Judge To Look Into Why Tenants Are Not Prosecuted For Criminal Damage & Theft

Judge To Look Into Why Tenants Are Not Prosecuted For Criminal Damage & Theft

10:46 AM, 12th October 2016, About 5 years ago 164

Text Size

On my flight from Malta to Heathrow last week I had the pleasure of sitting next to a gentleman who was a Judge and also worked for the Ministry of Justice to review the Court system.

We got talking about criminal damage so I asked him how many tenants he had fined or imprisoned for criminal damage to a landlords property during his career as a Judge.

He went quiet for a while, clearly deep in thought, but then had to admit that such a case had never been brought before him. Being naturally inquisitive I asked him why he thought that might be.

He had no answer.

The point I made was that if I were to smash his doors, windows, garage door etc. I would expect to be prosecuted. He agreed.

He also agreed that criminal damage is criminal damage regardless of whether the person committing the crime is a tenant of a landlord or not. We then went on to discuss theft of property from a landlords property by a tenant.

When I explained to him that Police and CPS regularly brush off theft from a landlord or criminal damage caused by a tenant as a “civil matter” he was clearly concerned and accepted that when tenants do commit such crimes they should be prosecuted. I’m not convinced he appreciates the scale of the problem though so I am asking you to provide some examples in the comments section below. I have the Judge’s contact details and he will be signed up to receive notification emails linking to your comments.

If he is true to his word (I have no reason to doubt that he won’t be) then our chance meeting could well prove to be a very useful one in terms of my quest for justice for landlords.


by MoodyMolls

20:31 PM, 20th October 2016, About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Jonathan Clarke" at "20/10/2016 - 19:42":

Good for you, the tenant refused to give my number by all accounts and they found me via land reg

by Romain Garcin

20:49 PM, 20th October 2016, About 5 years ago

If the property is tenanted and the police acts as agent of necessity and has the door boarded up to secure it then I think a good question is: agent of whom?

The property is tenanted so, to me, they act as agent of the tenant.

If they do the same to a leasehold property they aren't going to send the bill to the freeholder, or are they?

by David Price

23:35 PM, 20th October 2016, About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Romain Garcin" at "20/10/2016 - 20:49":

Romain in my very limited experience, one personal and one a colleague, they will try to extract cash from anyone and are very threatening. In one instance the neighbour who informed the police and yes even the freeholder (me), both individuals who were not involved. Needless to say it did not work but a slightly vulnerable person would have been intimidated into paying.

by Jonathan Clarke

17:54 PM, 21st October 2016, About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "KATHY MILLER" at "20/10/2016 - 20:31":

Yes they got me via land reg .
They could have sent me a letter of explanation the day after the incident . Or at the very least attach one to the invoice when that came 2 weeks later . But nothing
On my 2nd one the tenant gave my phone number to the officer on the scene and that was relayed to the control room as it was on the police log. But no one could be bothered to ring me. I could have got one of my guys there in 15 mins and boarded it up for £25 not £180 .

The boarder uppers put a substandard poor quality padlock on a hasp and staple arrangement on the front door . Totally inadequate for the high crime area the flat was in. I could have forced it with a screwdriver in seconds . It was indeed broken off long before I got wind of the incident and the property was insecure when i attended the same day I got the invoice The tenant was arrested at the time ( not subsequently charged) and the padlock keys were lodged at the front desk of the local police station. Again no one told me. They then allowed a third party ( the mother of the tenant ) to pick up the keys. She was nothing to do with the tenancy but they thought somehow she had more rights of access than the owner. Bizarre sense of priorities

by MoodyMolls

18:02 PM, 21st October 2016, About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Jonathan Clarke" at "21/10/2016 - 17:54":


There should be very clear instructions for Police on this and the boarding up firms should be able to claim all costs from Police if they have not informed the Landlord. Its like we are invisible

by Jonathan Clarke

9:24 AM, 22nd October 2016, About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "KATHY MILLER" at "21/10/2016 - 18:02":

Yes invisible is the right word. I can accept that in the madness of a violent ongoing incident the question of who pays the bill is not top of their agenda and fast decisions have to be made in real time .

But in the immediate aftermath or even the day after someone from the police should treat the owner as a victim of crime and contact them and not leave it two weeks for me to find out with a cold invoice landing on my doormat with no police explanation at all . If 2 weeks earlier all my windows have been smashed by a tenant who has gone off the rails don`t they think i would want to know that . If the damage is due to a warrant on the place and they cave the front door in then any common decent service level agreement between owner of the property and police would scream out that the owner would want to know about the incident asap.

The owner would want to check their insurances / check what repair work needs doing/ check whether the tenancy has been breached/ check whether his furnishings were still intact etc etc . But for the police to check land registry and pass those details to the agent of necessity and then walk away from the whole incident is a complete abdication of their duty in my book. I can even at a stretch accept that the bobby on the beat or the low grade admin clerk may make an error and forget to tell me but when it went through 3 levels of management and still they were blind to my plight i consider it an institutionalised dereliction of duty and an abuse of process.

After much badgering they eventually sent me the below protocols when an agent of necessity is involved . They clearly breached that by not contacting me even when they had my number. But its the after procedure which really irks me where as you say we are totally invisible and even when I gave them a very clear insight about how unfair and adversly I was affected by their procedures their reaction right up to senior management level was -

Tough mate but we aint going to change a thing.

Emergency Boarding – Responsibility of Payment by the Property Owner
Agent of Necessity
If a property is insecure, regardless of the reason for the property being made
insecure, and the Police are unable to contact someone responsible for the property
to effect the securing of the property, the Police will arrange for the property to be
secured. The cost of securing the property falls against the owner of the property.
The person who undertakes the work is effectively regarded as an agent of necessity
- it is not the police entering into a contract as an agent of the principal property
The confusion arises out of trying to envisage a normal contractual relationship: the
property owner entering into a contract with the contractor, effected (because the two
parties never meet) through the agency of the Police. However, there is in fact no
contract at all. It is the person who claims a resitutionary remedy who is the agent of
necessity not the person who has brought the necessity about.
Any person who remedies the emergency would be entitled to a restitutionary claim
in respect of his expenses. The contractor is entitled to recover his charges not
because there is a contract between him and the property owner, it is still a
restitutionary claim but he can probably claim more because he always expected to
be paid for it. Goff & Jones (6th Ed., 2007, Sweet & Maxwell) states at § 17-014:
‘Whether the stranger should be remunerated for his services is
more debatable. The analogy of the few authorities on the
preservation of life suggests that remuneration should be awarded if
the stranger is a “professional”, such as a roofing contractor who
undertook repairs in an emergency, for example, after a disastrous
fire; such an award would be realistic on if the stranger were doing
a professional job.’
Consequently, so far as the contractor’s ability to recover his charges from the
property owner is concerned, it matters not whether the necessity arises out of the
conduct of the Police or any other person. In either case the contractor can argue
agency of necessity (in the light of Staughton L.J.’s reasoning in the Surrey
Breakdown case. As long as he can show that:
A) some pressing emergency compelled him (judged contemporaneously) to
undertake the works;
B) the works he did were reasonable and in the best interests of the property
C) he could not reasonably obtain instructions from the property owner; then he
ought to succeed in recovering his charges.
This has been up-held in the case: Safeguard vs Mr. Michael Stuart Moore Case No:
7JL25950 (Reading County Court).

by Robert Mellors

11:06 AM, 22nd October 2016, About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Jonathan Clarke" at "22/10/2016 - 09:24":

Hi Jonathan

The Emergency Boarding policy is interesting, but it does clearly state that there is no contract between the owner and the contractor that does the boarding up. Also, in the case you describe (and probably 99% of all cases) the police CAN make contact with the owner to "obtain instructions", but in order to do this they may have to investigate who the owner is (should be quick and easy for a service whose main role is to "investigate"). A check on the land registry only takes a few minutes, and then directory enquiries can give the contact phone number, (and/or even looking on Facebook, Linked In, or other social media should reveal some contact details). Thus, condition C in the boarding up policy clearly does not apply, so there would be no legal obligation on the owner to pay for the boarding up (no contract, and "agent of necessity" conditions not met).

by Romain Garcin

14:01 PM, 22nd October 2016, About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Jonathan Clarke" at "22/10/2016 - 09:24":

To me this gives strength to my point that the person acting as agent of necessity is acting on behalf of the tenant.

by Jonathan Clarke

22:03 PM, 22nd October 2016, About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Robert Mellors" at "22/10/2016 - 11:06":

Hi Robert - I argued that very point that they should be able to demonstrate that they at least made an effort. Especially I said if its a pre planned warrant. I don`t expect them to compromise their operation by telling me in advance but the officer in charge should as part of his pre planning DD for that warrant make a concerted attempt to obtain my number / address / e mail etc and have those details to hand to ring me afterwards straight away as I am an integral part of the mop up operation.

The flat concerned was also a leasehold flat with the freeholder being the council . A simple call by them to the service charge dept the day before the warrant would reveal all they need to know about how to contact me. They could have a pre written out text to send a minute after the raid saying... `your property @.......has been damaged by police in an official warrant just executed ... please call xxxx within 5 minutes to arrange to secure it or we will have no option but to call out an emergency glazier which will cost you £180``.
We have the technology these days so it just goes back to the complete lack of thought by them for us the affected party

As a positive note their colleagues in the Fire Service impressed me one day with their thoughtfulness and professionalism . I have two flats adjacent to each other. They were called to one when someone reported smoke from within. They attended but no one was at home. They were considering bashing down my front door in case someone was inside . My tenant next door gave them my number and they rung me. I was having a lazy lunch but leapt up grabbed my spare key and was on scene within 5 minutes. Saved myself a £500 bill I reckon!

by Old Mrs Landlord

9:44 AM, 23rd October 2016, About 5 years ago

On the subject of theft from landlords, research by insurers Direct Line for Business quoted in the News section of NRAM's B2L website reveals that 30% of tenants think it "acceptable" to take items that don't belong to them at the end of a tenancy. Items tenants admitted removing are not only fridges, freezers, TVs, beds, sofas and other furniture but fitments such as sinks and light fittings. The tenants' own estimate of the average value of goods they had taken was £500. Although some said they hadn't remembered the goods were not theirs, and others said they thought the landlord wouldn't notice, the overriding reason given was simply that they had taken the items "because they wanted to"! What does this say about the moral state of our society? However, It was mentioned that some of the tenants had not had an inventory done on moving in and this is a salutary lesson for landlords.

Leave Comments

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

Forgotten your password?