Tenant caused extensive damage and now refuses to pay rent!

by Readers Question

11:11 AM, 26th April 2016
About 3 years ago

Tenant caused extensive damage and now refuses to pay rent!

Make Text Bigger
Tenant caused extensive damage and now refuses to pay rent!

I have a tenant who has caused extensive damage to my property on numerous occasions in the last few months. He’s been charged with criminal damage twice; convicted once, and pled not guilty to the latest charge claiming the police broke down the door to the property, therefore they are liable. breaking door down

The reason the police broke down the door is because the tenant phoned them saying he was going to kill himself and then barricaded himself into the flat. The only way the police could get into the property (acting upon his call) was to break down the door.

At the end of this latest episode I boarded up the doorway to the property, continuing to allow the tenant access to the property (he now requires a screwdriver instead of a key). He has now stopped paying rent saying I have to install a proper front door allowing him to get into the property.

Although the tenant repeatedly causes extensive damage to the property, am I liable to keep replacing the front door? Has he got grounds to withhold rent because he currently has no proper front door, yet does have access?

He has also been served a Section 21 which expires in 3 weeks. Will the Section 21 stay valid all the while I do not install a proper front door to the property?

Any and all help is greatly appreciated.

Marinus



Comments

Neil Patterson

11:15 AM, 26th April 2016
About 3 years ago

Hi Marinus,

What ever happens you will need a new front door, but I am guessing the tenant has used all their deposit and you don't want to risk the same thing happening again.

This is a tricky one and I am hoping others can help here.

I am not a professional in tenant eviction and sound like you are going to have issues so you may like to see our tenant eviction page and ask for help. see >> http://www.property118.com/tenant-eviction-2/

Andrea Collins

12:05 PM, 26th April 2016
About 3 years ago

I would advise joining LandlordReferencing.co.uk, where you can register this tenants default and damages on their legal 'bad tenant' list.
Please have a look, it's a great system that all landlords should join to protect one another:
http://www.landlordreferencing.co.uk/join/

Anthony Endsor

13:20 PM, 26th April 2016
About 3 years ago

Hmmm... tricky one to say the least.
Reading your situation, I'll tell you what my gut feeling is telling me.
For eviction, you can have either a section 21 or a section 8. Now you have issued a section 21. This however, is a no fault eviction notice, meaning you are telling the tenant 'you've done nothing wrong, but I need my property back.' This being the case, the rent arrears, property damage and any tenant behaviour become irrelevant, meaning if the property is not in good order a judge would not grant the eviction, as you would have failed in your duties as a landlord, the front door being the obvious case here.
For a section 8 though, this involves grounds. This is where you can claim for damage to the property, tenants' behaviour, rent arrears or any other issue, and with your case I would think a judge would have to take you very seriously.
So you may have to consider issuing a section 8 on those grounds. This should mean however, you can bring it to court within 2 or 3 weeks as it only gives 14 days notice.

Man on Stilts

13:40 PM, 26th April 2016
About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Neil Patterson" at "26/04/2016 - 11:15":

Hi Neil,
Thanks for your response.
The damage caused to date sits at approx. £10,000. The deposit held is approx. £1,700. This is partly why I'm in no rush to provide a new front door.
I do not want, and simply cannot afford, for the section 21 to be jeopardised. I need to get this tenant out of my property. He clearly has psychological issues, which is another thing that scares me, as the judge might see him as being vulnerable and allow him to stay on at the property following the expiry of the Section 21. On top of all this, he has now stopped paying rent - very painful......

Alison Walker

14:42 PM, 26th April 2016
About 3 years ago

We've not had to issue a Section 8 notice for a number of years now but in the past we used to issue the S8 shortly before the S21 was due to expire with the S8 expiring on the same date as the S21. This may help in your current situation especially if the tenant tries to challenge the S21.
I would definitely recommend you take legal advice as it may save you in the long run. Please note that what we used to do may no longer be relevant.
Good luck.

David Griffith

14:45 PM, 26th April 2016
About 3 years ago

S8 notices can be defended by counter claims of disrepair, S21 notices can not which is why many people avoid using S8 if possible. Make sure your S21 is valid (dates, proof of service etc) and all the deposit regulations complied with as many fail on these points.

The front door is your responsibility to repair. You may be able to later make a claim against the tenant but it is one of your repairing liabilities. Further if this is the only reason the tenant is not paying rent and you may be many months away from getting your property back it will make financial sense.

Dr Rosalind Beck

15:55 PM, 26th April 2016
About 3 years ago

I have been in a similar position with a tenant who was due to be evicted and smashed a window - a replacement cost around £200 and my logic was that I could replace it every day and it could be smashed again every day - amounting to thousands by the time the woman had gone. I think she complained to the council, but we just said it would remain boarded up (which we had to pay for) until she had left. I would ask a lawyer what they think about this argument - it would be stupid for the judge not to understand this and as you say the tenant has access and it was because of their actions that the door was broken. It is beyond a joke how we are made responsible for our tenants' behaviour and have to stomach massive losses and then still be expected to keep repairing in order that they have a perfect environment for which they are not paying.

Robert Mellors

15:57 PM, 26th April 2016
About 3 years ago

I would advise that you get a new door put on immediately so as to protect yourself from legal action against you.

Then, ensure that the s21 you served is valid (as there have been many changes to this recently), and also check that it was served properly (and you can prove it). Also ensure that you have complied with all other requirements, e.g. deposit protection, gas certificates, EPC, etc, otherwise your s21 may be invalid.

Send letters to the tenant about his anti-social behaviour and damage done to property each and every time he breaches those terms of his tenancy, and always keep a copy of any letter sent to him.

Always get a certificate of postage so that you can prove that the letters and notices were served. (If delivering by hand, always take a witness with you and get them to sign a document confirming that they saw you hand deliver the letter/notice to the tenant).

Take photos of all damage, as and when it is seen, but of course do not breach the tenant's right to "peaceful enjoyment" of his home, i.e. do not enter without his permission.

Serve a s8 Notice on the tenant, citing the relevant grounds, (for rent arrears this is usually grounds 8, 10 & 11). A new s8 Notice has been issued and MUST be used for all s8 notices dated after 1st April 2016, so make sure you use the most up to date version.

If you are unsure about doing any of this, then get professional legal help.

Also, you need to realise that the expiry of the s21 Notice (or expiry of the s8 Notice) is only the date you can then issue court proceedings, and the process of actually going to court and evicting the tenant could take many more months, (during which time the tenant may possibly continue to cause damage and not pay the rent, and the law does not allow you to take any action to prevent this).

If, at the end of the eviction process you are not bankrupt, or had a mental breakdown, you may be able to try to recover the debt from the tenant if he has any seizable assets or regular income. If he has no assets or regular employment, then there is very little chance of recovering any of the debt owed to you.

If you wish to keep the property and let it out again, then I would suggest looking into either a "rent to rent" leasing scheme run by a reputable housing association (like mine) or a local authority, OR seeing if you can get some rent guarantee insurance that would provide you with that much cover should this situation ever occur in the future.

Gary Dully

1:26 AM, 27th April 2016
About 3 years ago

Fancy getting serious? - try this
Issue a section 8 notice on grounds 8,10,11, 12 and 13.
Does this idiot have a guarantor?- if so attack that route also.
This guy knows the system and you are going to have a long wait.
Fix the door and invoice him for it.
(Charge him about £1429)
Change the lock and invoice him for it.( charge him £374)
Is he on benefits? - if so ask for direct payment from the council and for them to suspend his payments until a decision is made (as he is funding a suspected drug habit). ( cut off his money supply)

Send a copy of his section 8 notice as evidence he can't manage his own affairs.

Does your tenancy agreement not allow you to charge for breakages by the Police forcing entry? - my agreements do, if it's a result of the tenants actions.
If so bill him for any charges for call out.
Does your tenancy allow a fee for issuing a section 8 notice? - if so invoice him.
Does your agreement allow a nominal sum for extra admin for reminder letters Etc? - if so invoice him.
As his outstanding arrears rocket - then suggest a compromise

Offer him say £150 towards his 'moving expenses' if he wants to consider surrendering his tenancy and writing off what he owes before the section 8 expires. (Don't offer it in writing).

If he accepts, draw up a surrender document and get him to sign it before his moving expenses are handed over and you have his keys in your hand.

Make sure there is none of his belongings left suggesting he intends to come back.

It has worked for me in the past, but it grinds your gears having to do it.

If he proves disrepair your eviction chances are nil and you can be sued for harassment.

Gary Dully

1:34 AM, 27th April 2016
About 3 years ago

Also Grounds 14 should apply on the section 8 notice ( check with a legal boffin)

1 2

Leave Comments

Please Log-In OR Become a member to reply to comments or subscribe to new comment notifications.

Forgotten your password?

OR

BECOME A MEMBER

And the landlord vote goes to - ?

The Landlords Union

Become a Member, it's FREE

Our mission is to facilitate the sharing of best practice amongst UK landlords, tenants and letting agents

Learn More