I first let to these tenants in 2003. They already had a daughter and later gave birth to a second. She was an accountant, I forget now what he did. They were model tenants but in 2008 I received a call to tell me that he’d left her for another woman. These things happen and as she had been such a wonderful tenant I had no issues whatsoever in granting a new tenancy in her name, no guarantor! Seriously, would you ask for a guarantor under these circumstances?
A few months went by without problems but then a rent payment was missed. I followed my procedures and wasn’t too concerned at first. After three weeks I called her at work and I was told she was off sick. I eventually tracked her down at home and she explained she’d been off for a few months and was really sorry about the rent. Apparently the stress of the separation was getting to her. Under the circumstances I agreed that she could miss another months rent payment (due at the end of the following week) and then catch up over the next 12 months when she get’s back to work. She didn’t go back though, not for long anyway, she’d hit the bottle and got fired for being drunk at work. I tried to help her but she ignored my calls and left me with no choice other than to serve a section 21 notice giving her two months to vacate. She was already four months in arrears so I could have served a section 8 giving her two weeks notice but I guess I’m just a softie. She’d been a good tenant for years so two months notice wasn’t too bad and I thought she’d get better and being an accountant she wouldn’t want debts hanging over her. I was wrong 🙁
No rent was paid and the notice period had expired but she was still there. I’d never been in this position before. What would I do? At this point I also found out that the children had been taken into care. This was getting nasty.
It turns out that she had also got into drugs, heroin to be exact, and was funding her habit through prostitution.
To cut a long story short we had to go all the way through the court process. It was my first time. It was only on the third attempt that the baliffs actually managed to get her out of the property. There were a ton of excuses for the first two times which I will not go into.
She knew she was going to be evicted and had completely trashed the property. My suspicion is that she got all the local druggies to collect all the bin bags off the estate and tip the rubbish in the house. The stench was over-whelming, three of the clean up team literally threw up, one refused to go back into the house. 23 skips were filled in all and I was down 18 months on rent. OK, I might have got away with a few less if I’d have been a bit tougher but seriously, would you have done anything different than I did as these events unfolded?
I learned two lessons from this:-
- You can never be 100% sure about any tenant
- You need a rainy day fund as you never know when a scenario like this could befall you. I’d been a landlord for 17 years and owned a massive portfolio before this happened to me but it could just as easily have been my first tenant in my first property.