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

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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 James Fraser

9:23 AM, 25th October 2016, About 5 years ago

So actually it's no change for us? Just LAs telling the tenant to stay put which is where we are now?

by Whiteskifreak Surrey

9:38 AM, 25th October 2016, About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "James Fraser" at "25/10/2016 - 09:23":

Unfortunately looks that way.
Frankly speaking I sometimes think that LLs are greater enemy than ISIS...

by Michael Barnes

21:19 PM, 25th October 2016, About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Whiteskifreak Surrey" at "25/10/2016 - 08:37":

Having read the bill, it appears that the intent is that the LHA may only advise the tenant to stay if

a) They believe that the landlord would not gain possession in a court hearing (I imagine this being that the S21/S8 notice is incorrectly served, or possibly some discretionary ground), or

b) They have discussed the situation with the landlord and believe that she does not intend enforcing the notice (including 'persuaded not to enforce').

If that is the intent, then it does not appear to be a problem.
HOWEVER, I don't know if that IS the intent, or if that IS what the bill actually says.

by Pamela Johnston

13:19 PM, 3rd November 2016, About 5 years ago

It might be a helpful starting point to acknowledge what 'the Police' can/ can't do?

The Police have a duty to protect life and property.

The Police have procedures they must follow for documenting reported crime, then compiling evidence of stated crime then forwarding reports to the fiscal (In Scotland, CPS elsewhere)

The fiscal (CPS) will then decide a)has a crime been committed and b) Is it evidenced.

The police have their resource management decided by criminals and public nuisances, as in, they must attend to an 'ongoing' incident despite having no knowledge of it the day before - they don't operate an appointment system on the whole.If you have been given an appointment it is likely to be with an officer who may be called to an incident whilst en route to your appointment. By its nature we will be reporting historic incidents. Very difficult to prove anyone's active involvement.

Most of us have tenants sign a document / lease / contract/ tenancy agreement in which they accept responsibility for actions of the occupants / pets and visitors and any resulting damages. This, whether we like it or not is a civil / contractual issue. I'm wondering though, if hotels are able to pursue criminal damage on the strength of the named occupant being responsible.

I agree we should be able to have criminal damage pursued where tenants are in a rented property which suffers such damage unless they have been victims of assault/ break-in, where THEY hopefully would be calling the Police.

Since most landlords and many letting agents are not expert in tenancy law, it is best to assume that your police officers have not independently taken on any training in this area and they DO NOT cover this in police training. So, effectively we are kicking a cat for not being a dog if we blame the police for our society's protection for misbehaving tenants.
Having said that, in many areas, it is easy to 'write-off' a job as being non criminal and I believe our landlord representative bodies could do a lot in terms of liaison with policing bodies to gain some uniformity on classifying accidental damage vs willful criminal damage / destruction and vandalism.

by Chris @ Possession Friend

13:53 PM, 3rd November 2016, About 5 years ago

As a Police Officer AND Landlord, I'm sorry but I'm not having a bar of the above.
Lets be honest, there are 3 categories of issues here.
1. The civil kind that Pamela is alluding to above, i.e damages that are properly negligent ( as opposed to deliberate ) and should be dealt with 'by civil law - Deposit mediation.
2. There will be cases more severe, but on the borderline and in these instances of civil doubt and Public restrictions in expenditure, then the benefit of the doubt should I believe be dealt with by civil means. HOWEVER -
3. There are Many, many examples, which Mark's conversation with the judge alludes, where there is obvious wanton damage, and in my case, Theft of items from a rental property. Theft is Theft, regardless of whether there is a legal tenancy agreement allowing use ( But NOT Removal ) of a property or its contents.
Lets be honest, NOBODY gets it Right all of the time, so trying to justify that position makes the argument ludicrous.

by Pamela Johnston

14:11 PM, 3rd November 2016, About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Chris Daniel" at "03/11/2016 - 13:53":

Hi Chris

Would you mind clarifying for me re. your comments;

'I'm not having a bar of the above' I expect maybe there's a typo in there or I'm just not following?

1. I was discussing both civil and criminal damage which I feel certain all of us have had to some extent if we have been landlording more than 5 years or letting more than 5 houses say.

My comments were more aimed at 'managing expectations' in terms of what Police Officers and the Police service can or should do.

What were you referring to in terms of justifying a position and what arguement is made ludicrous?

by Michael Fickling

14:48 PM, 3rd November 2016, About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Chris Daniel" at "03/11/2016 - 13:53":

You are absolutely correct Chris.
Where damage is extensive and obviously deliberate and where theft is extensive and clear..as for eg. removal of a whole kitchen... these are clear crimes. Criminal damage and theft respectively. It is the duty, function and responsibility of the police to..
A .....record a crime and
B..... seek out the offender/suspect ( usually the tenant) either arrest same or invite to the station and interview under caution. Any failure to record a crime and investigate IN THESE CLEAR CIRCUMSTANCES.is a neglect of duty by the officer(s) concerned.
This is not an issue for CPS or judges its straight up local police duty and responsibility and if they dont do it then its never going to arrive on a c p.s staff desk or in a court.
Furthermore if any form of tool or implement has been used to cause damage ...the suspect/tenant may well still have it and it should be sought, seized and examined together with surfaces struck/damaged.In many, many cases where that is done a match will be found. Say its a door..smashed repeatedly with a hammer....suggest a soco officer ( C.S.I if ya like ).....calls and takes it away..yep the whole door or relevant part of same...They can and do!.... I know I used to manage all this stuff.
As chris or any experienced and sensible officer will tell...getting a crime recorded is THE key to any of this being done. Insist and get a crime recorded and you have a chance. Fail to get the police to record one..a crime.. and usually nothing effective will be done.The whole thing never gets past first base. Once a crime is recorded it is much more difficult for the officer(s) involved to do nothing and it becomes far more likely that an investigation will be carried out.
My own experience in this area is extensive and involves both investigating,...and training investigating detectives, managing uniform and detective officers..managing scenes of crime services and even reviewing crime, recording. forensics and investigating procedures.and scenes.locally and nationally . My advice..dont bother your local police with minor stuff........BUT..do insist on a crime recording..and investigation where its serious and very clear damage or theft. The response you get will vary by officer attending/call handler....but stand on..these are your rights and this is the correct procedure(s).What an individual officer/call handler says or believes may be different but the above are the facts.

by Andre Gysler

14:23 PM, 9th November 2016, About 5 years ago

We have a property where a mother allowed her 16 year old son to smash every door in the property (13 interior doors and 2 UPVC external doors, punch and kick holes in most of the dry lined walls, allow their dogs to urinate and defecate in the upstairs rooms to the point where it ran through the ceilings below and even down the light fittings. I could go on and on but together with the year of unpaid rent, the total cost was in excess of £26k before bailiff eviction finally took place with Housing Services advising them to stay put until the bailiffs evicted them.

In another case we were owed 6 months rent before regaining possession upon which we found all of our furniture had been removed from the property and the heating and hot water system had been totally drained, the stop cock shut off as tight as could be with a wrench or grips of some description whilst the boiler had been switched to maximum for both central heating and hot water. Fortunately we found this within 20 minutes of them leaving otherwise there could have been a really nasty incident. . We tracked the outgoing tenant down to an address and filed a complaint with the Police. The man was arrested and questioned but let go because he told them he thought we had said he could have all of the contents! Really?! When owing 6 months rent?! Of course we would have said that! The Police told him he was to return everything, which he did, together with all mattresses soaked in fresh urine, screws randomly screwed into items of furniture, bed frames bent etc. In other words, nothing was left usable but the Police filed it as NFA. A completely furnished 4 bedroom house wiped of its contents and No Further Action.

Another case was when a couple had fallen into arrears in excess of 6 months, Social Services helped them to abscond leaving all of their rubbish including a caravan that they had smashed to bits and left on the driveway with its contents strewn all over the rear garden, oh and their parting gift was to cut out and remove a section of the lounge carpet and underlay, together with gripper rods, the shape of which looked remarkably like a single bedroom! Naturally I returned their caravan to their new address together with bags of letters(evidence) of fraudulent activity with loans and catalogues under different names. He complained to the council that I had dumped rubbish at their new address and I got a series of phone calls demanding that I go and be interviewed under caution, right up until I explained I was merely returning their possessions and they may want to refer the matter to the Police to investigate the fraud that had been taking place.

I would like to add that each of these were referrals from the Council's Priority Housing List and that each had pocketed their Local Housing Allowance payments.

by Whiteskifreak Surrey

14:39 PM, 9th November 2016, About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Andre Gysler" at "09/11/2016 - 14:23":

I am horrified to hear that type of stories. Just cannot believe that things like that can happen in 21st century civilised country, supposedly governed by law (?).
Absolutely never to rent to Council Tenants.

by Alan Carey

15:10 PM, 9th November 2016, About 5 years ago

It is not just LA tenants, the so called laws of the UK allow anyone to do this to our properties and the police are too useless to protect us from these type of tenants.

Eventually so many landlords will pull out of AST's and there will be a housing crisis and the government will beg for landlords.

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