2. My tenant has failed to pay rent for several months and has deserted the property. Can I regain possession of my property by breaking open the door, throwing away the tenant's belongings and changing the lock?
A tenancy document will usually contain a clause that allows the landlord to re-enter the property if the tenant fails to pay rent. However, it is unsafe for the landlord to rely solely on this clause and re-enter the property in a self-help manner. The tenant can reappear a few months later and allege that the landlord has misappropriated valuables left in the property.
Apart from civil liability, the landlord may also face criminal charges. Section 119V of the Landlord and Tenant (Consolidation) Ordinance expressly provides that any person who unlawfully deprives a tenant of occupation of the relevant premises commits an offence and may be liable to a fine or even imprisonment.
Therefore, even if it may be quite certain that the tenant has deserted the property, the landlord should go through the appropriate legal procedures, which will eventually lead to the recovery of the property with the assistance of the bailiff.