ceo of online lettings agent upad.co.uk
Q.Dear James, my tenant has moved out but still owes me two months’ rent. I have no forwarding address for her and would like to at least get the deposit back. Without her there to sign the paperwork, how can I do that?
A.Thankfully for you, the Deposit Protection Scheme (DPS) has a simple Single Claim Process for situations where either the landlord or the tenant cannot contact the other party.
You will need to provide the DPS with a statutory declaration at least 14 days after the tenancy has ended. The statutory declaration must be sworn or affirmed in the presence of either a solicitor, a commissioner for oaths or a magistrate and must be filled out completely, including any details of the last known address or contact details of the other party.
It must also include the basis on which the amount of the deposit claimed is calculated, with particulars of any facts relied on to justify claiming that amount. You should send this declaration by registered post.
It should only be around 14 days for you to get your money back, providing that the tenant remains uncontactable. You can find details of exactly how to claim on the DPS website – www.depositprotection.com.
Q.Dear James, my tenant moved out and left some belongings behind. It was mainly junk, but there’s a jacket with an iPod in it. He also hasn’t paid the council tax. Can I sell anything I can salvage to pay the council tax?
A.The short answer is no, you can’t. Happily, the council tax is not your problem because it is not in your name. However, you do need to tell the council that he has moved out and the authorities will then need to pursue him for what he owes.
As for the items that he has left behind, you do have a duty of care over those and therefore cannot just sell them.
First, you should write to him at any forwarding addresses that he has given you and advise him that he needs to collect his goods. Send the letter by registered post and include your full contact details. This will provide good evidence that you have tried to contact him.
You need to hold on to the goods for three months if he owes you money. If he doesn’t, then 28 days is deemed reasonable. After that time, you can sell the goods and deduct anything he owes you personally (rather than the council) from the proceeds.
If there is still money left after that deduction, then it legally belongs to him should he turn up within the next six years to claim it.
James Davis is CEO of online lettings agent www.upad.co.uk. You can also follow Upad on Twitter: @avoidthevoids.