Here is a question to the blog clinic from Paul (not his real name) who is a landlord.
My tenant has been growing weed in the roof and cellar, but I only saw the equipment for growing weed and a a few leaves(buds) on the floor.
The tenant also changed the locks without asking me. I forgot to put the deposit in a government registered scheme, so can’t give a section 21.
What can I do please as we would like him to leave and worry he is going to stay. He is not paying rent also.
There are several issues here:
Failure to protect the deposit is unfortunate but not fatal. If you want to use section 21 you can, but first you will need to refund the deposit money to the tenant. You can only offset his rent arrears with his consent (which should be in writing or otherwise you will not be able to prove it).
I have a special kit I have written to help landlords in this situation which you can see here.
Note however that once you are in breach of the deposit regulations you become liable to a claim for the penalty of between one and three times the deposit. There is nothing you can do about this. I suspect you would probably be liable for the 2x award for the reasons set out here.
Although there are grounds for possession you can use which relate to his growing of weed, these would be discretionary grounds and I would not recommend using them for reasons set out here.
If the rent arrears are over two months, you could normally use the mandatory rent arrears ground, but in your case, the tenant would be able to apply for the penalty for breach of the deposit rules, which would then be offset against your claim.
Unless the arrears are very serious, this would either wipe out your arrears altogether or bring them down to less than two months.
So in my view, your best bet would be to bite on the bullet, refund the deposit money, and use section 21.
If your tenant has changed the locks there is not much you can do about this now.
However, if this was in breach of the terms of your tenancy agreement you may be able to bring a claim against his deposit for any financial losses you may suffer as a result of this – for example, if you need to change the locks back again.
NB Find out more about the Eviction Services on Landlord Law