Melissa Lawford is writing in todays Telegraph about some of the horror stories she has heard about rogue tenants.
The article can be read here (subscription might be necessary), and says:
Landlords with rogue tenants have lost tens of thousands of pounds in damages and rent and have no way of reclaiming their cash, forcing them to sell up and quit.
Margaret Longden, of Legal for Landlords, a service for buy-to-let investors, said some landlords in London have lost up to £100,000 in damages and rent arrears.
She said: “We are seeing more take out insurance, but also more and more landlords exiting the sector. That has been accelerating in the past six months. Some of them have had a horrific experience and they have had enough.”
‘They changed the locks and the police had to break in’
Jim Williams, 66, had a rogue tenant cost him more than £70,000 in damages and lost rent.
Mr Williams, who has a five-strong buy-to-let portfolio and spoke using a psyedonym, let a house in Staffordshire to a couple in 2018.
For three years, they paid their rent on time and kept the property immaculate. Suddenly, in July 2021, everything changed. “I had a strange call from the wife saying they couldn’t pay the rent that month but they would pay double in August,” Mr Williams said.
But soon, there was no sign of the wife. Next, the neighbours started complaining. One day, the front garden was filled with 60 used car tyres and a heap of clothes. Then the windows became clouded with thousands of flies.
The locks had been changed and eventually, the police had to break in. The tenant had covered everything in red and black paint – including wooden beams and panes of glass. The carpets were trodden with thousands of cigarette butts. The tenant had glued the doors and windows shut. The flies were from eight rotting rainbow trout that he had positioned around the house.
“The quote to repair all of the damage was £85,000 plus VAT,” Mr Williams said. He decided to do as much of the manual work as he could himself. In the end he spent £60,000 but it took a year – meaning Mr Williams lost £10,000 in rent.
“I have zero hope of getting any of that money back,” Mr Williams added.
The costs could have been far higher. After the police raid in September 2021, the tenant gave up possession. “Had that not happened, I would not have got him out until March or April 2022 because I would have had to go through the courts,” Mr Williams said.
Ministry of Justice data shows the median wait time between a landlord eviction claim and repossession is 23 weeks – nearly six months.
‘They had sublet my property to criminals’
Paul Derby, a landlord in the North West, spent £4,000 after a rogue tenant turned his flat in Liverpool into a cannabis farm.
The tenant had always paid their rent on time, but the neighbours were suspicious. They told Mr Derby they had never seen anyone enter or leave the property in the daytime in three months. Mr Derby sent the estate agent to investigate, who reported a whirring noise coming from the flat.
They sent a letter saying they would be making a three-month inventory check. When nobody answered, the agent let themselves in – and discovered that the tenant on the lease had sublet the property to a criminal gang. They left behind a living room full of plants and a “Dummies’ Guide” for cannabis growing.
“They had bypassed the electricity and made multiple holes in the ceilings for ventilation,” Mr Derby said.
“There is no chance I will get that money back. I have just got to write it off,” he added.
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