complicated 2 months rent arrears, abusive and lying tenants with previous eviction

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  • complicated 2 months rent arrears, abusive and lying tenants with previous eviction

    Hi Forum members,

    Really looking for help and advice as I have now been loosing sleep over my tenant's behavior since quite some time now. I am a new landlord and must admit didn't do much of homework before giving my property out to a tenant. There was a letting agent involved and I believed a lot in him as a result I now find that I have been misled by the letting agent. The letting agent seems to have sided with the tenant from the start. I will break the case in different sections for ease of understanding for the learned forum members.

    Few facts about the tenancy. Tenancy started on the 1st Feb 2017 and is a 12 month fixed term under AST. All mandatory legal requirements related to AST such as lettign guide, EPC, Gas certificate, Depost protection and Prescribed Information were served and signed by the tenant and I have a copy of those documents.

    Tenancy agreement
    Their is no break clause in the agreement and the AST ends on 31st Jan 2018. The property is under I and my wife's joint ownership and mortgaged under BTL through a high street bank. However, we thought of creating the tenancy agreement under my wife's company's name hence the landlord name is a limited company. The agreement was prepared by the letting agent and he basically misled me by showing the section 21 clause as a six month break clause although I asked him to put a break clause. The letting agent claims to have done reference checks on the tenant however when I now look at the income certificate it basically doesn't say anything about past income. He also did a background check using Homelet and it okays the tenant as acceptable. I have attached that here. The letting agent also took a homelet rent gaurantee (express one which promises only 5 months rent after taking off expenses) however he doesn't seem to be too inclined to use that. The letting agent has been collecting rent and issuing reminder notices to the tenant. Since August he has stopped doing that as well when I threatened to take him to The Property Ombudsman office.

    Rent payment
    Tenant has been very irregular in paying the rent. He paid less than half of the rent in July and hasn't paid anything in August. Hence he is now in 2 months rent arrears. He managed to pay the full rent between Feb and June, however mostly towards the mid of the month on every occassion.

    Property condition
    The property is a semi-detached bungalow and adjacent to my house. So I and my tenant are neighbours sharing a common fence and can see each others kitchen doors and garden. It was fully refurbished at a cost of £40,000 in Jan 2017 this year will all brand new kitchen, bathroom, doors, walls, windows, electical, plumbing, basically everything.

    Tenant behavior
    The tenant (husband and wife) have been very abusive since the start of tenancy. They have been using all kinds of foul language and expletives at us. However, I stopped talking to them since April this year as I couldn't bear any more of his abuse. Things came to a low when they tenant came to my house for a spare key to their house and we refused as they were already provided two sets of keys. After that they started abusing me and my wife from their kitchen and made all kinds of racist, indecent and aggressive comments at us. I got so scared that I had to call the police. I recorded some of their actions on my phone. Police visited and advised that if I wanted them to proceed with an investigation they will have to take possession of my phone. Hence I had to decline making a full complaint however they made a report and shared the report reference number with me. They also spoke to the tenant although I don't know what was told to them. The tenant also has three kids.

    Tenant background
    The tenant is a self-employed builder and her wife is unemployed. After the above incident I did my own investigation around the tenant and went and spoke to his previous two landlords. I found that he was kicked out from his previous place as they misbehaved with the landlady. They were living there under an informal arrangment, basically sharing a house. However, the landlord before that gave me a lot of information. The tenants were evicted from there and ran debts of about £16,000 in unpaid rent. He advised me that the tenants were very smart and knew how to game the system so he advised me to deal with maximum caution with the tenants. I also found out that they receive housing benefit. The tenant seems to be very relaxed and completely unconcerned about their behavior or not paying rent at all. Since March they have never come to me to talk about anything except abusing whenever they wish to.

    Landlord behaviour
    In the first month of tenancy, I would just speak to the tenant and get a few things fixed such as window blinds. However, after they started abusing us, I would take inspection appointments through the letting agent. I managed to get one of them booked in and saw the property in March. However, I tried another one in May and they didn't acknowledge any of the dates I requested to inspect the property. Since then I have never visited the property although it is next door. I read online about these scenarios and since June started sending rent chase and tenancy behavior letters to the tenant under certificate of posting. I also send them the same signed letter through gmail with a read receipt and I can see they are reading the emails. In my all my letters I have been asking them to meet me to talk about their financial situation and offering to help them with tenancy issue.

    Next action - Section 8 under 2 months rent arrears or wait for the till the tenancy expires and serve Section 21
    As they are now in two months rent arrears, I am contemplating whether should I serve a section 8 now or wait another three months to serve a section 21. The reason behind that is the agent sent me a mail that the tenants are complaining about disrepair (low water pressure and hot water), intrusion of privacy (landlord looking through doors, windows and garden into their property) and harrassment (shouting at them and that they had to call the police).

    I acted upon these complaints and sent a letter to the tenant asking about the specific nature of their water problem in order to fix it and offering to put a high fence to avoid any views from either side and frankly rejecting their harrassment claim. However they have not responded to any of my letters.

    I am concerned that if I put a section 8 and they do a counter claim (which I am sure they would)
    1. would the whole possession process take so long that it would have made more sense to wait for section 21
    2. that the judge would side with the tenant as it is difficult to defend on issues like harrassment and hence I could attract even more losses
    3. how does the counter-claim get investigated during the possession hearing so that I can take any counter-measures now

    Thanks for your help and sorry for this long post
    VJ

  • #2
    I'd be issuing section 8 and 21 now. Why wait?

    Go with the S21 though for the reasons you already know.

    Comment


    • #3
      Are you insane? Remove the link to the Homelet report at once.

      Comment


      • #4
        Through what authority (documented, prior to start of tenancy) is wife's company Landlord? Some might wonder about tax fiddling. Who is authorized to sign on behalf of company?

        What is your formal, documented, position with the company that permits you to act for it?

        Me, I'd fire agent today.

        Next time, 6 month tenancy.
        I am legally unqualified: If you need to rely on advice check it with a suitable authority - eg a solicitor specialising in landlord/tenant law...

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by theartfullodger View Post
          Through what authority (documented, prior to start of tenancy) is wife's company Landlord? Some might wonder about tax fiddling. Who is authorized to sign on behalf of company?

          What is your formal, documented, position with the company that permits you to act for it?

          Me, I'd fire agent today.

          Next time, 6 month tenancy.
          There is an agreement between us (original owners) and my wife's company (landlord) giving them rights to let the property. It is just a piece of paper. I am the company secretary on the company. Does that have any bearing on the case?

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Mrs Mug View Post
            Are you insane? Remove the link to the Homelet report at once.
            I am sorry if I broke any rules of the forum. I have removed viewing rights to the link

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by JK0 View Post
              I'd be issuing section 8 and 21 now. Why wait?

              Go with the S21 though for the reasons you already know.
              I don't think a section 21 will be enforceable as the fixed term is 12 months and the tenancy is just into its 7th month at the moment. As I asked earlier I fear that because of tenant's lying and strong knowledge of the process from their previous eviction, they might be able to put a counter-claim on a section 8 around harrassment and disrepair which may be difficult and expensive to defend. Can a tenant really game the system in that manner without much truth in their claims

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by vishalbjain View Post

                I don't think a section 21 will be enforceable as the fixed term is 12 months and the tenancy is just into its 7th month at the moment.
                No, but it will be after month 12.

                Comment


                • #9
                  I would issue Section 8 immediately provided two months rent is owed. This will give you 2 weeks to submit a claim which should be done. From then it would be 6 to 8 week wait for a hearing. There is a chance of a counter-claim which you should defend from the onset.

                  Get a plumber to investigate the hot water issue. If there is not a problem, I would have him/her sign a simple statement detailing that (have one pre-printed)

                  Make sure you serve the notice in person with a witness.
                  Use the Govt provided Section 8 form on their website
                  Make a quick witness statement
                  Provide a rent schedule every two week (and with the notice).
                  Detailed excel logs of all communication
                  Insist on inspection (keep a log of letters). If he has refused write another letter offering a further date.

                  Make a trip to your agent to get a copy of all the communication/letters etc.

                  Remember ABC. Always be cool.


                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by fullhouse50 View Post
                    I would issue Section 8 immediately provided two months rent is owed. This will give you 2 weeks to submit a claim which should be done. From then it would be 6 to 8 week wait for a hearing. There is a chance of a counter-claim which you should defend from the onset.

                    Get a plumber to investigate the hot water issue. If there is not a problem, I would have him/her sign a simple statement detailing that (have one pre-printed)

                    Make sure you serve the notice in person with a witness.
                    Use the Govt provided Section 8 form on their website
                    Make a quick witness statement
                    Provide a rent schedule every two week (and with the notice).
                    Detailed excel logs of all communication
                    Insist on inspection (keep a log of letters). If he has refused write another letter offering a further date.

                    Make a trip to your agent to get a copy of all the communication/letters etc.

                    Remember ABC. Always be cool.

                    Thanks fullhouse. any suggestions around premptively dealing with privacy and harrassment claims the tenant could raise

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Documentation would be absolute key. It depends how T goes about it, but in essence the idea of a disrepair claim is to reduce the 'amount' owed to the L, with the 2 month limit being crucial. So to defend privacy or harassment claims, which to me are criminal matters anyhow, it would be to see if the police wish to take further action. If they haven't taken any action, then no claim can succeed. If your fence is less than 6 ft and you wish to replace it, I would do it - not for this tenant, but generally to create a divide between the two properties (bonus here is that you don't need access onto the T property).

                      The issue of hot water probably will be the one which causes you problems. I would suggest that gets sorted as soon as you can. For now two months rent is owed. Serve the Section 8 notice - it is valid for 12 months once served.

                      https://www.gov.uk/guidance/assured-...y-forms#form-3

                      [Under Section 3 - Make sure you copy word for word each of the grounds].
                      [Serve the notice with the full guidance notes and a rent schedule too]

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I'm wondering if o/p is not being 'set up' to use a section 8, so that tenant can put in a large counter claim.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Possible hence why need to be prepared for any surprises. Wait for the term to expire and evict under S21 via accelerated procedure (maybe 4-6 weeks at best) v starting now via S8. I would say get the ball rolling ASAP.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            So OP abrogated nec checks to MA, an 'employee'.
                            How was MA selected?
                            There may be a problem with LL Notices if the LL was/is a Co.
                            No harassment etc can occur if the rel part can be viewed from public land by LL.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by JK0 View Post
                              I'm wondering if o/p is not being 'set up' to use a section 8, so that tenant can put in a large counter claim.
                              am bad with acronyms. sorry, what is o/p?

                              Comment

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