Landlord forced to live in tent with son after tenant refuses to leave his house in Milton Keynes

A landlord is living in a tent by the motorway with his young son after trying in vain to evict his tenant.

By Sally Murrer
Thursday, 4th August 2022, 5:36 pm
Updated Friday, 5th August 2022, 11:51 am

Alex Colins has had to return from living in Australia for business reasons and hoped he and his son could move back into a cottage he owns in a village in MK.

In March he served his tenant, a man who lives alone, with a Section 21 notice giving him eight weeks notice to leave the property at the end of May.

But Alex has found himself locked in a costly legal battle after the tenant was allegedly told by MK Council to ignore the notice and let his landlord go court to gain possession – a process that can take many months.

Finding an affordable property to rent is a nightmare for many people in MK and elsewhere

The problem is indicative of the current housing crisis in Milton Keynes, where tenants cannot afford to move out but many landlords are also forced to issue eviction notices due to their own changes in circumstances.

Alex charged £750 a month for the two-bed cottage and the tenant has lived there for three and a half years. It was a managed let through city agents Brown and Merry.

"I felt bad giving my tenant an eviction notice but I had no choice. I have to come back to the UK and I need someone for us to live. I never dreamed it would be this difficult – or expensive,” said Alex.

"I hoped we’d be in the cottage by the end of May. Instead, many weeks on, I’m living in a tent with my son while my wife and daughter are still in Australia waiting for the cottage to become empty so they can join us.

The tents that are currently home to landlord Alex and his son

"I’m told it could take until Christmas for the matter to be resolved because MK County Court is busy with so many similar applications… It’s an awful situation and one I never expected to be in.”

Meanwhile the tenant has not paid any rent for four months, since the notice was served.

The Citizen spoke to Alex’s tenant, who described the situation as a “nightmare".

He said he has had serious health problems and could not find anywhere else to rent at an affordable price.

"I went to MK Council to tell them I’d be homeless but the lady there told me to ignore the Section 21 notice. She said to wait until the court sent the bailiffs in and the date on the bailiff’s papers was the one I had to stick to.”

Last year the Citizen printed a similar story about tenants being told the MK Council to ignore a Section 21. The tenants described how they were warned they would be classed as making themselves intentionally homeless unless they "pursued eviction" through the courts.

If somebody is classed as intentionally homeless, the local authority has no duty to help them find a place to live.

A spokesman for MK Council admitted at the time: "The council always advises tenants of their legal rights to remain in the property when faced with an eviction notice from a private landlord. The law entitles tenants extra time to find new accommodation. We are working with both the tenants and the landlord to find alternative accommodation in the best interests of everyone involved."

This policy is in line with advice from homeless charity Shelter, the council says.

Meanwhile Alex is still waiting for the court to complete his paperwork – a process that should take 18 days but is already weeks late.

"I don’t know what to do. My son and I can’t keep living in a tent. I’ve told MK Council I am homeless with a child but they say they can’t help. They agree it’s a difficult situation,” he said.

His tenant has today said he hoped to find a place in a multiple occupancy house and pledged to move out in the next few days. He is thinking of eventually moving to a cheaper part of the country.

Letting agents Brown and Merry told the Citizen: “We are not able to comment on MK Council’s stance but we will always confirm with tenants that they must comply with notices to vacate as to do otherwise risks invalidating the notice.

"We offer tenants guidance in line with the legal requirements and, where possible, we work closely with them to find suitable alternative homes.“For landlords, again we will offer guidance in line with the legal requirements. We also offer a range of optional rental and legal insurance products which would help in situations like this.”