Criminal landlords are using ‘bogus bailiffs’

Criminal landlords are using ‘bogus bailiffs’

0:02 AM, 6th June 2023, About 12 months ago 29

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Devious criminal landlords are allegedly employing fake security personnel who are masquerading as court bailiffs to forcibly remove families from their rented homes, one charity says.

Safer Renting, a tenancy relations service, reveals that these landlords are increasingly resorting to a new way to evict tenants without obtaining a court order.

The alarming revelation coincides with the government’s planned overhaul of the private rented sector (PRS) with the Renters Reform Bill.

The legislation aims to eliminate no-fault evictions, mandate landlord registration and will impose hefty fines for those conducting illegal evictions.

‘Uniformed security guards have been deployed’

Ben Reeve-Lewis, co-founder of Safer Renting, said: “We’ve witnessed a surge of incidents this year where uniformed security guards have been deployed to create the illusion of a court-approved eviction.

“Previously, these landlords might have used strong-arm tactics, but in my 33 years in the private rented sector, this is the first instance of phoney bailiffs equipped with stab vests, radios, handcuffs, and even police-style vans.”

Penalties for carrying out an illegal eviction could reach up to £30,000 – a dramatic escalation compared to the meagre fines currently imposed by courts.

Authority to evict tenants

Legally, only bailiffs appointed by the court possess the authority to evict tenants from their rented homes.

Those resorting to forceful measures or altering locks are committing criminal acts.

The surge in illegal evictions and harassment can be attributed to the mounting cost of living, with renters seeing their incomes being hit.

Increase in illegal eviction and harassment cases

Safer Renting has compiled data from various sources including Citizens Advice, Shelter and local authorities, and says there is a disturbing increase in illegal eviction and harassment cases.

The charity says that in 2022, more than 8,000 cases were recorded, a significant jump from nearly 7,800 in 2021 and more than 6,900 in 2020.

However, despite thousands of complaints, enforcement remains scarce.

In 2021, only 29 landlords were convicted of illegal evictions or harassment in England and Wales.


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Comments

Reluctant Landlord

18:41 PM, 7th June 2023, About 12 months ago

"(3A)Subject to subsection (3B) below, the landlord of a residential occupier or an agent of the landlord shall be guilty of an offence if—
(a)he does acts likely to interfere with the peace or comfort of the residential occupier or members of his household, ... and ... he knows, or has reasonable cause to believe, that that conduct is likely to cause the residential occupier to give up the occupation of the whole or part of the premises"

I have read and re read this.

If you were sending 'Gentle Dave' to say he was a friend of the LL and has been asked to knock (make it at a reasonable hour etc) round to 'ask' said tenant to stop their asbo behaviour or 'remind' them of rent arrears owing, there would also be a need to show that THESE requests would qualify as conduct 'likely...give up the occupation..' if a LL were to be determined guilty of any offence under as listed here.

This isn't.

This is a method of a LL reminding a tenant of the issue in hand rather than be email, letter or LL personal attendance of the issue in hand. Should the tenant give up the premises as a result fine but there was never a direct request for them to do so.
It would in fact be unreasonable for a tenant to leave a property in such circumstances. As the effect of paying any arrears or stopping such behaviour would warrant the problem solved. The tenant leaving of their own volition is a personal choice made by them alone - the arrears would not demise as a result so no 'benefit' could be gained from the LL (arrears still in effect) and therein no offence as taken place as there is no 'reasonable' connection between the actual request (cause) and the action taken by the tenant (effect)

Seething Landlord

20:10 PM, 7th June 2023, About 12 months ago

Reply to the comment left by DSR at 07/06/2023 - 18:41
Judges are not stupid and are well aware of what goes on in the real world so if you are ever tempted to use strongarm tactics to get rid of or otherwise harass your unwanted tenants you had better make sure that you have a cast iron defence to any proceedings that might be brought against you.

Reluctant Landlord

10:51 AM, 8th June 2023, About 12 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Seething Landlord at 07/06/2023 - 20:10
no intention of going down this route, just pulling the legal definition to shreds as it COULD be argued that the burden of proof falls on the tenant to prove there has been a breach in the first instance.

Seething Landlord

11:34 AM, 8th June 2023, About 12 months ago

Reply to the comment left by DSR at 08/06/2023 - 10:51
Focus on the phrase "likely to cause" and view it from the tenant's perspective, which is what the Court will do. It becomes a matter for judicial interpretation of all the surrounding circumstances, the true purpose of the visit by "Gentle Dave" and whether the conduct was "likely to cause..."

"It would in fact be unreasonable for a tenant to leave a property in such circumstances." That is your opinion, which might or might not be shared by the Court after full consideration of the facts.

The burden of proof falls on the prosecuting authority rather than the tenant.

Monty Bodkin

9:30 AM, 9th June 2023, About 12 months ago

"29 landlords were convicted of illegal evictions or harassment in England and Wales."

https://england.shelter.org.uk/media/press_release/abolishing_no-fault_evictions_will_be_outstanding_victory_for_11_million_renters

"There are more than 11 million private renters living in England"

Monty Bodkin

9:30 AM, 9th June 2023, About 12 months ago

https://www.rospa.com/leisure-water-safety/leisure-safety/lightning

"30-60 people are struck by lightning each year in Britain"

Fed up

20:09 PM, 11th June 2023, About 11 months ago

How dare a landlord mislead a tenant that is deliberately stealing from them so as to stop them from continuing to steal from them ...

JamesB

22:29 PM, 27th June 2023, About 11 months ago

Bit late to this article but tbh having gone down the completely legal route on an eviction with the net result that I have lost several thousand pounds, had several sleepless nights and unbelievable stress and finally got back a trashed house that I am still putting right over 3 months and another £20000 later, whilst the tenants simply got provided with temporary accommodation by the council, I am down to try anything else if I find myself in the same situation again.
I mean, why should I set myself up to be mugged? Why? Just tell me that. Why should I be robbed? What did I do wrong? Nothing? We knew the situation was dire and getting worse. The courts and the govt rules were what really robbed me. If the tenants came up to me in the street and tried to take my phone or wallet I would have kicked their heads in, but as it was a tenancy I have to just lose like I was somehow the "criminal" and as a result didn't have the heating on in my own family home all winter and barely see my family now whilst I am working flat out on this. This will not happen again.

Robert Sled

10:25 AM, 28th June 2023, About 11 months ago

Reply to the comment left by JamesB at 27/06/2023 - 22:29
I feel your pain. It's unbelievably unfair. How it cost £20,000 is beyond me! They must have trashed the place and taken forever to evict.

What area of the country is it in please?

(By the way, this is EXACTLY why some landlords are fleeing the market. You won't suffer that if you own stocks and shares (though a crash can do more damage to your value and there aren't any mortgages on stocks))

I am curious what it's like being a landlord in other parts of the country. Where is the property? Will you get insurance on your next tenant?

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