I have two elderly tenants (69 and 75) who have lived in a studio flat since 1996 on the same tenancy agreement, now a rolling contract with two month notice period. I purchase the property this year and provided them with the following information and reprotected the deposit:
- How to rent (latest version)
- Deposit Certificate
- Prescribed Information
- Electricity only so no gas cert required
I have also had the electrical circuits testing and a new fuse box installed as the previous landlord could not provide evidence of this being checked in the last five years.
The tenants are hoarders. There is paperwork and old newspapers stacked up to the ceiling in every room, to the extent that only she can fit in the living room and sleeps in a chair and he sleeps on the bathroom floor. There is also a bad smell and lots of old food. She is disabled and has had major abdominal surgery in the last few months and he has just had cataract surgery is due to have a new pacemaker fitted in the next month.
I am concerned because there is a lot of combustible material in the flat and it also appears to be an environmental health concern. This flat is in a block of 14 flats ( I own the whole block) and I am responsible for the safety of everyone. I believe the electrical sockets and appliances may be outdated and unsafe too but we are unable to gain access to these to test them due to the quantity of stuff in the flat.
When I first took over the flat I went to speak to them and explained that it is dangerous to have the flat in the present condition and told them that they would need to clear it to a reasonable standard in order to stay (i.e. we need to be able to perform all of the safety checks). I then said I would come back in a month to check on progress and if nothing had changed I would serve notice to quit. I came back to check and a small amount of progress had been made. I served notice but told them that I would come back again in a month and cancel the notice if they had managed to clear it. I have seen them since in passing and they have hired two storage containers and their family is helping to clear it, but as the contents has been accumulating for over twenty years and the previous landlord did nothing there is still a substantial amount of stuff in there.
I am due to go back for my inspection tomorrow. I suspect there will have been a lot of progress but still vast amounts of clutter. I am unsure of what to do. Apparently the date that the notice expires (in line with the first date of the next rent period as per the agreement) is when he goes in for heart surgery so clearly they will not be leaving on that date if the notice remains in place. I think it is unlikely that we will gain possession at court for the following reasons:
- They are elderly and in poor health.
- The property has been in the current condition for many years and they have tried to make progress.
- The property is in a poor condition and I have been unable to confirm if all the electrical items are safe.
Even if we do gain a possession notice I doubt they will clear their possessions and prepare to leave. If we then get baliffs involved and the locks are changed I will be left with huge amounts of stuff in the flat that they are entitled to. I will have to find somewhere to store it all and pay a team of movers to empty it.
Should I just let them stay if they continue to empty the flat? I have told them that I will update the electrics and decorate the flat if they can get it into a state where this is possible.
Please can you give me some advice.
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