Wilful damage being caused by my tenant

by Readers Question

15:02 PM, 17th February 2014
About 7 years ago

Wilful damage being caused by my tenant

Make Text Bigger
Wilful damage being caused by my tenant

I recently bought a 3 bedroom property off another landlord with an existing tenant who has been there for seven years seven years. I created a new tenancy for 12 months to give the tenant some peace of mind and it has turned out to be a huge mistake!

My tenant is claiming benefits, £530 of her rent is by paid by the council and she tops it up £95 to make it £625 in total.  Her £500 pound deposit is protected with the “my|deposits” scheme and I gave her copy of the precribed information, gas safety certificate and other required documents. I’m telling you this to show that I done my homework unlike most newbie landlords. Wilful damage being caused by my tenants

After completing the purchase and the new paperwork with the tenant I went on holiday for 5 weeks and in my third week I received a text from my cousin who lives two doors away. He explained that the ceiling of my tenants kitchen has signs of damp and there is leakage in the waste pipe in the toilet. I cancelled the rest of my holiday and came back early to sort the problem. I went to take a look for myself and took a builder with me. The day we were supposed to visit her she informed me that ceiling had fallen down. When we went there my builder told me that ceiling damage had been deliberate. He explained that there were signs of damp but this much damp shouldn’t bring the ceiling down.

My builder carried out the work over a two day period by installing flashing lead on roof and by cleaning the guttering pipes and replacing the seals to stop leakage. The whole kitchen ceiling has been replaced and new toilet has also been installed.My tenant then showed me there are signs of damp in third bedroom, which builder believe was because of condensation. We agreed to take a look at that too but my builder couldn’t do anything immediately so we explained that he would be back the following week. Yesterday my tenant informed me that a hole has appeared in the third bedroom in the roof and she can now see sky through the hole which is unbelievable.

My cousin inspected it for me and he is convinced the hole has been created deliberately too.

Mt tenant is now threatening to take me the court. My cousin is her Facebook friend and he’s informed me that she’s been putting up the pics of the damage she has caused and saying that I am a lazy landlord. He told me that her intentions are to take me the court and that she’s looking for easy money.

This tenant has now asked me to provide her a letter to allow her to leave early. I obviously want to get rid of her ASAP too. My question is:

1 – Can I her give her such a letter to allow her to leave early? ( I don’t want to fall into any legal obligations and if that letter can be used as case of harassment to evict her early? )

2 – The property has been inspected again today by another builder and he too confirmed that hole is a deliberate damage, however we do not have a proof that she did it so can I report this to police as criminal damage to the property?

3 – Her AST expires on 12/12/2014. Under the circumstances, is it possible to evict her before then as I am not able to spend huge amount of this deliberate damage as I have already spent £4,000 in two months.

Many thanks for the suggestions.

Regards

Ash

Comments

Mark Alexander

15:16 PM, 17th February 2014
About 7 years ago

Hi Ash

What a horrible experience you are having to deal with, this is probably enough to put most people off being a landlord, never mind a newbie. This tenant of yours sounds like a complete nutter!

Have you spoken to the previous landlord, who you purchased the property from, about what this tenant was like previously?

Would the previous landlord be prepared to confirm there were no defects in the property at the point of purchase?

Did you have a professional inventory done at the start of the tenancy? If not, what about a survey?

I can't help but wonder whether your tenant is causing all these issues because she's regretting that she signed a new 12 month tenancy agreement too. Whatever her reasons are, she's clearly very unhappy with something, otherwise completely deranged - possibly both! In answer to your question about allowing her to out of her contract early then YES, this is perfectly legal, however you are right to be very wary.

If I were you I wouldn't faff around trying to sort this yourself, get some professional legal help ASAP, it will save you a lot of money in the long term.

I also recommend you to check your landlords insurance policy to see whether you are covered for "malicious damage caused by tenants", also whether the policy includes legal fees insurance.

The person I think you should take legal advice from is Paul Shamplina at Landlord Action - see >>> http://www.property118.com/member/?id=190
.

15:52 PM, 17th February 2014
About 7 years ago

Hi Ash,

Sorry to hear of this dreadful experience.

Landlord Law offer a DIY eviction kit

http://www.landlordlaweviction.co.uk/

Alternatively, you could simply "incentivise" the tenant to leave and be done with her.

She sounds like a complete nightmare and your priority should be to get rid of her and get your property back.

Best of luck.

Londoner P

15:59 PM, 17th February 2014
About 7 years ago

Hi Mark,

Many thanks for putting this up for me and I really appreciate your reply 🙂

My solicitor was early on the phone with me and I dialed my tenant so solicitor can draft a letter so she can leave early. We asked her in writing that this is what she want but she refused saying she doesn't want to leave so letter should say that you want to evict her which I am not going to as she is well within the contract ( I wish if I could ).

I asked her if I can bring my builder again to carry out the work but she refused me as she has informed Environmental Local authority to look at it. It is very unfair with me that this is happening after buying a house only couple of months. I have never been into such horrible situation and Law seems to work more for a tenant than a landlord.

I checked with previous Landlady and she said that it is her habit to complain about every thing however with her it was an agent as a middle man to deal with these queries and she never behaved like this because she was on periodic contract.

I do have survey report which was conducted in September 2013 and EPC certificate which I gave her a copy too.

I am newbie in property business and this is first time I rented out and unfortunately I have to deal with nightmare :'(

Mark Alexander

16:13 PM, 17th February 2014
About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Vanessa Warwick" at "17/02/2014 - 15:52":

Hi Vanessa

As you know, we also promote Landlord Law, Tessa is awesome. However, this particular tenant seems to be incredibly vexatious and I don't think I would want to take her on myself with the benefit of 25 years of experience, even with Tessa's legal kit, never mind a newbie.

It is tenants like this who end up getting legal aid and the likes of Shelter who make good landlords like Ash look like Britain's most wanted whereas the truth is it's often tenants like this who are the cause of the problems.
.

16:25 PM, 17th February 2014
About 7 years ago

I agree with you Mark, but not everyone can afford legal representation. (Having said that, from the second post of the OP, they already seem to have a solicitor involved).

Also, there will be other people who may be reading this who may have a similar situation and the Landlord Law DIY kit might be a solution for them. 🙂

Mark Alexander

16:33 PM, 17th February 2014
About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Londoner P" at "17/02/2014 - 15:59":

You need to start collecting as much evidence as possible Ash. Get witness statements on what the property was like when you purchased it and what's happened since from the previous owner and her letting agent, same from the person who did your EPC, your builders, your cousin etc.

If you've got a decent solicitor he should be advising you of these things. If he's not, go to the company I have recommended, they specialise in these types of cases.
.

Londoner P

16:37 PM, 17th February 2014
About 7 years ago

Thanks Mark. I will look at the link and may get their service as my solicitor is not expert in this area. She was just helping to draft what tenant asked.

Industry Observer

16:53 PM, 17th February 2014
About 7 years ago

You said you had done everything correctly and I hope you have as you have enough on your plate.

Can I just ask whether in the Prescribed Information you inserted, as required, a post tenancy contact address and also did you issue the necessary Mydeposits leaflet attached to the PI as required?

Richard Kent

18:17 PM, 17th February 2014
About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Londoner P" at "17/02/2014 - 15:59":

Ash,

It sounds like you're in for the long haul unless you can lawfully pay this tenant to remove herself from the property, as indicated by Vanessa.

I had £12,000 of criminal damage done to my last property but that was towards the end of the Section 21 eviction process.

The eviction was undertaken by Paul Shiplama of Landlord Action, as Mark Alexander recommends.

The other way of looking at this is really that you could embark on an evidence collection exercise and have her arrested

Try to get your Local Authority Building Control and Health and Safety department on your side by asking them to visit the property. If the tenant refuses them access this all goes in your favour. If she allows access, you have photographic evidence of the damage 🙂

Maybe get the advice of other members on here regarding a Section 8 notice etc.

See grounds 12 & 13 here: http://www.tenancyagreementservice.co.uk/section-8-notice-to-quit.htm#other-grounds

But I ask other members to comment here as my knowledge of Section 8 is not good.

Always put in writing your requests for access. This way, if your requests for access are refused by the tenant she would find it impossible to make a legal claim against you for disrepair. This worked for me 🙂

Londoner P

9:54 AM, 18th February 2014
About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Industry Observer " at "17/02/2014 - 16:53":

I did inserted the post tenancy address of the tenant but now I doubt it if the address is correct. I gave her the deposit protection certificate and prescribed information together with leaflet and took her signatures too. I also served EPC ranking certificate. Over the past couple of days I have established that the 'Guarantor' is not a home owner but I was told he was. She is also breading pet dogs which is also breach of terms of the contract. I am not sure if that is enough to evict her asap. As she is breading dogs but property is for residential purpose I am now scared that it might invalidate my landlord insurance too. I also doubt if she is declaring this income to HMRC as she is on benefits.

1 2 4

Leave Comments

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

Forgotten your password?

BECOME A MEMBER

Government's so-called protection is damaging decent tenants' prospects

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