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Tenant had the ‘legal right’ to break back into landlord’s property, says council

Havering Council has defended its decision to advise a tenant to break back into a rental property that she had vacated 24 hours earlier because she, in the council’s view, ‘still had the right of occupation’.

Lewis Selt, the landlord of the two-bedroom flat in Romford, Essex, is now faced with a sitting tenant and having to start costly eviction proceedings, despite the fact that he has not received rent for several months.

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.


It is estimated that it will take up to eight weeks for a judge to grant a possession order and even then the tenant is unlikely to leave, based on advice by Havering Council.

A Havering Council spokesperson said: “The client reached out to staff at the Public Advice and Service Centre (PASC), where she was informed she still had a number of months in the property, as the landlord would need to follow the legal eviction process.

“The client then told staff she had handed the keys back to the Estate Agent and had put her belongings in storage. After speaking with the agents, it became clear that she had not handed back her keys, but had left them inside the property.

 “Council staff later advised her to return to the property as she still had the right of occupation. The agents were also reminded that as the case had not gone through the courts, the client had the legal right to remain in the property.

“Havering Council will always do its best to support vulnerable residents from becoming homeless, and we urge both private landlords and letting agents to act responsibly and follow the correct legal procedures.”

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  • Neil Moores

    It is exactly these sort of stories that persuaded me, and therefore my clients as well, to deliberately avoid letting to anyone who relies on benefits to pay their rent. I'm sure councils think they are helping people to have accommodation when, in fact, they are doing the opposite.

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    Its simple, do not let people on benefits rent your property.

    The council in my view has acted disgracefully and they should be ashamed of their actions. I see they want to now label the tenant as vulnerable to justify their horrific decision.

    This pushes more landlords out the game and increases rents for tenants.

    However, we are just labelled as "rich landlords" so all is good apparently

  • icon

    Hmmmm this story does not make sense. If the Landlord followed correct procedure then this is trespass + criminal damage. I hope that this can be rectified swiftly for all concerned.
    I to am reluctant to let my properties to persons on benefits and currently the market is good so that I do not have to, however if it changes......

    I completely agree that the Councils, on the benefit side, should have a more pro-active view with Landlords. However, I deal with Councils in several areas on other issues and found them to be very helpful.

  • icon

    What kind of law allows someone NOT to pay rent and have the right to stay or break back in!
    The tenant is in breach of contract,cray crazy laws.All set against Landlords.
    Like others NEVER EVER let to those on benefits,NEVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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    • 08 November 2017 10:51 AM

    The Council's ramblings are swivel eyed insanity.
    synonyms: folly, foolishness, stupidity, insanity, lunacy, midsummer madness, foolhardiness, idiocy, imprudence, irrationality, unreasonableness, illogicality, senselessness, nonsense, nonsensicalness, absurdness, absurdity, silliness, inanity, ludicrousness, wildness, preposterousness;

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    • 08 November 2017 11:17 AM

    We now will double our effort to ensure no benefits tenants will ever have the slightest atom of a chance of ever renting one of our properties at any point in the future whatsoever.

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    I would just like to add that:
    1) The tenant is guilty of rent payment evasion towards the accommodation provided for her.
    2) The council is responsible for not paying money to the landlord for rent on time.
    3) Council has delayed payments due to some possible errors in assessing this person's eligibility for housing benefits, instead housing her without knowing her full history beforehand.
    4) Tenant has been fraudulent to the council and the agency by lying about the keys.
    The law will not be able to compensate the landlord, neither can the council.
    Therefore the landlord will be fall into debts and possibly lose his house.
    It is very clear what should be done: Never mind what the law is saying because it is full of serious mistakes:
    1) The landlord should remove her from his house by throwing a stink bomb inside.
    2) He can then take out her stuff and let the council deal with this type of person.
    3) Landlord should change all door locks.
    4) Clean up his house, and re-rent it to whom he wishes.
    It's obvious that these people want to live on other people's back for free, and don't give a damn.
    The council will need to set-up portable accommodation containers in field's to house these people who couldn't care less about anybody else.
    I've had similar experiences and wish I did what is written above. Let them take me to court. I will support myself and make the judge see his/her wrongdoings by challenging the court on many counts of negligence, incompetency, and lack of justice to the person losing his livelihood.

  • icon

    What a crazy story. Distressing to the tenant, distressing and expensive to the landlord while the council walks away scot free as they wash their hands of the situation. No wonder the courts are struggling to cope if councils force landlords to evict via a legal process. I could offer a little sympathy to the council if the actually housed ALL the people in desperate need of housing, but sadly they fail continuously to do so leaving many struggling to find accommodation in the private sector. This type of council action will put many a landlord off renting to those people on benefits - shame on you council, I hope you sleep comfortably at night as many more of your citizens sleep on park benches.

  • icon

    Where does it say that the tenant was in receipt of housing benefit?


    in the original article


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