Bristol: Forfeiture Of Shop Lease
We were instructed by our Client to forfeit the lease on a shop in Bristol in connection with unpaid rent arrears. As it was a bakery, we could not call early in the morning, due to staff/bakers being on the premises at that time, so we waited until the shop closed, and called at 17.30pm.
Our Locksmith promptly gained us entry to the property and changed the locks on both the front and rear doors. The new keys were provided to the Landlord. The alarm codes were changed and a note of these was made and provided to the Landlord. We also posted Forfeiture of Lease Notices on all entrance/exits and windows.
An inventory of all goods/equipment and personal possessions was taken, along with photographs, and gas and electricity readings were recorded. We then left the premises.
Following the forfeiture, our Enforcement Agent received a phone call from 2 employees, who advised that their wages were in the shop. Our EA spoke to the Landlord, who agreed to meet us at the property the next day, along with the two bakery employees, to allow them access to take their personal possessions and wages.
Bristol: Commercial Rent Arrears Recovery (CRAR)
We were instructed by our Client to call to a business address in Bristol, to effect Commercial Rent Arrears Recovery (CRAR).
As per the TCE 2007 Act and the TCOG 2013 regulations, we initially sent out a Notice of Enforcement (Compliance letter) giving the Debtor 7 clear days to contact us to pay this debt. As per the TCOG 2014 (fees) regulations, this incurred a £75 compliance fee on top of the initial debt. As the Debtor failed to contact us or make payment during the compliance period, the case then moved to Enforcement Stage, and we called to the property during opening hours. Our visit incurred a further £235 charge (again as per the above regulations)
The person in charge claimed that they had sent a cheque to our Client a few days prior to our visit. We checked with our Client and they confirmed this was not the case, and that no cheque had been received. We, therefore, completed a Notice After Entry (taking control of goods) listing the assets inside the building, advising the Debtor that we would be removing these assets to auction, should the debt not be paid in full immediately.
They asked us to give them until the close of play that day to raise this money. We spoke to our Client, who was happy for us to do this under a Controlled Goods Agreement, which we completed. The Controlled Goods Agreement was signed by the Debtor confirming that “the goods were under the control of the Enforcement Agent until the outstanding sum was paid in full and that they will not remove or dispose of these goods, or allow anyone else to use them during this time, and that if they did not adhere to the terms of this agreement then the goods may be removed, secured on-site or sold, which would incur a further fee.”
We left the premises and the outstanding balance was paid in full later that day.
Newport: Convenience Store Rent Arrears
We were instructed by a Client to call to a convenience store in Newport. The tenant in question was not in rent arrears but had sublet the ground floor and the sub-tenant was using the 1st floor of the building as a storage room when this was not included in the original lease. Despite being asked by the Landlord on several occasions to remove his items from this floor he failed to do so.
He had therefore been advised by the Landlord that an Enforcement Agent had been instructed and given a final 7 days to clear the floor. Again, he failed to do this. The shop in question had access to the 1st floor was via an internal stairway and our Client had asked us to empty the 1st floor of the goods being stored there illegally and to secure the stairway by boarding it up so that the sub-tenant of the shop no longer had access to it.
We arranged for a glazier to meet us at the property for 6 am, and an electrician, (as the sub-tenant had an air conditioning unit illegally installed on the 1st floor also). The shop was secured by shutters, but we gained access to the 1st floor by climbing a ladder and entering via an upstairs window which was open. We could do this because the property we were entering in that manner (the 1st floor) was not part of the existing lease for the ground floor and was under the control of the Client – (so we were entering the Clients property, via his window, with his permission). The electrician then safely disconnected the air conditioning unit and we then proceeded to form a “human chain” to transfer all the illegally stored goods down into the shop. Once the 1st floor had been emptied, our glazier then boarded up the stairway with ‘one-way screws’, (which can only be removed if drilled out), and Notices were posted on the stairway advising that access was barred, that the 1st floor was for private use only, and any unauthorised entry to the upstairs of the premises would constitute trespass. Photographs were taken of the notices and empty premises, and we then left the shop secured. This took an hour in total.
Melksham: Commercial Rent Arrears Recovery (CRAR)
We were instructed by our Client to call to a large car workshop/garage in Melksham in relation to Commercial Rent Arrears Recovery (CRAR) to recover quite a substantial debt.
As per the regulations, we initially sent out the Notice of Enforcement (Compliance letter) but after the 7 clear days’ notice, the Debtor had failed to contact us to discuss payment.
The case, therefore, moved to Enforcement Stage, and we called to the premises during opening hours. We spoke to the Debtor who stated he had no way of paying this. We also noted that the premises were in a sorry state of disrepair, due to damage caused to the property by the Debtor, either by him installing equipment which had damaged the walls and floors, or also by his failure to repair the roof of the property (as per the agreement clause in the lease) causing water damage inside. We reported this back to the Client who asked us to evict the tenant. We advised as we had already started the CRAR process, this could not be done for the same rent quarter, and that the only option would be to remove assets to cover the debt and to go for dilapidations afterwards. Our Client agreed to this. We, therefore, commenced what was to be two full days of removal. The garage was full of tools, and equipment, all of which had to be listed correctly on a Notice After Entry (TCOG) form before removal, with a description adequate to be able to recognize it, and serial numbers if applicable. Photographs were taken of everything. Furthermore, there were approximately 75 scrap vehicles scattered around the grounds of the property, all of which had to be listed for removal.
It proved to be quite a challenging but interesting job. We had to liaise with the auction house, who sent out a representative to help us identify, value and load the removed goods, and a couple of men with removal trucks, who systematically removed each and every vehicle to the scrap yard a mile or so away, where we had negotiated their storage. Without keys to a lot of the vehicles, and with them being jammed down the side of buildings this was no mean task. Whilst this was going on, we also had the Debtor and his Wife, Children and other Family and Friends turn up both days, being obstructive whilst we were trying to do our job and creating difficulties. They were also following us around filming on their mobiles whilst barracking us. The Police were called at one point to prevent a breach of the peace, as some of the people had become quite disruptive and were preventing us from completing our task, and others were illegally attempting to remove items from the premises.
There was also the issue of ownership of the goods to deal with. Our task was made all the more difficult by the fact that the Debtor had arranged for various friends to turn up claiming that items listed belonged to them, but in a lot of instances this proved to be false and just a desperate attempt by the Debtor to avoid goods being removed. Whilst this “delay tactics” were going on, our EAs carried on their duties as they had “reasonable grounds” to believe the goods being taken into control belonged to the Debtor, and no proof had been provided otherwise. A small amount of the goods taken control of were the next day proven, via valid documentation to be either rented (machinery), or belonging to someone else (vehicles) and so were removed from the Notice After Entry, and not removed.
Eventually, after 2 days, the site was emptied of all goods listed, a Notice that goods have been removed for storage or sale was issued to the Debtor providing them with a breakdown of the debt, where to make payment in full if they so wished and where their goods were being held. Our onsite job was complete, and we left the premises.
A Notice of Sale was later issued to the Debtor, advising them of the date, time and place of sale, how and when to make payment if they wanted, and how to collect the goods (if payment in full was made). We also obtained a valuation of the goods from the auctioneer, which we also provided to the Debtor.
However, the Debtor did not go on to pay in full and so the goods removed were sold at public auction and we remitted to our Client. In regards to the dilapidations, the Client and Debtor came to a mutual agreement without the need for further involvement on our part.