Here is a question to the blog clinic from S whose mother in law is a tenant
My problem differs from those asked as the tenant (my mother in law) had not left or given notice on her property, but the landlord has entered and removed very valuable musical instruments instead of issuing any kind of notice regarding a months rent being overdue.
I can only find references to belongings left behind in a rented property. The police said it was a civil matter, but surely this is straightforward theft??
Whether or not it is actually theft will depend on whether the landlord intends to return it or not.
However his actions are certainly unlawful, not just the taking of the musical instrument without consent but also entering the property – as a tenant is it her property for the duration of the tenancy, and she has the legal right to keep out everyone, including the landlord.
Taking action however, may be difficult because litigation is not easy and solicitors are expensive.
There is also the fact that the landlord does have a valid claim against her in respect of the unpaid rent (although it does not excuse what he did).
She ought to be able to get some help from the tenancy relations officer at her Local Authority, however, Local Authorities are so overstretched just now that they may not have the resources to do anything for her.
The police tend to be pretty useless at anything involving property and will invariably say it is a ‘civil matter’ even if it is obviously a criminal offence.
You could try making a formal complaint against them to see if that will galvanise them into action bu it will take some time. This post here is a useful case.
However I would start off by writing a rather strong letter to the landlord saying that he has committed a criminal offence by entering the property and removing items without her consent and unless these are returned within 7 days she reserves the right to issue legal proceedings for
- the return of the items (or their value)
- compensation for trespass and breach of the tenant’s covenant for quiet enjoyment, plus
- her legal costs.
NB If she uses the musical instrument for her job and he knows this, she could also include an extra compensation claim based on this.
The landlord is far more likely to return the item though, if she is able to pay the outstanding rent – I would suggest that this be done as he will then be totally in the wrong and I cannot see how he could possibly defend any court proceedings brought against him.
She then may be able to interest someone in acting for her on a no win no fee basis.