When a tenant has a problem the landlord pays for it – is that really fair?
I had a very busy week at LRS last week and I thought I would share some of the stories tenants tell me with you. I talked to lots of people about the importance of referencing but one of the conversations that specifically hit home for me was a conversation that I had with a lady landlord (aka landlady) called Sophie.
Sophie phoned me to ask me what she could do about her property being repossessed by her mortgagee because she cannot pay the mortgage due to her tenant who will not pay the rent or move out. Furthermore, as she was unable to afford a solicitor and was also a novice, she had issued the wrong paperwork at the wrong times with the wrong date which lead to the Court keep throwing it out.
I listened to Sophie’s story and wondered how we can allow this to happen in our society and as the story unfolded I realised that the real story here is about how our laws protect the morally unscrupulous, how we have turned our backs on the real victims and why our mortgage lenders in the UK are negligent when giving out their products by not offering their clients the best help and guidance available..
Sophie’s father had died and she inherited £31,000. She was a single mum and nurse with a static income and pension so she decided that she was not going to squander the money. She wanted to invest it to give her and her family a better future and surely a better retirement. So, after lots of consideration, she decided that the stock market was a bit too risky, premium bonds had, had their day and interest rates offered no reward to savers and because she enjoyed creating, she decided to buy a property, invest her money and get a 20 year BTL mortgage to support her new investment.
Sophie settled on a three bedroom house in Wales which was 3 miles from her home and about the same from the Hospital where she works and after purchasing the property, Sophie went in and decided to spend a little more time and money making sure the property was very homely for her new tenant spending on new curtains, carpets and even a new oven and cooker pack. She had the patio decked over and put in an outside shed with a new mower so the tenant could look after the lawn… All Sophie needed now was a nice tenant with a family that wanted and needed a nice home.
The property was advertised and she also put the advert on the canteen wall in the hospital. She was approached by a lady who worked in the hospital’s kitchen. She said she was looking for a rental property and that she, her husband and her 8 year old son would love to view it. The viewing was set up and they all fell in love with the property and decided to make it their home.
Sophie took all their details and did the checks through a local estate agent who helped her and charged her £100 for all the references. The references came back and all the employers’ references were ok, the financial reference had no CCJ’s but it had shown a default on a credit card. The tenant explained that it was a glitch in their payments when her husband had not got paid for a job and they lost £3000 but they had worked to pay it back and they were all ok now and back on track.
Sophie went online and got a local inventory company to carry out the inventory, she got a gas safety certificate, registered the tenants deposit and did everything right to give this tenant a lovely safe home and then 3 months into the tenancy the bomb shell came when she stopped receiving the rent.
Sophie tried to call the tenant to see where the problem was and was confronted with the tenant shouting down the phone at her that it was alright for Sophie taking all the rent but her husband had walked out on her and left her with nothing, she was on anti-depressants and that meant she was off work sick and the bills were mounting. The tenant then slammed the phone down on Sophie and never answered it again and refused to answer the door. When Sophie made enquiries at the hospital about her tenant, she was told that her tenant had done this before when her husband statrted drinking heavily and had left her and that like this time, the tenant was appointed a legal aid solicitor through the CAB, possibly the very same legal aid solicitor this time as last time that now is telling Sophie to back off or face harassment charges!!
Sophie is fighting with no money, apart from her own nurse’s salary, to try and evict this tenant. She has been unable to meet the mortgage and is going to end up losing her property. She also stands to lose her £31,000 that her father left her and with continual costs mounting up from her own solicitor, she and her family are starting to struggle to pay their own bills.
This problem is not that this is a bad tenant, as anyone can end up in this situation, and if the first landlord had registered her on LRS then she would never have been able to get into Sophie’s property. But, all of that is in hindsight, however, the real problem here is that every day this tenant’s life got worse, she was allowed, YES ALLOWED AND SUPPORTED by the law and free legal advice to drag Sophie and her family down into the same depths of despair as she had fallen into.
Quite simply, Sophie’s tenant’s marital problems and her husband’s drinking problems have now impacted on the life of others with devastating effect and had Sophie simply been able to evict this tenant as soon as they failed to pay the rent then Sophie could have saved herself, her inheritance and her family from what now seem inevitable, financial ruin?
My question to those who rule us and campaign for tenants’ rights is; how is it we are permitted to create laws that let this happen to another human being when all they wanted to do is better themselves, better their families and try and help others. Sophie was not greedy, she was not a con-artist or a big business entrepreneur, she just wanted to invest in something that would get her and her family a better life in the future. Every day these vile eviction laws allow tenants such as these to make their problems their landlords; they allow tenants to bring down people like Sophie, by continually pounding her into the ground until she loses everything. To allow this in our society is an utter disgrace against decency.
Why do the mortgagees of this country not insist or at least bringto the attention of their BTL landlords that they should join and use LRS, that way they would help all their clients from passing these tenants on to another landlord who in turn by taking them will end up not paying their mortgage? They have 100’s of 1000’s of mortgagees that they could help buy telling them about LRS. We buy a shirt and it has washing warnings/instructions, we buy a vegetable and it has eat by date warnings, we buy a car and it has an instruction manual and then we buy a BTL house and we are never told about the best tool in the box to use to prevent us taking a bad tenant, LRS.
Why when landlords are being told to help with immigration problems or be fined, being told to help with anti-social behaviour tenants or be fined, get all their properties to almost hotel status or get fined, is the government not giving a little back in helping landlords like Sophie evict tenants who don’t pay their bills in weeks and not months… Why do they think it is better to charge good landlords for extra licensing so they can control the bad ones instead of working with LRS and it’s members to avoid the problems I the first place.
Why is Landlord Referencing being ignored by the media when it is evidently the most powerful instrument ever created for landlords and letting agents to enable them to be the gatekeepers to stop bad neighbours moving into our neighbourhoods destroying our communities? Good tenants benefit from good neighbours surely that alone must be worth promoting.
I think the real question we should ask politicians, councillors, corporate companies, mortgage lenders and the media is “Why do you not promote or use something that will be the obvious cure to the problems that you preach to us every day that you want to cure”
The real question has to be, Oh Why! Oh Why! – Indeed.
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