The tenancy of a residential property will continue beyond its contractual period if the residential tenant is a natural person and for as long as the tenant (or one of them) remains in occupation as their only or principle home. The landlord can only bring the tenancy to an end by the execution of an order of the Court.
There are many occasions when tenants appear to abandon the property which, by virtue of them no longer remaining in occupation, would cause their security of tenure to be lost. In such a situation the landlord could recover possession of the property however the landlord risks the tenant denying that they abandoned the property and claiming that they have been unlawfully evicted. Such a claim, if successful, could result in a large financial award being made in the tenant’s favour and reinstatement of the tenant into the property. Furthermore criminal proceedings could be brought against the landlord.
In situations of contended abandonment a prudent landlord may ask the Court to effectively endorse their contention of abandonment therefore precluding the tenant from claiming otherwise at a later date. The issues with this method include costs, delays and the validity of the claim/endorsement of the Court following disputed service of the claim form upon the absent tenant.
The Housing and Planning Act 2016 introduces new provisions for the landlord of an abandoned property to bring a tenancy to an end without the issues involved in using the Court. These provisions require the service of various notices and the absence of any rent payments for two months plus the absence of any response to the notices. Following the expiry of the requisite period of the notices the tenancy will be at an end. However the former tenant has six months to apply to the Court for a reinstatement order to be made if they can convince the Court they had a good reason for not responding to the notices. One awaits to see how this act will be applied by the Court especially in situations where the property has been re-let to a new tenant.
At Benchmark Solicitors we can assist with the service of notices for abandoned property in order to ensure that the landlord brings the tenancy to a lawful end.
Paul Rogers (solicitor) – 13th September 2016