Free housing for rogue tenants – it’s okay landlords will pay!

by Dr Rosalind Beck

9:01 AM, 30th November 2015
About 3 years ago

Free housing for rogue tenants – it’s okay landlords will pay!

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Free housing for rogue tenants – it’s okay landlords will pay!

Landlords continue to be attacked by all sides in Parliament as various laws go through their stages in Parliament. This week Teresa Pearce, Labour, tried to get it made even more difficult for landlords to regain possession of our properties in cases of ‘abandonment.’ This is an excerpt from the comments made, followed by a reply from Dr Rosalind Beck, landlord at Property118:carry

Extract from the comments by Teresa Pearce, Shadow Minister (Communities and Local Government) (Housing)

‘These are probing amendments. Let me put it on record that I think the amendments we just agreed are actually quite good. [Hon. Members: “Hear, hear.”] I still believe, however, that this whole part of the Bill is open to abuse. I hope that it will be reviewed at some point and that if such abuse occurs, regulations will be brought in. Clearly, I am not as optimistic as the Minister about the behaviour of some landlords, particularly the ones in my constituency who I have seen threaten and abuse tenants, and access properties at any time of the day or night. That sort of person will not look at the safeguards in this part of the Bill, but will see it as an opportunity to act in an even more irresponsible way than they already do.

Amendment 108 would extend the minimum period that would need to pass before a landlord is able to recover abandoned premises. Amendment 109 would extend the time period between the two letters—I believe it may now be three—that are needed to evict a tenant suspected of abandoning a premises. I am truly concerned about abuse of the provisions in this part of the Bill. Landlords could use the proposals to evict tenants simply by writing them letters. They could also use the measures to evict someone as an act of revenge. If a tenant moves into a property that is not fit to live in and asks for repairs, the landlord might think, “This tenant isn’t going to be easy, so I’ll use this process to try to get rid of them.”

We appreciate the need for landlords to be able to recover truly abandoned premises and the fact that tenancy agreements are a two-way street. I appreciate the Minister’s argument that if someone does not pay their rent, they have clearly already broken their tenancy agreement. I have seen instances of that: for example, someone in my area who had a property of her own got married and moved in with her husband. Rather than sell her property, she decided to let it out. For an entire year, the tenant paid no rent at all, but she still had to pay the mortgage on that property. I therefore completely understand that there are situations of that sort that need addressing. The measures in the Bill may make the situation easier for landlords in that sort of position, but my fear is they may also make it easier for rogue landlords.

I am pleased that the Minister has added a provision to the Bill that requires a third wave of letters for the process, but it is still important to safeguard against abuse. Extending the minimum amount of time that has to pass before a landlord is able to recover an abandoned premises will mean that those with legitimate reasons for absence will be able to respond. That will help to safeguard against potential abuse.

One concern about the proposals that has been raised with me is the possible pressure they will put on local housing authorities, which may have a duty to house tenants following eviction, even if only in emergency accommodation. Under the current system, when faced with someone who is about to be evicted, those local housing authorities have time to plan their resources, so that they know that if a resident is going to be evicted they will be able to house them adequately in emergency housing. Under the proposals in the Bill, residents could be evicted with haste, putting further pressure on already pressed local housing authorities. The amendments would insert a bit more time into the process for recovering abandoned premises, which would, I hope, ease the pressure on local housing authorities.

Amendment 109 would extend the time period between the letters. Currently it is two weeks and no more than four weeks; we propose extending it to four weeks and no more than eight. That would be advantageous for a number of reasons. It would safeguard against error. A landlord could use the measures to kick out a legitimate tenant who is away on business, in hospital or on holiday; extending the time period between the letters would mean that there was less chance of that happening. It would also safeguard against abuse. It would allow tenants more time to lodge a query with the landlord or seek housing advice. As there is no court involvement in the process, it would give the tenant more time to assess their options.

It is clear that the proposals in the Bill will have the power to affect all tenants in the private rental sector. All landlords will have these powers, open to abuse as they are, even though abandonment accounts for an estimated 1,750 occasions of tenancies ending a year. We hope that the rules will be got right, so that there are safeguards against abuse, and so that we allow landlords to recover abandoned premises where they need to, but do not allow them to evict tenants at their ease. That is the reason behind these probing amendments. I hope that the Minister will be able to give me some reassurance that those who could be abused will be protected by the law.
(Hansard source: Citation: Housing and Planning Bill Deb, 26 November 2015, c326)

My response:

‘Dear Teresa.

As a portfolio landlord I read with dismay your comments this week regarding ‘abandonment,’ or what we know in the business as ‘doing a runner.’ I have had the misfortune to have had many such cases, and the usual pattern is that suddenly the tenant stops paying and does not answer any calls or texts, so we do not know what is going on. In the meantime we obviously have to continue paying the mortgage and we start to worry that we may have a ‘rogue tenant.’

We usually leave it a few weeks, writing then to ask what is happening and again getting no response. Finally, we give notice that we intend to visit the tenant and when we go there we see that they have indeed disappeared. They always take all of their valuables and often leave large old items like sofas and beds and usually lots of rubbish and full cupboards as well as a filthy and sometimes, damaged house. That is the usual pattern of the ‘runners.’

It seems that you are in favour of us then leaving such a house empty for 12 weeks, when we will invariably already be down in terms of rent and also face having to pay to have all the rubbish and furniture removed (this costs hundreds of pounds, in case you don’t know) and to fix anything they have broken – rogue tenants who don’t adhere to their tenancy agreements in terms of paying rent and giving notice don’t tend to look after other people’s property either.

You believe that only after waiting 12 weeks should we be allowed to re-enter our property to clear away all the mess, renovate the house once more and then be able to advertise it and wait for a suitable tenant. Naturally, that completely negates the purpose of tenants giving us a month’s notice so that we can find replacements without experiencing voids. Through no fault of our own, in such cases we face approximately 6 months with no rent coming in; a massive hit which it will take years to recoup as we often have a modest margin between rents and mortgage payments. That is how I experience this.

You seem to think that there is a very different thing going on, however; that in fact abandonment cases are about decent tenants going on holiday, having always paid their rent on time and having looked after the house and then these awful landlords come in, change the locks and re-let the houses while the tenants are on holiday. Why on earth would a landlord do this, risking breaking the law and losing decent tenants? You are very ill-informed, I’m afraid. As a landlord with 20 years experience I hope you can acknowledge I may know more about this than you? You may also acknowledge that if you have heard the odd story about a bad landlord, you should not base national policy on this.

The natural conclusion of the law you are supporting and which you wish to be amended to make it more extreme, is that landlords lose out even more. You say this is helpful to Local Authorities as they have more time – I don’t follow that logic. This is usually argued more in relation to tenants who are being evicted for non-payment of rent and who are in fact refusing to leave, the kind of rogue tenants whom your colleague, Siobhain McDonagh then advises to stay put as long as possible until the bailiffs are commissioned so that the private landlords can continue to be forced to provide them with free housing, thus saving the LAs money. As you say, this is ‘helpful’ to LAs (while being devastating financially to decent, honest landlords who have done nothing wrong).

As you seem intent on promoting even more extreme anti-landlord measures than the Government (and they have effectively declared war on us) why not suggest that we leave the houses empty with no rent coming in for 6 months before we can regain possession? Why the rather arbitrary 12 weeks?

In fact, it is completely over the top to wait 12 weeks to establish if someone has left or not. You can usually see it in an instant. You don’t have to be Columbo. One can, for example, ask neighbours to confirm if they have seen the person’s other possessions being taken away, the tenant may have even told them that they have moved out, the tenant may then not have been seen for weeks. Why can’t this be construed as sufficient evidence? Why is everything to be balanced in the rogue tenants’ favour, ‘just in case’ (with complete disregard to the interests of the landlord who more often than not took out a mortgage to buy the house, renovated it, maintained it, poured their own money and time and effort into it and has considerable ongoing costs attached to it? Why does none of this matter)?

I would add, that if the tenant is still paying the rent, it is a very different matter and would clearly indicate that the tenant has not given up the tenancy; but when they have stopped paying and are nowhere to be seen and cannot be contacted, this is a very different thing. It is the ongoing financial loss from the rent arrears when one has to keep the house available to a non-paying, absent tenant who has clearly and definitively ‘done a runner’ that is so crushing to a landlord’s business.

No doubt you also support Clause 24 of the Finance Bill, whereby we are to pay tax on mortgage interest as though it were ‘profit’ instead of the main cost of the business which has already left our bank account and gone to the mortgage lender. It maybe hasn’t occurred to you that it is rather a feat to have to pay mortgage interest and (bizarrely) tax on mortgage interest, when no rent is coming in for months on end (but I suspect you don’t care).

Maybe, like your colleague, Siobhain McDonagh, you would like the Government to go further on this too and make landlords pay even higher levels of tax? Maybe you think that this makes you a compassionate person. I think the idea is that if you attack landlords en masse (by saying you are targeting ‘rogue’ ones, but introducing blanket measures which attack all of the vast majority of decent landlords) that you are somehow helping tenants? This couldn’t be further from the truth.

If you indeed are compassionate, instead of suggesting landlords bear even more of the brunt and costs of dealing with rogue tenants who disappear owing money (landlords lose billions every year at the hands of rogue tenants), but whom you want us to keep our houses empty for, in case they return, perhaps you would like to donate a large amount of your income to keep some properties empty for these people? Or maybe you would like to make rooms available in your property for free in case they are needed? AS YOU EXPECT US TO DO.

It is always very easy to be generous with other people’s money (in case you don’t understand how it works, when no rent comes in to cover the mortgage, the landlord has to delve into any savings they have to subsidise this housing or may have to take out a loan to cover the loss from what we consider to be a criminal act of theft against us. We are not Housing Association or council staff, who suffer no personal financial loss when they have rogue tenants).

What is currently occurring is the biggest attack on the private rental sector in UK history. It is going to be catastrophically destructive. I have been trying to get your party to see this for what it is instead of behaving like some adjunct to the Conservative party.

Rather than repeat what I have written to your colleagues on this matter, I will paste the links here for you to read. This link contains correspondence with Rob Marris:

http://www.property118.com/why-does-labour-want-to-force-out-tenants-on-benefits-to-make-room-for-tory-owner-occupiers/82058/

This is my letter to Siobhain McDonagh, which she has still not answered:

http://www.property118.com/rob-marris-mp-and-sir-roger-gale-same-party/82156/

You may also be interested in my letter to Campbell Robb here:

http://www.property118.com/campbell-robb-ceo-shelter-open-letter/81625/

Suffice to say that the Labour Party is behaving in a shameful way, completely disregarding the fact that by attacking landlords you are also attacking the tenants of this country, particularly the low-paid and those on benefits who will be ‘phased out’ of their housing as Clause 24 is phased in.

You should be campaigning against these astonishing policies which will have terrible consequences for tenants as rents rise and they are evicted by landlords unable to pay tax on ‘fictitious income,’ instead of wasting your time supporting rogue tenants (not even doing that really – as leaving houses empty for longer periods benefits no-one as these houses could be providing essential housing to others far sooner).

I hope you will take some of this on board and refrain in the future from supporting the current misguided and disgraceful attempt to devastate the private rental sector. Or do you want this wanton destruction of a vibrant and well-run housing tenure, providing accommodation for millions of people to be part of your legacy?

Yours sincerely.

Dr Rosalind Beck



Comments

Gary Dully

9:50 AM, 30th November 2015
About 3 years ago

On the. 10/12/2015, I myself will be in court trying to obtain a court order granting me repossession of one of my properties because of Abandonment.
I find that MP's such as these will never want to help those who have to currently seek a Judges permission to get back what has been smashed and wrecked.

These MP's just haven't got a clue and I would invite such idiots to sit next to me as a judge and free solicitor for the contract breaking scam artist of a tenant try to pick holes in my case for any slight breach of the Civil Procedure Process that some academical ****** wit drew up in an attempt to stall, kill or delay the process of already uneven and unfair justice system.

However, what she wants is permission to inflate her narrow minded ego at some future date, based upon the screaming scam artists that abuse a landlords trust and tenancy agreement.

As you are aware that the big corporates are entering the market, do you think that they will put up with that sort of process?

Not once they have killed off BTL landlords they won't!

The proposed measures allowed a tenant to go to a judge claiming possession back on a property, if they have had their tenancy ended due to the proposed abandonment process.

What it gave the landlord was the ability to end a tenancy without the God awful stupid and expensive process that is currently in place.

But she just couldn't let that one go past without sticking her fish and treacle smelling breath and tentacles into the pot and allowing it to pass without having her prejudices come to the forefront.

All politicians are just bankrupt of common sense in regards to how a tenancy agreement should be ended.

I don't know why we bother anymore.

Bad tenants and Bad Landlords should be prosecuted under the Criminal Law, we all agree on that, but at the moment liars and cheats are protected by such short sighted fools that sit on the benches of our elected parliament.

Gary Dully

10:29 AM, 30th November 2015
About 3 years ago

I still have burned into my brain,the picture of a mature elderly couple sitting amongst all the landlords and housing associations reps last year, looking terrified at having to attempt to face a judge in getting their property back on "Repossession Thursday" as it's known in the court.

They told me their property was smashed and they were hoping that they would be granted back legal possession after 7 months!

They had employed a solicitor who was making their ordeal 50 times worse, as he suggested that the judge was in a bad mood, but he would fight and make sure that they got a fair hearing.
The solicitor looked like he was at college and looked more nervous than kids in a dentists waiting room.

I tried to reassure the poor woman, but she said that they were close to financial ruin because of what their tenant had done and would be selling up as soon as they got possession back.

That is what this stupid MP should be concerned about.

The bad tenant had already achieved new accommodation, the landlords faced ruin and a property to rent was lost to future tenants.

If I went bust because of Abandonment 58 tenants would be made homeless as my properties are sold off by the banks.

Does anyone know who actually speaks on behalf of landlords anymore to these idiots?

John MacAlevey

13:03 PM, 30th November 2015
About 3 years ago

Garry

Huge sympathy for your position. Laws & their application are constructed by civil servants & incompetent & clueless politicians, local & central. The last thing they want are clear & fair rules that treat all sides equably. Their prime object is to retain their jobs by creating nonsense unworkable rules that grey-out logic. I`ve run my property co. for 30 years & will probably divest of all my property & PRS involvement due to a smashed skull through years of aggro with the `controllers`
I`m not going to help improve the housing problem anymore.

Gary Dully

14:35 PM, 30th November 2015
About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "John MacAlevey" at "30/11/2015 - 13:03":

Thanks John,
I have also had to house 2 landlords in my bed sits last year because a tenant they had in London had smashed the place and left it in such a bad state that they were having to live in a caravan whilst they tried to pay for the mortgage and repairs.

Because the caravan park had to close at the end of the season, they had to rent off me.

That tenant Abandoned the property, but without a court order, they could face the nightmare of that tenant coming back and claiming, harassment and disrepair via a no win no fee solicitor.

I explained that they should obtain a court order as the tenant could still come back and claim unlawful eviction at some point and it would be up to them to prove they hadn't unlawfully evicted.

They went through all the excuses that readers of what I just wrote will say on this forum.

But the law is currently clear, if you do not end a tenancy with a Court Order or Written notice or Explicit Surrender as a landlord you are committing a criminal offence.

There is a defense against it - and the new legislation was aimed at stopping the abuse of landlords in this manner.

If the tenant had a case, they will win in court at a later date and quite rightly so.

The government minister should not allow any changes to this clause as at long last it sought to put right a terrible inequity in the law.

Which is why that MP was elected, not to pander to Scamming Tenants.

I have no gripes against the Prevention from Eviction Act 1977, if that MP wants to campaign, she should campaign that it is properly enforced instead of creating more unfairness for victims of scammed and stolen assets in the form of valuable housing stock.

John MacAlevey

15:01 PM, 30th November 2015
About 3 years ago

Garry, the system is stacked agin us. I do a lot of LHA claimants (DSS) 1 in 10 of which are ok. Non payment of rent from local authorities paid to tenants is often not passed on..this is clearly theft but it ends up being `arrears`.. I suggested 5 years ago that I could vet landlords & their properties on behalf of the local authority where housing benefit was being paid. I could, within a week, weed out bad landlords & their properties & at a stroke bankrupt landlords who should not be landlords. Politics get in the way of common sense & it`s our money their spending.

Dr Rosalind Beck

15:25 PM, 30th November 2015
About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Gary Dully" at "30/11/2015 - 14:35":

Good luck with your court case Gary. It is a disgrace that we should be made to have to go court so often - in my experience tenants often don't turn up and if they do they often have lots of people helping them - from Shelter etc. The judge will even advocate for them in absentia. We get no help. And the charities and lawyers are not idiots - they can see that the tenant is the baddy, but they have a blind pro-tenant, anti-landlord stance. They need to start looking in the mirror and realising they are on the side of the bad guys.

MoodyMolls

18:39 PM, 30th November 2015
About 3 years ago

They dont care it keeps them in a job

Gary Dully

23:21 PM, 30th November 2015
About 3 years ago

Thanks Ros and others for your good wishes.

I am experienced in going to court, but it is a dreadfully stressful procedure that I am just glad that my wife has never had to go through as I find it can be nerve wracking simply because of the CPR (Civil Procedure Rules) that solicitors try to use against you.

Once the judge actually hears the case facts, after the nonsense that these pathetic, scamming bullshit and liars of absconding tenants have attempted to pull off in court, which tend to get heard first., the case can be swung around.

Last year a solicitor actually said that she would tell the judge that I had denied the tenant electricity and gas if I didn't settle outside before the hearing.

I was aghast at the sheer bloody cheek and I said that she had better do her worst as it was going to be my case that she was attempting to mislead the court with a vexatious counter claim.
I was absolutely bloody seething when I walked into that judges chambers.

I thankfully had a judge that eventually shouted at her and said my ordeal was going to end that day as she could see that the Tenant showed no respect for my position and then the tenant got angry with the judge and that sealed their fate.

Then she said he couldn't pay more than £5 per month because he had lost his job. It was all a pack of lies and based upon the solicitor telling the judge they had done in income vs expenditure sheet that they had left in the office.
The figures were written on the back of an envelope and the judge went with it.

That is not justice it is a downright disgrace.

But as mentioned earlier, that MP needs to get a grip of the reality that Landlords face.

Rogue landlords don't use any procedures whatsoever and evict unlawfully despite the current law and penalties.
It is that law that needs to be enforced, not attacking the changes that are required to help stamp out theft.

I am not looking forward to the case, but I will do it anyway, because I want to make sure that the lying scumbag thieving tenant is marked for any future credit searches.

I bet that MP would get rid of mandatory repossession if she could.

Have you ever heard Jeremy Corbyn speak in parliament about private landlords before the last election?

I have, it was dreadful.
He mentioned a landlord constituent of his that had written to him for help.
He actually said he blamed the landlord for all his problems because he hadn't done an inspection for over 6 months on the property and that he was hoping he would be made bankrupt.

That's what that guy believes in, so don't expect any help from his Labour cronies.

I want judge Judy in the UK, she calls them scammers and liars to their face.

Dr Rosalind Beck

23:47 PM, 30th November 2015
About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Gary Dully" at "30/11/2015 - 23:21":

Yes, Gary. No-one appreciates the stress landlords face when going to court through no fault of our own. Anyone would think we were the criminals. I put it down to a lack of empathy. If the same people who think we shouldn't make such a big deal out of it had to take people to court themselves, because they had been conned out of thousands of pounds and had someone wreck a house that they spent lots of time and money on, it would be a different story. Most people play up if they're conned out of a tenner. Sadly a lot of people can't empathise with others unless they have had the exact same thing happen to them, though.
As you say, politicians have no idea. We spend decades dealing with these issues, they get elected and then suddenly jump on the anti-landlord bandwagon. Honestly, they're going to have to stop soon. Both politicians and journalists had shut up for a bit recently - reeling from the shock of Osborne's surprise attack. It was like: 'Shit. I wanted to be the one to stamp on landlords and he's beaten me to it.' All the Labour Party can come up with is trying to go one step further. Honestly, if the abandonment period suggested had been 16 weeks, Labour would argue for 20. It's transparent and it's pathetic.
I feel for you with the court case. I have always preferred not to be the one to go either, like your wife. The problem is the worry that there will be some tiny technicality that can be used against us. That's the way the anti-landlord laws of recent years work - you struck out the last paragraph on the paper but your pen didn't strike out the last sentence! Case adjourned! It's downright Kafkaesque (and if any of the anti-landlord brigade read this, then yes, I have read Kafka. I can read German novels in the original version, actually.... No, we are not some uneducated, untalented bunch as they like to make out). You, in fact, Gary, are a terrific writer - you have got a flair for it. And remember: you are the good guy. I always remind myself of that if I have to handle one of these awful rogue tenants. Self-respect and integrity go a long way. Just don't lose it in court! (however tempting)

Mick Roberts

8:29 AM, 1st December 2015
About 3 years ago

Brilliant letter-If they'll listen.

I too, have had a few abandonments. Not rocket science is it, empty house, rubbish, no rent, can't get hold of tenant.
And they want us to leave it for 12 weeks? Who's paying mortgage?

And yes, some trying it on a few weeks later saying they haven't abandoned & where's my stuff?
For those with HB tenants, if u can get on with HB staff, some will indicate they've claimed at new next house. There's my evidence they've left my house.

Here's some examples of my abandonments:

https://youtu.be/i_HKaqYlHi4 Tenants from Hell Bulwell.

https://youtu.be/OzqVVRlZzE8 Tenants from Hell Bestwood Park

https://youtu.be/QcENHbgfMR4 Tenants from Hell Top Valley Nov 2010

https://youtu.be/_UvO8dmxGQQ Tenants from Hell May 12th 2010.

https://youtu.be/DzRIyfLHRn0 Tenants from Hell May 10th 2010.

The rest are on http://www.youtube.com/mickroberts2006
I han't done any for years.

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