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  • FIRST POST
    • MoneySavingMission
    • By MoneySavingMission 7th May 18, 9:11 PM
    • 215Posts
    • 22Thanks
    MoneySavingMission
    moonlight tenant gone!
    • #1
    • 7th May 18, 9:11 PM
    moonlight tenant gone! 7th May 18 at 9:11 PM
    Hi
    I need some guidance re a moonlighting tenant. I'm the landlord, I don't want to put detail on an open forum, can someone experienced in the legal situation of this please pm me?
Page 2
    • LandyAndy
    • By LandyAndy 8th May 18, 9:03 AM
    • 24,261 Posts
    • 51,244 Thanks
    LandyAndy
    Follow commonsense - he's obviously gone/the police confirm he's gone/family member confirm he's gone.

    Re-let the place immediately. Whatever the law says - said defaulting tenant is most unlikely to have the nerve to try and move back in again. Meanwhile - you need to minimise your losses - as it's rather unlikely you'll be able to get the money he owes you out of him.
    Originally posted by moneyistooshorttomention
    You couldn't make it up.
    • theartfullodger
    • By theartfullodger 8th May 18, 9:06 AM
    • 9,527 Posts
    • 12,777 Thanks
    theartfullodger
    nothing special about me but don't want to put personal info that can be identified in a legal situation.
    Only asking for help in a rather stressful situation.

    Yes, in Scotland. Police have confirmed once they've checked on it that it's been emptied. No notice provided - should have been 2 months. in a fixed term rental agreement previously.

    do I need to persue possession order? Police said tenant has broken tenancy. Can I change the locks now?
    Originally posted by MoneySavingMission
    As others have said, uncertain legal position if you assume they've gone. As you say previously fixed term I assume it was a tenancy started before 1st December 2017 otherwise it would have to be a PRT: I hope & trust it was an SaT and you got ALL the paperwork right. Any deposit? Protected correctly? What do your insurers advise you should do - you have insurance?

    I assume you mean the tenant appears to have done a moonlight-flit.

    Best option is to try & get you AND tenant to sign one of Scottish Association of Landlords "Mutual agreement to end tenancy" documents.

    Advice: Join SaL, use their documents and free-to-members telephone advice-line & meetings and do the **free** Landlord Accreditation Scotland courses.

    If you think education is expensive, try ignorance: Or are you, perhaps, ahead of me on that matter....

    Also inform council housing dept of tenant's history in case tenant is trying to gain scarce council housing.
    Last edited by theartfullodger; 08-05-2018 at 9:12 AM.
    • hazyjo
    • By hazyjo 8th May 18, 10:57 AM
    • 10,512 Posts
    • 13,678 Thanks
    hazyjo
    My friend had this in England with one of her properties. She tracked the tenant down, remained calm, drafted a letter and sent with a SAE to say she (the tenant) confirmed that they had mutually agreed to end the tenancy and that she would not be returning to collect anything left at the house, and that was that. Thankfully no harm done - there was enough stuff there to sell and recoup the money my friend was out of pocket for.


    No idea if it's the same for Scotland - but at least it gives you an option to ask a solicitor about.
    2018 wins: Single Malt Whisky; theatre tickets; festival tickets; year of gin(!); shoes
    • scriv
    • By scriv 8th May 18, 11:31 AM
    • 91 Posts
    • 71 Thanks
    scriv
    This happened to us a few years ago - England. We used to let through an agent who got back the deposit which the tenant had paid when they moved in. It was all properly signed up via an AST. Then we just drew a line under it and cut our losses - and got a new tenant. There had been no damage to the property and we didn't want the stress of tracking them down.
    • MoneySavingMission
    • By MoneySavingMission 8th May 18, 12:29 PM
    • 215 Posts
    • 22 Thanks
    MoneySavingMission
    can't track the tenant - no forward address and not responding to calls.

    Yes, I have a full signed tenancy document. No agent.

    Can I change the locks for security? I'm aware that he had given a key to a friend in the event of deliveries etc - I can't risk other people letting themselves in. Any impact of doing this?

    If anybody has applied via court action lawyer to regain possession and force tenancy end, can you please tell me how long this process took and the associated financial cost?
    • MoneySavingMission
    • By MoneySavingMission 8th May 18, 12:30 PM
    • 215 Posts
    • 22 Thanks
    MoneySavingMission
    I can't believe the wide range of opinion on course of action to take!
    • MoneySavingMission
    • By MoneySavingMission 8th May 18, 12:32 PM
    • 215 Posts
    • 22 Thanks
    MoneySavingMission
    Also yes, deposit was protected under guaranteed scheme - i'll be applying for that to be refunded to me!
    • davidmcn
    • By davidmcn 8th May 18, 12:52 PM
    • 7,641 Posts
    • 7,773 Thanks
    davidmcn
    Can I change the locks for security? I'm aware that he had given a key to a friend in the event of deliveries etc - I can't risk other people letting themselves in. Any impact of doing this?
    Originally posted by MoneySavingMission
    As in post #7, that would seem to be ok as long as you're prepared to hand over the new keys to the tenant if they turn up before you've terminated the tenancy properly.
    • ThePants999
    • By ThePants999 8th May 18, 12:56 PM
    • 1,118 Posts
    • 1,373 Thanks
    ThePants999
    The reason you're getting mixed opinions is because on the one hand, the law affords your tenant a LOT of protection that comes at your expense; on the other hand, the tenant is highly unlikely to make use of any of it. So you have a choice to make between following the law and thereby incurring significant extra expense but no risk, or taking shortcuts that will probably be absolutely fine but run the risk of landing you in hot water. Posters here vary significantly in their levels of risk aversion. Those who've seen a few of my posts will be unsurprised to hear me say I'd personally go for option #2; I'm equally unsurprised by some of the people recommending option #1
    • Pixie5740
    • By Pixie5740 8th May 18, 1:06 PM
    • 12,111 Posts
    • 17,044 Thanks
    Pixie5740
    can't track the tenant - no forward address and not responding to calls.

    Yes, I have a full signed tenancy document. No agent.

    Can I change the locks for security? I'm aware that he had given a key to a friend in the event of deliveries etc - I can't risk other people letting themselves in. Any impact of doing this?

    If anybody has applied via court action lawyer to regain possession and force tenancy end, can you please tell me how long this process took and the associated financial cost?
    Originally posted by MoneySavingMission
    Again.....what kind of tenancy? Short Assured, Assured or the new Private Rental?

    I can't believe the wide range of opinion on course of action to take!
    Originally posted by MoneySavingMission
    I can't believe a landlord with a number of properties doesn't already know what course of action to take.
    • MoneySavingMission
    • By MoneySavingMission 8th May 18, 1:28 PM
    • 215 Posts
    • 22 Thanks
    MoneySavingMission
    it's a short term assured tenancy.
    I'm only asking for experiences of others who have been in this exact position as it's the first that I have.
    if I go for the full court action, how long should this take and does anybody have an idea of cost?
    For the tenant to persue me, this would involve legal costs for them also which is not realistic.
    this evidences the balance of power between a landlord and a tenant - it is my property. this has been an abuse of trust and conduct by my tenant.
    • MoneySavingMission
    • By MoneySavingMission 8th May 18, 1:31 PM
    • 215 Posts
    • 22 Thanks
    MoneySavingMission
    As in post #7, that would seem to be ok as long as you're prepared to hand over the new keys to the tenant if they turn up before you've terminated the tenancy properly.
    Originally posted by davidmcn
    I'll do this then that will force him to get in touch with me if he tries to gain access again - highly unlikely based on what the police have told me.

    this will be quicker and less expensive and will ensure I've got the properly secured without knowing who he gave keys to.
    • Pixie5740
    • By Pixie5740 8th May 18, 1:32 PM
    • 12,111 Posts
    • 17,044 Thanks
    Pixie5740
    it's a short term assured tenancy.
    I'm only asking for experiences of others who have been in this exact position as it's the first that I have.
    if I go for the full court action, how long should this take and does anybody have an idea of cost?
    For the tenant to persue me, this would involve legal costs for them also which is not realistic.
    this evidences the balance of power between a landlord and a tenant - it is my property. this has been an abuse of trust and conduct by my tenant.
    Originally posted by MoneySavingMission
    I've already detailed the legal process you need to follow in post #19. Step 1, send an abandonment notice to the rental property. If you can find the tenant and get him to agree the tenancy has been surrendered great but if you can't it is important to make sure you dot the i's and cross the t's. If you don't then you could face criminal charges for illegal eviction. The choice is yours.

    The tenant might be a rogue but you picked him and it sounds as if he was already known to the police so perhaps you need to re-think your referencing process especially as any tenant you get now will have a Private Rental Tenancy and will therefore be much more difficult to evict.
    Last edited by Pixie5740; 08-05-2018 at 1:34 PM.
    • MoneySavingMission
    • By MoneySavingMission 8th May 18, 1:44 PM
    • 215 Posts
    • 22 Thanks
    MoneySavingMission
    There's nothing commonsense about your proposed approach at all. The police might think the tenant has abandoned the tenancy, a family member might think the tenant has abandoned the tenancy but crucially the tenant hasn't said one way or the other and by changing the locks and re-letting the property the OP faces criminal charges for illegal eviction rather than just being out of pocket. Let's not forget that landlords in Scotland must be deemed as fit and proper by the council(s) in which the rental properties are based, and a landlord with a criminal conviction for illegal eviction would be neither fit nor proper so the OP could risk the required landlord licence(s).

    A more sensible approach would be for the OP to send written notice, called an abandonment notice, to the tenant stating that (s)he thinks the tenant has abandoned the property. This should be sent to the tenant's last known address (rental property). The notice must give the tenant at least four weeks to let the OP know that the tenant is still living there, or that the tenant is staying away temporarily but intends to return.

    During the four week notice period, the OP must make inquiries to find out if the tenant has left the property. For example the OP can:

    * ask the neighbours if they have seen the tenant recently
    * contact the tenant's family to see if they know where the tenant is
    * check with the tenant's employer that the tenant is still working in the area
    * check that the tenant's children are still registered at the same school (if applicable)

    If, at the end of the four weeks' notice the tenant has not contacted the OP, and the OP has finished carrying out inquiries, the tenant can then be served with another notice stating that the tenancy has been ended.
    Originally posted by Pixie5740
    is there a legal notice name for an 'abandoned document' - I did put a letter through to say ' no contact, i'll assume you've abandoned'
    there are no means of contact, calls being ignored, emails unacknowledged and no forwarding address. The man has no children so these checks can't be done. I'm just thinking what is the point of putting a letter through the door for 4 weeks when it's already been confirmed that it's empty? it's just wasting time.
    • MoneySavingMission
    • By MoneySavingMission 8th May 18, 1:45 PM
    • 215 Posts
    • 22 Thanks
    MoneySavingMission
    if I try emailing again and in unlikely event tenant responds and agrees by email to end the tenancy - is that sufficient? He is liable for all utility charges, council tax until day of formal tenancy end.
    • quantumlobster
    • By quantumlobster 8th May 18, 1:46 PM
    • 75 Posts
    • 133 Thanks
    quantumlobster
    I don't know anything about landlording either in England or in Scotland, but I do know what "needs to sit down with an appropriate paid-for legal expert" looks like.

    And this is it.
    • Pixie5740
    • By Pixie5740 8th May 18, 1:54 PM
    • 12,111 Posts
    • 17,044 Thanks
    Pixie5740
    is there a legal notice name for an 'abandoned document' - I did put a letter through to say ' no contact, i'll assume you've abandoned'
    there are no means of contact, calls being ignored, emails unacknowledged and no forwarding address. The man has no children so these checks can't be done. I'm just thinking what is the point of putting a letter through the door for 4 weeks when it's already been confirmed that it's empty? it's just wasting time.
    Originally posted by MoneySavingMission
    Actually, hands up, I might have given you a bum steer about the abandonment notice. That only applies to council tenants. Your outcome is worse, you'll should follow the eviction process for a Short Assured Tenancy, assuming the tenant was issued with an AT5 form before the tenancy agreement. The alternative is to run the risk of criminal charges for illegal eviction.

    Edit: http://www.moray.gov.uk/moray_standard/page_75788.html
    Last edited by Pixie5740; 08-05-2018 at 1:57 PM. Reason: adding link
    • theartfullodger
    • By theartfullodger 8th May 18, 1:59 PM
    • 9,527 Posts
    • 12,777 Thanks
    theartfullodger
    it's a short term assured tenancy...................
    Originally posted by MoneySavingMission
    Hope not: Such a tenancy type does not/did not exist in Scotland: What does exist is a "Short Assured Tenancy": see....
    https://scotland.shelter.org.uk/get_advice/advice_topics/renting_rights/renting_from_a_private_landlord/short_assured_tenancies


    Sigh! With the greatest respect, if you can't even get the terms right, what chance of your handling any paperwork to end tenancy correctly, eh? I 'umbly suggest you need professional help: SaL can recommend a couple of specialist Scottish Landlord law solicitors.


    Slàinte mhath!
    Last edited by theartfullodger; 08-05-2018 at 2:13 PM.
    • thelem
    • By thelem 8th May 18, 2:07 PM
    • 698 Posts
    • 509 Thanks
    thelem
    I was also confused by the term moonlighting. I thought that meant someone who had two jobs.

    Is the tenant in arrears? If so, by how much? If not, have they broken any terms of their contract (e.g. is there a term that they can't leave it unoccupied for more than a set time).
    Note: Unless otherwise stated, my property related posts refer to England & Wales. Please make sure you state if you are discussing Scotland or elsewhere as laws differ.
    • thelem
    • By thelem 8th May 18, 2:25 PM
    • 698 Posts
    • 509 Thanks
    thelem
    if I go for the full court action, how long should this take and does anybody have an idea of cost?
    For the tenant to persue me, this would involve legal costs for them also which is not realistic.
    this evidences the balance of power between a landlord and a tenant - it is my property. this has been an abuse of trust and conduct by my tenant.
    Originally posted by MoneySavingMission
    What is your point regarding balance of power? It looks like the law has got the balance about right to me.

    As you say, the tenant is unlikely to be able to afford legal costs, so is unlikely to actually sue you if they did turn up. But there is a chance that they might, so you still need to be careful. That ensures that the tenant's rights are likely to be respected, even if they don't take you to court.

    As a landlord you are more like a business. Most months you will make a profit, but occasionally there will be higher than normal costs (e.g. building maintenance, legal fees) or lower revenue (e.g. tenant doesn't pay, gap between tenants). Your business plan should ensure that you make enough profit in your normal months to make up for the occasional losses.
    Note: Unless otherwise stated, my property related posts refer to England & Wales. Please make sure you state if you are discussing Scotland or elsewhere as laws differ.
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