It can be tricky to know the correct procedure to take when you believe that the tenant has vacated the property. The main issue you want to avoid like the plague is a claim for unlawful eviction. Claims of this nature can be troublesome to deal with, costly and will hinder your attempts for possession a great deal. It is therefore crucial to follow the relevant steps to make sure that vacant possession can be gained without undue delay.
Surrender is one of the more amicable ways to formally bring an end to a tenancy. The Landlord and tenant mutually agree that it is best for all concerned to end the tenancy. Signing a deed of surrender ties up all loose ends and ensures that parties are not unwittingly still involved in the tenancy. This is a situation that is best avoided to mitigate chances of a nasty surprise somewhere down the line.
All circumstances are easier to deal with when you have mutual agreement between the parties. As I am sure a number of you attest to, sometimes not all the boxes can be ticked off, and it is situations like these that you need to be careful about. This is where abandonment notices can be worth their weight in gold.
Abandonment notices are very simple concepts. It is simply a note on the door saying that if they are still in occupation can they let you know within 14 days. This time limit can be altered but in past experience, we as a firm believe that 14 days both allows sufficient time for the tenant to inform the landlord or agent of his presence, whilst at the same time ensures that the Landlord does not need to keep their property off the market for too long and therefore does not lose out on potential future rental payments.
I will add a cautionary note here. Although the notice needs to be visible i.e. not hidden in a bush, it should not be brought to the attention of everyone and their dog who is going to pass the property. Those that call the helpline have stressed that they are concerned about third parties noticing that properties are empty when they get sight of these notices and therefore it is advised that you simply use your common sense.
Back to the notice itself, if no contact has been made by the tenant in the time frame stipulated, then the day after it has expired that is the fifteenth day, the locks can be changed and the property put back on the market. There is obviously the issue of dealing with the tenant’s possessions if any have been left behind but that is a topic for another day.
For those on the helpline there is a draft Deed of Surrender and Abandonment Notice in the document vault.