Landlord and Tenant FAQs

The following are some of the most frequently asked questions about landlord and tenant situations.

To find out the answers, simply click on any of the headings below.

If your query requires further information, please contact Julie Hind on 0191 204 4137.

Absconding tenants

Troublesome tenants who owe money

Former Tenants

Additional Occupiers

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Absconding tenants

My tenants have lived at my property for 3 months (out of a 6 month fixed term contract) and they’ve stopped paying rent. After arrears occurred, I visited the property and it appears to be empty. What can I do?

Firstly you must be 100 per cent certain that your tenants have vacated the property.

I would suggest a notice is posted at the property and also a copy pinned to the door advising that if contact is not made in four weeks from the date of the notice, then the tenancy will be deemed surrendered and possession of the property will be taken.

I would also advise taking photographs from the inside of the property at the start and end of the notice period to record whether items have been moved during those four weeks.

Another good tip for establishing whether the tenant is still living there is to note the contents of the fridge, or build up of post.

After the month has passed, and it is apparent that your tenants are in fact residing in the property, you must leave immediately.

If they do not appear to be living there and haven’t responded to your written correspondence or notices, you can proceed with changing the locks.

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Troublesome tenants who owe money

I need possession of my property to carry out necessary repairs. Tenants currently occupy it however they have no written tenancy agreement and have failed to pay the rent. Can I change the locks?

No - You must go down the legal route and I cannot stress this enough.

If you change the locks of a rented property it could lead to a claim against you for unlawful eviction.

If successful, your tenants may obtain a Judgment for damages and they could also have a criminal case against you for harassment.

This is the case even if your tenants have no written agreement. They may have an implied agreement with you if initial rental payments were made or an oral contact was agreed. Even in cases involving squatters, Court proceedings are required before possession can be obtained.

If your tenants are in two months rental arrears, or more, you can serve a Notice Seeking Possession, which allows you to obtain possession together with a money Judgment for the rent arrears.

Alternatively if no grounds for possession are present, and the tenant has not breached the contract in any way, you can regain possession by serving a Notice Requiring Possession (section 21 notice).

This is a two-month notice and allows proceedings to be issued for possession only if your tenants fail to vacate upon the expiry of such notice.

If there is no defence filed by your tenants then the Court can deal with these proceedings without a hearing.

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Former Tenants

My tenants have vacated my property leaving rental arrears and damage to the property. The deposit will not cover the charges and they have left no forwarding address. Can I still pursue them?

Yes you can claim against former tenants for monies that are due to you after they have vacated.

You must have sufficient evidence to support your claim especially when claiming for damage to your property.

If you have no forwarding address then tracing agents can be instructed to attempt to locate your former tenants. Certain companies will do this on a no-trace-no-fee basis.

Once they are located, an initial letter should be sent to each tenant setting out the charges outstanding. If you have kept a deposit to use towards the rent arrears or to pay towards the cost of any damage then this should be explained to them.

If they fail to respond to the letter then proceedings can be issued for the sums due, together with interest and costs.

For each item claimed an invoice or receipt should be used to show the cost of the repairs. If the value of the item is over £500.00 then three quotes should also be used to show that the most competitive was used.

In order to show that the property did deteriorate while your tenants were in occupation it is always advisable to do a checkout report.

Together with the inventory done before your tenants moved in these documents will also act as evidence in your claim.

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Additional Occupiers

I currently rent out a property to a husband and wife under an Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement. The agreement is only in the name of the husband.

As the wife is not named on the agreement is this going to cause a problem when trying to regain possession through the Courts?

No - the contract you have is with the husband therefore the wife is merely an occupier.

Any notice for possession you serve should state only the name of the husband. It is advisable to also send a copy of the same notice to the property addressed to the ‘occupiers’ being the wife.

If the tenants fail to vacate then you will need to issue Court proceedings.

When preparing the Claim Form you will only need to name the husband as the Defendant as you have no contract with the wife.

When drafting the Particulars of Claim (which will be attached to the Claim Form) there is a section, which allows you to name any additional occupiers who you are aware, live in the property.

This information will assist the Court and the Court Bailiffs so that they are aware of the additional occupiers if an eviction is required.

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