A Dangerous Parrot and an Axe Wielding Tenant
We received an urgent instruction from a Local Authority who wanted us to assist them in gaining access to a property they owned. The tenants had allowed the property to fall into disrepair and into a dangerous condition both on the inside and outside.
Time was pressing given Christmas closures and the realistic risk that the tenants or their visitors could come to harm.
The problem to be addressed:
The tenants, a woman and her adult son, had lived in the property for decades and the property had descended in a perilous state of disrepair.
There was no written tenancy agreement which complicated matters as there were no written terms to rely upon. This was a result of the tenants being the wife and son of a deceased Council employee, who had lived in the property as a result of his job. When he died his wife and son continued to live there.
Local people had reported to the council smashed windows, a dangerous dog, neglected wild fowl and a smell so potent as to raise concern as to what was inside the property.
The Local Authority put us on notice that there were significant concerns raised by contractors and Council staff who had tried to access the property to assess its condition for repair. The property represented a danger to the tenants and anyone else who accessed it.
Time was of the essence, we were on notice that the electric sockets and wiring were dated and exposed, there were leaking commercial sized fish tanks in the property and part of the roof had collapsed.
We were further on notice of an allegedly dangerous dog, dangerous parrot and that the son had previously answered the front door to Council staff armed with an axe.
The tenants, who were not paying their rent (albeit this was a secondary consideration after the health and safety of anyone entering the property), had made threats to Council staff and contractors and would not engage even the fire service who had attended to provide safety advice.
Further concerns arose as to the wellbeing of animals at the property. We were on notice that the RSPCA had been called to the property previously.
A landlord has a right to inspect a property and a right to access the property on reasonable written notice. In this instance, given the obstructiveness of the tenants we recommended that the reasonable written notice was to be bolstered by an application for an Injunction.
The injunction was sought for:
- The tenants to vacate the property
- The tenants to remove all of their animals
- In the alternative to 1, the tenants to vacate until such time that remedial works have been completed.
The Court made an Order that the tenants keys were to be handed over within 24 hours of the tenants being personally served with the Order. This hastened matters. The Court had understood the seriousness of the situation.
We arranged for personal service of the Application for an Injunction prior to the Hearing and the Order arising from the Hearing by process server on the tenants.
Once served the tenants engaged with Greenhalgh Kerr and the Local Authority. Both mother and son were identified as vulnerable and we arranged for Shelter to advise them in regard to the injunction hearing.
Following the hearing the mother was tracked by process serving agents to her workplace (where she also temporarily resided) hundreds of miles away from the derelict property. She was served with the Injunction and handed over her keys.
The son handed his keys in at the local town hall as agreed days later.
The animals were rehoused by the RSPCA.
The Local Authority has taken possession of the property following the Court’s Order and changed the locks and given its semi-rural location the property has since been secured by way of boarding up. Renovations are scheduled to take place over the coming 9 months.
The adult son has been rehoused and is happy in his temporary accommodation and their possessions are in storage pending the renovation of the property that had fallen into disrepair.
Social and adult care services have now engaged the tenants to help them with their broader needs over and above accommodation.
Greenhalgh Kerr’s swift action prevented loss and / or injury which could have come at significant cost to the Local Authority:
The Local Authority managed to enter the property, inspect it and has subsequently taken steps to remedy its current condition.
The haste with which we were able to act ensured the dangerous electrics, dangerous commercial fish tanks and general poor condition of the property did not lead to the tenants, any other occupiers or Local Authority employees or contractors being injured.