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Maash

Exploitative Tenant

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Hi,

I would like to have your advice and opinions about dealing with an exploitative tenant. 

In September 2018 I regretfully rented my 3-bedroom fully renovated and furnished house in Manchester to a newly settled  Syrian refugee family. I honestly sympathised with their claim that they had to quit their previous accommodation because of racial abuse and their suffer from the war in Syrian, stating that they just need a temporary accommodation until they find a cheaper place. We made a one year tenancy agreement but I did not comply with the Tenancy Deposit Protection Scheme as I was told that they would leave in few months. I was naive and have no previous experience. 

In March 2019, after numerous complaints and endless moaning about being unable to use the washing machine and the TV and breaking few furniture items, which I dealt with immediately,  he stopped paying the rent, accusing me of providing a bad landlord reference to a letting agency because they decided not to let the house to him. He refused to accept that I provided a good reference and that it was not my fault that they did not let the house to him but he did not believe me.

He then he said that he cannot afford paying the agreed rent as the job centre stopped paying him housing benefit, and he showed me a letter from the job centre. I reduced the rent by £200 provided that he leaves the property in three months. He then asked me to provide him with an eviction notice, and issued him a Section 21 notice through a solicitor. He then asked for an eviction notice from the court to be eligible for a Council House / Accommodation. I refused to get involved in this matter any further and I started a repossession of property procedure in July 2019, which apparently what he was after from the beginning. 

After 3 postponements of court hearings because the tenant did not speak English, the court eventually provided an interpreter for him. In December 2019, the tenant made a housing disrepair counterclaim, asking for compensations for his daughter's asthma and bedbugs problems, which he never complained about before. Apparently, he was entitled for Legal Aid to prepare the counterclaim so he did not pay any solicitor's fees.

I was disappointed about the lengthy legal procedure and concerned about further delays and potential costs of surveys and expert fees etc. Therefore, I reached a settlement agreement with him in January 2020 and presented to the court, by which I agreed to give up all the payable rent and he agreed to leave my property by 29 March 2020. A court order to this effect was eventually issued in March 2020. Guess what! It is now May 2020 and he is still living in my property rent free and we can't enforce the court order due to the current Corona Situation.

From time to time he disturbs me by disrepair complaints to the Council about gas leaks and dampness etc, which are all false. I told the Council recently that he is illegally occupying my property and that he previously threatened to destroy my house and I even provided pictures of the condition of my renovated and furnished property from inside and outside (attached) before he rented it but they don't seem bothered about it, asking me to seek a legal advice.

I believe that this exploitative tenant is carefully guided on how to take advantage of the system and the kindness and naivety of people in this country benefiting from being a refugee with a family just to proof that he is eligible for a Council accommodation. 

As you can see, this is a very bitter experience that drained me out mentally, physically and financially, and I wish no one would ever experience.

I would appreciate any enlightening and advice about what to do with this exploitative tenant.  Please feel free to ask any questions.

Thank youAfter Refurbishment.pdf

 

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You dont need me to tell you the numerous mistakes you have made from day 1. So moving forward i suggest you join the Guild of Residential Landlords  https://www.landlordsguild.com/ which will cost you only £90 pa and they will be able to advise you  on all the legalities on your next steps. I  have no connection with them other being a member, landlord and letting agent.   

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I am unable to offer you advice that will be of comfort.

As Grampa, you need good help here.

I have a friend that was involved with M/cr council and their team to improve the housing standards. He was a manager. They take no prisoners. The tenant has cited a vulnerable occupant, this would cause the council to take a keen interest. I'm surprised they haven't been threatening you with notices to carry out repairs.

Tbh, I don't see how you get the tenant out during this crisis, unless it is voluntary. and then where are they likely to find as an alternative home?

Your expenses must be staggering by now, and your losses wow. The stress must be affecting your health. Each time you return to a solicitor both will be increased.

Have you attempted to calculate the future 'likely' losses / expenses? You might come out better by offering a cash settlement, but in exchange for a surrender notice from the tenant 'once he and family are out'. Considering your story and the support for the tenant I would be careful that this has no legal come back.

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Maash you have just learnt one of life's big lessons as a landlord and most landlords have experienced the same or very similiar circumstances that you are having right now.

Some landlords give up and get out totally disallusioned with what they have experienced as a landlord. I have known many, whilst others, like me and many of the contributers on this forum carry on, but oh!  so much wiser in the fact that you are not a branch of social services when you are a business landlord offering a service.

You have broken ALL the rules of a novice landlord and sadly you are paying the price for it but you will learn from this episode and toughen up if you decide to carry on in the business of being a landlord.

I can only wish you good luck in the result but as you have already been advised your best course of action now is to hand over to the professionals to get this ignorant tenant out of your rental property asap.

https://www.landlordaction.co.uk/   I have no connection whatsoever with this company but I do know they do a professional job from a recommendation.

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Look at it this way - you have a possession order - that is a big success so as soon as the courts look like they may be back at work get onto the court bailiff, pay the £105 fee and let them get him out. Be on standby on the day with a locksmith just to make sure they don't get back in or let mates in.

What you write shows that he is expecting to get re-homed by the council. - Yet another load of useless people let into this country to take our hard earned money by devious means.

Golden rule in letting with a decent property - only let to working persons - ideally dual income and no kids.  Twice the chance of getting rent, less damage as the tenants are out at work and don't fall for these sob stories. Check prospective tenants out thoroughly - even if using an agent - ask to see the references. Learn the job is best bet.  Agree with Mel on Landlord Action.

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10 hours ago, Grampa said:

You dont need me to tell you the numerous mistakes you have made from day 1. So moving forward i suggest you join the Guild of Residential Landlords  https://www.landlordsguild.com/ which will cost you only £90 pa and they will be able to advise you  on all the legalities on your next steps. I  have no connection with them other being a member, landlord and letting agent.   

Thank you very for your response. Indeed, I have made a great mistake. I have only one house to rent, and I am also a tenant. I will consider joining https://www.landlordsguild.com/. I have a court order, which I plan to enforce by the bailiff after the Corona crisis is over. My objective from this post is to share my experience as a landlord with yourselves so no one make the mistakes I made.  

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6 hours ago, Carryon Regardless said:

I am unable to offer you advice that will be of comfort.

As Grampa, you need good help here.

I have a friend that was involved with M/cr council and their team to improve the housing standards. He was a manager. They take no prisoners. The tenant has cited a vulnerable occupant, this would cause the council to take a keen interest. I'm surprised they haven't been threatening you with notices to carry out repairs.

Tbh, I don't see how you get the tenant out during this crisis, unless it is voluntary. and then where are they likely to find as an alternative home?

Your expenses must be staggering by now, and your losses wow. The stress must be affecting your health. Each time you return to a solicitor both will be increased.

Have you attempted to calculate the future 'likely' losses / expenses? You might come out better by offering a cash settlement, but in exchange for a surrender notice from the tenant 'once he and family are out'. Considering your story and the support for the tenant I would be careful that this has no legal come back.

Thank you for your response. I sustained a lot of pain and stress not to mention huge losses of rent and legal fees over the past year. Although I appointed a property agent to deal his issues but he does not cooperate with them. Instead, he goes to the council and exaggerate things to them and then they contact me or the property agent about his alleged complaints. For example, he complained about a gas leak twice over the past six week. I immediately send a gas engineering and found no gas leak. Imagine how much time and money is wasted by doing this to deal with simple issues. I just want to warn the authorities about such a tenant so he does not fool them. He has been pocketing the housing benefit that he is supposed to pay for renting my house for over a year. I do not know if I can tell the Job Centre to deduct it from his benefit, and how to do this. Do you have any idea? Thank you again.

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6 hours ago, Melboy said:

Maash you have just learnt one of life's big lessons as a landlord and most landlords have experienced the same or very similiar circumstances that you are having right now.

Some landlords give up and get out totally disallusioned with what they have experienced as a landlord. I have known many, whilst others, like me and many of the contributers on this forum carry on, but oh!  so much wiser in the fact that you are not a branch of social services when you are a business landlord offering a service.

You have broken ALL the rules of a novice landlord and sadly you are paying the price for it but you will learn from this episode and toughen up if you decide to carry on in the business of being a landlord.

I can only wish you good luck in the result but as you have already been advised your best course of action now is to hand over to the professionals to get this ignorant tenant out of your rental property asap.

https://www.landlordaction.co.uk/   I have no connection whatsoever with this company but I do know they do a professional job from a recommendation.

Thank you for your response. Indeed, it is a huge lesson and I am paying the price. I empathised with his situation as a Syrian refugee etc. This is a lesson to everyone in this forum. Unfortunately, I have now lost trust in people and I became suspicious about their intention because of the bad experience I am going through. I already approached https://www.landlordaction.co.uk/ but I ended up doing this agreement with tenant through a local solicitor office. Let's us hope that bailiff resume working to enforce the court order soon. 

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5 hours ago, Mortitia said:

Look at it this way - you have a possession order - that is a big success so as soon as the courts look like they may be back at work get onto the court bailiff, pay the £105 fee and let them get him out. Be on standby on the day with a locksmith just to make sure they don't get back in or let mates in.

What you write shows that he is expecting to get re-homed by the council. - Yet another load of useless people let into this country to take our hard earned money by devious means.

Golden rule in letting with a decent property - only let to working persons - ideally dual income and no kids.  Twice the chance of getting rent, less damage as the tenants are out at work and don't fall for these sob stories. Check prospective tenants out thoroughly - even if using an agent - ask to see the references. Learn the job is best bet.  Agree with Mel on Landlord Action.

Thank you for your response. I realised that I had made a big mistake.Therefore, I tried to minimise my losses by reaching an agreement and giving up the rent for one year. That is what I planning to do when bailiff resume working. I will take your advice on board to rent to working people only. 

This person has been in this country for less than 3 years, and he is making all this mess to everyone. I fear that he is just copying what other similar people are doing and many people will such devious things in the future. I was appalled to see that the system is giving them an easy ride. While the landlord is paying a huge price, he is not losing any thing. His legal fees are paid for and he is receiving benefits, and will be rehoused if he got evicted what more could you ask for. I feel that I need to warn potential landlord from such people and get the system reformed. 

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It is a very simple thing to request the HB or UC to be paid direct to the landlord when there are arrears. If you dont have the skills or knowledge to do it yourself it just emphasizes how important it is for you to join a landlord organisation.  

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As Grampa, when rents are 8 weeks in arrear you are entitled to receive the Housing Benefit direct to you. From the point you make HB aware they will at least freeze payments till they decide on the correct outcome of their investigation.

Very recently I rang to inform, they then requested my claim for the HB by email. All HB payments not yet paid to the tenant are now mine. This was actually 3 weeks of HB prior to my phone call.

First call them, and with a little more leisure you can create you proof to head off the tenant defending. My proof is a rental statement alongside a comprehensive letter.

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Hello 

It was the 5th May 2020 since I uploaded my above post on this wonderful forum. I would like to thank all of you for your valuable thoughts and ideas to help me to find a way out of this difficult situation and pursue the eviction of this exploitative tenant.

I would like also to update you on some important developments so we may all learn lessons from this terrible experience. Your thoughts and ideas on the steps that I may take to evict this tenant are again most welcome.

1)  The court order that I thought was enforceable was apparently unenforceable. Two well-known solicitors firms that I approached, including Landlord Action, confirmed that the court order is only a consent order and cannot be legally enforced by the bailiff because it did not state that the eviction would be enforceable if the tenant failed to leave my property by 28 March. This is a major mistake made by my previous solicitor because he did not anticipate that this could happen and the tenant would not leave my property by 28 March.  Therefore, I appointed a new solicitor, who is now claiming the fees of about £1000 from the previous solicitor for his professional malpractice. We might take our complaint to the Ombudsman for a decision.  

2) The Housing Benefit Department started paying me the Housing Benefit that they pay to the tenant as of 22 June 2020, which is a bit lower than the rent amount but something is better than nothing. Thanks to the advice I received from our forum members to guide me to do so. The rent arrears stands now at over ten thousand pounds for over year of rent. I am not sure if I need to contact the Housing Benefit to  deduct this money from the tenant's housing benefit as this money is a tax payer money and it is supposed to be paid to the landlord and not to take personal advantage of it. 

3) My new solicitor advised that we can not apply to the court to enforce the court order before 23 August. He recommended that we agree a Deed of Surrender whilst we are waiting for the courts to resume functioning on 23rd August and to avoid further lengthy legal proceedings etc. But the tenant's solicitors said that they don't have legal aid funds to cover the case and to pay for an Arabic interpreter for the tenant. 

This tenant is still living in my house and has caused me a lot of pain and distress for nothing just to abuse the system to get a council house. I regret everything I did for him to help him to settle down considering he was a Syrian refugee with a family looking for housing, without asking for any reference.  I told me that the other day that was applying for a disability allowance for his wife, which I doubt that it is truthful and he told me also that he was working at a grocery shop without informing the job centre.  I wish I can report him but I do not have evidence. 

I am keen to have your ideas or thoughts on any point I made in this post.  Please feel free to contact me if you have any question.

Thank you all for your kind support.

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If and when the HB become aware that any HB claim is incorrect they will likely stop payments, that is now your loss.

HB can also be recovered from you should HB believe they have over paid in the past. You would be caused to repay this if you received it.

Good luck with attempting to claim from another solicitor, this might be more good money after bad as your new solicitor doesn't do this for nowt. He may just be enjoying the additional business from you.

It sounds like the defendants solicitor is out of funds to defend. But this is sticky stuff. There is no need for a solicitor to act during a surrender, or the dealing of a deed of surrender, I've done these myself to persuade an abuser to naff off. For you though being sure there is no future claim of illegal eviction is of great importance.

Will you ever get your lost rents back?

Will you ever get your ever growing legal expenses back?

Will you ever be compensated for any damage to the property?

In short it may be beneficial to forget your losses and reduce any future losses by drawing a line under this very sorry episode. For that thought the tenant / family need somewhere else to go to, or any offer of financial write off of debt is likely pointless. Put yourself in his shoes and consider what is required to make this work for him, then see if that's possible for you.

You looking for justice, it just 'aint designed like that.

 

 

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