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Tenant says she's gone back to her mother. Should I accept handover?

Questions & AnswersCategory: General QuestionsTenant says she's gone back to her mother. Should I accept handover?
summerhill asked 3 months ago

I've had a tenant for 3 years with no problems until recently. She was on benefit. I was not keen on this but my agent recommended her and arranged for her mother to be guarantor. The agent sold his business and I took the opportunity to resume control of my affairs.

After a few months the tenant became late with the rent and blamed it on the Council stopping her benefit whilst they investigated/reviewed her claim. She usually paid on time so I have waited for her to update me. At the weekend I got a Council tax demanand so I contacted the tenant who is now 4 weeks late. She said she could not afford the rent and had moved back to her mother's home. She said she didn't know why her benefit payments were stopped and the Council would not tell her. She said I could have the rent deposit lodged at the DPS and the blinds she has fitted. She wants to do a handover this Friday coming. I called the Council who said the tenant was not living there since the 8 July and the Council Tax had reverted to me as landlord/owner. They would restore the Council Tax liability to the tenant if I confirmed she is still under contract, which she is until February 2017. She has not given me any contractual notice.

My dilema is whether I should revert the Council Tax to the tenant, request the rent from her mother (the guarantor) and demand the required contractual notice, or, cut my losses, accept the handover and get a new tenant ASAP. I think I have the law on my side but am wary of potential legal costs such as suing the guarantor or seeking an eviction, if the tenant digs her heels in. I am also concerned about vandalism if the property is left unoccupied for only a short period of time.

What would other landlords do in this situation (apart from consulting a solicitor)? Any advice would be gratefully received.

Summerhill.

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