12:50 PM, 25th September 2014, About 7 years ago
It has become a popular past-time of late to bash landlords. Day after day there are cynical stories in the media about rich capitalist landlords seeking to exploit poor beleaguered tenants, abuse them and then throw them out on the street for a minor infraction. This type of polarising and partisan approach is frankly divisive and unhelpful. The truth is that within any constituent group there will always be a minority of those who seek to hide behind the law and exploit it to the detriment of others. Sadly this is part of the human condition and at Landlord Action we get to see both sides on a daily basis. What is lost amongst all this is that there are genuine stories that deserve to be heard. Somewhere amongst all the debate there are real people who are having their lives upside down, enduring months,sometimes years, of stress to regain access to that most basic of human rights,their own property. It’s not just tenants.
Last week I spent a considerable amount of time on the phone to Jo. Jo isn’t a rich portfolio managing entrepreneur chasing the bottom line or profit cynically riding the crest of an ever growing market of rising property values, she is an ordinary mother and grandmother who has seen the very worst that the rental market can offer. When I spoke to her she was on her way to check out the progress of renovations on her property. This is a property that she reluctantly moved out of due to personal circumstances. It used to be well maintained, equipped, and a considerable source of pride to her. Today it is being effectively gutted. The place she called home for many years, raised her family in and which held many happy memories was obliterated and she is now spending thousands of pounds to bring it back to something approaching habitable condition. Her only mistake, which she admits, was to rent her property to someone in a difficult situation, on the personal recommendation of a family friend. Out of compassion she rented her family home to a women who systematically destroyed her life. The well furnished and presented property was reduced to a shell. Property stolen, windows nailed shut, interior doors kicked in, appliances damaged beyond repair, family members threatened, neighbours alienated and abused. The Police and the RSPCA were a regular occurrence at a home which quickly resembled something from a war zone. After months of hard work, we sent the bailiffs in. Unfortunately what confronted us was an all too familiar scene of devastation. Realistically Jo realises that she has very little financial or judicial redress and the errant tenant escapes without punishment or consequence.
After nearly two years of exhaustive attempts to negotiate, and abortive legal efforts, Jo finally approached us, as many of our clients do via a personal recommendation. As she said “as soon as Paul and the team we were involved things started happening. Finally I managed to get these awful people out. The impact on me and my family has been terrible, I have endured years of hell and the family home which I cherished has been tarnished forever. I really want my story to serve as a warning to others.It really can happen to anyone.”
Sadly Jo’s story is all too common. As the demand for property continues to outstrip demand it is vital that landlords, whether ‘accidental’ or ‘professional,’ seek out the best advice. Due diligence, a proactive agent and the right legal backup and support can make all the difference between peace of mind and a situation that can test your sanity.
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