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  • Problem Tenants

    Delinquent tenants can ruin decent landlords



    This account by one of my landlords that illustrates the title of this thread very well – Stuart Haines, from Cardiff, recently instructed Landlord Action to gain possession of his property. Here is his story …

    “Waiting at the front door to our flat with the bailiff and locksmith in front of us was a very anxious moment. The bailiff was knocking on the door to see if the tenant was still living in our property. We had been verbally told that the lady may have mental health issues, so we didn’t know what to expect if she did come to the door.

    As it turned out, she wasn’t in and so the locksmith had to break the lock so that we could gain entry. Sadly, we were not prepared for what was behind the door!

    Forgive the cliché, but as we walked into our flat it truly was like a bomb had gone off. If this had been a one-off investment and my only flat, I think I would have broken down in tears at the state of the place and I feel for any landlord who has found themselves in this position. The bedroom was covered in feathers, there were quilts and piles of clothes covering the floor, the bed was broken and pushed against the wall, the bedroom door was also smashed on the floor and the wardrobe doors had hammer holes all over them.

    In the bathroom, the sink was shattered, the bath unusable, the toilet was full to the brim, the tiles on the wall all had hammer holes indented and the floor was again covered with rubbish. We had to wade through piles of clothes and personal photos covering the hall way floor.

    Into the front room there were bags of rubbish and clothes piled all over a small sofa in the corner where we believe the tenant slept. There were hundreds of cigarette stubs all over the floor and black writing on the walls. The kitchen was indescribable – let’s just say the whole kitchen is going to have to be ripped out, re-tiled, a new floor laid, and all new white goods installed. We are just in disbelief someone could possibly live like this.

    Aside from the distress at seeing something you have worked so hard for treated in this way, the finance side of this situation for some people could completely break the bank. We have:

      • Over £5,000 in rent arrears
      • Over £2,000 in court fees
      • An estimated £15,000-20,000 to completely refurbish the flat

    Our tenant was in receipt of housing benefit which at first was not a problem, the money came straight to us. However, then the tenant was required to take some papers into the council offices, which she failed to do. This meant that all of a sudden our rent payments were suspended until the tenant produced the paperwork.

    We are at a loss as to why as the landlord we were penalised when we continued to house the tenant.

    As a result of this experience, we have now decided not to let any of our properties through councils. I have also heard of a number of landlords with similar experiences who have taken the same decision.

    We are in a fortunate enough position that we have a property portfolio to buffer some of the expense we are going to incur and since we are builders, the condition of the flat does not put us off. However, I believe for many an experience such as this would break them mentally and financially – something has to be done.”

    Read the full article 

    This story is featured on the next series of ‘Bad Tenants, Rogue Landlords’ (due to air on Channel 5 later this year).

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    Founder of Landlord Action and Brand Ambassador for Hamilton Fraser

    Thanks for posting this Paul.

    We have a video on "hoarder" tenants:


    This true story highlights the importance of risk mitigation for landlords.  Whilst being empathetic to any landlord who experiences rent arrears or property damage, playing "Devil's Advocate", being a landlord means taking on the risk of the tenant not paying the rent and/or trashing the property and we should be fully aware of that and mitigate against it.

    There are several ways to do this:

    1.  Undertake very robust tenant referencing

    2.  Undertake an inventory

    3.  Undertake mid-term property inspections as these will flag up problems more quickly

    4.  Take our Rent Guarantee Insurance (providing tenant profile qualifies) as this covers lost rent and legal fees of evicting the tenant. This can be obtained from PT insurance partner, Alan Boswell Group, by calling the ABG team on 01603 649736 .

    5.  Consider a guaranteed rent scheme like the one offered by PT partner, Northwood.

    6.  Ask the tenant for a guarantor, who is a homeowner.

    6.  As all landlords WILL encounter a rogue tenant, no matter how robust their referencing, at some time in their landlord career, when it does go wrong, contact a specialist service like PT partner, Landlord Action (founded by Paul Shamplina) on 0333 363 8384.  

    See - The business risk of being a landlord

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    Having been through a similar situation I believe that this can also make a landlord, instead of break them. I had a 20 month void on rental income from an inherited property, my only rental.

    The tenant, a widower, had suffered a stroke and was having difficulty caring for his disabled son as well as being unable to earn income as a self employed tradesman. Initially, through benefits and insurances the rent was paid, but once it was 6 months in arrears I instructed the managing agent to issue a S21.

    I had a fully managed contract with legal cover, but I didn't have RGI! Another six months and the court granted eviction. Another 5 months of appeals and the bailiffs arrived with the locksmith to gain possession. I still wasn't quite done as it took another 3 months to remove the tenants personal belongings, furniture etc. The property was not maliciously damaged, but was in a very neglected state.

    Its been a good learning experience for me and its highlighted the failings of the benefit system and the legal system. The tenant was given very little option other than to stay put for as long as possible and was given a lot of leniency due to personal circumstances.

    I have learnt not to put myself in that position again, but as I didn't find it too stressful, I'm convinced I can cope with most things landlord related.

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    Thank you for sharing your story, Paul.

    It's definitely eye opening to the results of experiencing a bad tenant, or a good tenant gone bad. I'm sure nothing is more stressful in the property world than seeing this sort of reaction from a tenant - All whilst you can't do jack s**t about it for months on end - I believe that EVERY good landlord screams in frustration when they can't get the tenant evicted quick enough.

    This may be teaching you to suck eggs, but I've learned that gaining a reference from the PREVIOUS PREVIOUS landlord can help greatly. This is becuase if you just get a reference from the PREVIOUS/CURRENT landlord, they may give an excellent (but untrue) reference just to get the problem tenant out of their property. It's on their agenda to get rid of the tenant ASAP.

    However, if you get a reference from the landlord before the last, they are more likely to give an accurate reference as they have little to nothing to gain from being misleading.

    Not that any of the above helps you in the current situation, however it may help some readers who are just getting into property Smile

    Tom


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    Sadly, an all too frequent occurrence, and the likes of Shelter, CAB, and the councils themselves, advise these people to stay put to avoid being intentionally homeless.

    I have had a similar experience, but my sister's was even worse. She bought an ex-council apartment in East London and her husband, a chippie, refurbished it to a ridiculously high standard as demanded by the Council, before renting it back to them. She [wrongly] assumed they would ensure the property was well looked after. The neighbours contacted her as the landlord to complain about the noise and 'smell' [cannabis], and when she approached the council, they said they would look into it but she was prohibited from entering the property. The situation did not improve, so she turned up at the property with an official-looking clipboard in hand, and asked the tenant if she could come in. She was invited in, and like your landlord, was shocked and sickened at what she found.

    The tenant was high on something, and was breeding Pitbulls in the sitting room; mother and 6 pups. I'll leave it to your imagination what it looked and smelled like. Plus, the new oven door and kitchen cupboard was hanging off, the new fridge was broken, and the carpets, vinyl flooring, sofa were torn and stained.

    She was unable to evict because the council was responsible, but they did move the tenant out and refurbish the flat. She was then hit with a huge service charge because the council decided to re-roof the whole block! Ironically, another sister is now running housing at that council and jokes about the massive service charge she will impose next time.

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    I have just been through a similar situation .. 8 months of zero rent ... refused access to inspect .. all windows blacked out 24/7 ... gutter advice as usual from shelter ( I wouldn't donate my shirt button to this pond life charity ) ... refused to move after the section 21 notice ... I paid for the bailiff as they moved out ... a newly refurbished flat was left with £3850.00 damages .

    My tenants were rehoused by the local council into a private rental flat managed by the authority.

    At no time did they seek a reference from me with regard to these tenants ... so a private landlord now has these people with a unknown history of property damage .... I would also never advise to let via the local authority.

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    It is quite shocking how some tenants behave and get away with it.  The government beat up landlords especially those at the lower end of the market but I have to say hats off to any landlord at the lower end, I am more at the middle with family homes but even then have found myself being social worker when a relationship breaks down..

    I think the key is to not take it personally, however hard that is...  I understand that the days of getting 3 burly mates round to chuck a tenant out with no notice because they have not paid the rent are thankfully gone but I think there is a very small section of tenants that are abusing the rules.

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