Tenant will die

by Robert Mellors

8:06 AM, 13th June 2014
About 5 years ago

Tenant will die

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Tenant will die

I have a resident in one of my HMO properties who is causing a problem to other residents. He is a nice person when sober, but is very verbally abusive when he is drunk. He is a chronic alcoholic, so has long bouts of drinking, i.e. he may be sober for a month but then getting drunk each day for two months.Robert-Mellors

Normally, if someone’s drinking behaviour is affecting other residents, and cannot be controlled, then I would seek to move them elsewhere or evict them, however, in this case the person is 68 years old in poor health and has already exhausted other options (council, social services, supported housing, hostels, etc), and I believe that if I evict him he will resume rough sleeping and will be found dead this winter (if not before). I do not want to evict him and contribute to his death, but I do have other residents I need to protect.

Does anyone have any ideas for how to deal with this situation?

Robert



Comments

Mark Alexander

8:18 AM, 13th June 2014
About 5 years ago

Hi Robert

I'm quite sure that such a dilemma would play on the mind of any decent human being.

However, some people cannot be helped. Clearly this man is a liability to himself. If he was a relative I could accept there would be even more reasons to help him. If he's not you also need to consider the welfare of your other tenants, your property, the neighbours and of course you own financial well being.

There are agencies to help people with these problems but the ultimate accountability comes down to your tenant wanting to help himself. From what you have said he is already killing himself. He needs to wake up to that fact and make some choices of his own. If he makes the right choices he will get the right help. If not he will die prematurely, whether from alcoholism, freezing or an accident or fight due to being drunk. This is a very sad story.

Good luck!
.

8:48 AM, 13th June 2014
About 5 years ago

Hi Robert,

What an awful dilemma.

The other concern is the danger this man is to your other tenants.

Could he cause harm while in a drunken state?

Your other tenants may live in fear of him getting drunk and this will probably make them want to leave.

It's interesting, because there was the exact same scenario on the Channel 4 documentary on "Britain's Benefits Tenants" last night.

Bev from Castledene, a letting agent very experienced in dealing with troublesome tenants, was dealing with a very similar character.

She read him the riot act and told him that if he caused trouble again, she could no longer help him.

She said to the camera that, sometimes, you just can't help people if they won't help themselves. It clearly pained her to say this as she tried everything possible to support and help.

In this particular case, the tenant ended up back in prison after drunken brawling.

You have to make the hard decision whether you risk your commercial welfare or this tenant's welfare.

I don't think there is an easy answer.

I wish you luck, whatever you decide.

Robert Mellors

8:53 AM, 13th June 2014
About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Mark Alexander" at "13/06/2014 - 08:18":

Hi Mark and Vanessa

Just to clarify...... although he is an alcoholic, he is not a problem to neighbours, the property, or to my finances (Housing Benefit pay his rent), the only people he is a problem to are his fellow residents. Therefore, it kind of comes down to balancing his welfare against that of his fellow residents (who are all younger, fitter, stronger, etc). He is not aggressive or violent. He is untidy and not very clean, but other than that he does no harm to others or to the property, it is simply his abusive manner of speaking to people that is the problem. He is not capable of living on his own, but he also would not survive very long if he lived on the streets. He is not likely to be imprisoned like the bloke on the TV documentary last night. He is an ex-soldier and has fought for Britain, but he won't accept help from The Royal British Legion or similar. People often drink for a reason, and without going into detail, this is certainly the case with this man, and no amount of "pull yourself together" and "stop drinking" advice is going to change that. Yes, he is killing himself with drink, (and he knows it), but I don't want to speed up that process by putting him out on to the streets.

9:06 AM, 13th June 2014
About 5 years ago

Thanks for the further detail Robert.

What a terribly sad story. Poor man.

The only thing I can think of is to speak to the other tenants individually and explain the situation and ask for their forebearance when this man has one of his bouts of drinking.

As long as they know they are not in any danger, they may accept that it is just the drink talking.

Rosamund Evans

9:17 AM, 13th June 2014
About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Robert Mellors" at "13/06/2014 - 08:53":

This may be a safeguarding issue that should be brought to the attention of his local social services. Local authorities have responsibilities to assess the care needs of anyone who is or may be in need of community care services because of a mental or other disability, their age or ill health and who is unable to take care of themself or unable to protect themself from harm or exploitation. Social services can get involved even if the individual has not requested the intervention. You could contact the adult social care unit of the local authority to raise your concerns with them. If he is already known to them it still does no harm to contact them if his behaviour is getting worse.

Robert Mellors

9:26 AM, 13th June 2014
About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Rosamund Evans" at "13/06/2014 - 09:17":

He is already well known to the Council, as they have previously housed him and evicted him, and he is also known to various homelessness services, as they referred him to me. He was sober when he came to me, but started drinking again a couple of weeks later. However, I do think it would be a good idea to have a chat with social services so at least I am engaging with them and keeping them informed, even if he won't accept help from them (or they won't provide it due to his abuse of their staff previously).

Mark Alexander

9:34 AM, 13th June 2014
About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Robert Mellors" at "13/06/2014 - 09:26":

Have you considered getting all of the tenants together (him included) and asking them all to state their opinions on what should be done?

If they all want him out then it's their decision, not yours.
.

Rosamund Evans

10:58 AM, 13th June 2014
About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Robert Mellors" at "13/06/2014 - 09:26":

I would say that it is definitely worth trying social services again. Local authorities have statutory duties which are now being reinforced by the new Care Act. They are supposed to train their staff effectively to deal with behavioural issues and should not refuse assistance just because he is abusive. Social Services must keep his care needs under review after an initial assessment. Just trying to force him out could lead to other difficulties.

Paul Shears

12:14 PM, 13th June 2014
About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Mark Alexander" at "13/06/2014 - 09:34":

I agree with Mark on this one. I have three main tenant rules. One of the rules is that it must work socially.
The problem tenant may ultimately have to be separated from the other tenants. Helping him or otherwise may have to be treated as a separate matter.
Paul

Gilly

12:42 PM, 13th June 2014
About 5 years ago

I had this problem in a shared house. My tenant was a great tenant. He was the only one that mowed the lawn and paid everything on time and was very good, clean and tidy, especially in the communal areas. He hated being out of work and rarely was. Then he would drink, strip off and go for a swim in the local castle moat, shout and talk to himself loudly during the night and wasn't at all nice to his girlfriend. The turnover of tenants in that property tripled and although I tried to shield him, talk to him and deal with it, I failed. It was heartbreaking as he was always so contrite and humble, when he had sobered up, as he was basically a good man. My problem disappeared when he got a job in another town. He wrote and asked me to come back when that job fell through but I wouldn't dream of it. I was just hugely relieved, although I felt ridiculously responsible for him, as I got to know him well. This is where sheltered accommodation and responsible back-up care need to be in place. You are fighting a losing battle I fear and, as you are obviously involved and it is causing you upset, then you need to draw in any resource available locally, as suggested. Alcoholics can only cure themselves. My tenant had a sad history and was ex-army - maybe it's the same chap or just a product of war experiences. (His younger, non-alcoholic, replacement did a runner on me owing two months rent and £250 for bills, so I often wished he hadn't left). Oh dear - this thread is very sad (:

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