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Question

Abandonment (England) | Ending a Tenancy (England) | Landlord Wants Tenant to Leave (England) | When and if Tenant Can Leaving During Tenancy (England)

What Constitutes Vacant Possession?

31 Jul 2018 | 1 comment

A landlord has served a Section 21 Notice on his tenants who have an assured shorthold tenancy at Property 1 requesting vacant possession of Property 1 by 8 August 2018.

The tenants have not been in Property 1 for a while as there was a flood. The landlord therefore sourced the tenants with alternative accommodation at Property 2. The tenant’s intention was to reoccupy Property 1 once the flood had been remedied. Belongings of the tenants remain in Property 1. The section 21 notice was served on the tenants at Property 2 for possession of Property 1 (there is no dispute that the tenants have not received the notice).

The tenants have now left the keys to Property 1 with the estate agents and have left a note stating that they “are taking advice on vacant possession”.

What constitutes vacant possession? Is it enough that the keys have been returned albeit with an ambiguous note? Or should the landlord just issue possession proceedings?

It should be noted that there remains some of the tenants belongings but the Landlord suspects that this is just ‘junk’ the tenants have left behind.

Answer

1 Comment

  1. guildy

    The question is basically “is there an intention to return within a reasonable period?”

    Reasonable period is determined by individual circumstances so whilst they were not living at the property due to the flood, they nonetheless had an intention to return within a reasonable period (once the repairs were done) and so the tenancy continued.

    However, now that they have returned the keys, there can be no intention to return. Keys are what matters because they can’t wish to return if they have no keys.

    Please see here for detailed information about occupation (it’s geared towards abandonment but still applicable for this case).

    In our view, as the landlord served a section 21 notice and now that they have handed back keys and left as a result of the section 21, the tenancy is at an end. If there has been any rent paid and they have left mid-period, they will be entitled to a refund of an apportioned amount.

    In respect of the goods left (if not just rubbish), please see here.

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