Horror story of a landlord

by Readers Question

8 months ago

Horror story of a landlord

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Horror story of a landlord

Being a landlord is indeed a lonely business far from the perception that landlords are money grabbers of tenants. In forming this perception, there is no consideration of the running costs, challenges and risk landlords expose themselves to in their quest to provide good quality homes for rental. In this article I would like to highlight just one of the negative experiences from a whole range of others that landlords come across – cowboy builders.

Within my portfolio, I have a 3 bedroom property which developed mould and dampness during the last winter. There was no other reason for this but due to the last tenant not bothering to open the windows for ventilation and putting the heating on. The tenants moved out at the beginning of last summer after the damages caused to the property through their mere negligence. I spared myself from any argument with the tenants and refunded their full deposit.

I had no choice but to have to undertake a full refurbishment to bring the property back to a rentable state. I got quote from 3 builders who I came across through a local estate agent. I finalised on one of them and agreed on the terms of the refurb’ work, the cost (agreed on £14K) and the time frame (one month) for completion. The work started at a lightning speed and it was impressive. Once the damaged plaster board removed, the builder persuaded me to other pieces of work such need for full electrical wirings, new bathroom and new kitchen. The budget went up to £22k.

The alarm bells started ringing when the demand for payment by the builder became faster than the speed of the work, much to my frustrations. I chose to believe in the goodness of human being and thought that if I pay, there will be an incentive for the builder to complete the work. In my naïve approach, the builder managed to fleece 95% of the agreed money from me. At the same time, I had pre-booked a family break, which I had no choice but to go as it was one after about 5 years of no family break.

I was confident that by the time I am back, the work would have been completed. You have guessed rightly – the builder had not only stopped the work but had stopped answering my phone calls. When I managed to speak to him via the estate agent who had introduced him to me, the builder’s explanation was nothing but blaming me for not having paid the rest of 5% of the agreed money. Cutting a long story short, 5 months down the line, the work is still not completed and he is still showing no sign of giving me an electrical certificate. The house remains un-rentable without the completed work and the electrical certificate. No other builder is willing to take the job.

This situation has left me with no other option but to plead with the builder to finish the work. Yes, court could be a way forward. However, this comes at a cost and is time consuming. The outcome is likely to be court ordering the builder to finish the work and so only after protracted court discussions. Not only I have lost my night sleep but I have also become an angry person and very often the anger is vented out on my wife and kids.

In this experience, I have realised how easy landlord can be conned by cowboy builders. Landlord is indeed a lonely business and can break the back contrary to the general perception of those who are ignorant of the challenges faced by landlords.

Krish



Comments

terry sullivan

8 months ago

electrical certificate not needed? sue the builder? contact trading standards

Richard Adams

8 months ago

Terrible story but I'm sure you are not alone in experiencing this kind of experience. Like Terry Sullivan said you simply MUST pursue the builder through the courts not just to recover the large sum you have paid him but also to teach him the lesson that he cannot get away with it. Right now he is smugly chuckling at having got away with it regarding you.
Your case seems cut and dried so instigate proceedings yourself through the Small Claims process. No need to engage a solicitor. Builder receives the papers and has a time limit to respond either admitting he owes you or contesting. Sounds like he has no chance of convincing a judge of the latter but if he tries then you and he will sit in front of judge who is bound to award judgement to you and order builder to pay. However these types of builder tend to ignore court papers completely including the judgement that will follow ordering them to pay. So many plaintiffs like yourself tend to give up when no payment received. This though is when the good news starts for you. Have you seen the TV programme "Don't/Can't pay then we'll take it away"? I have used the company featured in this programme DEBT COLLECTION BAILLIFFS LTD who are quite brilliant at getting money owing paid. Even if it is all or part in instalments they will get your money. Cheap as chips to use as they add their costs to the debt. Can't recommend them highly enough.

David Price

8 months ago

Sadly there is a new pre action protocol for debt and it will now take you nearly three months to get to the stage where you can take legal action.

https://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&ved=0ahUKEwjq8vqN5vfWAhWRZFAKHRr2DogQFggoMAA&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.justice.gov.uk%2Fcourts%2Fprocedure-rules%2Fcivil%2Fpdf%2Fprotocols%2Fpre-action-protocol-for-debt-claims.pdf&usg=AOvVaw3IrrYxOO6DtUJo5bpBW3KY

You may be able to take the builder to court for non completion of work without going through a tedious pre action protocol.

Richard Adams

8 months ago

If the protocol applies to this case I know not but if worse comes to the worse and a 3 month wait is involved then so be it. The County Court/Small Claims online info makes no mention of needing to wait 3 months before commencing an action though. If I borrowed £500 from you today agreeing to repay by end of October and did not do so I would not expect that you would be bound to wait until 1st Feb 2018 until you can come after me!!
Having said that if you instigated proceedings against me they take some time because the courts go really slowly, especially if some futile defence is offered and a hearing ensues. Defendant - me - can stall saying letters not received etc but ultimately you will nail me and if I don't pay and you instruct the bailiffs I mentioned they will get you repaid unless I have no money or assets whatsoever In that instance you would probably not have bothered to start the ball rolling anyway. Point is Krish MUST go after the builder and ASAP. Not difficult to do. I've got rapid payment from a tenant's guarantor recently. Quick, cheap and painless with guarantor clearly believing if he ignored court docs etc he would get away with it. All the bailiffs need is a CCJ to take action.

Ray Davison

8 months ago

Reply to the comment left by David Price at 17/10/2017 - 14:53
I was aware a new protocol had been implemented but not read it until just now. The Introduction states:
"This Protocol applies to any business (including sole traders and public bodies) claiming payment of a debt from an individual (including a sole trader)."

So, presumably it does not apply to an Individual (i.e. NOT a business) claiming from another individual and are we not constantly being told by the Government that a Landlord is not a business?

David Price

8 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Richard Adams at 17/10/2017 - 15:26
Richard all this changed on 1 October 2017. The new pre action protocol is long winded and aimed at keeping cases out of court. It makes it nearly impossible to take a tenant to court for debt for there are so many possible stalling tactics.

David Price

8 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Ray Davison at 17/10/2017 - 15:37
There is currently some debate as to whether this applies to individual landlords which of course will not be resolved until there is a test case. Do you wish to be that test case?
My feelings are that it will be deemed to apply to individual landlords but who knows?

Richard Adams

8 months ago

This thread started off with Krish being ripped off by a builder who he paid to carry out work which was not done. Krish feels his way forward is to plead with the builder noting that court action is expensive and time consuming so seeming not to wish to contemplate it. My first reply was WRONG. Go after the builder as it not time consuming or that expensive through Small Claims process.
Now all this protocol stuff emerges. OK if Krish must wait 3 months before starting then so be it. No reason though to abandon the idea because a lot of money appears to be involved.
Where I'm unclear re the new Protocol is the constant references to landlords. Krish engaged a builder who has let him down at best or ripped him off at worst. Is the inference that the Protocol applies because a BTL property was involved? Had Krish instructed the builder though to work on his own house - his home - presumably new Protocol does not apply? Personally I cannot see the difference. No tenants etc are involved.

David Price

8 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Richard Adams at 17/10/2017 - 16:22
The protocol applies to all debts to be recovered by a business. The constant references to landlords is because it is as yet unknown whether an unincorporated landlord will be treated as a business. I believe that the new protocol would not apply to work done on his own home.
We await the test cases.

Richard Adams

8 months ago

Reply to the comment left by David Price at 17/10/2017 - 17:02
Krish should not be distracted by all this new Protocol stuff. He deserves to get his money back pdq. If he instigates a Small Claim NOW which involves merely filling in a form online and paying the court fee and in which it is not required anyway for him to state that the case involves a BTL property, the matter will take its course from there. Should somehow it be found he falls foul of this new Protocol then he will be refunded his court fee and told to wait three months. No need to wait for a test case or be sidetracked by anything. Good luck Krish. Go for it.

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