Here is a question to the blog clinic from Adele who is a landlord:
I have recently evicted my tentant after he was arrested for growing canabis in my house. He left the property voluntarily and handed over the keys.
We allowed him to take his personal belongings but have witheld his setee, TV and bed informing him he can have these back when he has paid the rent untill the end of the month. It was due on the 1st Dec and he left on the 3rd. Also the cost of the damage to the property, cleaning costs and cost of changing the locks.
His property is not valuable and would not cover what he owes if I sold it. I have kept his bond but this does not cover the cost of the rent and damages.
I have been informed by the police that I am not allowed to do this under the Torts Act 1977 and I must return his property and then persue my claim through the civil court at cost to myself.
If I do this I will not recieve any money to cover the damage he has done to my property. Could you please advise, thank you.
The Police are right in what they say – the items belong to the tenant and must be returned to him. The Torts (Interference with Goods) Act 1977 they refer to, allows you to sell someone’s goods after giving notice, but this is ONLY if they fail to collect them after having been given notice. Not because they owe you money.
There is actually no legal way that YOU can withhold and sell a tenants goods to cover costs owed to you.
If you get a County Court Judgement against the tenant, eg for the rent and damage, you can then enforce this via the Bailiffs (or High Court Sheriffs) and THEY can then levy execution on the goods.
However if the goods are not valuable in themselves this could be an expensive option, as you will be personally responsible for the bailiffs costs of storage and selling the items at auction – if these costs are not covered by the proceeds of sale.
I realise that for landlords owed money by tenants for arrears and damage this is not a satisfactory answer. The procedures in this country for enforcing debt are less than satisfactory in many ways. The only thing to do is to claim what you can from your insurance and put it down to experience
Renting property is a business activity and we all know that there are risks in business. Losing money due to rent arrears and damage done by bad tenants is one of them.