This is a question to the blog clinic from Henry (not his real name) who is a landlord.
Regulated (rent Act or Protected) tenant voluntarily submits a move out date to Council tax billing authority, and obtains an alternative accommodation.
No notice to quit is served on Landlord and rent payments are stopped by the regulated tenant. Tenant do not return keys and give no forwarding address.
Billing authority transfer Council tax liability over to the Landlord although the protected tenancy has not been terminated legally. Therefore, in my opinion, tenant has retained material interest in the property.
For the protected regulated tenants, getting a possession order under section 21 is not possible.
Can the Landlord let the property out to new suitable tenants without the lengthy process of getting a possession order?
The important question is ‘Is the tenant actually living at the property or not?’
If the tenant is actually living elsewhere, then even if the tenancy has not ended, it will no longer be a protected tenancy as the Rent Act 1977 only protects tenants who are actually living at the property.
Rent Act 1977 s2(i)(a) “…so long as he occupies the dwelling-house as his residence, …”
Once the tenant has moved out then the tenancy that they have will revert to a ‘common law’ unregulated tenancy which you can end by serving a formal Notice to Quit.
Although also as you are able to show that the tenant’s conduct indicates that he does not have any intention to continue with the tenancy you should be entitled to change the locks anyway under the rule of ‘implied surrender’ which you can read about here.
I suggest that you go to the property and take a look. If the tenant has moved all his possessions out and is clearly no longer living there then you can probably take it that he has gone. You may even find that the keys have been left behind.
However it would be a good idea to retain evidence of the tenant’s departure so take photographs of the property showing that the tenant has moved out and also the keys if they are found and keep the evidnece you have regarding the Council tax. You should keep this evidence for at least six years, just in case.
If you can it may also be a good idea to try to locate the tenant – tracing agents should be able to help here, and their report will be additional evidence that the tenant has vacated the property.
You can then serve a notice to quit on the tenant and I suggest you wait at least 28 days before re-letting the property.