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28th October 2017

On the run up to Halloween I thought I would share a landlord horror story with you, so you can either learn from this, or relax with the knowledge that your tenants are not that bad!

A landlord lets a flat to a young lady who only pays the first month’s rent.  She then starts behaving badly, she has loud parties and the neighbours complain.  Her boyfriend causes a disturbance at the property on several occasions and kicks one of the apartment doors in. The police are called in several times and visit frequently.  The landlord visits several times to ask for the rent. He then follows standard procedure and he tells her that unless she pays the rent and behaves properly she will have to go.  On at least one occasion he loses his temper and shouts at her (this should never be done; always, no matter what, keep your cool).

One week he finds that she is not at the property. He continues to visit the property every few days but she is never there.  After about three weeks he suspects that she has left and uses his keys to gain entry. He finds the flat is in a filthy condition and it is obvious that no-one has been there for some time. It is full of rubbish, and there is mouldy food in the kitchen.  He also finds some of her personal things, such as a purse with £12 in it, clothes in the wardrobe and in the chest of drawers in the bedroom, and some videos in the lounge.  Despite this, he decides that she has left. So, he bags up all the items left in the property, and changes the locks.  None of the items left in the property are saleable, so, he dumps them, (apart from the money in the purse which he takes against the rent arrears). He redecorates the flat, and then re-lets it to another tenant. He is relieved that he didn’t have to go through the hassle of court action to get the previous tenant out.

Two months later the landlord learns of a scene at the flat when the previous tenant tries to gain entry and is refused by the new tenant!  The landlord is then served with a county court summons for damages for harassment and unlawful eviction together with a claim for compensation for her property, and a notice stating that she has been awarded legal aid.  He loses the case and is ordered to pay compensation to the tenant, although the sum is reduced to take into account her unpaid rent and damage to the flat.  He also has to pay her legal costs, which run into several thousand pounds, as well as his own solicitor’s bill.

Moral of the story:

It is very risky to repossess a property without getting a court order first, even if you think the tenant has deserted the property. 

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