Rental release terms for prisoner tenant

Howard asks:
(updated on Monday, April 20th 2020)

I have a tenant signed up for several months but he recently went to prison. And it seems it could be difficult to get him to release the tenancy. Until that happens I cannot re rent or sell the property according to Tenancy Services. Access to the bond is also going to be difficult apparently. Have you got any suggestions?



Our Experts Answer:

Prisons are often very good at getting information to inmates, including forms for signing. If the rent is in arrears, you could attempt to get a mutual agreement signed by the tenant to bring the tenancy to an end earlier. This could be beneficial for both parties. You will have the property returned to you and the tenant’s debt doesn’t continue to grow.

If the property has other occupants (eg the tenant’s family), you also have the option of attempting to have the tenancy assigned to them. You would need the agreement of the current occupants and the original tenant. If you can’t make contact with the tenant through the prison, there is no one living in the property, and the rent is in arrears, the law sets out a process for dealing with abandoned properties.

There are two ways to end a tenancy that has been abandoned: an expedited abandonment application, or a standard tenancy tribunal application. The requirements and steps to be followed for each type of application are available on the Tenancy Services website:

If the rent continues to be paid and you wish to end the tenancy or sell the property, the rules for ending a tenancy or selling a property apply. If you wish, you can issue a notice that you do not intend to continue with the tenancy after the end date in June. This can be issued between 90 and 21 days before the end of the tenancy.

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