3 Dangerous Types of Tenant Part 1: Professional Bad Tenants

by Paul Shamplina

15:13 PM, 2nd June 2011
About 9 years ago

3 Dangerous Types of Tenant Part 1: Professional Bad Tenants

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3 Dangerous Types of Tenant Part 1: Professional Bad Tenants

By @PaulShamplina, founder of @LandlordAction

From acting on nearly 20,000 problem tenant cases since 1999, we have seen some horrific things in our time. Over the next three blogs, I am going to be talking about some dangerous types of tenants that landlords should try to avoid at all costs.

The first type of tenant to look out for is what we like to call a “Professional Bad Tenant”. A professional bad tenant will go from one property to another without any intention of paying the rent.

Landlords often make the mistake of assuming that these serial bad tenants are from a particular demographic. We have seen that this is not the case. They come from all walks of life, we have seen ‘professionals’ including teachers and even barristers resorting to these tactics to avoid paying their rent.

Make no mistake about it; this is the worst and arguably the most dangerous type of tenant a landlord can get.

Because a professional bad tenant knows the law just as well as a solicitor, they are dangerous. Often, they use sham defences and spurious claims to try and delay any repossession actions from the landlord.

They will use delay tactics and put in sham defences so that they can stay in a property for as long as possible without paying rent.

CASE STUDY: Anthony Alexander

Many people ask me: ‘what is the worst case you have seen at Landlord Action?’ There have been quite a few cases, but one in particular always sends shivers down my spine.

Anthony Alexander, a rogue tenant Professional Bad Tenant: Anthony Alexander

The case is that of Anthony Alexander who, in 2003, rented a property in North London. It was the landlord’s only property purchased as an investment for his son.

As with all professional bad tenants, the rent didn’t come in and the games started pretty much from the outset. After going through the traditional ways of evicting the tenant, Alexander began putting in sham defences (for which the Courts eventually banned him, since he was a false litigant).

To evict him fully ended up costing the landlord nearly £30,000. What made the matter worse is that the landlord had to sell the property to raise money to pay the legal fees involved with taking this tenant on.

Fast forward a few years down the line to 2007, when a landlord in South Africa instructed us to evict a bad tenant who owed £13,000. This time, we exposed him on BBC Inside Out.

Landlords need to learn from cases like this. No method of referencing will ever be able to weed out 100% of rogue tenants. However, there are a few key things landlords need to do to spot a professional bad tenant:

  • Always request 3 months bank statements from the tenant. This will tell you if the tenant can afford the tenancy, gives you an idea about what financial commitments they have, and also, it shows you whether they have been paying rent (or a mortgage) recently.
  • Official photographic identification (passport of driver’s license). Also, you must ensure it is a genuine document, particularly if your tenant has a foreign passport. Use the internet to search for what that particular document should look like, and, how to tell if it is fraudulent.
  • Recent utility bill in the tenant’s name: demonstrates that they have been paying utilities and the tenant put these utilities in their name.
  • Employer reference: to check that the tenant is in employment. Also, landlords should follow up the reference with a call to the company’s office.
  • Previous landlord reference: many argue that these should be taken with a pinch of salt, since if the tenant was rogue, the previous landlord will want to move the problem on. I think it is still good practice to obtain one.
  • A professional tenant reference. They are inexpensive and there are many service providers. This will also usually involve some form of credit check too.

If a potential tenant, for whatever reason, does not want to provide any of this information, alarm bells should start ringing. In our experience, it is only the rogues and professional bad tenants who would take issue with providing a landlord with this information.

At Landlord Action, we name and shame these kinds of professional bad tenants. We feel that such practices are, pretty much, equivalent to theft.  We also flag up any tenant who we have evicted on more than one occasion for failing to pay their rent, or engaging in anti-social behaviour, etc.

Download our eBook on avoiding bad tenants here.


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Comments

15:51 PM, 4th June 2011
About 9 years ago

absolutely right and even then you can come unstuck, i am chasing 3/4 now through a debt agency some times you get very busy and can have a single slip up and can cause the problem ever rush into the let.Go over the documents a couple of times see the tenant before if possible.Cant be to careful now days.

10:22 AM, 6th June 2011
About 9 years ago

This is exactly why people should join tenant referencing companies -
like LRS (Landlord Referencing Services), where once you're a member - which is totally free to join & receive tenant alerts from your local area - you're guarenteed never to take a bad tenant again as you're in constant contact with other landlords nationwide.

As a property professional I believe to not be a member of Network Referencing is blatently stupid and highly irresponsible in this day and age.

Mark Alexander

10:28 AM, 6th June 2011
About 9 years ago

I follow the concept but but I totally dispute your comment that "you’re guarenteed never to take a bad tenant again". I suspect LRS are only aware of a tiny fraction of all rogue tenants at they've only recently launched. Used as part of your due diligence then yes, I've no problem with it but claims like the one you've made are extremely misleading.

10:38 AM, 6th June 2011
About 9 years ago

*basically guaranteed

sorry,missed one word out! don't want to seem misleading,as I know they have only just launched - but since following them from the start I do find their concept of Network Referencing brilliant, as its so simple and has been highly effective for me as a landlord.

14:37 PM, 6th June 2011
About 9 years ago

Having had time to think about your reply to my comment, I think its slightly pedantic of you to jump on my error - let me put it another way Mark, to clarify the point.
You've got a hell of a lot LESS chance of taking a habitually bad tenant, as Mr Shamplina points out in this article, if you network reference than if you DON’T network reference.
Are you telling me you don’t agree that network referencing isn’t a good idea?!
Anything that aims to help all landlords in my eyes IS.

I thought Property118 was a more “grown-up” site than the likes of property tribes,etc…
I think in the future I may need to re-think and research more in-depthly to which property site’s I join…

Mark Alexander

14:46 PM, 6th June 2011
About 9 years ago

I am an advocate of the network referencing concept but was simply making the point that it is only part of a due diligence procedure when it comes to deciding who to allow to rent a property from you. Despite your rude comments I think your last message is far better thought out.

15:17 PM, 6th June 2011
About 9 years ago

referencing tenants ,checking them out if you like is always a good idea , but some times you will get bad results from the referencing, for example you can get points systems that in no way could you let to that tenant ,I have done so in the past and they have been good tenants ,there is give and take in all matters and as landlords we have to be seen as desirable rather than undesirable no doubt the LRS is a help full tool to have but I suspect the tenants have one also I would hate to find myself on one of these as I feel I do my up most to help tenants at all times. in 22 years i can honestly say i have had 10 maybe 6 tenants that have turned out to be clever dicks to clever for their own good and trying it on whichever way they can ,and perhaps 3/4 that have been con artists from the start these are far worse as the intention to con you is from the off these are what we need to be aware off and try to steer clear LRS could help with this if there is enough records on tap .

15:20 PM, 6th June 2011
About 9 years ago

oh yes I suppose landlord action would help to do the same WITHOUT ME GETTING IN THE MIDDLE OF AN ARGUMENT AS TO WHO WOULD DO THE BETTER JOB REGARDS

20:46 PM, 27th October 2012
About 8 years ago

If only the whole eviction process can be sped up. My tenants Mark Dickson & Sheril Dickson have not paid the rent for almost one year. They are using every excuse to delay the eviction. Beware of these two.

22:53 PM, 28th October 2012
About 8 years ago

Warning to other Landlords..Sheril Dickson & Mark Dickson tenants who refuse to pay rent. They use every sham defence to avoid eviction. So far 1 year no rent. Bromley area. Sheril & Mark Dickson bad bad tenants. Mark Dickson is extremely abusive and very very threatening.

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