the law? What are the consequences of my actions?

Thanks

Thomas

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Reply to him and explain what you saw and what happened and that the police were called who inspected the property with you and the locks were changed to prevent any theft etc. If he wants to go ahead and sue then tell him fine and see him in court.

Mel.

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Reply to him and explain what you saw and what happened and that the police were called who inspected the property with you and the locks were changed to prevent any theft etc. If he wants to go ahead and sue then tell him fine and see him in court.

Mel.

Hi Mel,

Thanks for the reply. However, what i was looking for was guidance on whether what i have done is illegal in the eyes of the law?

Cheers

Thomas

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In short..... Yes ....but you could argue mitigating circumstances that occurred on the day forced you to change the locks and the police were present when you did it to secure the property.

Everything supports the Tenant and not the Landlord these days and I have no doubt your tenant will be granted legal aid to bring his case against you.

Mel.

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Hi Thomas,

I am sorry that you are experiencing difficuties with your tenant.

Under the protection from eviction act 1977 if a landlord changes the lock with the aim of evicting a tenant, it amounts to an illegal eviction. In this case your tenant had to change the locks to get back into the premises. Your tenant could claim harassment as he could say that you interfered with his peace and quiet enjoyment of the premises. However your intention was not to lock the tenant out but to secure the premises, so your tenant is unlikely to succeed in a claim for illegal eviction or harassment.

You stated that you had served 2 months' notice on your tenant, but didn't say how long the term of the tenancy was for. Do you have proof that you served the notice on him? I would be happy to check the notice for you at no cost. If your tenant refuses to leave after the expiry of the notice, we could help you evict the tenant through the legal process and pursue him for rent arrears.

Sylvia

www.landlordpractice.com

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Your action was understandable but would be considered unlawful. Had you issued an Abandonment Notice you would have covered yourself since it would have advised the tenant that you had reasonable grounds to believe the property had been abandoned and given a contavt number for access by the lawful tenant.

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Couple of things.

You don't mention if there were any belongings in the house in your post. This really would be an indicator of whether he'd left or not wouldn't it?

I agree with Lyndon here, had there been personal possessions in the property I would have put a note on the door stating that due to the circumstances you discovered upon visiting the property to perform your inspection you have HAD to change the locks to ensure that the property was secure but if the tenant calls you on 07---------, you have a spare key for him to gain entry. This is an ideal way of opening up communication channels if he is staying there.

Likewise if there was nothing in the property you attach an abandonment notice on the door with similar content giving them 14 days to contact you or you will then empty the property.

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