You and the Law 13th December 2011

Keeper of the keys

The firm I work for has just gone bust and all the staff were left unpaid.  I’ve held on to my company car since I’m owed wages and a redundancy
payment, but the receivers have threatened to sue me if I don’t return it.  What can I do?  They owe me roughly the car’s book value.  LC

When a firm goes under its assets will generally pass into the legal
ownership of the receiver, liquidator or trustee, depending on what’s to
become of the business.  I’m afraid employees are not entitled to help themselves to the firm’s property by way of compensation.  You will have to return the car.  If the company can’t be saved, its assets will be sold off to pay its debts.  Employees are known as “preferred” creditors, which in theory means they could receive payment from any money realised. However you may have to claim your wages, outstanding holiday pay, notice pay etc from the Government.

Lowering the tone

The house next door has been empty for nearly 11 years since the owner
died.  It was left to a nephew, who visits occasionally to pick up the post.
It has been broken into twice and is in a very bad state of repair. Is there
any way I could get the owner to keep the house in a reasonable state?

The general rule is that people can’t be compelled to look after their
property.  However the council has powers under the Housing Act 2004 to bring empty houses back into use. You could ask the planning department to
consider this.  If the council agreed, the nephew would be contacted and asked what his plans are for the house. It might prompt some action. Otherwise there’s little you can do unless the condition of the neighbouring house is causing damage to your own, or there is so mething in the title deeds compelling your neighbour to keep it in a good state of repair.

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