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Abandoned properties a problem for third of landlords

More than a third (36 per cent) of landlords in the UK have had property abandoned by tenants before, according to new figures from the largest landlord association.

Abandonment occurs when a tenant moves out of a property before the tenancy has ended, without informing their landlord. The issue can be costly as it often occurs when outstanding rent is owed. However, the tenant still has a legal right to return and take up residence at any time and it is a criminal offence for landlords to do anything to prevent the continuation of the tenancy.

The only option for a landlord is to go through the legal process for regaining possession of an abandoned property which can take months.

A big problem for Northern landlords

While on average a third of landlords have had property abandoned before, more landlords in the North East of England have experienced the problem than anywhere else across the UK, with almost six in ten (58 per cent) having had a property abandoned. Just over half (51 per cent) of landlords in the North have also experienced the issue.
Tenant abandonment
At the other end of the scale, three in ten (31 per cent) landlords in the South West of England said they have had a property abandoned before – the lowest proportion across the UK – with a third (33 per cent) of London landlords having had to deal with the problem.

Tackling the problem

The news comes as the Housing and Planning Act – which contains measures to tackle the problem – recently received Royal Ascent.

Richard Lambert, CEO of the NLA, said:

“The process of recovering an abandoned property is too long, frustrating, and costly for landlords at the moment.

“Many people will be shocked by just how common this problem is, and landlords will be relieved to know that the Housing and Planning Act will create a new process to deal with the issue, giving them far greater security and peace of mind when recovering properties they believe to have been abandoned”.

The Housing and Planning Act also contains proposals to allow local councils to keep hold of the proceeds they make when carrying out landlord prosecutions* as well as introducing stiffer civil penalties and banning orders for landlords found breaking the law.

Mr Lambert continued:

“We’ve long argued that councils should be able to hold on to the money they make when carrying out landlord prosecutions as this better enables them to implement long-term enforcement strategies to tackle the rogues.

“The Government missed the chance to apply these changes in today’s Queen Speech, but we hope they
waste no further time in giving councils these important powers”.

Source: The National Landlords Association (NLA)

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Editor at large, SalfordOnline.com