Repossession of adjoining property - can I find out if it's really happened?

NSP

LE
I have now discovered that the property is in "fixed charge receivership." However, Google isn't so far particularly helpful in determining whether that means the lender has legal ownership. The letter ends with red text informing the original owner's tenant that, "If we do not hear from you within seven days we will assume that the property is vacant and arrange for contractors to gain entry and change the locks."

Over to the ArRSe lawyers...
 

Aphra

Old-Salt
I have now discovered that the property is in "fixed charge receivership." However, Google isn't so far particularly helpful in determining whether that means the lender has legal ownership. The letter ends with red text informing the original owner's tenant that, "If we do not hear from you within seven days we will assume that the property is vacant and arrange for contractors to gain entry and change the locks."

Over to the ArRSe lawyers...
This gives as good an explanation of Fixed Charge Receivership as I've seen:


Hope it's helpful, not my area but happy to try to answer if you have further questions.
 

NSP

LE
This gives as good an explanation of Fixed Charge Receivership as I've seen:


Hope it's helpful, not my area but happy to try to answer if you have further questions.
Cheers, chap. As it happens, I'd already stumbled on that page. Being a legal lunk it all leaves me baffled, mainly because the people that write those pages don't leave themselves open and so are themselves vague.

Perhaps @dingerr has a more elucidated view...?
 

Aphra

Old-Salt
Cheers, chap. As it happens, I'd already stumbled on that page. Being a legal lunk it all leaves me baffled, mainly because the people that write those pages don't leave themselves open and so are themselves vague.

Perhaps @dingerr has a more elucidated view...?
Those pages are vague because they don't have all the details of the particular case so can't be specific. It's a fairly specialised field but not uncommon so I'd say that the average solicitor could probably walk you through it. It could be worth paying for an hour of advice where the solicitor has the documentation in front of them.

If your queries are more general than specific, you could try the LPA Receivers association, NARA | The Association for Property & Fixed Charge Receivers

HTH
 

NSP

LE
Those pages are vague because they don't have all the details of the particular case so can't be specific. It's a fairly specialised field but not uncommon so I'd say that the average solicitor could probably walk you through it. It could be worth paying for an hour of advice where the solicitor has the documentation in front of them.

If your queries are more general than specific, you could try the LPA Receivers association, NARA | The Association for Property & Fixed Charge Receivers

HTH
Cheers, chap. Just dropped them a line asking what's what and where.
 

olafthered

LE
Book Reviewer
Nope. They're "just a trade body."

Meanwhile, here's the letter the tenant received. I presume that the imprecation about changing the locks suggests change of legal title, as if the original owner still had tiltle then locking them out of their property would be somewhat illegal...? You only lock previous key-holders out when they have no right to use the keys any more, right...?View attachment 610987
I would web search the company and check the numbers given match (phone number etc.) as my first check...
 

Aphra

Old-Salt
Nope. They're "just a trade body."

Meanwhile, here's the letter the tenant received. I presume that the imprecation about changing the locks suggests change of legal title, as if the original owner still had tiltle then locking them out of their property would be somewhat illegal...? You only lock previous key-holders out when they have no right to
Sorry they weren't helpful. The following comes with the caveat that I am not a lawyer. I'd still recommend seeking accountable legal advice for a definitive answer. Shelter, the housing charity, are immensely knowledgeable although can be hard to contact but worthwhile if tenant is worried.

Savills are, as you know, entirely legitimate so the tenant directing rent there (assuming tenant wasn't already paying via them) is certainly indicative that transfer of legal possession is in process. I've read back through the thread and I see that your interest is in making certain legal ownership has transferred as no Land Registry change is yet recorded. As you'll also know, Land Registry have a backlog, partly pandemic related but the Stamp Duty holidays are also causing more work. That said, the lender doesn't necessarily need to change the title to be able to act as owner. The mortgage on the property gives them that right in circumstances set out in the mortgage. Your own mortgage will give similar rights and they are asserted when the mortgagee (borrower) fails to perform their duties under the mortgage. Most usually that would be failing to pay the mortgage repayments as they fall due, but could technically be for breaching restrictive covenants in the lease and thus leaving the mortgagor (lender) liable for damages.

In this case, I'd say matters are complicated by the fact the property is a flat, hence the dual appointment of Savills and the Fixed Charge Receivers. It could be standard practice for the particular lender, or just used in leasehold cases.

From the tenant's point, nothing has changed . Their rights and responsibilities remain the same, so their tenancy continues as before. There's a long, onerous court process to go through to evict a lawful tenant and my local County Court are quoting an 18 month backlog. I don't imagine the lender in this case is looking for vacant possession of the flat, they'll be wanting their money and a relatively quick sale to a buy to let landlord is probably more likely. The lender isn't likely to want to be a landlord long term. Remember, they don't necessarily have to get ALL their money back, they can pursue any shortfall by other means, so unlike a private seller, they might sell for less than the balance of the outstanding mortgage debt.

You could try posing as just such a buyer, a phone call to Savills to ask if the property is for sale? You could also, at that point slip in a question about having heard the property had been repossessed. You might say you like repossessions because they tend to complete quickly without the drawbacks of dealing with private sellers, Grrr! If you're persuasive enough, they might tell you more than they intend.

TLDR: A mortgage lender doesn't have to change the title to enable them to sell a property. They sell as 'mortgagees in possession'. The tenant should pay rent as directed, until notified in writing of any further change. Tenant (or you on their behalf) can seek advice from Shelter to set their mind at rest. Tenant should comply with requirements of new letting agents so far as those are reasonable and in line with their tenancy agreement.

Finally, yes, the statement about changing the locks is a further indication that legal possession of the property is now with the lender and their agents.

Edited to add, it's perfectly legal for a tenant to change locks upon moving in. They must retain and refit the original locks when they leave the tenancy. Landlords have no right to a key to the property, other than to a main door in a block. They must arrange access with the tenant except in an emergency when they can force entry. Having a nose about or conducting a scheduled inspection do not qualify as emergencies.
 
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