Richard Hamilton – Head of Property at Davis Blank Furniss – answers this commonly asked question.
The tenant has temporarily moved out of the flat while decorative works are carried out.
The tenant is in substantial arrears of rent and the lease contains a right to forfeit for non-payment of rent.
The tenant has confirmed in writing that the arrears are due and owing. Can I exercise the right to forfeit by peaceable re-entry?
In principle, a landlord can re-enter a residential premises which he or she reasonably believes the tenant has ceased to occupy.
It would be advisable to do this by court proceedings if there is any uncertainty as it is a criminal offence to forfeit by peaceable re-entry if the tenant is lawfully in occupation.
If the landlord has reasonable grounds to believe that the residency has come to an end, this restriction on forfeiture will not apply.
However, the absence must be more than temporary. Therefore, vacating the property for a short period while repair works are carried out will not be sufficient.