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What can you do if your tenant has gone to prison?

flatsHere is a question to the blog clinic from Diana who is a landlord:

I just found out that my tenant had gone to prison for possible rape and drugs problem. And the other problem is that he already owes me 2 months rent.

How can I get rid of him and recover the lost money. Thank you so much.

Unfortunately the fact that your tenant is in prison do not end the tenancy of itself.

However if he has moved all his possessions out, then you may be able to use ‘implied surrender’ rule I describe here.

I assume this is not the case though.  In which case, unless he is prepared to agree to surrender the tenancy voluntarily, you will need to get a court order for possession.

I am assuming in this answer that the fixed term has some way to go and that you therefore cannot use the section 21 procedure.

If he is in arrears of rent, then you can use the rent arrears ground to get a possession order.  You will need to serve the eviction notice on him in prison – have a word with the prison authorities, they should be able to do this for you.

You could include a letter asking if he is prepared to  give up the tenancy voluntarily – maybe offer to waive all or part of the rent arrears if he agrees to do this as an incentive and include a letter for him to sign and return to you confirming his agreement.

If he does not do this, then (assuming he does not pay the rent) you should have no problem in getting your eviction order – the most cost effective way to do this is via my  DIY Eviction Guide.

So far as the rent arrears are concerned, you will get a County Court Judgement as part of your court order.

However your chances of recovery against someone in jail are low so the best thing you can do is get your eviction order asap.

Landlord LawNote that I have a free guide on dealing with rent arrears in my Landlord Law Library site.

Find out more >> here.

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Important note. If you are reading an old post, remember that the law may have changed since it was written.

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4 Responses to What can you do if your tenant has gone to prison?

  1. Whilst it may not always be an option, one thing to consider if is you have a judgment against the tenant then their goods can still be enforced against whilst they are in prison.

    In one case we seized and sold a Jaguar car which covered 80% of the sums due to the claimant.

  2. Nice one! But a note of warning to anyone reading this – you MUST get a County Court Judgment first.

    If it is over £600 then you can arrange for it to be transferred up to the High Court and enforced by the Sheriffs (who have a better reputation than the County Court Bailiffs for this work).

    But don’t just go in and seize the goods yourself. That is illegal.

  3. Hi if the tenant is in receipt of housing benefit and on remand and not been convited they will still pay his rent and once convicted up to 3 months



About the post author:

Tessa Shepperson

Tessa is a lawyer and specialises in creating products and services which help landlords and letting agents learn and understand landlord & tenant law. For example, she runs the Landlord Law website (now in its 14th year) and is a director of Easy Law Training Ltd and Your Law Store. Tessa also sits on the Property Redress Scheme Council. When not working she enjoys reading, cooking and messing around on the computer. You can also find her on Google

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Tessa is an English lawyer specialising in residential landlord and tenant law.

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