Why are my tenants trying to destroy me?

by Readers Question

8:23 AM, 6th January 2015
About 4 years ago

Why are my tenants trying to destroy me?

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Why are my tenants trying to destroy me?

I had been letting a property for over five years with no problems whatsoever so when I moved in with my partner we decided to also rent out my home I’d been living in rather than sell it.

I placed an advert to test the water as it’s quite a large house and didn’t know how much interest there would be but had lots of enquiries despite the high rent for the area. One particular couple and their family really struck a chord with me but they wanted to rent the property straight away rather than wait the month that I wanted to sort out the electrical safety certificate etc.

I pointed out that there was a problem with one particular socket and that it needed a new consumer unit, but they said it would be fine to get the work done whilst they were there. They were apparently living in a house with horrendous damp problems, in fact water was running down the walls and an uncaring landlord who would not do anything.

At this point I did make them aware of a damp patch in one of the bedrooms caused by the chimney which I said would also be rectified, but they said it was fine (yes I can hear you all groaning!!!). They asked if they could pay £100 holding deposit and move in in 2 weeks I later received a text asking if they could move in sooner.

On the day they moved in they said that they could not afford to pay the deposit and one months rent in advance as agreed, that they couldn’t pay monthly anyway, but would have to make weekly payments instead. I was left with little alternative other than to agree, but still believing them to be a lovely as the Swiss family Robinson did not foresee a problem. I have also been quite ill so just wanted a quiet life.

It took them just over a month to get the payments up to date including the deposit. My health by this time was worse and I had been signed off work by my GP awaiting tests. I asked them for their email address on a couple of occasions for the DPS but was not given it so I finally deposited their deposit without it but unfortunately a week late.

I had had a couple of issues with the tenants over the aforementioned electrical socket but had an electrician attend and remedy immediately. Mysteriously the light circuits kept blowing and other sockets started tripping but again my electrician looked into it as well as fitting the new consumer unit. Having lived in the house for 9 years myself I had never had any electrical problems, but the electrician recommended a full inspection to which I agreed.

However I then received a call from an environmental health officer who was at my property as they had reported my electrician as having said that the electrics were unsafe to live with, a complete fabrication. I was made to have the inspection done straight away and the tenants now decided they did not need to pay their rent as they had been advised not to due to the electrics being unsafe. Of course this was a lie which I told them as no official would advise a tenant to stop paying rent so low and behold they called environmental health out to the damp patch in the bedroom which despite having only ever being nothing more than a stain was now a torrent of water running down the wall.

Luckily the officer who called out had the decency to speak to me about the situation and he has concluded the same as me that as they had had their bluff called over not paying rent due to the electrics they were trying a different tact. They had told him that they had spoken to Shelter who advised them that if they claimed the house was damp and unfit to live in they could claim their deposit back even though they had rent arrears.

Their 6 moth tenancy agreement ends on 5 March, but they have verbally told me that they are moving out on Friday 9 Jan. They have also told me that they are taking me to court as I did not deposit their money within 30 days, because of this I can’t issue them with a section 21. Landlord action advised me to write to them telling them I’d offset £1000 of their arrears against their deposit and if they agreed to this I could then serve a section 21. They refused to sign the letter though and have now said that this is classed as harassment as I did not use and ADR form (?). They say they are now seeking legal advice against me. I have had numerous texts from them with veiled threats and have also suffered verbal abuse from the wife.

I am hoping that they do move out on the 9th and I hear nothing more from them, but I have a feeling they are so nasty that they will take me to court. I went out of my way to help them when they first moved in even helping with getting their children into local schools (they have caused them no end of trouble too) and when the husband was looking for another job I got in touch with someone to help. I am in no way the horrible person they are making me out to be and I can only hope that any judge see’s through them.

The whole situation has made my health even worse. I feel sorry for whoever has them as tenants next.

CarlaWhy



Comments

Tom Lowry

9:58 AM, 6th January 2015
About 4 years ago

Hello Carla!

I am currently working on a new courtroom show at ITV and just came across this article. We have had similar cases on the show and may be able to help you.

If you would like more information please feel free to call me for a chat today on my direct line (Manchester landline) it's 0161 952 0779 and if you'd prefer, I could call you back to save your bill.

There is no obligation to appear on any show and please be aware that you must be over 18 to apply. You can also email me on tom.lowry@itv.com

Hope to hear from you soon.

Regards,

Tom

Anthony Endsor

12:18 PM, 6th January 2015
About 4 years ago

Hello Carla

I can relate to this very well. You are not the first to fall for this, and I fear not the last. Indeed I only need to look in the mirror to find someone else who fell for the very same set of tricks a few years ago.
No matter how much the tenants insist on moving in sooner, you must always make sure the property is 100% ready before you allow them to set foot in it, as once they are there their rights are in place, including the right to sue for things such as this with the electrics, etc. The problem is, the law is very much in favour of the tenant in this situation, and Shelter amongst others love to pounce at this type of opportunity to destroy a Landlord. How they can even call themselves a charity is beyond me with the way they behave.
A verbal promise won't wash unfortunately with a judge if you get taken to court.

Not too sure what to suggest from this point, but you need to make sure you get everything in writing that you have tried to do to resolve this, as this will be evidence in your defence. Note down all dates and times, and try to get phone numbers for everyone you speak to so that they are contactable again if need be.

Steve From Leicester

13:54 PM, 6th January 2015
About 4 years ago

Any experienced agent will know that big house plus high rent for the area equals a magnet for problem tenants. Rogue tenants get to live in a nice big house for a few months and avoid paying any rent by claiming there are problems with the property.

The more savvy rogue tenants (and unfortunately this may be the case here) might even make a profit on the deal by exploiting things such as deposit protection legislation.

I sincerely hope they leave on the 9th.

Tim Hall

14:20 PM, 6th January 2015
About 4 years ago

It is not clear to me why you cannot serve section 21 notice - the stipulation is that the deposit must have been protected which it has, even if it has been protected late.

Also you said that your electrician fitted a new consumer unit then said you should have an electrical test - he should have done this as matter of course when he fitted the new consumer unit - that is a requirement after fitting one.

There is no situation where a tenant can legitimately withhold rent payment from a Landlord and the Tenants will not have been advised by any authority to not pay their rent. A tenant is entitled to arrange for and carry out repairs if a Landlord does not undertake the work themselves after it has been appropriately reported and then the tenant can deduct this cost from the rent - but rent due has to be paid.

If the tenants are receiving Housing Benefit and are more than 8 weeks in arrears of rent you can make a claim for housing benefit to be paid direct to you - speak to the local authority about this.

You can serve a section 8 notice to quit for arrears of rent no matter how much or little they owe - if they are owing more than two months at the time of serving the notice, at the time of issuing the court proceeding, and at the time of going to court then it is mandatory for the judge to give possession to the Landlord.

The only problem you may face is they can defend this with a counterclaim for disrepair so you need to make sure all repairs are up to date.

You should write and confirm their verbal notice to move out on 9th January - you should advise them they are responsible for rent until the end of the fixed term contract - i.e. 5th March.

It is unlikely I believe a judge will rule in favour of awarding them 3 months the deposit for late protection- the deposit has after all been protected and you have an excuse why it was protected late - and any award can hopefully be offset against monies owed to you in rent which I'm guessing will be quite a lot up until the 5th March.

The chances are they will move and you won't hear from them again - but if the issues does continue to spiral and they don't move out you really need to speak to a specialist solicitor.

Mary Latham

14:32 PM, 6th January 2015
About 4 years ago

Carla I am really sorry to read your post but let's look at the facts and probablities

1. The deposit is protected and was only 1 week late - this is not likely to cause you a major issue and I would doubt that a No win No fee company would take the case. This means that they would have to fund it themselves - unlikely and even if they do they are probably only going to get their deposit back without compensation
2. If they move out on 9th let them go then:
Register them with Tenant ReferencingUK here http://www.landlordreferencing.co.uk/join/
Its free to register bad tenants and to check prospective tenants in future. They sound like they do this often and they need to be stopped.
Ask your deposit scheme for the deposit to cover the rent arrears and send proof that they have not paid - they may raise a dispute and you will need to prove the rent arrears
Issue a Money Claim on Line for any balance outstanding - this will give the a CCJ which is yet another barrier to them doing this in future

If they don't move out issue a Section 21 because the deposit is protected and there is no reason why you can't.

They have no case for harassment because you asked them to use their deposit to pay their rent arrears - that will go nowhere

You've got yourself a some bullies and while you have not done everything you could have done or should have done to protect yourself, you are not the first and will not be the last landlord who has tried to be kind and has been stung. Please don't let these bullies affect your health, they are just trying it on.

You said " I feel sorry for whoever has them as tenants next" PLEASE do everything I have said to stop them doing this to other landlords.

If you want to chat please ask Mark Alexander from my phone number but stop beating yourself up, you have made some mistakes - learn from them and move on that is how we all learn. I wish you good luck and I really hope that your health improves quickly once all this is behind you.

Graham Durkin

15:59 PM, 6th January 2015
About 4 years ago

What a bad experience for you, i hope your health gets better,reading your account and if it happened in the sequence youv,e said I would say that you have a very good answer to everything that they have raised against you should they proceed to court ,Now would be the time to contact the Electrician /E.H.O. and request a statement from each of them in relation to this matter in the event of court action(YOU COULD BE WAITING UPTO SIX YEARS),and a full account from yourself ,should this happen you counter claim for breach of tenancy.Also when they move out on the 9th I would request their forwarding address for mail and give them your legal/rep contact number should they wish to follow up their veiled threat Your health is more important so pay for a professional to take the strain on this one ,it will be well worth it .If they don,t move out issue a section 21 as the patnership has run its course. when there out get a witness to check the flat over as you may wish to claim against their deposit.
As stated already fixing a new consumer unit would automatically produce a whole circuit test with the necessary paperwork to show that everything was correct.

I think i will stop there for now ,good luck and please post how it goes sorry to say but we will all learn from your unfortunate situation, but your health comes first !!!!!

john henderson

19:56 PM, 6th January 2015
About 4 years ago

Please, please do not be sweet talked into renting to families like this. Only let to them after you have done a credit check and found out where they previously lived.

A tenant saying they lived in a terrible place with a terrible landlord is in my experience a red flag - i never let to families now who have had problems with the landlord because 99% of the time it is actually the tenant who is to blame.

I have done exactly what you have done and i have been burnt.

A woman said she would pay me the bond after the weekend (got the keys on a sat). She moved in and told me she didnt have a bond and her brother would be paying it. She never paid and left after 3 months. Luckily i was out of pocket by only £250. She also told me she was just going through a divorce ! Another red flag.

This tenant ran up debts on the property and then moved on. Your tenant may well be the type who just moves from property to property. They are out there and they are scum.

Janet Carnochan

7:46 AM, 7th January 2015
About 4 years ago

I am currently undergoing or have been undergoing the same problems. I just got a text to say " I'll no be paying any more rent because of state of house.""Legally withholding rent ", however I have made a claim ( successfully ) against their housing benefit and asked them to prove that they are legally with holding rent as there is a lot of things the tenant must do first ie write to you twice, get quotes and get work done up front.Because of this HB paid direct straight away, rents had been in arrears for more than eight weeks but wasn't the value of 8 weeks worth. Currently I have served them notice and I waiting on them quitting. I may not get all rent but I am getting some. Also my tenant wants the council to rehome her and I think they have advised her that rent arrears will go against her. She is paying something sporadically. If I hadn't fought and went to a solicitor she thought she could sit for 4/5 months claiming HB and not paying rent. Hohoho Merry Christmas to her. Like you I have been very good to her.

Carla Lewis

9:53 AM, 7th January 2015
About 4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Janet Carnochan" at "07/01/2015 - 07:46":

My tenants do not receive housing benefit as the husband works although with eight kids i'm sure they must be getting some state help. I just hope they go on Friday. They have not given me written notice of this or about the repairs so I am happy to counter claim against anything they may throw at me. With all the comments left on here it has made me feel stronger so thank you for yours. Even if they were to win a case against me I'd make sure i went down with a fight!

Carla Lewis

9:56 AM, 7th January 2015
About 4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Anthony Endsor" at "06/01/2015 - 12:18":

Thank you for your reply. I have everything written down in date order and have screen shots of all the text conversations I have had with them. Hopefully they will just go on the 9th. A hard lesson learnt but if I rent again things will be much different. Thank you again.

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