One of our members asked for advice using our questions facility on what to do with the belongings of a tenant who had been sent to prison. Read his summary of the responses and his situation...
"I had three responses. One response was incorrect,I believe, saying the tenancy automatically end's.
Basically it's a nightmare for the landlord.
Firstly the tenancy needs to be brought to a end ie the tenant surrenders is the best solution. If the sentence is short ie 6-12 months it's possible housing benefit will pay to secure the tenancy. If it's longer you need to try and contact the tenant which is difficult if you don't know the prison and the case number. The other option to end the tenancy is through the court's ie section 8 or 21 but then again you have to serve this in prison.
Then you have the belongings issue once you regain the property and yet again you need to get tenant's consent to dispose of and no way can you change locks and remove belongings. Also this highlights the importance of asking for next of kin at the beginning of the tenancy as this is very helpful, which unfortunately I did not do.
With my situation, he was already was in arrears and I had a been to court but it had been adjourned as he claimed mental issues and disposoed of all the paperwork which I had to serve again in order for him to build a defence as he claimed he had over paid rent in the 10 years of the tenancy which he obviously had not!
So I have another hearing 5th June to get possession and bring the tenancy to the end.
So now it's the belongings. My dad went into his room on Sunday and he had luckily left a hand scribbled note saying " Warren I am sorry just dispose of everything and sell what you can as I have gone away".
My dad has checked he's taken passport, driving licence, telephone, iPad and birth certificate which will help him on release which is not in the room so he's obviously given to the prison service or for someone on the outside is holding for safe keeping!"
If you have similar experiences or alternative advice, do please let us know.
Written & oral information and advice from the Portsmouth & District Private Landlord's Association is given in good faith, but no responsibility whatsoever is accepted by the Association or it's officers for the accuracy of it's information & advice nor shall the Association be held responsible for the consequences of reliance upon such information.