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Landlord faced with eviction costs after council tells tenant to break into his flat

A landlord in Essex has had to start eviction proceedings to remove a sitting tenant after she broke back into a rental property that she had vacated 24 hours earlier, allegedly on the advice of Havering Borough Council.

Lewis Selt, a landlord from Hertfordshire, has owned his two-bedroom first-floor flat in the town centre of Romford, Essex, for many years. A little over a year ago, he let his property to a single mother in receipt of housing benefit.

However, the landlord served notice for the tenant to leave at the end of the 12-month tenancy after she failed to pay her rent for several months, resulting in £2,000 rent arrears accrued.


The tenant surrendered the property and left with her belongings on the agreed date. The agent retrieved the keys from the property on the same day whilst carrying out his check-out report.

But the next day the tenant returned to the letting agent to ask if she could have the keys back and return to the property, after the council supposedly advised her to move back in.

She told the agent that Havering Council had said they would not rehouse her because she had voluntarily made herself homeless and that she should have remained in the property until she was evicted. When the agent refused, she explained that Havering Council had advised her that if the agent would not give the keys back, she should get a locksmith and break back into the property.

Robert Gordon, property manager for the landlord, said: “I went to the property the next morning to ensure everything was OK but my keys no longer worked. I could see that furniture had been moved back into the property. In an attempt to resolve the matter, I drove straight to the local council but no-one would speak to me or identify who had issued such ludicrous advice to a tenant who felt she had no choice but to break the law.”

Selt is now faced with a sitting tenant and having to start eviction proceedings. Although he could take legal action against the tenant under a trespassing law, he has decided to serve a Section 21 notice and a Section 8 notice in a bid to get his property back and recover money owed as quickly as possible.

Selt said: “Not only am I not receiving rent on my property, I’m now faced with eviction costs and yet I’m powerless to do anything about it.

“The agent has done everything possible to protect my interests but landlords and agents are facing a losing battle if local authorities are going to issue such ridiculous advice.” 

It will now take approximately six to eight weeks for a judge to grant a possession order and if the tenant still refuses to leave, which she is likely to do based on advice by Havering Council, bailiffs will be called, according to Paul Shamplina, founder of Landlord Action, the company instructed by Mr Selt to evict the tenant.

Shamplina said: “Local authorities are forcing landlords to go to court to gain possession, running up considerable costs.

“Landlords are losing confidence in the system and turning away from communities which rely on their private housing to bridge the gap in the chronic shortage of social housing.

“This advice is exasperating the problem and something needs to be done.” 

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    something needs to be done! something needs to be done ! something needs to be done!
    sick of hearing this,sick of UK law,sick of this clown government!
    The law is a joke.
    I would never take benefit tenants NEVER.
    Clearly landlord bashing is government run and the so called law is set against Landlords.
    Clearly tenants are allowed to abuse the system(which is crap) and clearly councils break the law.
    I have never had respect for councils as they too are run by morons.

  • G romit

    All landlords should tell their Local council that they will refuse to accept Tenants on benefit unless they indemnify them from eviction costs and rent arrears.
    In this way perhaps the Local councils may think twice about the advice they are giving Tenants facing eviction.

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    This has always been a problem with benefit tenants. However surely this is a trespass matter. The previous tenancy has been brought to an end no further tenancy created. Therefore the Section 8 and Section 21 notices may be ineffective as the tenancy they are purported to be served on no longer exists.

    Just Mogler

    Peter is correct I feel. As the presiding judge/senior lawyer who will hear the case WILL BE sympathetic to the tenant, (from experience) they will look for a way to prolong your misery...Sorry.

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    • 07 November 2017 10:44 AM

    Ladies and gentlemen let us not forget that we are hated. You have to follow every tiny piece of law and legislation to keep the judge happy and even then he will often be unhappy to concur that morally legally and logically, you are the landlord are in the right. And as for councils? They should be sued to hell and back

  • icon

    i take no benefit tenants--too many are scum! and the la jobsworths are worse than scum

  • icon

    Surely the Council can be held responsible for the costs incurred. Any way all the Councils out there. I pledge to NEVER take benefit tenants. So you want us to work with you? I think you've blown that time and time again.

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    Surely the Council can be held responsible for the costs incurred. Any way all the Councils out there. I pledge to NEVER take benefit tenants. So you want us to work with you? I think you've blown that time and time again.

  • Just Mogler

    Ladies and gents...think on...you let to respectable employed people who after a while loose their job!. they then need housing benefit to afford the rent...what do you do when they are within their s/h lease agreement period and still paying the rent...You would not be kindly looked on if you issued S21/S8 notices because they were on benefit...People fall on hard times and we should at least be sympathetic to their difficulty. Re councils attitude..I thoroughly agree ..but they just want your money not your support/help.

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    • 07 November 2017 13:30 PM

    Yes one needs to be sympathetic but temper your sympathies in line with the sympathy you would expect from your lender should you miss one or more buy to let mortgage payments. Sympathy doesn't go far, but it can put you in a very bad place at quite a rate of knots if you overdo it.

  • cantseethewood forthetrees

    Why not crowdfund an action against said council who advised the tenant to break back in - after all they are in a position to know better. Even though it's Council policy not to house people who 'voluntarily make themselves homeless' they should be held responsible for the advice they give. Instead of the landlord having to bear the financial brunt of the outcome the council should be made liable to pay the landlord's lost income, for the damage caused to the property, all legal costs incurred, as well as some compensation for all the stress it's clearly causing. Perhaps that would put a stop to all this irresponsible behavoiur from the powers that be.

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    I also will never again take benefit tenants for one reason only, I need to have the rent paid as I am now retired and it is the Landlords house.
    We are providing accommodation because the council cannot.
    When I rang the council to ask them to pay the rent directly to me they said if the claim proved to be fraud I would have to pay all the rent back. What are you talking about
    1.that money is for accommodation I am providing because you can’t.
    2 I am not assessing the claim you are, it’s your job.
    3 that is not your money or the tenants it is mine for the accommodation I am providing.
    I wonder why benefit tenants are suppose after not being able to organise money to suddenly be able, when given possibly £1,000s, to budget. Pardon me, not possible.
    The rules must be changed so Landlords can be assured they get their rent paid.
    More and more of us just cannot take the risk anymore sorry just not on.
    Let’s start being realistic and handle this problem with sense,completely unworkable at the moment the way it is now handled. Hopeful Anne Russell.

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    • 04 December 2017 11:04 AM

    How is it that we find ourselves lost in this world of inverted logic and madness?
    Is this an experiment to test our sanity? Or is this punishment for something which we cannot understand? How can all this chaos be explained ? Being a landlord in today's Britain requires you to exist in an Alice in Wonderland alternative plane of existence where everything is upside down and nothing makes any sense. The only way to survive is to reverse every logical thought you have - and you will fit right in.


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