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.



Comments

by Property Care

9:28 AM, 13th October 2016, About 5 years ago

I have had many cases where there has been extensive damage and thefts. One particular was when a couple of tenants in arrears decided to abandon the property taking the cooker with them. They also retained the keys to the property and refused to return them. I reported to the matter to the police as theft. The initial police officer I spoke with must have been a junior in experienced officer. He contacted the tenants and told them to return the cooker or they would be charged with theft. However the following the day the officer called me to say he had spoke with his colleague he was advised by his colleague to inform that the contract i.e the tenancy I had with tenant was a civil contract so therefor the it was a civil matter. He then had to contact the tenants to retract what he had said earlier regarding returning the cooker. I subsequently had to get a lawyer to pursue them for the cooker and arrears. I eventually got the cooker but not the arrears. The cooker was in a terrible state and I had to just bin it.

In another case I had a fire place removed from the wall and thrown into a pile of rubbish in the garden. Police didn't want to know, nothing they can do they said. I had to remove a section of the floor in the corner of the sitting room as the tenant decided to use that corner as a toilet urinating. The carpet and underlay had to be replaced.

I tried to recover re-decoration costs from a woman that allowed her children to draw on every wall in the flat with crayons. The judge ruled in her favour and let her off.

I had another case where a woman ruined all the carpets in my house ran up arrears and abandoned the property, again the judge ruled in her favour and ordered me to pay her £700 deposit back!

I have very little faith in our courts now

by David Price

9:29 AM, 13th October 2016, About 5 years ago

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

Kathy I have had this with one of these firms the police employ. In future do not be intimidated for they will try to recover their extortionate fees from anyone, in my case they even tried to claim from the neighbour who made the initial call to the police. You have no contract with the company which will use bullying tactics to try to get their extortionate fees paid. The tenant was responsible and it is the tenant who must pay, you have little reason to require the property secured for it is not your chattels within.

by Darrel Kwong

9:30 AM, 13th October 2016, About 5 years ago

As Ian suggested, it is almost impossible to define criminal damage in a tenancy, hence the reluctance of the CPS to prosecute.

by David Price

9:32 AM, 13th October 2016, About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Ian Ringrose" at "13/10/2016 - 09:00":

Ian I fear that you are correct with the result that a tenant can do anything without penalty. The law needs to change.

by Paul Franklin

9:58 AM, 13th October 2016, About 5 years ago

Is it because having a tenancy is a form of ownership of land and you can't therefore be criminalised for damaging something you own??

And so it becomes a civil matter, breach of contract etc?

A similar argument could be said for commercial premises, or even mortgaged property?

Just a thought.

by David Price

10:07 AM, 13th October 2016, About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Paul Franklin" at "13/10/2016 - 09:58":

"Is it because having a tenancy is a form of ownership of land and you can’t therefore be criminalised for damaging something you own?? "

Oh yes you can, look at the first page of the Criminal Damage Act:-

1 Destroying or damaging property.

(1)A person who without lawful excuse destroys or damages any property belonging to another intending to destroy or damage any such property or being reckless as to whether any such property would be destroyed or damaged shall be guilty of an offence.

(2)A person who without lawful excuse destroys or damages any property, whether belonging to himself or another—

(a)intending to destroy or damage any property or being reckless as to whether any property would be destroyed or damaged; and

(b)intending by the destruction or damage to endanger the life of another or being reckless as to whether the life of another would be thereby endangered;

shall be guilty of an offence.

(3)An offence committed under this section by destroying or damaging property by fire shall be charged as arson.

by Paul Franklin

10:20 AM, 13th October 2016, About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "David Price" at "13/10/2016 - 10:07":

Ok, thanks David, interesting.

Although the way I read that is that to be charged for criminal damage for damaging something that you own you would have to intend to endanger the life of another? Which wouldn't be the case with tenant damage.

I'm not sure if I'm on to something with the 'ownership' thing or not but as I say, just a thought.

by David Price

10:26 AM, 13th October 2016, About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Paul Franklin" at "13/10/2016 - 10:20":

Your interpretation is similar to the police. The act says something different and whilst I agree that it is difficult to obtain a conviction that does not mean one should not try.
On the plus side whilst researching this topic over many years, I have learnt a great deal about how not to be held responsible for my actions.

by Don Holmes

11:14 AM, 13th October 2016, About 5 years ago

I have seen lots of rented properties converted to cannabis farming. Tenant refuses inspection visits or keeps avoiding the appointment, recently when we decided to gain forced access and found such a farm the police after taking away the vegetation and leaving all the equipment as this is legal tender refused to persue the tenant as they said "no point they will only get a warning" Then and believe me you couldn't make this up, want to interview our agent for breaking and entering!

by Anne Noon

12:11 PM, 13th October 2016, About 5 years ago

Case 1) I built a brand new House, but because of certain planning problems, I let the property out instead of selling it. The first bad tenant was a single mother of 7 and, allegedly, her boyfriend, who did not pass all the checks. The agent agreed to have the first year's rent paid up front, so I accepted the tenant. (it was a five bed house, so a large family was not an issue on those grounds). After a year,I gave my two months notice, but her "boyfriend" begged me to let her stay, which I did. It then transpired that she was on Housing benefit (which I did not know about ) and she promised to get her benefit paid directly to me. Then she fell behind with her rent - the council deeming that Benefit be paid to tenants to teach them to be responsible with their money. I visited the house and it had been wrecked by her and her children. I applied to the court in Luton to evict her, but they lost the papers, and so that caused a delay of three months in getting her out, without rent.

At appropriate times I obtained ccj's against her for non-payment and won each case. It became apparent that she was receiving 30000 in income, tax free (equivalent to a Deputy Head's salary at the time.

Just before she was finally evicted, after her boyfriend (who did not live there anyway) threatened to kill me if I persevered with the eviction.

So this tenant left the house owing about 10000 in rent and did about £10,000 damage to the house. Despite the CCJ's I have never had a penny back. The bailiffs who evicted her said there was no point in trying to recover the debt through them - despite there being 7000 worth of cars on the drive of the property. I was told that if you gave good reason to the DVLA, they would give you the onward address. Despite enclosing copies of the CCJ's, they said that they could not give me her new address (the second one after she left me) I have employed companies s to try to recover the debt but despite paying them £600, they did not even give me the address they had found for her, let alone recover any monies.

I understand that, as more than 6 years have past since these events, the debt dies and I will never get that money back. I tried to get recompnes against the letting agent - a long-standing colleague- but he said that as they paid the rent up front for a year, it nullified the failied rent check. This is extremely unjust

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