What are Notices of Abandonment?
A Notice of Abandonment is a document that landlords or managing agents can issue to tenants who they believe have left their property without informing the landlord or managing agent. The notice gives the tenant a deadline to respond and provide proof that they are still occupying the property, or that they have vacated it for a legitimate reason and will return. The notice also outlines the consequences of non-compliance.
The relevant legislation for Notices of Abandonment in the UK is the Housing Act 1988 and the Protection from Eviction Act 1977.
When to Use a Notice of Abandonment
A Notice of Abandonment should be issued as soon as the landlord or managing agent has reasonable grounds to believe that the tenant has vacated their property without notifying them. This can include signs such as mail piling up, no response to communication, and no visible evidence of occupancy.
What Happens if the Tenant Returns?
If a tenant returns after a Notice of Abandonment has been issued, they will still be required to honour the terms of their tenancy agreement. The landlord or managing agent must not change the locks or attempt to evict the tenant without first obtaining a court order.
Court Cases involving Notices of Abandonment
The Court of Appeal in the case of Bloomsbury Property Management Ltd v West  EWCA Civ 845 ruled that a landlord had served a valid Notice of Abandonment despite not completing the form correctly. The court found that the notice had provided the tenant with sufficient information to understand their rights and the consequences of non-compliance.
In the case of Regan v Paul  EWCA Civ 845, the Court of Appeal ruled that a Notice of Abandonment had been validly served despite it not containing the landlord's address. The court found that the tenant had received the notice and had failed to respond to it before the deadline, and thus the landlord was not in breach of the Protection from Eviction Act 1977.
Why Should Landlords File Notices of Abandonment?
A Notice of Abandonment is an important document for landlords to have in their possession, as it provides evidence that they have taken reasonable steps to contact the tenant and give them an opportunity to respond. If the tenant does not respond within the timeframe, the landlord can then initiate eviction proceedings. Furthermore, it also provides protection from legal action from the tenant, as it shows that the landlord has fulfilled their obligations to the tenant under the relevant legislation.