Career Rent Criminals Hijack Coronavirus Laws
A lettings agent has branded an ever increasing band of tenants, as career rent criminals who are using the pandemic’s law changes to get away with not paying their rent.
The director of a leading agent, Marc von Grundherr says: “The situation for landlords throughout the pandemic has been shocking and while eviction notice periods have now been reduced to four months, many continue to lose thousands in rental income every month due to career rent criminals and the long delays suffered while trying to evict them.
“We’re talking about professional crooks who have taken severe advantage of legislation designed to support those who are actually suffering financially and are in need of support.
“We had one particular case where a tenant moved into a new property at [London’s] Television Centre in October 2019 and only ever paid the first month’s rent and nothing thereafter.
“The eviction hearing was on March 30 this year and we couldn’t get a bailiff appointment until August 25. The poor owner suffered a loss of over £50,000 plus to add salt to the wounds the tenant stole all the landlord’s furniture.
“We have another property we are yet to repossess as the tenant has claimed on three separate occasions when the bailiff has been scheduled that both her and her partner have COVID-19. Therefore the eviction can’t take place adding a further two or three weeks for a new bailiff appointment in the process.
“These guys are utilising every trick in the book and so the reality is that many evictions are stretching on far longer than a year.”
The agents has estimated that when the government first introduced the six month period before eviction notices could be issued in the first throes of the pandemic, the UK average monthly rent was around £985. Those unlucky landlords who unknowingly housed rogue tenants would have lost £11,280 rental income over twelve months.
The agent also says rogue tenants’ financial impact of rental arrears is not the only loss that landlords could have to suffer as there are also other costs incurred by their actions.
‘Career rent criminal’ tenants are likely to cause major damage to properties with landlords having to pay out many thousands of pounds to refurbish and refit kitchens and bathrooms, as well as possibly having to replace windows and to redecorate; to rectify issues the cost to landlords are in the region of £20,000+.
There are of course further legal costs of an average of £3,000 to either reclaim damages or to ‘force through’ evictions. The agency calculates that the average cost for a landlord to kick out a rogue tenant could be as much as £35,558.
He also says that for London landlords the cost to evict rogue tenants because of higher rental values could be on average £43,574.
von Grundherr adds: “Rogue tenants are a landlord’s worst nightmare and unfortunately this nightmare rarely ends when they are finally evicted. More often than not, the property is in severe disrepair when it is finally repossessed and this is sometimes done out of spite, or simply to strip the property of materials they can then sell on.
“What’s more, the landlord will have usually suffered arrears prior to starting the eviction process and is still required to make mortgage payments out of their own pocket during a period where their property is generating no income.
“Unfortunately, legislative changes in recent years and particularly during the pandemic have focussed solely on the wellbeing of tenants and so the backbone of the UK rental market has been further weakened as landlords are left high and dry to pick up the pieces.”