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dennis hughes

Abusive Tenant.

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We have a tenant who is now in her 6th month of her initial AST (for 6 months) who reported to our managing agent that she had no hot water (but didn't mention heat) on Monday of this week.We have learned today that the tenant was quite abusive on that call.

We immediately contacted our gas engineer who contacted the tenant and arranged a time to call. When he did so, there was no answer.

He then received a text saying that she had been there and that he had failed to turn up.

It transpired that he had then received a number of abusive texts from her which has quite rightly led him to refuse to attend. We have asked him to retain those texts.

Our letting agent is now arranging for another engineer to attend.

We consider that the abuse to our letting agent and especially to our engineer, to be unacceptable especially as the tenant completely missed December's rent payment and we allowed a payment plan to be put in place. Whether this is adhered to remains to be seen.

We think we know how to proceed, but wonder - what would you do?

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Hi Dennis,

Personally I would get professional advice outlining my options before making anyour further decision.

I've used these guys before and they return an excellent service.

Landlord Advice UK.....a firm of eviction specialist solicitors in Crawley. (Just search the Web for them).

Speak to Sasha Charles, he knows his stuff.

You asked what I'do do...

Conrad


Conrad Paton

+44 7957 959851

conradpaton@yahoo.co.uk

https://www.linkedin.com/in/conrad-paton-424446110

 

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Dennis hi,

There may be no need to pay for the services of a specialist eviction service and I would recommend you first discuss the situation with your agent who should be appropriately trained in dealing with such tenants - that is what you pay them for.  Sadly it is not uncommon and difficult tenants are too frequent.  At present, if you have reached the end of your 6 month initial tenancy agreement you would have two options (again your tenant should have already discussed this with you) that is to make arrangements to renew another fixed term period - which under the current circumstances may not be wise as you will be locking yourselves into an arrangement you may regret later or to leave matters unchanged and you agreement will become what is technically called a periodic tenancy (many call it a rolling tenancy) which continues on a month-to-month basis going forward.  As you on an AST you have the legal right to ask your agent to "serve a Section 21 Notice" which is done on a prescribed way using a Form 6A and they will send/deliver this to your tenant.  The specialist eviction people will do the same thing but it will be charged extra for but most agencies will sort this under their normal management fees.  

The S21 gives a tenant 2 months notice that you want to take back possession of the property but this date is not technically the date you can evict a tenant - it is the date that you can submit court papers to get an accelerated possession hearing.  Your agent must also have complied with several legal requirements in paperwork that should have been given to your tenant at the start of the tenancy and possibly during it including:

1.  Issuing the EPC *

2. Issuing the correct "How To Rent" booklet *

3. Issuing an in-date gas safety cert prior to moving them in (If supplied with gas appliances) **

4. Registering the deposit with an approved scheme within 30 days of receipt and issuing correctly filled out Prescribed Information relating to the deposit as well as the specific schemes Ts & Cs 

5. Ensuring the smoke alarms were tested on the day of move in/ tenancy start **

6.  Issuing a copy of a renewed gas cert within 28 days of completion of the work if it had been renewed in the intervening tenancy period.

* should be done prior to tenancy but you can get away with issuing them with the notice if not done and if your agent does not operate a system where the tenant signs for receiving them then it would be wise to reissue as the tenant could say they had not received them and there is no way of proving them.

** Must be done otherwise the section notice could/would be refused by the court.

The whole process can take up to 6 months to get to court depending on whereabouts in the country you are (London the worst and can take longer due to delays in the court system) but can also take as little as 6 weeks.  As long as the paperwork is all correct a judge is compelled to give you authority to take possession but if the tenant has not physically left you need to employ either a High Court Enforcement Officer or a bailiff as you cannot do this yourself.

Many/ most tenants will leave of their own volition within the 2 month notice period but the information you have given tends to indicate your tenant may not go quietly.  Not paying December's rent is not uncommon as this type of tenant often feels they have some form of inalienable right to use that money to pay for Christmas rather than a roof over their head. This, combined with their attitude, could mean that they they are more savvy about their rights and may be harder to move without legal enforcement but it does not come cheap and could cost £700 - £1000 depending on cost of legal assistance and bailiffs etc.

Two final things to bear in mind - your tenant may be suffering from some form of mental illness that effects their mood swings and it may be possible for your agent to catch them on a better day.  Seek your agents advice who has experienced this situations and other difficult tenants and may not see the problem as seriously as you do.  Bear in mind that evicting a tenant can cost lost rent revenue and void periods + any damage done by your tenant as well as the re-letting fees for a new start up and so if they do come back on track with their rent and develop an improved relationship with your agent it may be cost effective to stay with these tenants.  However the omens are not promising so far I would suggest.  The other thing that may be worth bearing in mind is to take out Rent protection and legal services cover - either within your building/contents insurance or as a separate  policy.  Many good agents offer a fee to do this as part of a combined policy the agency buys into on your behalf and you benefit from their bulk purchase.  A typical policy offers @ £50,000 legal cover and varying amounts of unpaid rent (6 or 12 months/ unlimited) + 50 -75% rent on vacant possession for 2-3 months to carry out refurbishment and get re-let.  This usually cost £175 - £200 pa but increasingly landlords take this for peace of mind and you let your insurance company sort all teh eviction process at no extra cost of time or stress to you.

Good luck and I hope that it is not as bad as it initially sounds

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