My son split with his partner last year and moved out of their rented property, signing it over to her.
He paid all the utility bills up to the date he moved out. His ex-girlfriend still has the Sky Glass TV and will not let him take it back, he is unable to access the property as he signed it over to her. She will be using a fire stick to use the TV.
He has cancelled everything from Sky but has to continue paying for the TV even though he does not have it. Sky said there is nothing they can do.
If he stops paying for the TV then he will be in arrears and will affect his credit score when he has been trying to build it up.
My son’s ex-girlfriend won’t give his TV back – can he enter the property and take it?
He has gone to the police about getting it back and they are not able to help. He is now on about just entering the property when he next picks up his son and taking the TV off the wall and taking it.
This is not the ideal situation and he could end up in trouble for entering the property without consent but is there anything else he can do? D.B via email
Angharad Carrick of This Is Money replies: This is a difficult but unfortunately common issue.
When it comes to a separation, there are usually ways for a couple to split up assets but this can become a lot more complicated if the couple is not married.
Some get a cohabitation agreement, which is a legal document between unmarried couples who live together.
This helps to set out arrangements for finances, property and children for when you live together and then if you split up, similar to a marriage pre-nup.
I’m not sure about the specific circumstances around your son and his ex-partner’s separation, but if there were any agreements in place this would obviously affect what your son can do.
The Sky Glass TV subscription is pricey so I understand your son’s frustration. He is paying for a service he isn’t able to use and it seems neither is his ex-girlfriend.
Essentially, Sky Glass is a smart TV that has Sky Entertainment built-in and enables users to stream live TV and streaming services directly to the TV in 4K.
These packages can be taken out on contracts of up to 48 months – although it is unclear how long your son signed up for.
Your son will be paying off the cost of physical TV, rather than just Sky packages.
You are right that the subscription is your son’s responsibility because it is in his name, and failing to pay could negatively affect his credit.
I asked two lawyers for their advice on what your son can do to get his TV back.
Slater and Gordon’s Hannah Saxe says court should be a last resort
Julian Bremner, partner and financial arbitrator at Rayden Solicitors said: If the Sky Glass is in his name and he is the owner then he is entitled to its return.
While the police could assist, it is plain they are not that interested.
I think the options are:
- Seek the help of a solicitor, who can write to the former partner and try and get agreement as to its return; or
- Claim the items return, together with any losses suffered due to its wrongful retention, through the Small Claims Court. This is a relatively user friendly option and one in which solicitors are not needed.
The option of marching in and taking it off the wall is not ideal, indeed, it would very much be against my advice to do so.
The issue would be, he will be trespassing if he enters the property (and the police would certainly act on that step.
It also opens the door to further conflict, particularly non-molestation and occupation proceedings, which in turn may impact negatively on his ability to see his child/children.
If he insists in taking the most unwise step of self-help, his former partner has limited rights of complaint about his taking the TV back.
He should have proof of ownership with him when he collects it and, at the very least, make sure he has an independent adult witness with him so that his former partner is not tempted to embellish or cause further problems.
Hannah Saxe, principal lawyer, Slater and Gordon said: Dealing with the recovery of personal belongings when a relationship breaks down can be tricky as the cost of instructing a solicitor to sort it out for you is often more than it would cost to replacing the items (or pay Sky, in your sons’ case), meaning it is more proportionate in terms of costs to try and resolve the issue yourself.
If your son has evidence that he has the contact with Sky, then that is his proof that the TV belongs to him.
Often the Police will help people in his circumstances recover their belongings from their former home especially if they are concerned that if they went on their own to get the items there could be a breach of the peace.
I suggest that he speaks to the Police again and shows them proof that he owns the TV. He should say that he is worried that there could be a breach of the peace if he goes to try and recover it himself and he would therefore like an officer to go with him.
Failing that, he may be able to take his ex to small claims court. These claims are for smaller amounts of money, in cases where the legal rules are straight forward and therefore claimants deal with the proceedings themselves rather than instructing a solicitor.
However, going to court should be viewed as a last resort.
Very often just warning someone you will go to court if they do not pay money that is owed in a ‘letter before action’ will be enough to get them to co-operate, rather than them having to deal with the proceedings.
There is an example of a letter before action on the Citizens Advice website.
He might also consider inviting his ex to mediation to resolve any outstanding financial issues, rather than resorting to making an application to court.
I do not suggest that he tries to take the TV next time he goes to collect his son as that is likely to inflame the situation.
It is best for him to try and remain amicable with his ex for the benefit of his son and shield his son from adult issues such as sorting out financial arrangements.
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