Wilful damage being caused by my tenant

Wilful damage being caused by my tenant

15:02 PM, 17th February 2014, About 8 years ago 36

Text Size

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

Industry Observer

10:33 AM, 18th February 2014, About 8 years ago

Hi Londoner P

Thank you for this I think it probably feeds in more details that Mark, Vanessa and others might comment on further.

You have clearly done fine on the TDP front I didn't bother mentioning Relevant Person as I assumed the tenant had provided all that for themselves but now you mention a Guarantor I wonder. Anyway what is done is done.

If she is breeding dogs she is running a business so would be in breech of the relevant agreement clauses. Normally discretionary sextion 8 ground 12 would be a waste of time but in these circumstances if it was me I'd serve it and lay it on thick about the dogs.

If they happen to be a dodgy breed so much the better. Your other extreme route might be to involve HHSRS through EHO, they serve an enforcement notice on you and then for sure you would get an Absolute Order on the basis of the section 8 notice.

You need to take legal advice on this

r01

14:33 PM, 18th February 2014, About 8 years ago

Something seems ..... well odd!!.

Ash, as you only recently bought the place, you must have inspected it before purchase.

You offered a new contract so surely you did your inventory with photographic evidence which was attached to this? Or at least had one passed to you from the previous landlord? These photos should prove the condition, particularly combined with the survey report. If you don't have an inventory then you can prove nothing, particularly if you had a house buyers survey done as these simply check the property is a reasonable investment for the mortgage co. Todays surveys are so couched in caviats they are not worth the paper they are written on. Such things as:-
"Deaf, dumb and blind surveyor unable to see, hear or ask about any obvious problems, therefore you are advised to appoint your own professional to carry out any checks on the property's condition" "Boiler not checked. You are advised to appoint a professional Heating Engineer to establish if this works and the safety of this"
...and so it goes on........

People rarely just make a decision to start breeding dogs because a new owner/landlord takes over, so surely you saw dogs wandering all over the place when you viewed, inspected and finalised your contract with the tenant??
If she moved them out every time you came round, the smell of "hounds" is unmistakeable but there must have been plenty of other signs to alert you such as doggy doo doo, kennelling, dog bedding etc.

I've bought properties that have been tenanted and the first thing I've done before purchase is make a personal visit for inspection, making a friend of the tenant to find out about such things as damp, problems with the property (as this helps me to determine a fair purchase price), what they are not happy with, what their intentions to stay etc., are. Did you do this?

What about references on the tenant? Did you take any fresh ones ? If not, did the previous owner provide them and did you check they are genuine?

You say a cousin lives two doors away and is a social media "friend". Surely, living only two doors away he must have known who this person was and something about her?? If she is the tenant from hell as would appear from what you say, surely you asked him about her and the current owner before committing to the purchase and/or offering a tenancy agreement. Why did all this not surface a long time ago, or did you just rush into buying because it seemed like a deal too good to miss, then just put everything in the hands of an agent?

My opinion without knowing any of these answers is that you may have been well and truly tucked up by the previous owner who wanted to be rid of this tenant. If she wasn't like that with the previous owner, why is she suddenly being like that with you? Something is not right here.

Due diligence is the thing that seems to have been missed and it sounds like the legal course you are already taking is now your only option. Sadly, that will be time consuming, costly and frustrating - others thinking of buying a tenanted property TAKE NOTE!!!

As they say "Buyer beware"

Adam Hosker

21:59 PM, 18th February 2014, About 8 years ago

Tenant wants you to evict her to get council houseing, inform the tenant that if damage continues you will inform council that you are makeing YOURSELF volunterily homless AND evict useing section 8.

Council will put her on bottom of the list, so should play nice when exposed.

You have 2 indipendent witness builders for evidence.

You should also call Environmental Health, see if their is a report, inform them tenant is refuseing access to make repairs and request confirmation in writing from them for the record.

I agree with Mark get professional help or as vanessa says incestivise to go.

Remember, evidence is your friend. Record calls via mobile phone apps.

No guarantor is Fraud if informed was a home owner under Fraud Act ... also.. theirs a ground under section 8 for this. Accumpanied with dogs, refuseing access and 2x witness to structual damage... A judge would be biased not to give possession. Imho

Industry Observer

10:29 AM, 19th February 2014, About 8 years ago

@Adam

Do this only if prepared to face prosecution under Harassment Act 1996

Not sure of the Law on phone call recording but I think you'll find if it is criminal (Police and MI6 etc recording you!!) then no consent or awareness message needed.

But if Civil I think you'll find it is illegal to record calls without such warnings etc, consent then being deemed given if you continue with the call.

These are deep waters and easy to get out of one's depth.

Adam Hosker

10:56 AM, 19th February 2014, About 8 years ago

@Industry Observer

That is apparently a myth and the relevant law, RIPA, does not prohibit individuals from recording THEIR OWN communications.
The proviso is not making it PUBLIC but can use it elsewhere.

It is though up to the judge to decide if its inadmissible/admissible.

Industry Observer

11:16 AM, 19th February 2014, About 8 years ago

I am no expert in this area Adam but I very much doubt if a recording made covertly by one individual of a telephone conversation with another individual relating to a Civil matter would be admissible.

The whole issue is awareness and consent by the recorded party, otherwise you are into entrapment issues

Adam Hosker

11:27 AM, 19th February 2014, About 8 years ago

If it is highly relevant, then it is likely to be admitted. As I mentioned above - consent is not required only ONE party needs to know their is a recording - it helps if both know which is why you get those "training" messages on busineses. It really comes down to the judge if its admissible/inadmissible.

It wouldn't hurt giving your legal advisor the option to produce it or not.

http://www.ofcom.org.uk/static/archive/oftel/consumer/advice/faqs/prvfaq3.htm

Industry Observer

11:30 AM, 19th February 2014, About 8 years ago

It wouldn't hurt I agree - I just cannot see it happening in a Civil matter where someone recorded the other party without their knowledge for their own gain and especially if the plaintiff

Londoner P

11:40 AM, 19th February 2014, About 8 years ago

@r01:

I did all the bits and peaces to carry out checks before buying this party but I now feel like I have been trapped by previous landlady and current tenants. Previous landlady told me that she is in the property for last seven years and she is the best tenants. I was aware of dogs but recently after talking to neighbors I found that she is running this as business. I doubt it if HMRC is aware as she is on benefits. Her husband who claimed that they are now apart just come here to see his daughter but still spend 4/5 nights in the house. I spoke to landlordaction yesterday to get advise if I can evict her on basis of S8 Section 12 and 13 but they seems to take the streight forward cases as the guy I spoke to told me they will take my case only if she is not paying rent or if agreement has been expired.

I have spoken to some other people who suffered similar situation in the past and they advised me that at this stage if you want to evict her on grounds of 12 & 13 then this will be expensive and time consuming as she will rely on legal aid but I have to pay so best to suffer and wait until October when I will be able to serve her the notice. I feel like I am in a whole nightmare. WISH IF I COULD HAVE TAKEN SOMEONE'S ADVISE BEFORE SIGNING A YEAR LONG CONTRACT :'(

Industry Observer

13:20 PM, 19th February 2014, About 8 years ago

@Adam

Looked at your link see 2 points below. You can record but do nothing with it. Is a Judge not a third party, or a Jury?

Note the comment on "your own communication" doesn't say two way does it?

ASbove all note last sentence below - consent critical as I said

Can I record telephone conversations on my home phone?

Yes. The relevant law, RIPA, does not prohibit individuals from recording their own communications provided that the recording is for their own use. Recording or monitoring are only prohibited where some of the contents of the communication - which can be a phone conversation or an e-mail - are made available to a third party, ie someone who was neither the caller or sender nor the intended recipient of the original communication. For further information see the Home Office website where RIPA is posted.

Do I have to let people know that I intend to record their telephone conversations with me?

No, provided you are not intending to make the contents of the communication available to a third party. If you are you will need the consent of the person you are recording.

Leave Comments

In order to post comments you will need to Sign In or Sign Up for a FREE Membership

or

Don't have an account? Sign Up

Landlord Tax Planning Book Now