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Jobless tenants trash rented property

In a welcome change to rogue landlord stories, a number of national newspapers have run a story about tenants trashing a property before doing a runner.

Landlord Reg Martin, 74, popped into the property in Stoke-on-Trent to inspect the boiler but found the house covered in rubbish and dog faeces.

He uploaded a video of the wrecked home to You Tube under the title “Ball Green Wreck House”.

The three-and-a-half-minute video shows extensive damage to the property, and rubbish and dog-chewed bones scattered throughout the house. 

The Daily Mail has published pictures of the inside of the property which was rented to a couple in their 30s who lived there with their young child and at least one dog.

When Martin called the couple to ask for an explanation and the month's rent (£400) they owed him the female tenant told him 'you can keep the deposit' and hung up. He estimates fixing the damage and cleaning up the mess with cost about £2,000.

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  • Andrew McCausland

    Sadly this is all too common. As agents we take up references, secure deposits and get rent in advance. We hold out for guarantors - although not everyone can get one. We even do social media checks on prospective tenants (and you wouldn't believe some of the things that come up on this). This system works well for the majority of tenants.

    However, there are a substantial minority where they simply do not have the money or support required to achieve this. They have no savings and no one of suitable standing to act as guarantor. They still need to live somewhere.

    There are also far to many toe-rags out there taking advantage of a system that seems, at times, to work in their favour. The Councils refuse to pass on information about a tenant's history, quoting data protection concerns. Dodgy tenant lie repeatedly and concoct webs of deceit that take hours of our time to unravel, giving false details for previous addresses or landlords.

    Tenants take benefits money given to them for rent but don't pass this on to landlords (surely one of the worst decisions in PRS history was to make LHA payments direct to tenants, even when they didn't want it) . The agents go for safeguarding (direct payments of LHA to them), but by that stage the landlords have lost at least 1 and probably 2 months rent. The Councils were slow to enact safeguarding, but things have become substantially worse under Universal Credit.

    We check properties regularly and any problems quickly come to light. However, it is impossible to get a bad tenant out quickly. The courts are slow to act, even in cases of anti-social behaviour where the tenants are making life hell for their neighbours. In my area there is now an 8 week wait to even get a court date, assuming the courts don't lose or incorrectly file the papers (which they seem to do about 50% of the time).

    When problems are identified, the police or Council don't want to know saying it is a civil matter. The Council's standard response is "keep a diary of problems and get back to us in 12 weeks". We have had cases where there have been criminal damage, even drugs cultivation, and the police have to be cajoled into action.

    In our latest case we had a marihuana farm in a large flat along with all the associated £1,000's damage to the property. We told the police as soon as we had our suspicions (bypassed electricity meter, strong smell of drugs from the flat, tenant refusing to let us in and threatening us if we tried to do so). Despite this, the police took a month to act by which time the drugs crop had been harvested and more damage had been caused. It took another 4 weeks, numerous phone calls from me, a visit to the police station and finally a call to our local newspaper before the police even arranged to take a statement from me. This may sound like an exaggeration but unfortunately it is not.

    The upshot of this is that a small number of individuals are going around wrecking rental properties and there seems little in the way of deterrent or sanction for them. The "system" such as it is, is creaking under the strain.

    The government want us to house the people it can't. There are nowhere near enough rented properties for the decent people in this country, never mind the idiots. The RSL's do not have the capacity to take up the slack despite changes to their remit allowing them to act commercially. This leaves the PRS.

    The recent announcements about tax changes affecting landlords will potentially have a serious effect on the sector. There is a misconception that landlords are a group of people milking the poor tax payer for everything they can get. Yes, there are bad landlords. However, I would suggest there are many more bad tenants.

    One of the many reasons rents are so high is the need to offset losses from these bad tenants. "The System" needs to change; better passage of information, much swifter action, effective sanctions and penalties. Until these things change a small minority of tenants will continue abusing landlords - and the rest of the communities in which they live.

    I am aware that my whole posting comes across as very negative. However, in 22 years I have not experienced the confluence of issues now heading our way. Whilst supporting the austerity programme, I would like to see central Government more aware of the affects of all the changes they make, in poorer areas particularly. Police budgets are cut, Council budgets have been decimated, social services are barely coping, the NHS are under pressure, the Courts system is failing. All this means there is less money to put towards interventions to support (or in my opinion preferably jail) these dodgy tenants.

    The article above highlights one bad case. I feel very sorry for the landlord concerned. However, it will not be the last case of this sort we hear about. If the Daily Mail want to contact me I would be delighted to spend a week with them showing what we "dodgy landlords" have to put up with.

  • Philip Savva

    I agree with Abdrew, but let me assure you it is not just benefit tenants that cause this sort of damage, working people are just as capable, I myself experienced one of my rooms in a HMO that own in such a state that it cost me near £2000 to rectify, it was piled high from floor to ceiling, from wall to wall with rubbish, in all my years as a professional landlord I have only ever experienced this once before but not to this extent, & this chap who caused this distruction runs his own buisness. I am trying to pursue him for damages and recover my costs which is now in the hands of the sherffies, but I don't hold out much hope, so let's have more in rogue tenants, never mind rogue landlords as I believe there are more rogue tenants out there that's rogue landlords, who unfortunately are allowed to get away with the destruction they cause due to our fiable justice system as the law seems to be in thier favour and the honest hardworking decent landlords like myself and many others.


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