🎵Whatcha gonna do? Whatcha gonna do? Whatcha gonna do when they come for your landlord🎵, is the last thing you’ll hear before the cops circle in on your crooked landlord.
That’s right, landlords getting nicked. Hopefully, the words “your landlord has been arrested and is going down for a considerable amount of time” is something you’ll never hear. But, if it does turn out that they’re Walter White 2.0, you might be asking a few questions about what happens to your tenancy.
Well, fear not, because we’ve got you covered with this article about what happens if your landlord goes to prison.🏬
So, your landlord got arrested?
The relationship between landlords and renters is a curious one. Some know each other particularly well and have a good relationship; others have minimal contact, with communication taking place between a letting agent or property management company.
For those who are friendly with their landlords, unless you’re spending every Sunday round theirs for a roast dinner, you probably don’t know them as well as you think. That’s not to say they’re out there breaking the law, of course… but, hey, you never know. 🤷♂️
It might seem like the most unlikely of scenarios, yet nothing is impossible. So, let’s say, hypothetically, that your landlord gets thrown in the slammer. What happens next?
Rights, right rights
The good news is that your landlord’s criminal charges and prison sentence shouldn’t impact your rights as a tenant. If you have a signed Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST), you are secured and will continue paying the rent as usual.
Of course, if they’re in prison, they probably won’t be able to spend it - but that’s not your problem. Until you hear otherwise, you keep on paying the rent as if everything is normal. Nothing should change unless your landlord looked after maintenance problems. You might need to brush up on your DIY skills if that’s the case.
What if the property is implicated?
This is where things become slightly trickier. If for any reason the property you live in is part of the investigation, you might have to prepare to move out. However, you should keep paying rent until you hear otherwise.
If the landlord loses the property as a result of the criminal investigation, you will probably need to leave the premises. In this scenario, you should demand proof of an eviction notice. If you did refuse to leave the property, the new occupiers would need to go down the route of escalating things to a court hearing - though that can become a messy scenario for all involved.
If a property is seized as part of the investigation, it would likely take months before the eviction process begins, which should provide plenty of time to find a new home.
What happens to my deposit?
If you needed to leave the property as a result of your landlord’s criminal conviction, your security deposit will be safeguarded. Landlords are required to put deposits into tenancy deposit protection. Doing so means that your deposit is protected against any unforeseen circumstances, such as your landlord doing Hard Time. 💰
Even if your landlord isn’t in prison (and we really hope that they aren’t), you should get them to confirm they have put your deposit into a protection scheme. They are legally required to notify you within 30 days after registering your deposit.
The landlord’s solicitor is asking for the rent. What should I do?
There’s every chance that the landlord will assign a power of attorney to collect the rent on their behalf while they’re in the joint. You first need to get proof from anyone acting on behalf of the landlord before handing any rent over.
If they can’t provide you with written authority from the landlord, then you shouldn’t pay them any rent under any circumstances. A power of attorney will also have the right to evict you if you’re on a month-to-month contract.
They’ve gone to prison but no one is asking for rent
As crucial as a rental property is to a landlord, they may have a few other things on their plate if they go to prison. Whether you have a standing order or pay into their account manually, you shouldn’t stop payments - even if you don’t hear anything.
In such a scenario, no news is good news - and it’s best to carry on like everything is normal. Again, if anyone other than your landlord asks for rent, it’s important to demand proof. Essentially, your legal rights are not affected by your landlord going to prison.
(Not) doing Hard Time
The chances of your landlord going to prison are slim, but stranger things have happened. If they did find themselves behind bars, you should always seek legal advice so that you know the exact ins and outs of your rights.