Landlord Changes Locks To keep Scumbag Tenants Out

Locksmith
One of the most active and interesting articles (in my opinion) on this website is the I’m evicting my tenants post. The post is basically about me throwing my toys out of the pram and having a gutless whinge about my tenant, and how I want to evict her stupid ass. For the record, if there’s any justice in the world, she’ll be slowly burning in hell like a skewered lamb kebab right now.

The post is interesting because a lot of people have been actively commenting on the article; majority of the them being Landlords that are also experiencing frustrating situations with shit-for-brains tenants.

I’ve dealt with some real scumbag tenants in my short time of being a Landlord, consequently I know how stressful it can be. If I had it my way (providing that a tenant steps out of line), all landlords would be well within their rights to change the locks and throw their tenants onto the streets.

Having said that, here’s an interesting comment left by a landlord:

hi
ive been a landlord foe 20 odd years and seen and heard it all.

I used to get real angry when this sort of thing happens but in the end it just eats you up.

you have to realise there are loads of fucking arseholes out there that don’t give a fuck how much grief they cause. I had one who was 3 months in arrears then, can you believe this. Sub let it to a load of drug addicts who wrecked the property it cost 12 k to refurbish it.
I was so angry i forced entry when they were out. Paid a man and a lorry to empty the whole lot. Cost me £400.00 Everything they owned. Took it all to the local tip, flat screen hi fi whole lorry load, Tipped it up good riddance. Changed the locks and waited for the phone calls. took about 2 hours then boy did the phone ring. Wheres all our our stuff they screamed. Down the fucking tip you low life. take me to court if you like.

Still waiting to hear.

risky but sometimes you just have to step up to the plate and take whats coming.

good luck

Paddy

Now, that’s how shitty tenants should be legally treated in my opinion. Although, 3 months in arrears is way too long, they deserve to be locked out after 2 months of arrears, max. I’m not condoning this activity, because I wouldn’t even do it. I’m just saying that’s how it should be. If you’re a Landlord with a pair of dinosaur balls (like Paddy), consequently have no qualms with laughing in the face of the law, then all the power to ya’

It is illegal for a Landlord to change the locks?

Just to clarify, yes, it is illegal for a landlord to harass or change the locks to prevent tenants from entering the property. Tenants have a statutory legal right of “Quiet Enjoyment”, which protects them from this kind of abuse. So before you go storming into a property with the intentions of taking the law into your own hands like a crazed wild-west lunatic, think of the consequences.

Acts of illegal evictions include

  • changing locks when tenants are out
  • physically throwing tenants out your home
  • physically stopping tenants from entering their home.

Landlords have to follow a legal procedure to evict tenants, by serving the correct sections. More on Evicting tenants legally. Illegal eviction is a serious civil and criminal offense, and a landlord can be prosecuted if guilty of doing so.

In most cases, the landlord must obtain a possession order from a county court after serving a valid Notice to Quit. The tenant doesn’t have to leave at this point, and a lot usually don’t. Only the court can decide whether the tenant has to leave the property. It will normally take several weeks before the case is decided in court.

Exceptions to the rules

The landlord does not need to obtain a court possession order to evict if:

  • you have a resident landlord with whom you share facilities, like the kitchen and bathroom
  • you are not paying any rent for your accommodation

In these cases, the landlord is only required to give reasonable notice to the tenant to leave the property. Once the notice has elapsed, the tenant becomes a trespasser and the landlord can legally change the locks at the property.

Are you a landlord that has been forced to change locks? Maybe you’re a tenant that has changed the locks. Tell me your story…

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269 Comments- Join The Conversation...

Showing 219 - 269 comments (out of 269)
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David 10th November, 2014 @ 18:16

@maggie

Normally, I would not risk entering the property or changing the locks without mutual agreement of inspection, BUT you have a text saying she is not living there.

You also know that she wants to be housed by the Council so that suggests she is on Housing Benefit.

First things first, you contact the Council, tell them about the arrears are over 8 weeks and they will suspend her Housing Benefit and write to her asking her to confirm she has paid rent.

Next you contact housing dept telling them you have had a text saying she has abandoned property and has made herself homeless by not paying rent (this will stop her getting Council house).

Has she abandoned property or not?

I assume you mean her stuff not staff?

Did you give her 2 months notice on Section 21 or just notice? Was your deposit protected and did you issue prescribed info within 30 days (do you have proof)?

So as she has abandoned you can go check the property out. Do not just go in, ring the bell and give her a chance to answer. If no answer it is up to you whether you enter. You could go back in the evening and see if there are lights on.

If you are certain she has gone go in with a video recording, if she is there you will capture any aggression, if she is not there you get to record state propertly left in. Do an inventory of property and her stuff.

If she has abandonned property you can change add an additional mortice lock without changing the locks. You put her stuff in storage and you get the place ready to sell.

You should then notify her that you are suing her and ask her for her address so you can serve papers. She will not tell you of course, but chances are she will not go back either.

If she has NOT abandonned then you have to follow the correct procedure which is a Section 8 for non payment of rent and a S21 concurrently for possession (if that was not served before, if it was then it is a case of seeling possession on the S21 already served and adding arrears and storage costs to claim).

You can't get away from the legal procedure and it may cost you but you will get a judgement against her. She will not get a Council House if she has been in arrears and still has them.

You may find that she has moved other people in, they have no rights so you can evict them, call the police immediately if you find anyone but the tenant in.

Property renting is stressful, it is a long term business and not for the faint hearted.

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landlord 17th December, 2014 @ 16:14

The eviction process in the UK is so effing stupid.

If you tenant turns around to you and tells you he is not paying anything and NOT moving out, you as a landlord should have the right to give then 30 days written notice and at the end of the 30 days change the locks and kick them out. SIMPLE as that.

All this b***hit about having to go to court, get possession orders, bailiffs is all b***hit.

This above rule should only be applicable for people with NO kids and individuals with NO disabilities

If kids are involved or the person is disabled then you should have the existing laws in place.

That would get rid of some of the issues in this country.

It’s the people with no attachments that are the main issue for landlords.

I have one pathetic individual living in my house at the moment. I rented the property to his girlfriend and he moved in with her. She has since broken up with him and abandoned the property and he is now refusing the pay the rent or move out.

I should be allowed to evict him with 30 day notice with no re-percussions.

But instead I’m stuck issuing warnings and Section 8 eviction notice.

Whilst he sits in my house threating me because I want him to pay or leave and breaking windows in the property and making a complete tip of it.

Talk about unfair treatment for the landlord.

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Nige 17th December, 2014 @ 17:04

Thats exactly why some landlords are charging two or three times the rent as deposit now.
Unfair. Nope That gives you protection of your rent for the time it takes to get them out.

As usual the majority suffer because of the actions of the minority.

As I told one tenant the other year who couldn't pay the rent cos he had to give the kids a a good xmas..''Well the little b******** didn't thank me because I had to give the kids a good xmas with my money..not you'' to which he replied ''Its only £500 I owe you'' to which I replied ''No its not its £100,000 which is the value of the property and while you are tying my money up I cannot get at it. And if you are so smart just pop up the bank and get a mortgage from the bank and buy it off me. Then see if the bank manager accepts 'giving the kids a good xmas' is a valid reason for not paying the mortgage.''

PS My local council advised me that if any part of the property was damaged by deliberate mis treatment then I should contact the police on the grounds of criminal damage.

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andy taylor 17th December, 2014 @ 23:03

"PS My local council advised me that if any part of the property was damaged by deliberate mis treatment then I should contact the police on the grounds of criminal damage".

Don't be fooled by this BS, I had tenant recommended to me by the local housing association, references the lot, two weeks after she moved in got told by the police who upto then I had a reasonably good relationship with, SHEs a BAD Un, known to the lot get rid.
Followed procedures served section 21 got the possession notice, requested the police eneter with me at te same time as the locksmith bailiff, surprisingly her social workers arrived at exactly the same time, I didn't inform them but someone did,
we all walk in they look with dismay, adandoned trashed completely, shit in the bedrooms, writing all over the walls, satanic messages everywhere her daughters name plastered all over.
Ask the police can we do her for criminal damage, answer We cant as we have no proof it was her, then the social workers tell me she has doen exactly the same in every house shes been in and the police know her and all aher family.
turns out they were "concerned for her daiughters sfety, abuse maybe, the police then smirk, I followed their instructions to get rid, but based my judgement on she had already damaged the kitchen by painting all my brand new tiles bright red and black, seems the police being shit stirrers deliberately provoked me in to getting rid, so she could trash yet another property, and they were " laughing at me as the loser who took her in , on recommendation from the council HA, because they could not rehouse her as she had also damaged and served rent arrears to them too, They palmed off their "CRAP to an unsuspecting trusting landlord and all of them smirked, its no use trying the police route if that's their game

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andy taylor 17th December, 2014 @ 23:30

The three year rule labour are hoping to bring in, they have already tested in Manchester, served me with court action threats that I had to serve my tenant a 3 year contract or use their sole letting agent, who could decide who and what types of tenants they wanted in anarea, told them they had made a cartel and overstepped my mortgage obligations and the tenants housing rights, as the tenant didn't want to be tied to staying 3 years.
For challenging them, I felt the full force of their pathetic fury, they ten served me with an injunction for anti social behaviour by my tenant, based on hearsay and no evidence.
mounted up costs of 25k at the first trial, with the tenants brief, defending both me and her against the councils bs and lies.These costs were paid via the taxpayer to the councils solciotors
They then serve the same court injunction with me alone trying to defend my self, stating I had not stopped the tenants behaviour, acknowledging in court they had not had any further complaints from or about my tenant, and I had already served her notice, having had to change her three year contract to a regular 12 month contract and awaiting oits expiry.
The costs this time having had all my ongoing letters to the ombudsman the council and many other parties, came to a staggering 50k, remember its an antisocial injunction against me, if I breach it I go to prison, plus 50k costs, and a mortgaged property that is now a white elephant. would you rent knowing you could go to prison on hearsay evidence against your tenant, for breaches by the tenant.
Since then I have had all my properties targeted bribed tenants, stalking and bullying. to the point I informed my lenders Bank of Scotland, I had informed them I was the victim of a corrupt cartel and invoked whislteblower protection, I was a mortgage advisor at the time.
Instead of investigating they then served me repossession proceedings instead, yep prison sentence 50 k costs, and now repossession proceedings, on all my other properties, on top of that whilst im in court, my mum, gran and brother died within a month of each other, and these nasty dipshits think themselves oh so cool, targeting me for whistleblowingt their own cartel
Not surprisingly I told the lenders to go get stuffed and as I had a property I could nopt rent for fear of being sent to prison, I served them voluntary repossession.
Its thenm you find the LGO local government ombudsman, the solciotrs regulation authority, the FSA, THe FOS fincnail ombudsman, the landlord associations, the government the police and even the fraud dept, all close ranks because the leader/ endorser of the cartel turns out to be a major solciotr and the chief executive of MCC, and he opr someone has put a black mark undesirables target comment on my files including my medical records, confirmed by the police and even my mental health team. Gay a landlord a whistleblower and standing up to them, has now served me up 50 debts, 50k court costs 22k legal fees for the voluntary repossession, 118k to Santander for repossession of my property because I got behind despite telling them of all the above
30k raked up arrears, a trashed and vandalised property waiting now 38 weeks for the insurance company L and G to pay out, one complaint afater another after another to The FOS, wilst also having the psychiatrist closing ranks and serving that im suffering a delusional disorder, whilst suffering extreme grief
And I still have to smile nicely as one tenant after another takes the piss.
Welcome to Britian the old landlords hate new landlords, and when you get rid of these new landlordsthe bribes to look the other way will escalate and we are back to dilapidated properties and bad housing, whilst they are always there when the freebies, boilers cladding, roofs, grants are being handed out, masonic boys club everyone of them, all shit scared of a corrupt set of police and solciotrs, what do they have over these people, Operation yewtree, funny handshakes and secrets that would blow your mind maybe.

I have now taken my lenders to court for not following procedures and as a whitleblower forget it, I have a good mind to do as my boss did grab as much as you can collect the rent , stop paying your mortgage(mort till death, leave the country and let them take the lot, sadly I don't have duel citizenship in south Africa to do the same, so im stuck with what a corrupt lying load of shitbags the councils and their agents shitheads are.
)

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pip 18th December, 2014 @ 08:41

There are some awful stories on here - tenants can cause so much damage. What I do now is never rent by whole property only by room. Then if despite refs and full deposit etc they are start not paying/causing damage you have to get rid one way or another- section 8 scares off most but not all. But at least if all the other tenants are paying you won't be too much out of pocket.
I do still wish landlords had more rights to simply evict though- you don't pay and there is no attempt to provide good reason/payment plan with Landlord because of p taking (and usually it is obvious when it is the latter) then at the end of the month as a single able person you should be evicted.
And also don't do council recommendations of persons on benefits or get tenants through them. Unless - equipped to deal with the fallout- my mate did this and had to deal with a dead addict overdose, breach of peace and a crazed attacker with machete...

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David 10th January, 2015 @ 19:10

Has anyone on here given up being a Landlord and switch to buy to let cars?

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Batesy 12th March, 2015 @ 22:44

I'm evicting my tenant this weekend, any repercussions I will just have to take on the chin, he's scum! Can afford fags beer and takeaways but can't make his £40 a week contribution to the rent ( benefits pay the other £63 a week)
Which they are now bizarrely going to pay this straight to him!!!!
F##k them he's out on Sunday!!

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Nige 13th March, 2015 @ 07:47

Check again.Councils have to pay direct to landlord if the arrears are a certain amount. Councils are keen at moment to keep landlords who accept DHSS.

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yvonne 12th April, 2015 @ 10:16

hi im wondering if you could help me ..I paid a years rent in advance and the deposit ,,i have left the property through a breakdown in relationship ,, ex still lives there but is moving out also so there is 8 months rent that i have paid is there any chance when house is empty i can claim monies back ??? as we only lived there since 19th dec and tenancy runs out 19th dec 2015 ,, if so how would i go about it and how to do it ???

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Nige 12th April, 2015 @ 12:22

Have you contacted landlord/agent ? Thats first port of call. Most landlords will break the contract if they can find a new tenant easily and property is in perfectly lettable condition. They may impose penalties on you like slightly higher rent for months you occupied or expenses involved in reletting. There is also the empty property council tax to consider. Most landlords don't want an angry tenant in there so would probably reach some deal. At very worst you could end up paying until December and lose your deposit but I doubt it.
As you dont live there make sure that your x is keeping property up to scratch and clean for a fast relet. If it isn't you may find that repairs/redecoration/ cleaning will upset any deal.

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Lundy 2nd May, 2015 @ 11:20

What does one do when their tenant has become verbally abusive & uses profane, vulgar language towards me when asked not to feed my pets on the property. I live on the property myself and feed my x2 animals, however they are on a strict diet due to intense allergies.
I asked him to leave after he got so verbally abusive because I dont feel safe in my own home. He has alternatively sent me a lawyers letter stating that I cannot evict him on my whim, as per say and if I threaten to then they will consider it harassment and take it further.
Please can someone give me some advice as well as a reputable law firm. Does anyone know much about Legal Wise?

Thanks

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Nige 2nd May, 2015 @ 17:09

Lundy can you give more details.
Do you live on the property or in the property. ie does he live in the same house or are they two dwellings on the plot of land.

My immediate reply might be to contact police for harassment. Also would your tenant be so foul mouthed if he thought that you could land him an ASBO ?

You might consider serving a section 21 notice which allows you to get your property back without giving a reason. (look up terms of section 21 notices which is 2 full rental periods)

Much might depend on how long the agreement is for and other factors.

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david 8th May, 2015 @ 00:42

@Lundy

Nige is spot on, call the Police immediately, do it in front of him, they will hear his violent abuse and it will be recorded. Also if he gets more angry he virtually digs his own grave.

You will be able to request a copy of that recording and it will have more power being a Police record.

If you live IN the same property, he is an excluded occupier

You are an excluded occupier if you:

are a lodger, sharing the kitchen, bathroom or other living accommodation with your landlord

live in the same building as your landlord (as long as it isn't a block of flats), and you share your living space with a member of your landlord's family

Check Shelter as if you are him

http://england.shelter.org.uk/get_advice/eviction/eviction_of_private_tenants

Reasonable notice for excluded occupiers

If you have a written agreement with your landlord it may say how much notice the landlord has to give you. This is the minimum notice that your landlord must give you. If you have lived in your home for a long time it may be possible to argue that it would be reasonable to give a longer period of notice.

Even if you don't have a written agreement with the landlord, you may still have agreed with your landlord about the length of notice before you leave. If not, the landlord has to give reasonable notice.

There are no set rules about what is reasonable notice. It depends on:

the length of time you have been living there
the length of time between rent payments
your behaviour

The notice doesn't have to be in writing. Your landlord can just tell you to leave by a particular date.

http://england.shelter.org.uk/get_advice/eviction/eviction_of_private_tenants/eviction_of_excluded_occupiers

People who are so aggressive often have a record or are "known" to the Police, they may arrest him immediately if this is the case.

Nobody has to take abuse.

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claire 23rd May, 2015 @ 10:53

My freind was a tentet she let me live there for 2 years now she gone to live somewere else left me in the property can the landlord evict me and put my things in a scip to thouth away

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Nige 23rd May, 2015 @ 11:26

Claire
If your friend was the tenant and you were not listed on the tenancy agreement then technically she was subletting.
A lot of your situation depends upon your friends tenancy agreement.
If your friend ended the tenancy with appropriate notice then the tenancy has come to an end you may not have any rights to stay at all. You should have left when she did.
You do not give all facts so difficult to advise.
You should discuss things with your friend ASAP.
Personally I feel that you may now be squatting and new laws will affect you.
Have you talked to the landlord? Could you take on the tenancy alone with the help of benefits ?

If you are not on a tenancy agreement you have few rights and I personally would be salvaging my goods any way I could before the situation gets 'heavy' and bailiffs or police turn up.

For any help get advice from citizens advice or your local council ASAP.

Some friend you have !! Leaving you in a mess !!

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david 23rd May, 2015 @ 12:03

Speak to Shelter

Nige is right on, speak to the Landlord, pay them some rent, keep the place in good nick and you may have a tenancy yourself.

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Lundy 30th May, 2015 @ 15:24

Thanks for the advice Nige and David. I live in the house in the master besdroom and rent out the rest of the house to 3 other tenants who live in the house and have their own bathrooms. I could go to the police but he only seems to be verbally abusive when no one is around and I seriously doubt that he would behave un toward if the police were around. He may then just sue me for harassment for that. What is an ASBO Nige. His lease term is 7 months of which he has been here 3. Thanks again for all the information and feedback. It really helps...

Thank

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Nige 30th May, 2015 @ 17:52

An ASBO is an anti social behaviour order.
If you watch the treatment of police on the tv programmes you will see that although the police are used to abuse they can charge people for using threatening behaviour and bad language.
You don't have to put up with this. Go to the police.
There is no reason why you should put up with bad behaviour from any tenant.
Don't know what special terms you have in your lease but my contracts have no nuisance clauses.

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Lundy 31st May, 2015 @ 20:09

Thank You Nige, I have learnt the hard way and will definitely be putting that no nuisance clause into the new lease agreements drafted. Weather or not he will sign it is another story all together. I am also from South Africa so not too sure if we have something called ASBO but I will check it out. Thank You!

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Mick 15th August, 2015 @ 23:16

I have given my tenant a 3 year contract (with a 1 year clause) and also guaranteed no increase in rent over the 3 years. However, the tenant just started taking the Pi**. First change the toilet seat, then a new dining table, then a new washing machine, a new TV stand, a new carpet .
Now, I thought yes, maybe it will last for 3 years. But he got more greedy and then starting causing trouble - his living habits caused mice to get it (so I had to treat it) ; it started to get nasty when I told him that I would terminate after 12 months. He started to say the property was his (what planet are these people on ? yes - they are a sub species as far as im concerned). If it were his 'property' he wouldn't be paying me rent.

Now I'm not being nice anymore and will serve a section 21. The problem is there is disconnect between language too and expectation from European Tennants as to what renting a flat involves - I think they expect a sultan's palace or something !; I will think very very hard renting my flat to anyone from Eastern Europe or Armenia again if I can help it unless they have 4 or 5 impeccable references.

Regarding the deposit - I no longer plan to ask for a deposit but will ask for the last month's rent in advance - removing any word of "deposit" from the Tennancy agreement. This way I avoid paying the rip-off of tenancy deposit scheme and avoid fines. I may even think of short term-contracts where all the rent is paid upfront so need to worry about deposit

In short, some tenants are real scum, some are a nuisance, some are trouble causers and some are great whom id gladly let out to again.

The law is unjust against Landlords - it needs to be changed. The tenancy deposit scheme is a load of Bollocks written by politicians with a sticks up their arses when they were writing it ; it awards tenants upto 3x deposit for even 1 day late - even if you return the full deposit.

I think Landlords should lobby to kick tenants out faster and quicker when they are troublesome.

Mick

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JSS 16th August, 2015 @ 19:26

"Regarding the deposit - I no longer plan to ask for a deposit but will ask for the last month's rent in advance - removing any word of "deposit" from the Tennancy agreement. "

Not sure that would work to be honest. Housing Act 2004 s. 212-215 define a "deposit" as any monies or property that are held as security under the tenancy agreement for the tenant's performance of obligations under the tenancy agreement. Even if you don't use the word "deposit" it would still be held as that.

There were at least 2 cases on this also - Johnson -v- Old, and Piggott -v- Slaven. In the former, rent in advance was not held to be a deposit but only because the landlord could point to a specific period for which it was paid and the tenant hadn't made any payments during that period. However in the second one the landlord stated it was the last month's rent but then continued to accept rent throughout the whole of the tenancy, and the landlord simply saying "this is advance rent, not a deposit or any form of security" didn't entitle him to sidestep the legislation.

Saying "last month's rent" then not charging the last month's rent wouldn't be enough because you can't say with any certainly when the last month would be.

In any event, deposit protection is very easy, frankly, and you can do it entirely online via an insurance-based scheme. It is not onerous and even the prescribed information comes out pre-printed from the scheme. It would actually probably take more time and effort to come up with a dodge than it would to actually do it.

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David 18th August, 2015 @ 13:27

@mick

JSS is right, it would be deemed as a deposit, but if it were not you would lose the right to use it to offset it against any damages caused by a tenant.

You started off too soft but then you got too hard, if you treat people as scum they will behave as such.

Do not rent furnished, if you do then you do not have to replace things until they are worn out, if they have been damaged by a tenant then the tenant can pay for that.

I bought myself a brand new looking TV stand for £1.38 on ebay just by bidding in the lasrt few seconds on local items where there is no delivery and few bids.
I got a dining room and chairs for £30 that were in excellent condition and same guy (who was emigrating) sold me a bunch of other stuff.

I think you are at high risk renting to people who have no UK references, so ask for a higher deposit (2 months) and set your rent high, this will exclude those that can't afford it.
Most importantly you need to communicate well with your tenants, be help and considerate to reasonable requests but do not be a milksop when it comes to things that are unreasonable. Get a service contract on the washing machine, so you get it repaired, if a machine is fuctional and they become a pain complaining about everything then replace it with a second hand item in working condition but older.

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whatonearth 30th September, 2016 @ 20:12

My mortgage company recently contact met to say there had been a complaint about over occupancy in my buy to let property. If these claims were substantiated they may seek to repossess!!!!!

anyone out there had a similar experience? any advice most welcome

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David 1st October, 2016 @ 09:01

I would start by figuring out who made the complaint and where it was made (was it direct or via the Council).

You do not say how many rooms you have and how many people you let it to.

Is it possible that you let it to someone who is subletting? I know a EE guy who lives in the small room of a two bed flat and had 10 mattresses in the larger bedroom.

Could it be a prossy (probably one @landlord knows!!) who had men coming and going?

I would call the Council and ask if they have had any complaints, say you are very concerned and looking to gather evidence.

Start by parking up nearby but not too close, take some video of comings and goings.

Then armed with that you contact tenant for a random gas inspection as you have had reports of people smelling gas and you need to verify there is not a problem.

You will know if you ARE over occupying, in which case STOP.

Interesting tactic to contact your mortgage company, I suspect it is a Council, but why not contact you first?

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Nige 1st October, 2016 @ 10:07

Being a landlord is getting to be a harder game and regardless of how many controls you put in someone always puts a spanner in the works .
Recently I received a letter.
Basically said that the neighbour threatened to kill Darryl with an axe so they vacated 2 months ago and here was the door key.
??????????

The letter was addressed to my house, no name.The enclosed letter was signed by 2 people but did not give an indication of address and posted 100 miles away. ??????

It also indicated that I should stop pestering them with txts and emails ????

AS I didn't recognise the tenants I spent a couple of hours checking with police, current tenants etc but no clues whatsoever as to property etc.

So somewhere there is a house vacated by tenants 2 months ago and I have a key.

On another note I am selling a property (friendly eviction as tenants knew it was coming 2 years ago).
But due to council rules I have forked out £355 in court costs , had 2 hearings and just paid £121 for bailiff possession.

Who would be a landlord ???

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David 1st October, 2016 @ 14:43

Nige

What Council rules are you referring to, there is now a legal directive that says an S21 is enough and the tenant has to obey it because as an accelorated action it is enough.

Some Council advise tenants to stay as long as possible, some even gatekeep, but there is now a Gov minister you can report them to.

Of course if your tenant does not leave you have no option but to evict them, but you should put pressure on Council to follow guidance and take responsibility.

I can give you the link to PDF of guidance for this, a solicitors letter to the Council is cheaper than what you paid.

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Nige 1st October, 2016 @ 16:04

Hi David

And you have just pointed out the problem.

Yes a section 21 is sufficient to get your property back. Or is it? What happens if they refuse to budge. Do I send in the heavies with baseball bats or do I have to go through the process with bailiffs. Well you know the answer to that !!

As it stands at the moment help is not available to those who have made themselves homeless ie complied with the section 21 (or 8) so they sit there until the legal heavies (bailiffs) throw them out. Then the councils will act.

I am (but decreasingly so) in the business of letting a property for which I should get a return. Yes there are rules and regs to comply with but basically the process should be simple. Yes you can live in my property as long as you comply with the conditions and I will do the same. When you want to leave you can and I should be able to say I want to sell my property and get it back.

Now this scenario might work for people who have something to lose but there are many who have nothing to lose. Thus the fact that no landlords I know in the private sector that operate in my area will risk DHSS tenants on new tenancies.

Yes I might be able to report councils to a minister and spend my working days campaigning for my rights but that does not stop tenants from sitting tight until the court heavies move in. It can take 3 months to evict with the due processes and many will stop paying rent in that period and there is very little the average landlord can do unless they want to break the law and subsequently spend their days defending their actions.The chances of recovering debts from DHSS is very low and even attachment of earnings on working people has limits.

Its hard enough even drafting a section 21 these days with different forms and timescales that even an experienced landlord like me has to check and double check the latest round of changes to ensure that it is not going to be thrown out of court on a technicality. I have got a friend who works in lettings for a large company and in the absence of a newsletter from HMG stating changes we rely on bouncing info we have gleaned from trade magazines off each other and checking the internet for the latest form/rule/regulation etc.

Yes its part of the job if you want to be a landlord so we just have to accept it. A solicitors letter might be cheaper but it isn't going to change the situation of a tenant sitting tight knowing that the alternative is a bench in the bus station or even worse (as what tends to happen) a room in emergency accommodation in a dingy HMO.

As it happens my tenant (DHSS and been with me for 11 years) is semi cooperative and not putting obstacles in my way but they have access to FREE legal services to ensure that I play the process the right way so that I don't break the law. I am not in a great hurry to sell but tax laws on CGT , the time to update a property for sale and some uncertainty due to Britexit must all be taken into account and most landlords do not plan an exit strategy.

On a slightly different note my friends are selling up their rental properties and going in to buying and renovating for sale which shrinks the availability of rental in the private sector even further.

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David 1st October, 2016 @ 22:53

I hear you @Nige

What you say certainly WAS the case but things have changed, the Gov issued a directive that Councils must accept the end date if an S21 being the date their obligation to house starts.

Some Inner City Councils in their panic started to gatekeep by telling applicants bullshit to delay their application. Others found legal loopholes as detailed in link below/

Now all I can say is that most Councils are following guidance if they are reminded by a suitable 3rd party. Councils get their money from central Government so to an extent they have to do what they are told, but some have such huge lists of homeless that they fear their system will collapse if they do not.

It sounds as if your property may be in such an area

You can read more about the tactics here

http://www.landlordlawblog.co.uk/2016/07/06/section-21-homelessness-code-guidance/

I can post links to the guidance and section numners (is a huge doc).

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Nige 1st October, 2016 @ 23:30

Thanks David but I have now got rid of my DHSS tenants who of course behaved as mentioned above.
Not that I had anything against DHSS but times have changed.

I won't go into the stupid mistake I made by NOT evicting a tenant at the end of a six month tenancy who subsequently announced she had cancer and died. Her family wrecked the house whilst she was in the last stages before she died but of course the tenancy was in her name and I still can't prove who did the damage. Police not interested. Insurance wont act without proof. Stalemate but as the dust clears there was interference by a council employee working outside her remit and its a case of watch this space.

Interestingly enough you cannot evict a dead person without going through accelerated possession !! And yes accelerated possession now costs £355 !! Rip off. {more if you don't do online).

Interestingly enough the building societies are playing the same game as landlords . ie one month and one day in arrears and in this case if a person loses their home they are deemed to have made themselves homeless.

As you say councils must try to accommodate but the reality here is the available stuff is rough to the extreme. A friend went into the HMO game and pulled out after 6 months due to trouble from tenants and despite being offered 4000 a month for 5 rooms by the council (thats 800 a month per room when housing benefit will only pay 595 for a 3 bed house ) refused to take anyone except working people.

I don't know about other areas (and Im no expert on getting a house) but here the homeless in temporary rooms have to bid on available houses. Ive seen the lists and all houses seem to be housing associations and zero private landlords.

Ah well only one property to sell after this one and then Im out sitting on a beach drinking cocktails. Can't wait for retirement 3 years late.

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David 5th October, 2016 @ 12:28

@Nige

I totally get where you are coming from, I do feel that HA's should be enabled to provide accomodation for long term DHSS tenants. HA's have much better ways of dealing with "trouble" tenants. Although they offer very long tenancies their ASB clauses mean that the license can be revoked pretty damn quickly.

I have spent the last 2 years regularly visiting someone who was made homeless, I saw them in living their car, living in temp accomodation when their health finally got so bad that they became vulnerable and finally when they were housed a year later.

When you regularly visit temp accomodation places you get a real picture of what is going on, the different demographics of "residents", I also got talking to the staff. One saturday a family of 14 turned up, the first thing I noticed was the suits, these so called refugees were loaded, a separate van brought their cases which filled the large recention area. The classic bit was when the oldest man (a grandfather I suspect) asked the lady behind the counter something in Arabic and she responded in English saying "No this is NOT a hotel". I asked her what he had said and she said he asked if there was a porter to help them with their luggage. She was a sweet Muslim girl on mininum wage and she was spitting nails because that family were occupying 5 family units, including the ones they keep in reserve for medical emergencies. She told me on another visit that they had been housed. What I do not understand is that Council is one of the ones that have been slated for not taking any refugees, so I still do not know how they managed to get access to the place. What I do know is they were driving Mercedes within a few weeks of arrival, so they clearly had the ability to support themselves.

I do know that there are scum in our society, people that trash properties, drug addicts that play the rehab system, get housed and then make life hell for other tenants. I think the only way to win is to do up your property to a much higher standard and seek more affluent tenants.

I have posted the properties on the bidding lists and you are right, they are just HA's mostly, a few charitable trusts. Even on those there are two levels, those on a "social" rent and those on an "affordable rent" the latter is witin 1p of the LHA rate but may include a service charge for mantainting communal areas. These often make the property unaffordable because the benefits these people are on simply cannot budget it. So they become homeless and are told they made themselves homeless. They are not the crowd that have the latest iPhone, they are more like the heat or eat brigade. I always advise clients to try to bid on social rents, they also have a service charge but usually low if ex Council stock or HA new build in a big block.

I was talking to a guy at an HA a few months back, his told me his are technically insolvent after Government cut off their source for socal stock. They are refinancing their current stock to survive but desperately need to merge or they will go bust.

Enjoy your retirement!!

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Nige 5th October, 2016 @ 14:01

Thank you David.

After 20 years in the game there is little that anyone can tell me about tenants and their antics !! Some are so dumb that you wonder how they survive...dumb that is until their rights are involved.
I have nearly always housed DHSS but its a case of NO MORE.
My recent experience as follows.
I did a property up to sale standard but due to another property falling vacant sold that instead
Lady 3 kids thrown out of last property as rent went up to much. Nice lady as well .clean and with a degree of ambition.
She was taken on a 6 month tenancy which then ran periodic.
Then she got cancer so I rearranged other future lettings and sales of property to keep her in. MISTAKE BIG TIME. All inspections by my third party inspector had been good BUT
Every time the lady went into hospital there was damage to the house and this was done by her brats. For example the bathroom was trashed to the extent that the toilet was broken, sink off the wall, brand new flooring damaged so badly that it affected the chipboard floor underneath and the bath panel kicked in.The water also damaged the downstairs cloakroom wrecking the ceiling and floor.

Now this would not be so bad..I wasn't fixing it and told tenant to do so. THEN environmental health got involved !! I was accused of letting a substandard house . Apparently a slight leak under the kitchen sink at the other end of the house was causing damp in the cloakroom !! DUH ? What leak as nothing had been reported. That took weeks of letter writing and reports.

Sadly the tenant died. Was I informed. NOPE. I found out 2 weeks later when her brats started fiddling everything they could and phoned the council to say the boiler wasnt working.It wasnt working because they had smashed the flue off and taken off the casing. Cost one new boiler. By the time I got to the house the council were involved although they shouldn't have been and much of the property had been botch repaired.

I took back the keys from the executor but there was no money in the accounts. Housing benefit had been stopped even though her kids were still living there.(one was 19 by this stage)

I kid you not when I tell you the damage found.
There was not one single item in this house that had not been damaged. NOT ONE. Walls, ceilings, electrics rewired wrongly,kitchen wrecked, bathroom wrecked,cloakroom leaking sewage under the wooden floor, carpets wrecked, holes in doors.

Day one we went in and totally gutted the house from top to bottom to the point of it being a shell. It took 3 months to pull the property back to a state that it had been 40 months before.

Insurance ? Not interested unless I got police reports. Police..not interested as it would have been impossible to prove who did the damage. Nobody thought to ASK the little !!!!!!!!!!. Executors..no money in the pot.

So three months lost rent. Accounts for damage not all done yet but 5k for materials excluding labour.

Who loses. Well I do for one but will offset against tax. Thats 28% less tax I will pay in CGT.
So society pays for these tykes.
My time. Three months of my life gone and without pay or rent .

As said the matter is not closed yet as someone from the council was getting involved behind my back and this is going to cause the brown stuff to hit the fan.

This is an extreme case but I have spent my life in lettings ....as a friend says ...clearing up other peoples Cr--ap and repairing things that were broken.

Retirement? 67 years old and just evicting a tenant so I can cash in. I know what I will find when I get the house back. More work to rectify damage and UNFAIR wear and tear done by a 35 year old who has 3 kids by 3 different fathers and who has never worked in her life.

PS houses I have left are now let through an agent at high rents (well above DHSS) to working people with huge deposits.
Why didn't I do this before ? Well I did but my agent went rogue and never reported damage etc and let the tenants do what they wanted.

Ah well. Such is the life of a landlord !!

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Nige 7th October, 2016 @ 22:16

David and a warning to other landlords.
(Sorry copy/paste cut off part of article)
Notice its not just councils but also Shelter and CAB advising staying put until bailiffs.

All News
Press Releases
Campaigns
NLA Lobby
UK LANDLORD MAGAZINE

Revealed: the cost of bad eviction advice
Article Posted -
14 Sep 2016

The average cost to a landlord of their tenant being advised to ignore an eviction notice stands at nearly £7,000, according to a recent survey of landlords.*

Private tenants are often advised by local councils and agencies to ignore eviction notices served by their landlords – and to wait until evicted by bailiffs – in order to qualify as homeless and thus eligible for rehousing.

The latest findings from the National Landlords Association (NLA) reveal that the mean total cost of a tenant being advised to remain in a property is £6763.

In addition, half (47 per cent) of tenants who have been served a section 21 eviction notice by their landlord say they have been told to ignore it by their local council or an advice agency such as Shelter or the Citizen’s Advice Bureau (CAB).**

The news comes as the National Landlords Association (NLA) is due to give evidence to the Communities and Local Government (CLG) Select Committee today (Wednesday 14 September) on the Homelessness Reduction Bill.

The Homelessness Reduction Bill, as introduced by Conservative MP Bob Blackman, amends the Housing Act 1996 to expand councils’ duties to prevent homelessness by:

· Providing that Section 21 Eviction Notices are proof an applicant is threatened with homelessness

· Doubling the definition of threatened with homelessness from 28 to 56 days

The NLA has long campaigned against councils advising tenants to ignore eviction notices and in March, 2016, the then Housing Minister Brandon Lewis wrote to all local councils in England to clarify homelessness guidance.

Richard Lambert, Chief Executive Officer at the NLA, said:

“We have consistently campaigned on this issue, but despite many warnings to councils and agencies, this damaging advice is still being given out to tenants.

“Possession cases can take a very long time to resolve, and aside from putting an unnecessary strain on everyone involved, not to mention the Courts, these findings demonstrate just how cost

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daljit dodd 22nd October, 2016 @ 01:33

Distressing to hear stories about bad tenants. LL should follow procedure.
there are very bad LL there especially those that make up story of damage to property to usurp the deposit it can be done is being done all you need is a decorator 2 witnesses that property left in bad state some photos. This is a cruel world
From the accounts above LL seemed to be the most hurt you have not seen the bad ones.

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Nige 22nd October, 2016 @ 09:31

As the landlords other post states you get good and bad.
Most landlords in this country are small businesses with only a few properties. I know a lot of people in the game and luckily I grew up with the multitude of changes to legislation.
Take section 21 for example. Its changed again and even experienced agents are having to double check forms to use.

Not every instance can be insured. How many landlords for example insure against the tenant dieing. Ive had 2 in my properties. One from cancer, one from suicide. There is no money in the estate and you have to follow the section 21 route to get the property back. In the meantime relatives seem to do what they like and trying to prove that they damaged it rather than the tenant is a nightmare.

Ive worked in drug dens..or should I say the aftermath of a drug factory. Totally wrecked top to bottom. A friend who was an agent had tenants who burnt everything ..doors, floorboards etc.

In this country there is no database available to allow prospective tenants to be checked out. Even if there was you get an unmarried couple where one takes the tenancy. ie unmarried mother who moves boyfriend in. The house is wrecked so the boyfriend takes the tenancy on another house for them.

Thats why checks, double checks, triple checks and big deposits are becoming the norm and the only place tenants can raise the sort of cash needed is from the official money lenders at 1000% .

Ah well there are those who win in the landlord game and there are those that lose.I know many who are cashing in now as there is more money in renovation than there is in renting and as usual the bad tenants spoil it for the good ones.

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mike 12th January, 2017 @ 20:42

can I change the locks in my house , I have a tenant he rents a room , no lease , no mail , pays in cash he is moving out but it is taking him 3 monts to move and I have other people interested in the room , he has a few items left in the room . ??

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Nige 13th January, 2017 @ 00:28

Basically no. If his things are still there he can come back and occupy the room. Why the rush if he is paying you?

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David 13th January, 2017 @ 08:27

Depends on the tenancy agreement.

If he has an Assured Shorthold Tenancy then as Nige says No and you are responsible for his shit.

If you live on the premises he is a lodger he has hardly any rights at all.

You say no lease but it depends what you promised him in the beginning, if you promise someone 6 months and say you are preparing an AST but do not do one then a Statutory Pediodic (month to month) tenancy is created and you still have to give a Section 21 with 2 months notice.

You do not say if he is paying the rent, I assume not otherwise why would you care.

Based on what you say, if he has no AST or anything that suggests he has a proper tenancy, I would collect his stuff, store it safely and change the locks.

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Nige 13th January, 2017 @ 11:59

David is correct but if there is no paperwork it can be one word against the other. Note to others...do some paperwork as there is no obligation to have a signed and sealed contract it does help in any dispute.
One small point. Although you say he paid cash you have an allowance under the 'rent a room scheme' and should declare the income. If not the tenant can use that against you.

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Tommy 20th January, 2017 @ 19:40

I have been a landlord 29 year,a good and fair landlord,even Lent Tennant's money let some move in without a deposit even...Soft I know.
As for rent not being paid...If a disagreement starts....I give them 5 day's to pay or move....On day 6 locks changed and belongings put under car ports.....What I have on every house.
Then I will take my chances never has a dispute gone day.....
What's the worst that can happen...Court a fine?
Sue me? ..... This can take forever to resolve....And they'd have as much trouble getting money out of me as I would my initial rent.....So sorry but my house my rules .... I'll take the consequence later......It has never come to court in 29 years so I strongly advise cut the crap out and boot them out if it can not be resolved amicably!

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David 21st January, 2017 @ 01:12

@Tenants wirh a landlord like Tommy who changed locks on you and did not issue proper s21 giving you 2 months to quit or Sec 8 legal action in court...

1. Go to the property
2. Call the Police explaining that your Landlord has changed your locks and is making threats and you fear public disorder, can they please attend.
3. Ask Police to have Landlord Tommy leave and not come back without a prior appointment which you will never give because of fear and anxiety he has caused.
4. Insist that all further inspections and gas safety etc now performed by agent and only when you are present.
5. Call locksmith, have them drill the locks and fit new ones, add an extra mortice lock for additional security.
6. Send invoice to Landlord tommy for Locksmith.
7. Call local authority and explain what Tommy has done and ask that they take action investigating whether he is a fit and proper person to be a Landlord.
8. Do a £3 land registry search on the property you live in, get details of Landlord tommy, then do search to identify all his other properties.
9. Write to the Council of every other property and inform them of what he has dome, ask them to revoke his licence if they have one or investigate whether his is a fit and proper person.
10. Call Lawyer, explain what has happened and ask them to start legal action under Housing Act, Harrasment Act and sue for all your belongings which now need to be replaced because they are damp and will never be the same again.
11.Having got the file for his properties, look for one with no mortgage or oldest mortgage, ask lawyer to issue a lien against property pending outcome of your court case for £50,000 or £100,000.
12. Seek an injunction preventing the Landlord coming within 500 yards of the property.
13. Ask Council to investigate repairs of your property.
14. Check whether Landlord Tommy has fully complied with Deposit protection scheme and prescribed information on your property. If not seek sanctions.
15. Write to the tenants at all other properties, ask them if they have had any issues with Landlord Tommy, give them your email and forward any negative emails to local authority.
16. Remain in property, pay your rent or don't, give rent to Lawyer and ask they hold it pending outcome of case.

What is the worse that can happen.

Sorry, UK Resident, UK Law.

Instant authority to have locks drilled, reenter property and sue the fuck out of you using your own money.

Best not to give advice if it is going to be so stupid.

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Nige 21st January, 2017 @ 01:57

@David

I agree 100% with the processes you describe.

Unfortunately reality is not always the same.

It easy to suggest on paper what you should do but in reality and living in some areas is somewhat different.

I refer to landlords who really don't give a flying fuck about the law.

Its easy to write the process of what we should do but when faced with 4 guys with a dog all of whom are known psychos with tentacles that spread throughout the area it becomes slightly different.

On your own can be a totally different proposition with nobody to hear you scream.

I know reasonably powerful people who have paid up relatively large sums of money for botched work in slightly different situations after the threat was made...
''we know where your kids go to school''.

I am sure there are many people who keep their mouths shut for fear of reprisals. ie immigrants ??

Yep sending in the heavies is something most landlords would ''like'' to do especially when...like me... they are faced with a tenant who is deliberately smashing your place up and having wild parties after you get a possession order in court. Yep waiting for the bailiffs who takes weeks.
(no I didn't send in the heavies!!)

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David 21st January, 2017 @ 21:13

I hear what you are saying Nige but in my experience these types are usually coward, they need the numbers or a drink to participate.

I always start with the law, then I find out what each one cares about and I go after that at a later date.

The Police will remove the four men and a dog, they will arrest them under public order offences, fingerprint them, take their DNA and keep the peace.

These people have the power you give them with your fear.

Don't care was made to care.

Someone may threaten my children but it would be a very foolish thing to do, but again I would start by reporting the threat. After that I would not make threats, I would do. Not immediately, not openly and not to them, but the things they care for.

There are nutters out there but chances are you are not the first they have broken the law with, they may be out on licence and just need your complaint to have that revoked.

I would never think you would use heavies, you have always shown yourself to be socially responsible even though you have had your good nature taken advangage of.

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Nige 24th January, 2017 @ 00:25

Oh I would have loved to put the heavies in on some cases !!

One of the problems is the usual ones. We all have to obey a set of rules designed to control a minority.

I have watched well built houses under local authority control degenerate and finally demolished as a result of a few people who push the boundaries and laugh in the face of authority.

Yes this naughty boy was clocked doing 34mph on an empty road and was subsequently ''fined'' 90 pounds by being given a driver awareness course. A bit galling really as outside one of my rental houses I used to listen to tyres screeching as idiots virtually drag raced outside the local shop.
Even more galling when you find that the cost of a drivers awareness course only costs 50 pounds !!

I use this as an example because the police used incorrect times on their paperwork and even said that their equipment was timed by the Rugby atomic clock. Yep. My investigation reveal that the Rugby atomic clock had shut down 7 years previously. So in fact spurious claims were made by law enforcers. But as a responsible citizen I am accountable

So why therefore cannot landlords include similar terms in contracts. Rent is for 30 days . After 34 days a 90 pound tenant retraining course must be attended. After 60 days you cannot live in that property or rent one for a year !!!
No ifs or buts .
I can quote cases where someone has exceeded the 30mph speed limit by a tiny margin a total of 4 times. Lost their job, lost their house, lost their marriage.

Unfortunately the laws only protect those who abide by the law. Those who don't want to will always get away with it.
The rest of the tenants pay higher rents, higher deposits and jump though hundreds of hoops to cater for those who flaunt the system.

One aspect never discussed is the loss not only to the landlord but to the tax system as a whole. Example.
A tenant does 3000 worth of damage. That means 3000 less (and probably more) of a loss to the landlord. But then the landlord claimed a tax loss on that amount. Thus less money in the public coffers.

Take a section 21 notice as a prime example of our stupid housing laws. Sounds simple. No fault. Just want the house back. 2 months notice. Then after 2 months the tenant can stay put , drag matters through the courts (at a cost of course which usually falls on the landlord). Even if the landlord wins the case the tenant usually gets another 14 days to ''organise'' themselves (as if the first 2 months was not enough). And so on it goes.

Compensation for lost time, often lost rent, legal costs etc can't be reclaimed easily. Maybe the landlord gets fined for not being able to pay the tax bill on time which he couldn't do because he couldn't sell the property.

Result. ?? The next tenant , however law abiding, has to jump through even higher hoops or even worse..the landlord removes the property from the rental market.

All very similar to my speeding situation.

Road humps, chicanes, road narrowing all designed to catch out those who do 60mph plus in a 30 area ..not the ones doing 34. Consequences ? slower journeys , lower productivity , higher bills from tradesmen and more pollution.

I hear what you are saying David but remember that if you live in one of these tough areas that they are virtually no go areas for police and as threats are one word against another then it takes quite a brave individual to remain in residence with the chance of an anonymous brick coming through the window in the middle of the night.
(Yes I have had a tenant have a paving slab thrown through the window at 11 o'clock at night. Only clue was another person upset by the tenant. Police action ..NIL until the next day and then nothing . All costs borne by me. I really enjoyed boarding up a window in a howling gale wearing the dress suit I went out in. Whoopee !!)

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Michael 30th January, 2017 @ 08:04

Two years ago I bought a shop with an upper floor. It came with a quite new tenant who was renting the whole building, on a five year lease, paying a nice rent, with a yield of over 10%. He was only using the ground floor, and ran a food store.

What I didn't realize was that he was also selling counterfeit cigarettes. A couple of months after I bought the property the local Trading Standards officer contacted me and told me that he had seized a small amount of counterfeit cigarettes from the shop. My tenant however had claimed that they weren't his. The officer told me that I should evict the tenant immediately by changing the locks early one morning, and that he would be present, with police, when the tenant arrived to open up shop. The rent I was receiving, he said, is illegal and I could be prosecuted for accepting the Proceeds of Crime.

I talked to a local estate agent who told me that the rent was highly inflated, and that once I got rid of the tenant I would have to offer the property at half the rent that my tenant was paying. I was shocked and angry that I had been sold this property at an inflated price, with an inflated rent. Before I bought it I had asked a local trader if the price was right in his opinion, and he said that it was about 20% too high. Stupidly I didn't listen to him, and bought it, lured by the high rental that the counterfeit cigarette dealer was paying.
There were two more raids, which also found small amounts of illegal cigarettes and tobacco. And then most recently there was a test purchase where my tenant sold a packet of cigarettes to the officer's assistant. The small quantities found there made me assume that the illegal trade taking place was very small. Also I saw that the Trading Standards officer didn't prosecute my tenant. The small quantities found didn't justify any prosecution. So I didn't evict.

Recently though I have decided that I've had enough, and the Trading Standards officer is pressuring me strongly to evict. I recently took legal advice and was told:

"It might be too late for you to evict, as you have been accepting the proceeds of crime. In doing so, you may have effectively changed the lease, which forbids the tenant to do anything illegal. By your actions you may have effectively erased that section of the lease. This is called the Law of Waiver.

"You might never be able to get rid of him, because when the lease runs out he may very well be protected by the Landlord and Tenant Act of 1954. Even if you try to evict him through the courts, the judge might rule against you because you have waivered the clause that forbids the tenant to act illegally. In which case you'd pay your own costs and the legal costs of the tenant. Could be several thousand pounds. If the judge ruled against you you'd be stuck with the tenant forever, and you'd be forbidden by law, as you already are, to receive rent from him."

I definitely shouldn't have bought the property. And I definitely should have got rid of the tenant the very first time that the Trading Standards officer contacted me. Not sure how to proceed after making such big mistakes.

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Nige 30th January, 2017 @ 10:13

I have never understood the obsession with fags and booze generally by customs especially in the fiasco of what we called the EU.
I could bring back a TV or car bought in France but fags were limited to a very low amount. But thats all in the name of tax tax tax.

Examining your situation I would make the following comments.

Maybe I am wrong but from what you said you never intended to fall into this trap. You bought a property. You rented it.
Obviously you never intended to get involved with crime.

Where for example would a landlord stand if they rented a property to someone who was fiddling the DHSS and the landlord was accepting the payments. Or a tenant of a property was selling drugs as a sideline.

Your biggest problem is that you did not listen to advice.
Those who are about to stomp on you from a big height advised you to evict/change locks etc. You didn't do this so this makes them assume that you were collaborating in the crime.

The next point is how the rent was paid. Was it cash or was it DD/cheque or any other modern method which you could account for on a bank statement.

Yes criminal proceeds funded your tenant but as it was a shop there was obviously a profit from the shop which could have paid the rent. So with that in mind and the fact that selling bogus fags would not be going through the accounts you could have assumed that the rent was being paid for by normal commercial activities. I would also assume that if you ''collaborated'' in crime that the local authority would also collaborate by collecting business rates .

Regards talking to an estate agent about you paying to much for the property or charging an inflated rent. If you bought a property in 2008 just before the recession would the agent say then that you paid to much? Rents are all to subjective. I know 2 houses side by side with a differential of 100 pounds per month rent. One is occupied by a single person. One has 3 people sharing the rent. Rent is often how much someone will pay. Estate agents only vale rents and property values by looking at similar properties in the area.

To put my 2 pennyworth into your equation. Go back to Customs and Excise and talk to them and do what they say. If you are indeed innocent its better for you to put your cards on the table and use their muscle rather than sit quietly listening to conflicting advice from people who guess values.

Remember if it all goes tits up the C.E. could seize your building and you could lose the lot if they could prove that you knew of the criminal activity and profited by it.
(Which technically you are now doing by not acting on their advice)

Im not legally trained but the C.E. have a lot of clout and I would rather have them on your side standing in court giving reasons why you evicted rather than a lawyer charging huge amounts trying to defend you for unlawful eviction.

Maybe others can advise better.

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David 30th January, 2017 @ 10:36

I think you need something in writing from the trading standards asking you to evict, just so you have a paper trail.

Your tenancy agreement should have all sorts of clauses that can be used (not carrying on a business).

You cannot be accused of being a party to a crime you are not aware of, suggestions are one thing, has he been convicted?

I very much doubt that a criminal is going to take you to Court but he may want outstanding rent back.

I would also suggest you work with the Police, find out his routine, when is property left empty, then let them in to confiscate cigs and change the locks. Call the tenant and tell him cops raided it and have secured the premises for evidence reasons and have asked you if you know of his whereabouts. Hopefully he will do a runner.

Speak to a solicitor.

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Michael 30th January, 2017 @ 20:19

Thank you, David for your advice. Very helpful indeed.

1. Trading standards have been e-mailing me for a long time, asking me to evict. I guess that counts as "something in writing".

2. Over the last two years there have been three raids where small amounts of cigarettes and tobacco have been found (on one occasion they seized 160 cigs - that's 8 packets. On another occasion they seized 10 pouches of counterfeit Virginia and 10 pouches of counterfeit Amber. These are very small amounts in my view. They also made a test purchase from the tenant of one packet of counterfeits. No prosecutions.

3. The trading standards officer has promised that he will be present when the locks are changed, with the police. I am living overseas, so I would prefer to send in a professional bailiff, who hopefully would be able to pick/break the lock and replace it with another one. I could certainly phone the tenant immediately when the locks are changed. However the trading standards officer seems to assume that I'll send a notice first (probably referring to a section 146 notice).

4. "A criminal won't take me to court". Similarly to what you say, the trading standards officer also wrote that it's never happened (to him) that a cigarette-trading tenant took his landlord to court for evicting him illegally.

Nevertheless it does make me nervous, being vulnerable to a legal attack by my tenant after I evict him. Breaking into a property - even my own - exposes me to prosecution under criminal law. No lawyer has told me to do it, for two reasons: Firstly I've been accepting rent knowing about the seizures. And secondly there is the extra complication here that it's a mixed property, half commercial and half residential. In residential property it is always forbidden to change the locks, without first getting permission from a judge. And mixed property is apparently regarded as residential. Only in pure commercial is it correct to serve a section 146 notice and then storm in early on a morning. But if the trading standards officer is prepared to support the procedure, maybe what the hell I should take a deep breath and go ahead.

Thank you for your advice.

Michael

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Michael 30th January, 2017 @ 20:19

Nigel,

Your comments have been very very helpful. Many thanks.
Your comment about rent coming from the profits of the shop rather the illegal sales of cigarettes is helpful. I have also considered this point.

The trading standards office is apparently not the same body as the Custom and Excise, but is a department of the County Council. However I take your point that having them at my side in court would be more effective than an expensive lawyer.

If they can't find enough tobacco and cigarettes to convict the tenant, and they may never find enough, it is possible that they wouldn't ever prosecute me.
Nevertheless I do want to get this tenant off my back.
Once again thank you.

Best regards,
Michael

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David 30th January, 2017 @ 20:55

That is tricky, you did not say that there were two leases (some shops have upstairs rooms for stock, even if used for residential.

If you have an Assured Shorthold Tenancy with a 5 year term and no break clauses your only hope is a breach of one of the terms that specifies a termination of the lease. Most come with a clause to prevent criminal activity, usually running a brothel but they are generic.

The difficulty is that if he is living there as a tenant you need to have a section 21 and to have protected his deposit, or you will face action.

For the shop you have the same issue, you need to find a term in the lease that is being breached and that allows for termination.

If he is paying rent there is nothing that says the rent comes from the illegal biz, the quantity seems to reflect personal use and he may be open to selling the odd pack if asked. I was in a corner shop the other day and an Eastern European was offering the shopkeeper cheap cigs, he saw I heard and told him to come back later if he could go below a certain price.

So one thing you might try is to call Customs and Excise, give them the bank account details of the account that is paying you. See if they have any interest in getting bank statements or better still freezing the accounts (they have more powers than anyone). Now if they freeze the accounts and he stops paying rent you have grounds for eviction. Of course he may have other accounts but otherwise you need evidence of a criminal act that is large enough to account for the rent.

It is their job to enforce laws, not yours. By all means cooperate but you are bound by contracts and must operate within the law.

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Michael 1st February, 2017 @ 11:30

Hello David,

Many thanks for taking an interest in my case. You have been very helpful indeed.

Regarding the mixed commercial/residential nature of my property: There is one commercial lease only for the whole building, and not two leases, one commercial and one residential. Is that significant?

Looking at some internet articles today I found that the landmark ruling for regarding peacable re-entry (entry into the property following delivery of a section 146 notice) into a mixed use property was the Patel v Pirabakaran case of 2006. (It is interesting that the 1977 Protection from Eviction Act which outlawed peacable re-entry for residential landlords remained unresolved on this point for nearly 30 years!) In this textbook case the tenant was occupying the shop and living in the upstairs flat, and the judge ruled that peacable re-entry without going through the courts was forbidden, In my case the upper (residential) floors have not been occupied by the tenant, and do not seem to have been in use by him at all. He has another address where he and his family live. It seems that as a result that ruling does not apply to me.

Customs and Excise: The body which is investigating here is the Trading Standards Division at the County Council, and not the CE.
My quarterly payment is a cash payment into my bank account. My tenant always pays on time.

"A term in the lease that is being breached": Section 5-10-1 of my lease: Not to use any part of the demised premises for...any illegal act or purpose.

On 5th September 2016 a test purchase was made by a team from the Trading Standards Division, and my tenant sold them one pack of cigarettes. they found no other packs on the premises. Seizures over the last 2 and a half years found small quantities of counterfeit cigarettes: 160 cigs (8 packets) on one raid. 20 personal sized pouches of counterfeit tobacco on another raid.

"The quantity seems to reflect personal use and he may be open to selling the odd pack if asked." You expressed that in a way that I've been trying to unsuccessfully for the last few weeks! I could certainly argue that at least if Trading Standards were to prosecute me for receiving the Proceeds of Crime.

What is becoming increasingly clear to me is yes I do have the legal power to deliver a section 146 (of the 1925 Law of Property Act) notice to my tenant and then make peacable re-entry. What do you think?

I have even thought this week that I might simply offer the tenant 1000 quid to go. He would have to leave and also to sign a statement that he agrees to terminate the lease. Then I'd pay him.

However it feels like getting ready to jump into a cold swimming pool. The property is in an area where there are a high percentage of vacant shops One in 10 perhaps. And the estate agent said, "Prepare yourself for a six month to a year wait for a new tenant, who would in all likelihood pay a half of what your current tenant is paying,. You'll be paying building insurance. And then rates after 3 months. And your building insurance will go up while the property is empty." Scary!

If you have any more comments/ideas I'd be very happy to hear from you.

Best regards,

Michael

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