Illegal eviction complaint
I recently received a letter from the Council, informing me that one of my previous tenants has accused me of illegal eviction. I must reply to the council within the next ten days with a statement. I've tried to seek legal advice locally and from companies who specialize in tenancy law, but the local solicitors have no expertise or need at least a month to work on it and the experts don't think it's worth their while as the next step might be an interview under caution and they don't want to travel that far to attend. What do I do?
This is the case very briefly.
I was developing a 4 bed HMO and waiting for the Council to issue a HMO license.
A group of 4 students were interested in the house and asked if they could rent it from the 1st of July for 12 months. I explained to them that I didn't have a HMO license yet, so I couldn't provide a 12 month contract for four people. But I could allow two of them to live there over the Summer for 6 weeks at half rent and another tenant could store her stuff there for the same period, as she was living and working away over Summer.I would then hopefully obtain the HMO license, as the decision was due in a few weeks.
The tenant who stored her stuff at the house has made the complaint, lets call her tenant A.
Nine days into the contract, tenant A, e-mailed me to say that she would be moving out of the house at the end of the six week contract, she did not want to stay on and I was allowed to find a replacement for her. This is what I did and found a tenant who was interested.
A month into the 6 week contract I received a letter from the Council informing me that the HMO license was not granted.I got in touch with tenant A and informed her that I would not be able to extend the contract after the end of August as I would be breaking the law. I sent this email to confirm that she was still intending to move out. She got back to me a few days later asking for my permission to stay on at the house until the end of August. As this was the end of the contract anyway, I emailed her back saying that she could stay.
On the last day of the contract, tenant A, emailed me to say that her new house was not ready and that she would be staying for another fortnight at my house. She was going away on holiday for a week, then back at the house for a week. I emailed her back saying that I would not be able to give her permission to live at the house as I would be breaking the HMO restriction.
She got back to me a few days later, saying that she had moved out and her keys were left in her room.
I did not think of issuing a section 21, as I thought that she was moving out. Over the term of the contract, she informed me more than once that she was leaving on the last day of the contract. What was I supposed to do at the time?
I would appreciate any advice as I'm left having to write a statement to the Council without representation.A local solicitor has suggested representing myself and another has suggested that I get a barrister and that it would take a month to prepare the case.
I think that illegal eviction is quite serious and I could loose my license and also get fined a considerable amount.
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