How can I tell if my tenant has left?

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I have served a Section 21 notice on my tenant which expired Friday 23 Jan. I have not been able to contact the tenant and have no phone number for him, so I called at the property yesterday at 6.00pm to try to meet him to get the keys back. Neighbours told me he had been seen moving things out during the preceeding days and earlier that day, and another neighbour told me the tenant had a place at the local Salvation Army hostel, however he was not in when I got there. I have returned again at 2pm today to find the door locked,blinds drawn and no response to knocking. Neighbours have not seen or heard him since yesterday about 5pm, but when I looked through the letterbox there is a sofa and bin bags full of things in the sitting room.

I do not have a key for the property as the key I had does not fit, so he may have changed the locks at some point. As he owes me over 14 weeks rent and has been abusive when we have tried to collect it I want to regain possession as quickly as possible. Neighbours have said they will call me if they hear him return, but everyone thinks he has left.

What are my options? Ideally I would like to wait a few days and if there is still no sign of him then go and change the locks. Am I able to do this or do I have to go to court? If so how does he receive the court notices as I am fairly certain he is not living there and I have no means of contacting him?

Thank you for your help.

24/01/2009 00:00

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