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 Mandy Thomson

14:00 PM, 15th October 2016, About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Robert Mellors" at "14/10/2016 - 08:55":

Good idea, Robert, but I think that for the vast majority of the type tenants who trash their rented homes the income they get from state benefits is simply a small supplement to their "real" income - the proceeds from criminal activity and (sometimes) cash in hand work.... They are often very cunning and can easily get around the system; a small deduction from benefits would be water off a duck's back.

by Michael Fickling

14:18 PM, 15th October 2016, About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Mandy Thomson" at "15/10/2016 - 13:39":

Yes that correct.. its like the hirer of a motorcar taking it home and beating the hell out of it ..with a hammer or whatever..that is criminal damage under criminal law..the fact theyve hired it doesnt take the offender out of their criminal law liability...Rental property is exactly the same.Its rented to be lived in not deliberately and wantonly smashed up. Incidentally talk of what can or cant be proved is irrelevant to having a crime recorded and investigated. That is the citizen/owners right. How efficiently the individual officer(s) deal to it is another matter.The police can and do arrest hundreds of people on suspicion of various offences every day across this country and one shouldnt get drawn into debates about evidence.Just get it recorded as a crime firstly and you are half way there.Also the police can and do arrest people quite legally and properly both.... A... on suspicion a crime has occurred AND ...B... on suspicion that a certain person has committed it. They can in actual fact turn out to be wrong ....totally wrong.. on both counts and provided they have acted reasonably then their actions are completely legal. A citizen can also arrest ( PLEASE DONT for various reasons....) however if a citizen arrests someone then the first part A..is reduced in "power" to circumstances only where a crime definitely has been committed. Bottom line ..if a Police Officer tells you they cant or will not take action because they dont believe it will be proven in due course ..they are shirking their responsibilities...and they shouldnt be prejudging what the suspect will or may say in a subsequent taped interview. If they were allowed to operate on that basis no one would ever be arrested for anything. Dont want to open up this debate really any further..just saying getting a crime report recorded as such.. and getting the crime number is half the battle. Push for that and if it aint happening elevate it. Again please dont try this with very minor damage and theft..even though it still applies..stick to the big stuff..like theft of an entire kitchen fittings set up or the sort of extreme scenario where a tenant smashes up the whole place and theres no reasonable interpretation that the damage is just wear and tear.

by David Price

14:59 PM, 15th October 2016, About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "michael fickling" at "15/10/2016 - 14:18":

Michael, I have been less than forceful in the past and just accepted that nothing can be done on the basis of "it is difficult to prove" and "there is a contract so it's civil". The next time it happens (weekly occurrence) I will be a great deal more forceful and ensure that I get a crime report number. Problem is when I call the police at their call centre all I get is an incident number, pending a visit by the police, sometimes weeks later, and then I am told there has been no crime committed because there is an AST in place. When I have tried to get a crime report number, very politely, the result is usually that the call centre terminates the call.

by Alan Carey

16:37 PM, 15th October 2016, About 5 years ago

I had a tenant leave with a damaged wall in the garden, an oven door that was broken off and had been thrown away and they also stole a set of curtains that would cost a £1000 to replace.They also owed a lot of rent, I found out that they had done this several times and owed money to utilities companies on several houses and had been bankrupt several times, unfortunatly the so called mate who set me up with this tenant didn't mention any of this. Anyway I went to the police and they were useless and after interveiwing him, they said it was a civil matter, they aren't alt all concerned that he keeps running up debts and going bankrupt and neither are the insolvency service. I now understand why my Dad who is a long retired police officer, has for the last few years been embarressed about admitting that he was ever a police officer and why the police no longer have the respect of most people. So I won't be holding my breath to see what the judge does.

by Chris @ Possession Friend

23:47 PM, 15th October 2016, About 5 years ago

I had a similar case, in so much as a tenant had 'stolen carpets from my house.
I reported the 'Theft' to the police who said from the outset, that they believed it to be a civil matter.
I pointed out to them ( as a serving senior police officer, revealing such ) that the matter was clear theft and nothing else.
Despite this, and although after a couple of telephone calls by myself to the Police station, the ex-tenant was eventually arrested and interviewed.
She said in interview that I ( the landlord ) had refused to return her deposit and she had taken the carpet ( worth Twice as much, never mind other damages and rent being almost the same as the deposit amount )
The investigating officer ( I use that term loosely ) presented facts to custody Sergeant who said there was 'no case to answer' and that it was to be a civil matter. No enquiries were made with me to verify this, indeed, the deposit was still with DPS and tenant hadn't contacted them. Ex-tenant wasn't even released on bail for enquiries into her account to be made.
I made a written official complaint Against the Police and the initial civilian investigator found my complaint 'Not Upheld' Fortunately, a Detective Inspector reviewing the matter, disagreed and Upheld my complaint, suggesting there was a Training need highlighted.
When I asked about the intended method of restitution, I was passed off by the Superintendent in Charge , that the complaint was one of procedure rather than conduct ( which I disagree ) and was not going to be pursued further.
I did contemplate bringing a MCOL against the Chief Constable, but other pressing property matters meant I'd lost the will--power and time available to proceed.
Mark, - I have the Police complaint investigation report if the judge would like to see it ?

by Lisé Willcox

19:49 PM, 16th October 2016, About 5 years ago

Me; Professional Landlord, who happens to be retired ex copper and failed once upon a time law student!

But if you want to a successful criminal prosecution you need to get the following;

1) Guilt must beyond all reasonable doubt.
2) The offence has a legal definition, for example what we as landlords regard as criminal damage does not always match the criminal law definition.
3) The Cps will only prosecute that which on paper they can see they will win, so 'if in doubt they chuck it out'

Once you have ticked those boxes it might get to court...

Personally although as a specialist social land lord who has had every nightmare possible, you name it I've seen it....as well as heavenly tenants (I do love them ) well I'd never bother to get the cops in, I'd just bite the bullet and re-let!

Why? Because one element in the legal definition of many crimes is this..."Men's Rea"......No not a rear...area lol ! So in basic language, if you cantprive intent that's INTENT... Forget it...Who is ever going to admit it.... You need to have otherwise caught them red handed, not under any intoxicating medicated influence with A signed police statement from an independant reliable witness....

Don't shoot the messenger .... This is British Law.

by Jay James

19:59 PM, 16th October 2016, About 5 years ago

I suspect some of the profiles on here. Insurance, police, law student, every profession relevant to letting...and so on. Then there's the nature of the profile's comments.

by Mark Alexander

20:04 PM, 16th October 2016, About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Jay James" at "16/10/2016 - 19:59":

Take a look at the member profile pages of anybody you suspect. Trouble makers are easy to spot as their comments are few and they never contribute positively.

I can confidently vouch for Lise on this basis.

by Lisé Willcox

20:07 PM, 16th October 2016, About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Lise Willcox" at "16/10/2016 - 19:49":

Please excuse typos... Basically Men's Rea = intent

Whilst Actus Rea is = the act,

So for cigarette burns on upvc window frames.... (Yep that happens) .. You would need to prove who did it, that they were over 10 years old and they knew what they were doing and its consequences (impossible to repair)

I have called the police when threatened on a house visit when there was an extension lead running from a downstairs socket to the Attic.... It took 45 mins for them to arrive and because there were no green leaves left nothing happened... But I called them knowing that no prosecution would occur, but once there they could see I was not backing down on doing a house check, and despite them being screamed at by the tenant too... I got to do that check... So sometimes it's worth it. That house once they had gone filled 5 skips and cost £7,000 to repair... You live and learn, she made herself intentionally homeless, her kids went into care, she was settee surfing until she again delivered a further child and got back on the social housing ladder....

So there it is...

by Lisé Willcox

20:13 PM, 16th October 2016, About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Mark Alexander" at "16/10/2016 - 20:04":

Thank you Mark... I am but a simple, well intentioned and unfortunately quite experienced Landlord... Learning daily ....

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