If a tenant leaves a property before the end of the contracted period, is behind with the rent, and doesn’t inform the landlord, this is called abandonment.
It can be difficult for the landlord to regain possession, as the tenant is within his/her rights to move back in at any point, and resume the tenancy, even though rent is still outstanding. It is a criminal offence for a landlord to prevent the continuation of a tenancy.
Until the new Housing and Planning Act 2016 comes into force (it was given Royal Assent last month) the only thing a landlord can do under these circumstances is to take legal action which takes months to complete.
The new Act, which only applies to properties in England, gives private landlords the power to repossess their empty properties after abandonment in a much shorter time frame. Provided the landlord has given 3 warnings, the rent is still unpaid, no response has been received from the tenant, named occupier or deposit payer, an assured shorthold tenancy can be terminated on the day of the notice.
According to the National Landlords Association (NLA), 36% of UK landlords have suffered abandonment of property. Regionally, this goes from 31% in the South West of England, up to 58% in the North East. Wales isn’t far behind with 56%, while London is 33%.
“Many people will be shocked by just how common this problem is,” said Richard Lambert, CEO of the NLA. “Landlords will be relieved to know that the Housing and Planning Act will create a new process to deal with the issue.”
Other parts of the Bill include changes to policy on new homes and starter homes, banning orders for rogue landlords and property agents (and a list of them which will be accessible by every local housing authority), social housing, planning, use of public authority land and compulsory purchase orders. The Act has yet to be declared in force – it is expected to be sometime in October.
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