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My tenant has died and his partner is refusing to pay rent or move out??

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Author Topic: My tenant has died and his partner is refusing to pay rent or move out??  (Read 623 times)
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« on: February 05, 2022, 01:06:17 PM »

Hi, my tenant (15 years) has been ill for the last couple of few years (he was a friend).  I didn't take a deposit or sign an agreement ( I know!!) when he moved in as he needed someone to stay and I had just moved out of my house and was considering renting but hadnt made my mind up.  His ex partner moved in with him recently without asking -  to care for him which when I found out I was OK with.  The only rent I received was from the Council Benefits.  In December my tenant sadly passed away.  I contacted his partner and said that he was OK to stay for the time being and we would have a chat when everything had settled down as he was grieving.  A couple of weeks ago I had a chat with him and told him he could stay there but he would have to start paying rent.  He just told me that he couldn't afford.  I even asked him how much he could afford and his reply was 'Nothing'.  I have tried to be more than reasonable with him but he has now started to send me nasty personal texts.  I'm bewildered why he is doing this as I have tried to help him.  I have rang Solicitors but have had different opinions due to the unusual circumstances.  Can anyone point me in the right direction regarding Eviction, my access rights and if I find out he has moved out can I change the locks??  I'm not sure where I stand with the law as he isn't really a tenant and I have not received any rent from him??  Everything I read regarding Section 21 relates to agreements and the tenant having paid rent which doesn't apply in this case. I am now completely confused and worried sick that I may do the wrong thing.  Thank you in advance
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« Reply #1 on: February 05, 2022, 04:20:12 PM »

As he has not paid you anything,and the arrangement with your actual tenant will have ended upon his death,I would say this man is trespassing. Being rather cynical, I am wondering if he moved in  with the intention of guilt-tripping you into letting him stay on. I would tell him in writing to move out within days,otherwise change the locks when he is out and tell him how to collect his things.You have been more than reasonable with him,he is a sponger.   
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« Reply #2 on: February 05, 2022, 04:42:05 PM »

Thanks for answering so quickly.  I was of the same opinion but he has been there over 18 months and with my knowledge/blessing so will trespass cover this?. Even though he is being horrible and nasty I still feel a little sorry for him as he has nowhere to go and he has just lost his long term friend/ex partner  I need to learn how to take the emotion away. This is my first time renting as I decided to keep the house as a pension fund and my previous tenant had been so good for so long.  To have this happen within the space of a couple of weeks has really knocked me for six.  It makes it worse because every time I send him a text regarding getting quotes for work that needs doing, which I didn't get done before due to the tenants health,  I am then subjected to a torrent of abuse and I have to bite my tongue so hard not to retaliate and give him a few home truths back.  I definitely would advise anyone who is renting to a friend that no matter how nice they are, things can turn nasty and it is always better to make sure you are covered for every eventuality. 
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« Reply #3 on: February 05, 2022, 06:50:05 PM »

It is a rule in the landlord book,never let to family or friends. You were very lucky with your original tenant,and I can understand you have suffered a loss yourself. That said, the partner moving in was presented to you as a fait accompli.You may well have agreed anyway,but that's not the point.He is not and never has been a tenant there. He must be living on something,even if his late partner was paying for his keep while still alive.It does not sound as if he is prepared to see if he can find work or apply for benefits to pay you some rent. Even if he did  offer now,his inexcusable nastiness to you  should be a warning.You really must take back control of your property,this is just crazy.The longer you let this continue the harder it will be.
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« Reply #4 on: February 05, 2022, 06:52:00 PM »

"No good turn goes unpunished"-Oscar Wilde.
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« Reply #5 on: February 05, 2022, 07:02:37 PM »

Hi, I feel for you in this dilemma as I too am a landlord just looking for a pension pot rather than running a business and have made the mistake of letting to a friend. I can;t offer any professional advice as it seems a legal minefield but would say stop thinking in emotional terms and follow your head rather than heart! This man is abusing any friendship you may have had with his ex and exploiting your goodwill. As he has no agreement with you you would hope he has no legal right to stay there. If you were thinking of finding a new tenant it may be worth approaching a local letting agent for advice. I recently did this and they were amazingly helpful in going through my legal options. Once I get mine out I am going to leave the paper work with them as there is so much involved and should you need to evict a bad tenant there is so much needs to be in place before a Section 21 can be served. If you do it on a finder's fee basis only you can still manage any day to day running for the property but have the peace of mind in knowing you have a watertight agreement should things go wrong. Best of luck!
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« Reply #6 on: February 05, 2022, 08:19:53 PM »

As he has not paid you anything,and the arrangement with your actual tenant will have ended upon his death,I would say this man is trespassing.

That's not correct legally I'm afraid.

Tenancy doesn't end on a tenant's (or landlord for that matter) death. The current occupier is almost certainly NOT trespassing. He entered with the permission of the tenant, and I doubt the administrator/executor/personal representative have revoked that permission. You possibly complicated matter by actually telling him he "can stay for the time being" even if the occupier would have otherwise be a trespasser.

You need to take steps to legally end the tenancy. If you can serve a notice to quit, then on expiry you can physically exclude him when he's out. If you have to serve s8 / s21 notice, then you would have to go to court if he (and/or whoever inherits the tenancy) doesn't agree to leave. It's possible for you to try and get the administrator/executor/personal representative to disclaim the tenancy which may make things easier. If serving notice (whether NTQ or s8/s21), you'd need to know the status of estate etc., there's extra steps involved to normal.

If you were thinking of finding a new tenant it may be worth approaching a local letting agent for advice.

Don't take legal advice from a letting agent. The average letting agent's records of getting the law correct is highly questionable at best.
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« Reply #7 on: February 05, 2022, 10:30:09 PM »

I can appreciate that a tenancy does not automatically end when a landlord dies,but are you saying that this landlord should serve notice to quit to a dead man or to a friend who just happened to be staying there temporarily?  Really,in the real world,would this be the realistic answer to this landlord's dilemma? What if the deceased does not have an executor,who would have to revoke the permission to stay there? I know close family can inherit the right to stay in social housing,but when did this apply to a friend staying with someone in a private rental?

 
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« Reply #8 on: February 06, 2022, 02:16:59 AM »

The law see no difference between a monthly periodic tenancy at market rent and say a brand new 999 year long lease on a country estate at peppercorn rent. They're essentially assets that can be inherited, even if their value may be very different.

I actually missed the whole partner bit from OP when I made my quick reply earlier, which is possibly going to make even worse reading for OP I'm afraid.

With an assured tenancy (shorthold or otherwise), section 17 of the Housing Act 1988 provides for statutory succession to the tenancy before will and intestacy are even considered. This (one time per tenancy only) succession applies where a sole tenant dies and their "spouse or civil partner was occupying the dwelling-house as his or her only or principal home". Someone who is "living with the tenant as if they were a married couple or civil partners is to be treated as the tenantís spouse or civil partner". OP say "ex partner", but if he argues that they made up and was living together as partners again, then you'll likely have to end up in court needing a full hearing to try to argue otherwise. Assuming he is treated as the deceased tenant civil partner at the time the deceased tenant died, then this partner became the tenant on the deceased tenant's death. In one sense that certainly make things simpler, you just go to court after a s21 or s8 notice per normal.

If he doesn't count as the deceased tenant's civil partner, then the tenancy pass under a will or per intestacy. In the mean time before the tenancy is passed to the beneficiary, the estate is liable to pay rent. If there is no executor or administrator, then the tenancy vest with the Public Trustee in the mean time. Notices are served to the Public Trustee as Personal Representative at the last known address (i.e. the rental property), and a copy must be registered with the Public Trustee. A fee is payable. With an executor or administrator, you serve the notice to them as Personal Representative. Since a tenancy is only assured when a human tenant lives there as their only or principal home, while it's with the personal representative the tenancy is not assured, and since it's periodic, you can serve a notice to quit to end the tenancy.

Where an assured tenancy passes under will or intestacy, the landlord gain an additional ground for possession under section 8 for 12 months. For AST, this is only really relevant where the tenancy is fixed term and the landlord wants to end it earlier as otherwise the landlord can just serve a s21 notice. If there's no one to inherit, the landlord gets to ask Bona Vacantia to disclaim the tenancy.

In the real world, if there was no one living there, and no potential beneficiary wants to move in, especially if there's no money in the estate, then the landlord can probably gets away with just taking possession after giving any friends or relatives time to grief and collect any belongings. But here, there is someone living there who does not wants to leave. Any attempt to remove this person without following the correct legal process could well end up with a claim for illegal eviction.
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« Reply #9 on: February 06, 2022, 10:23:18 AM »

This is an ex-boyfriend we are talking about.The tenant lived there alone by the sound of it for 15 years,so this hardly counts as a civil partnership or marriage.Really,you can quote all the dry arcane bits of law,but the people on here are normal people with human issues to deal with. I know the law is an ass,but can you imagine any reasonable official deciding to prosecute this landlord?
Years ago I had reason to suspect illegal activity from a new tenant.Terrorism was also a possibility given reports I got from neighbours.I let myself in,took a pile of mail,and went straight to the police with it.While the terrorism people were still checking it out,I told my agents I was having the locks changed. They reacted pretty much as I expect you would. I rang the police and told them my intentions, they confirmed they would have advised me to do just that,and laughed when I repeated the warnings of the LA's.
This landlord is not being cruel or insensitive.The man in question has made no reasonable efforts to come to an agreement,quite the opposite.No one would wish to have an aggressive hostile person as a tenant. I would say the risk of prosecution is tiny,and speaking  purely for myself,  it is one I would take were I in her position. She has had conflicting advice from lawyers,so really you pays your money and you takes your choice.
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« Reply #10 on: February 06, 2022, 01:09:55 PM »

can you imagine any reasonable official deciding to prosecute this landlord?

No, but not because of reasonable or unreasonable, but because of the lack of funding for housing staff in local authorities who would be the normal prosecuting authority rather than the police/CPS.

Yes, from a tenant point of view the police sucks when it come to things like this. It's not like some of them haven't been known to actually assist landlords in illegally evicting tenants, and/or you know got sued for it and lost.  :-X

I wasn't actually expecting or suggesting there would be a prosecution, but pointing out that the occupier could attempt to sue for illegal eviction. The possibility of that should always be considered by landlords when they're considering doing things by what they feel may be common sense rather than by the books.

She has had conflicting advice from lawyers,so really you pays your money and you takes your choice.

Definitely, but one can't make an informed decision until one know exactly where they stand first, and OP did ask where people thought they stood with the law.

Good luck to OP, I hope they start getting rent paid or get possession back soon.
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« Reply #11 on: February 06, 2022, 04:18:37 PM »

Thank you all for your comments.  You can see why I have asked the question as the situation is an unusual one and I am just getting confused by it all.  I am trying to understand all the legal jargon but sometimes its proving to be difficult   :-\  I think to be on the safe side I should get a solicitor to write a letter of eviction in the first instance and see how I go from there, I really don't think it is going to be pretty.  It's sad that the law favours the tenant (!) when I have only tried to be understanding and helpful.  I can't advise strongly enough to be so careful.  Thanks everyone x
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« Reply #12 on: February 06, 2022, 08:40:32 PM »

You have nothing to blame yourself for.This man has used emotional blackmail.He is living rent free in your house,don't let him live rent free in your head.x
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« Reply #13 on: February 26, 2022, 02:40:38 AM »

Hi. I am still struggling with my emotions on this situation.  Having received more nasty personal texts from the 'non tenant' I have come to the conclusion that whatever sympathies I had for him are subsiding rapidly.  I have obtained and copied all relevant paperwork that I would need to go ahead with a Section 21.  My question is how is the best way to give these papers to him including the how to rent book - which to be honest I now really don't want to give him because I don't want him to ever rent the property.  What proof do I need?  I would appreciate any suggestions on the correct lawful way, as I don't even know if he will agree to be at the property if I asked to meet him there.  He is getting very abusive and I am receiving random texts out of the blue that are of a very personal nature.  If I am truthful, I just want to grab him by the scruff of the neck and kick him to the kerb (if only it was that easy)
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« Reply #14 on: February 26, 2022, 08:35:35 AM »

I am surprised that solicitor's haven't been more helpful and knowledgeable. I have read of a few cases like this and when they have gone through the courts the judges have sided with the landlord.

Unfortunately, I have no more personal experience of this but regardless of the cost I would advise you find the right legal representation. Keep all the texts as evidence.
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« Reply #15 on: February 26, 2022, 11:08:35 AM »

I would be inclined to mention it to the police,and tell him you have done so.They probably won't do anything but it might scare him off a bit.Then block his number.If this is really getting to you I think a solicitor would be best.I thought that was what you were going to do?
If you do go ahead yourself,you don't have to warn him in  advance.Take someone with you,and have them take a photo as you present it to him.Otherwise,post it and get proof of postage (not signature,he may be savvy enough to refuse)
I think your friend that died would be utterly horrified and mortified  if he knew how his ex was harming you. He would not want you to take this a minute longer.Get help,detach yourself as much as possible from the personal history.Get that arsehole out of your house.
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« Reply #16 on: February 27, 2022, 03:55:29 PM »

HI everyone, thanks again for your responses.  Its so nice to have somewhere to be able to ask for advice on the situation.  I will be getting in touch with a solicitor tomorrow. I will have a look for one that is more specialised in this field if possible.  I needed to get an up to date EPC certificate done as part of the paperwork required.  I am also struggling with my emotions as I don't want to see anyone on the street.  I know he is dealing with grief, depression and is starting to drink heavily.  He had been quiet for a couple of weeks and I thought his anger was subsiding but last night he started again with the nasty comments.  He did text this morning with an apology....but as I ignored him he was then asking if I accepted it!  I do not respond to any of his messages unless they are normal (which there aren't many)  He is in a dark place but I know I have to do the right thing for me now.  I will keep you posted on my progress.
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« Reply #17 on: February 27, 2022, 06:15:09 PM »

Yes,I would be very interested to hear how this works out. I have been in your position in the past  (not only as a landlord) and ended up bruised and used.People don't suddenly change their fundamental character when they are suffering.I thought I knew all the stages of grief by now,but I must have skipped the one where you start being vile and threatening to a stranger who has shown you nothing but kindness. I would wager that if you did some checking  into this man's background before he came to your place you will find he has form for behaving like this.
Can I play amateur psychologist and suggest that you are struggling too with the loss of your friend, the end of an era in your life too. You are maybe  too vulnerable right now,and really need a solicitor to take some of the decisions for you. Good Luck.x     
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« Reply #18 on: February 27, 2022, 07:44:44 PM »

Thank you.  I am not struggling too much as my tenant had been ill for a while and the last year was bedridden so I was expecting it as he was getting gradually weaker.  What I didn't expect was how his friend/partner could turn into such a vile human being.  He apparently has fallen out with his family as well so I'm not taking his comments too personally.  Just the fact that it feels like not only is he not paying rent but it seems like he is sticking his fingers up at me as well ?? I will let you know how I go on.  Wish me luck....
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« Reply #19 on: March 22, 2022, 11:17:51 PM »

Hi.  I have an update.  I have not had any further abuse or contact from the person who is living in my property which is good. 

I have heard on the grapevine that he has found somewhere else to live and is in the process of moving out but he has not been in touch to let me know.  This 'move' has been going on for about 3 weeks.  He doesn't drive so I understand that he has to rely on people he knows to help him.    Apparently most of his things have been moved including the bed, TV and sofas.  He has been asked to let me know but he is refusing for some reason.  What is worrying me (maybe I'm overthinking this) but where he is moving to has strict rules regarding their tenancies so I've been told.  He still has keys to my property and I am concerned that he is keeping hold of them in case he gets thrown out of the new place. If he moves out without telling me where do I stand on getting access?  Can I just call around to the property and go in.  When I see that there are no belongings there can I text him to say 'I am at the property and it appears you are no longer living here'.  Would I be able to change the locks??  If he has moved out, (several people have let me know he is) I don't want him to be able to get back in to my property if the other place doesn't work out for him because that would leave me back at square one.    Any advice would be appreciated. 
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« Reply #20 on: March 23, 2022, 08:17:09 AM »

I believe you can take possession once it's established he has voluntarily vacated but do check with your solicitor. If that's the case then you are allowed to change keys etc He is obviously trying to keep his options open.
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« Reply #21 on: March 23, 2022, 10:15:39 AM »

You said you were consulting a solicitor last month? What was the outcome of that,has notice been served on him?
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« Reply #22 on: March 23, 2022, 10:33:20 AM »

If a person has removed all their belongings and is obviously not living there, despite retaining keys... there's implied surrender (the acts undertaken by the Tenant are "inconsistent with the continuation of the tenancy." and your position is quite clear) or abandonment that should allow you to do what you want.

Have a read here... https://england.shelter.org.uk/professional_resources/legal/renting/how_a_tenant_can_end_a_tenancy/surrender_of_a_tenancy#title-2 ...and see if it provides clarity.
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« Reply #23 on: April 05, 2022, 08:44:00 PM »

Hi Everyone

Thanks for all the great responses.  Sorry I haven't answered yet.  Unfortunately 2022 hasn't been a great year so far.  I have recently had news that a friend I have known since school has passed away so that has come as a real shock and I have been visiting the family and not been on my PC for a few days. She was only 51 which is no age at all.  :(

I just wanted to update everyone. 

My non tenant has moved out!!! I have had friends of friends inform me for the last three weeks that he had found somewhere else to live and he had paid his first months rent.  The move has dragged out longer than I thought it would so I eventually plucked up the courage to ring him directly and tell him I needed him to surrender the keys so that I can inform the insurance regarding a change of circumstance.  I explained that my property was now empty and vulnerable and he needed to give me the keys back as soon as possible.  Luckily he was very amicable and I am now back in possession.  I have been really lucky that I haven't had to pursue this through solicitors and the court but the experience has definitely taught me a valuable lesson. 

I hope that asking for advice and sharing my experience on this forum may help anyone who is renting for the first time and make them aware than no matter how much you think someone is a friend and you are doing them a favour, things can go wrong. Please make sure you cover yourself, even if you think you don't need to..... I have been lucky (ish) on this occasion.

I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has given me advice.  It has been very much appreciated and helpful whilst I have been so stressed out during the last few months.

You've all been a great help.

RockChick   xx



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« Reply #24 on: April 05, 2022, 08:56:56 PM »

It's such good news,I am very pleased for you.What a horrible way to learn a lesson.If you are reletting please be very careful !  x
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« Reply #25 on: April 06, 2022, 11:58:25 AM »

Really glad you have possession without the involvement of a solicitor.
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