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 Jonathan Clarke

7:28 AM, 14th November 2016, About 5 years ago

The civil law and the criminal law both cover many of the incidents mentioned. There is no doubt that much criminal activity is not investigated by the police. There will be multiple reasons for this, some of which are quite valid some of which though are a neglect of duty . The Public interest element is a key reason sometimes as the police are paid for by our taxes . They have limited resources and have to prioritise and justify how the allocate their time. Their priorities are often different to the landlords Laid down mitigating and aggravating factors play also a key role here as well as the realistic prospect of getting a conviction

Example A - So a tenant punches a hole in your door in a fit of pique having heard just his daughter has been assaulted by a mugger . He causes £50 of damage. Its covered by the Criminal Damage Act but also covered by your AST and the deposit and possibly insurance. Which is the best recourse to justice. Civil law or criminal law? Restitution, Reparation and Rehabilitation are the broad aims of justice in a civilized society

If the tenant has moved abroad the amount of police resources, time and money needed would be wholly disproportionate to bring the perpetrator back to the country to account for the crime. So it is not in the public interest. So the Police quite rightly in my view shift the onus to the landlord to take the £50 out of the deposit. Restitution has occurred in a financial sense but has true reparation taken place. Maybe not in an emotional sense as the landlord may be still seething because the police have done nothing and the landlord wants to have his day in court to give a victim statement and ask for another £50 for the whole hassle/ distress factor. He has a point . Also the criminal has not had any rehabilitation and may go on to commit further crimes. But due to the circumstances the chances of re offending in this instance may be slight. He lost his cool on one day in his life. It may never happen again.

Example B - So then we have a tenant who has a argument with his partner and smashes every door in the property in a wilful orgy of violence and hate and further kicks the kitchen cupboards base units when his partner tell him to calm down and chucks his beer all over the cream carpets and stubs his cigarette out in it . And as he storms out he slams the front door breaking the hinges and splitting the frame. And out in the street with a final parting shot launches a brick through one of your windows. He causes £3000 worth of damage in total.

The police are called and the offender is local and goes back to live with his mother 5 doors along as his relationship breaks down. He keeps threatening to go back there and do some real damage etc etc. There is a small baby in the house to consider of which he is the father. Clearly there is a public interest element here for a variety of reasons for the police to intervene on behalf of the landlord and the wider community. Action is required as a matter of some urgency. Protection of life and property is the polices prime aim. This file should remain squarely with the police. Civil action though can run alongside if necessary in slow time. The deposit wont cover the amount of damage caused. We can have two routes to justice .

So two incidents of Criminal Damage but at different ends of the spectrum.
Who should be the investigator.
The police , the landlord and his solicitor , the insurance company

Only by an intensive collating of the stats can one see if there is widespread neglect by the police to record / investigate these type of crimes. Do they pass the buck to the landlord too readily when they should be taken much firmer action. Should landlords report more crimes when holes are punched in doors rather than just dealing with them `in house` as we tend to do as we have their deposit so we can decide to act as judge and jury often. I must have about 100 unreported crimes that I could report but don`t because of selfish reasons. By ignoring the problem 95% of the time do i contribute to the lack of police action in the other 5%

Life is complicated

But the balance is not right I believe . My properties get damaged and my rent doesn't get paid and I feel unsupported by the system much of the time. It comes down heavily on me with the regulation side of it and can put me in jail if i don`t do my annual gas safety certificate. I can live with that as I have responsibilities. But in return all I ask is that if a tenant openly trashes my property and steals £1000`s in rent from me then put them in jail as well and someone compensate me for my losses

by Chris @ Possession Friend

9:09 AM, 14th November 2016, About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "KATHY MILLER" at "13/10/2016 - 09:15":

I would make a formal complaint against the police and use their acknowledgement of responsibility to request payment in a letter before action, then. Money Claim Online - its quite easy and inexpensive.

by Ian Ringrose

14:12 PM, 14th November 2016, About 5 years ago

And this is way more and more landlords have decided to leave the homeless sleeping in shop doorways, as only middle class tenants in good jobs can be make to pay up if they do damage.

by Mr Chaps

21:23 PM, 17th November 2016, About 5 years ago

I haven'tt read the whole thread but has the judge come back to you? My last tenant cost me 3 doors, two due to the police themselves! (note she was not accused or suspected of any crime!)

I only have 2 houses and have been renting them for about 7 or 8 years and I've had numerous cases where the tenant has not only doen a runner, told the councl they left much earlier (once 5 months before they actually left) and then left me to sort out the council clawing back their HB from me, as well as claiming I'm liable for council tax even though the tenacy clearly states it becomes contractual periodic. etc.

the last one just walked off with e.g. fire extingusihers, ripped electric heaters off the wall I'm down over 3000;l

some highlights were
3months into tenancy, front Door kicked in after some late party; police, nothinkg we can do.
lost her own keys ot the propery necessitating me a round trip of 90 minutes to cross town to let her in (and in one occasion out of her house) and change the locks, 4 times in 5 months.

then she seemed to have settled down but then around 13 months into the tenancy I have to replace front door (ANOTHER 650) after police forced entry since she wouldn't answer door
then only 4 months after than = replace front door again after police forced entry at Tenant''s request because could not find keys !!!lastly just before she moved out she'd fallen out with a friend and they threw a brick through the window.

ANd I'd done everything to help this tenant out over the last 18 months ... furious and sad that society is like this.

by Robert Mellors

22:32 PM, 17th November 2016, About 5 years ago

Earlier this week the Police smashed two doors in (one external UPVc door, and one internal fire door, at one of my HMOs), causing about £1000 worth of damage (plus boarding up costs etc). There was no search warrant (or any other type of warrant), the house was vacant, there was nobody home. Police say they had a report that someone at the property had been assaulted, they knocked at the door but there was no answer, Police say they thought they saw the curtain twitch so decided to break in the door, they said it must have been a breeze blowing the curtain (but all windows were shut when I arrived on the scene about an hour later, and I don't imagine the police went around closing all the windows!!!!!). Police are refusing to pay for the damage they caused.

Police have dealt with me previously in relation to that property, so would have my contact details on file. Likewise they could have done a Land Registry search online, it takes about 3 minutes and costs about £5 I believe. The police made no effort to contact the landlord, and I only found out about the situation because a relative was passing by that knew it was my house so they phoned me and told me the police were there.

Police refused to cancel their boarding up company, even though I told them that my own contractors were coming out to do it.

by Dr Rosalind Beck

23:06 PM, 17th November 2016, About 5 years ago

I think we need new laws with regard to the police treatment of landlords. We just discovered a cannabis farm in one of our houses. The neighbours say that they told the police but the police refused to do anything. Had the police acted they would have: 1. caused less damage being done to our house. 2. been able to arrest the drug producer. 3. been able to keep a whole load of drugs off the street. and 4. minimised the amount of electricity stolen from the grid. Instead, we have a trashed house that will cost thousands to sort out, the electricity company will be owed thousands and the guy has got off scot-free to do and do this somewhere else.

I think the police are treating these crimes against landlords in the way they used to deal with domestic abuse - as though it is a private matter between two parties. We have to get a campaign going at some point to get this changed. The RLA and NLA need to get onto this.

by Chris @ Possession Friend

8:44 AM, 18th November 2016, About 5 years ago

Rosalind is right, but her attention is focused on Sec 24, so we need others to come together and help take this on.
Who knows, perhaps landlords fighting back will help to bring our business back into proper focus with the govt and media,
Question is, how do we best go about raising the profile of bad tenants behaviour, is there media contacts we could use to forward some of our members stories to ?
I think something like a coalition, a coming together of ALL Landlord interested parties ( such as Steve Bolton suggests with the Sec 24 ) is needed, otherwise our message is diluted / not as strong.

by Luke P

9:27 AM, 18th November 2016, About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Chris Daniel" at "18/11/2016 - 08:44":

Part of the problem is that Police budgets are squeezed -they do not have enough resources to successfully police their area properly. If the Chief speaks out and insists they cannot do the job being asked of them on their limited budget, they will find themselves quickly replaced by someone who *can* 'make things work' on the limited amount on offer. As far as I know, only two CCs have been brave enough to speak out against their masters.We've used up all the breathing room and this is where we end up.

I would like to see change. I will assist with any campaign. I don't much expect the situation to change.

by Mark Alexander

20:49 PM, 18th November 2016, About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Mr Chaps" at "17/11/2016 - 21:23":

No the Judge hasn't come back to me yet, I'm giving him plenty of time to consider all responses. As we all know, the wheels of Justice turn slowly.

However, I do have his email address and telephone number and I will follow up on this in due course. Meanwhile, he remains subscribed to this thread and will hopefully be reading the comments and forming opinions.

by H B

9:39 AM, 19th November 2016, About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Mr Chaps" at "17/11/2016 - 21:23":

"ANd I’d done everything to help this tenant out over the last 18 months "

Very tough for you - you provide housing and get published in return.

I guess that if you operate in this sector it is a cost of doing business and not one if you want an easy life.

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