HMO tenant not abiding by lockdown

by Readers Question

9:49 AM, 27th April 2020
About 7 months ago

HMO tenant not abiding by lockdown

Make Text Bigger
HMO tenant not abiding by lockdown

I was hoping for some ideas on how I should be dealing with a situation where one person in an HMO is failing to abide by the lockdown social distancing rules.

It’s a 4 person house and the other 3 tenants are extremely upset and worried as according to them the 4th person keeps going out to visit his friends multiple times a week returning in the middle of the night. They feel he is showing a complete lack of respect for their health and his behaviour is putting them at risk.

He claims he is only visiting his pregnant partner less than once a week, she has a broken foot and he is doing her shopping for her to support her. She also lives in an HMO. As far as I can remember the government said couples should either move in together for the duration of lockdown or not see each other at all during lockdown.

I’ve suggested to all 4 of them that if it carries on one of us should inform the Police and let them sort it out. I have no idea what the Police would do in this situation, if anything. I’ve also asked the one with the pregnant partner if they have spoken to a Housing Officer at the Council. Again I have no idea if they could do anything.

I served a Section 21 at the end of November, so it is still valid, but will it expire before the Courts recommence or is it just frozen? The tenant in question has had a series of problems including multiple job losses (usually not at all his fault), depression and problems with claiming both legacy Benefits and UC.

There have been rent arrears for the last 20 months which have reduced significantly in the last few months while he was working and earning decent money. The arrears mainly occurred because of the problems with the Benefit claims. I’ve worked with him extensively to try to retain his tenancy, but I clearly can’t condone his current behaviour which seems to be illegal and is very upsetting for the rest of the household.

What action can I take?

Jo


Share this article

Twitter Facebook LinkedIn

Comments

Dr Rosalind Beck

11:14 AM, 27th April 2020
About 7 months ago

I would agree that the police should be the first port of call. The tenants could maybe all make a joint statement about the behaviour of the 4th person. It will be up to the police then to decide what charge if any might be possible.

Question Everything

11:15 AM, 27th April 2020
About 7 months ago

"his current behaviour which seems to be illegal"

I don't think we should be so convinced that we should be locked-down to assume there must be a law that one is breaking? The data is out there, you just have to look for it.

By your reasoning, would you condone the recent Police activity of telling my friend that he can't sit next to his wife on the train? Or my other friend who was told that only one parent could walk their kids to the forest? My friends are middle-class professionals, not people who would normally attract police attention.

Paying rent is one thing, enforcing your "moral authority" is another. You have no role as landlord other than that of financial, maintenance, and maybe serious and repeating anti-social behaviour, of which I'm not sure this behaviour constitutes.

DavyboyHMO

11:31 AM, 27th April 2020
About 7 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Question Everything at 27/04/2020 - 11:15
Paying rent is one thing, enforcing your "moral authority" is another. You have no role as landlord other than that of financial, maintenance, and maybe serious and repeating anti-social behaviour, of which I'm not sure this behaviour constitutes.

I disagree with this as he has a duty of care as a landlord to ensure everyone in his HMO feels safe? And if 3 of his tenants do not feel as if the 4th tenant is acting appropriately then IMO something has to be done. Same scenario in my HMO and after a few times asking him I then send out a group message that no guests are allowed until further notice and that seemed to have worked. I'll send a copy if it helps anyone;
Hi Gents,
As per recent government guidance regarding house shares/HMOs there is not to be any people over who aren't in your households to visit at the landlords discretion. The more people you come in contact with the more likely you can get the virus and the longer it will take for it to go away. For the next few weeks at least please don't have any guests, I have 2 family members working for the NHS and friend's wife is and it's pretty bad. Hope all is well and any problems let me know.

Question Everything

11:52 AM, 27th April 2020
About 7 months ago

Reply to the comment left by DavyboyHMO at 27/04/2020 - 11:31
"duty of care as a landlord to ensure everyone in his HMO feels safe." Feeling safe is one thing, being safe is another.

There are many people out there who claim they feel unsafe, and use this "feeling" to enact moral authority.

Further Davyboy writes "As per recent government guidance regarding house shares/HMOs there is not to be any people over who aren't in your households to visit at the landlords discretion. "

This has nothing to do with what the author wrote, the tenant is not bringing friends into the HMO. This is changing the sense of what has been written, and mis-serves the discussion.

If this tenant was still working, he would be mixing with other people too, what difference does it make if he is visiting friends? Further to this, the author writes "returning in the middle of the night". This is purely to paint a picture of one who is "nefarious"

Further on Davyboy, he writes "government guidelines", that is exactly what they are, not laws, or regulations. But we are acting like anything .gov says is gospel without thinking for ourselves.

The whole article is written from an irrational and "fear" perspective. It is exactly this perspective that has gotten us into this predicament.

And while they have your attention on this, they are collapsing the economy and you are missing it completely.

David Lawrenson

13:45 PM, 27th April 2020
About 7 months ago

I have to say I am very much with "Question Everything" on his/her response to you.
And I have to say, it is because of these sorts of issues, where one has to be called into "umpire" disputes between tenants, that was one of the reasons I no longer do HMOs - and reading exactly this sort of thing does not make me regret exiting my sole HMO one iota,
The facts of the matter here is that as you don't live there you have absolutely no way of knowing what this tenants does when he leaves the house - and no doubt he will have an explanation that is perfectly acceptable. In effect, this is a classic "he says, she says" situation.
On the HMO I had, they were always calling me up and saying I had to ask someone to leave because they were doing X, Y or Z. I always told them they had to behave like adults and sort out their differences between themselves.
Also, as has been pointed out, where a tenant has to go to work because it cannot be done at home - which is just about everyone in the private sector who is not involved in the sort of work that can be done at home, he is presumably coming into contact with people on the way to work and at work.
I suggest you continue to keep your reasonable distance, wash everything you use and look after your own safety as best you can.
Everyone has different views on this virus. I would like to see my mother and father after 3 months, (they are 88 and 93) but am worried about my brother's view of this. They live 2 hours away.
In my view, if I go and see them, and keep 2 metres distance and don't them a big hug and make sure I don't touch things and wash the knives and forks I use, I think there is no additional risk at all. None. (My Mum goes to the shop twice a week and my mother has refused help with shopping because she needs to get out of the house, get away from my Dad (who has mild dementia) to have a chat to other old folks in the queue. If she did not, she would go
insane).

My brother has been brainwashed by some of the media into thinking if I cross the threshold of our parent's house, I will condemn them to instant death.

As I say, we have different views.

My wife's Mum has advanced dementia, is in a care home and has a limited life left, maybe a weeks or 3 months at most. If my wife never saw her (she is very careful when she does see her) the next time she would see her, she would be in a box.
My wife's Mum lives for my wife's visits, though she cannot remember my wife's name. Luckily the care home is enlightened and yes, my wife still goes to see her, as do the carers, who are in and out of course, anyway. And No, she does not touch anything at all when she is there.
The fact is, and I'm afraid a lot of people don't "get this", is that there are risks in life and death is an ever present possibility. We have to collectively "grow one" and get on with living and also wise up to the fact that this is indeed a balancing act between crashing the economy (more deaths in long term) and our ability to handle the deaths that will occur now, because this virus will not be going away, unless and until a year or so time, when they MAY find a vaccine. That is too long to wait.
As an aside, I've also observed how folks who work in the private sector and those who have their own businesses are generally better able to grasp the costs of this shut down and the fact that we will have to pay for it in higher taxes and interest on government debt for a very long time (as will our kids). Contrasts the opinions of the e.g. Guardian (a lot of public sector readers) on this v The Daily Telegraph. In fact, all of us, in whatever sector will pay the price in higher taxes for years / generations to come.
And I agree with the points about "feeling" and moral authority made above too.
Anyone who is mulling buying an HMO for a bit more yield than on a standard buy to let ought to read the post you have written and have a good, hard long think about whether they should go ahead.
David Lawrenson
http://www.LettingFocus.com
Landlord Advice

David Lawrenson

13:52 PM, 27th April 2020
About 7 months ago

And yes, some of the police's responses to this is a whole different talking point - like a lot of the new rules - illogical, nonsensical and totally irrational and serving no purpose at al in controlling the spread of the virus.

I am quite sure that in the long run, when all the data has been gathered, that we will conclude that Sweden's approach to shut down would have been the better option. (Many people are hoping it will fail of course).

Jo Westlake

15:01 PM, 27th April 2020
About 7 months ago

This seems to have gone off on a bit of a tangent.
It has nothing to do with parents taking their kids for a walk in the forest or people visiting elderly parents.
I think we all know the rules were made up on the hoof and were originally supposed to be for a very temporary period.

This is about a group of unrelated people living in a shared house mainly trying their best to accommodate the Covid 19 lockdown and how to deal with the one person in that house who thinks none of it applies to him.

There is a massive difference between people going to work where social distancing should be in place and people going round to their mates house for a few beers.
Coming home in the middle of the night isn't necessarily nefarious. Night workers do it all the time. It can be intrusive though to the rest of the household, especially if someone has had few beers.

Are the other housemates displaying "irrational fear" or are they doing their bit to try to contain the pandemic? Why did the government instruct everyone to stay home if they really meant it was fine to go out drinking with your mates and their mates and those few random people who happened to be passing? Why did they say either move in with your partner or don't see them for the duration of lockdown if what they really meant was pop round with their shopping any time you fancy and while you're there feel free to stay for a few hours?

The question is what can landlords do in this and any other undesirable situation now the eviction route is closed to them?
By undesirable I mean rent arrears or behaviour that causes distress to neighbours or housemates.

David Lawrenson

15:14 PM, 27th April 2020
About 7 months ago

I don't think that landlords can do anything much if they don't live in the property because, as I said before it will inevitably be a case of "he says, she says".

The landlord could talk to the "offending tenant" but I imagine he will have a reasonable excuse, not that he is legally obliged to explain his behaviour outside the house to the landlord.

I suppose the other tenants might find police willing to take an interest if they can be torn away from padlocking gates on parks, taping up park benches and telling folks they cannot sit in their front gardens, though these three police activities do seem to have abated now, so they may get some joy there.

Don't expect the offending tenant to be delighted about police involvement though.

Question Everything

15:58 PM, 27th April 2020
About 7 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Jo Westlake at 27/04/2020 - 15:01
This is not true - "This is about a group of unrelated people living in a shared house mainly trying their best to accommodate the Covid 19 lockdown and how to deal with the one person in that house who thinks none of it applies to him."

This is about a landlord who is asking how they should deal with the situation, and introducing the idea of police intervention, in a situation whereby no laws have been passed, but the 'collective' idea of an enforced morality is at play.

And fundamentally, therefore It is about whether or not the conditions by which we are living even support such a morality. That is what being told you can't walk in the forest with your family is about.

The background sentiment by the author suggests they believe they are reasonable in their thoughts due to the current "moral" climate, and that is what i am disputing which is much more fundamental than the assumed problem at hand.

The original post is also slanted to make the tenant sound nefarious, which he may be, but the fact is, he is doing nothing that constitutes any involvement required from a landlord.

DavyboyHMO

16:20 PM, 27th April 2020
About 7 months ago

I just think everyone should adhere to governments advice with social distancing and not have family members visiting until this has been announced that its safe to do so.
To ensure this is dealt with in a HMO is very difficult I agree, I can't stop tenant's going out of the house at certain times and watching one of them go out in a car full of 4 friends is frustrating, but I cannot interfere with what he does outside of the he house, But I can request no guests for the foreseeable to enter the property and I expect them to adhere to it. I am in regular communication with all tenants and unfortunately 3 out of 4 aren't paying rent. I also agree with the he said she said that the tenants do!

1 2

Leave Comments

Please Log-In OR Become a member to reply to comments or subscribe to new comment notifications.

Forgotten your password?

OR

BECOME A MEMBER

Government Announces that XMAS Comes Early For Property Investors & Developers

The Landlords Union

Become a Member, it's FREE

Our mission is to facilitate the sharing of best practice amongst UK landlords, tenants and letting agents

Learn More