They have also been known to evict tenants within a week for breaking the terms of their agreement, for example, by having a party.
They believed getting tenants to sign temporary licenses – instead of tenancies – made the terms legitimate.
BUT CONTRACTS DON’T SUPERSEDE THE LAW – in particular the Prevention from Eviction Act 1977
The law protects any “residential occupier”, who has the right to live in a property whether by license, tenancy or other contract.
It states that an eviction notice is not valid unless it is in writing and is given at least four weeks in advance of the proposed eviction date. This is true whether the property guardian company wants to return the building to its owner or if you have had a wild party and kept everyone up all night and they want to kick you out.
However, if the “resident occupier” has not vacated the premises by the eviction date the property guardian company must go through the courts to legally gain possession.
The law states: “It shall not be lawful for the owner to enforce against the occupier, otherwise than by proceedings in the court, his right to recover possession of the premises.”
Making the property guardian go to court to get you out will get you an extra month or three in your home. The bailiffs will notify you in advance of the date and time they will come and expect you to be out.
It should also be noted that if you leave your home voluntarily – before a court orders your eviction – you cannot present yourself to the council as homeless.
ILLEGAL EVICTIONS ARE A CRIMINAL OFFENCE!
That means that if you believe you have been evicted illegally you should go to the police. It is likely they will tell you it’s a civil matter, but tell them IT’S NOT! IT’S A CRIMINAL OFFENCE. You should also consult a solicitor (TV Edwards are good).
Housing solicitors have reported a number of cases where tenants – or “residential occupiers” – have won substantial payouts from property guardian companies either through the courts or in out-of-court settlements for illegally evicting people.
In both cases the settlement required the claimant not to reveal the company’s name: their business model depends on the belief they can get people out quickly.
Of course if you want to maintain a good relationship with the company so you can continue using them it may be advisable to leave when asked, but if you’ve got nothing to lose, maybe it’s worth staying to fight!