3 Dangerous Types of Tenant Part 1: Professional Bad TenantsMake Text Bigger
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.
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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