[Ben Reeve Lewis wonders what is worse …)
I was standing in yet another Dickensian nightmare of an HMO the other day, interviewing tenants with nary a written tenancy agreement nor a rent receipt between them while the EHOs went off noting the absence of fire doors and windows with metal bars on.
I’ve seen worse
As usual everyone one of us on-site said the same thing “Well I’ve seen worse” and we have but it got me to thinking that there must be a ‘Worse’ property at some point. A place where we can actually say “This is the worse place I’ve ever seen” and yet nobody ever does.
I think it’s probably more accurate to say that none of it surprises us anymore.
All enforcement officer types have a photographic black museum of atrocities on their smart phones dotted among the holiday snaps. I specialise in pictures of toilets that would turn your stomach that I happily trot out at dinner parties when I’ve had a few, to the understandable disgust of the other dinner guests.
I have a nice one of a plastic chemical toilet with mice in that was used by three women and their kids. I’d show it to you but I doubt Tessa would publish it.
Bad landlords in Burton on Trent
London isn’t the only place which abounds with housing conditions that would render you speechless. Enforcement teams in Burton on Trent have received 400 complaints of rogue landlords and crappy homes in the past 12 months.
And the same TRO style nonsense also abounds in the area, the article saying:
“An ‘alarming rate’ of tenants do not hold tenancy agreements and are often unaware of who their landlord is, or where their rent goes.”
Why am I not surprised?
When the council gets involved and tries to license or generally just get involved the response of these types of landlords turns to threats and illegal eviction for the tenants having brought down the wrath of the local authority. That’s if they aren’t on holiday, maternity leave, secondment, sick leave or ‘Working from home’.
Attitude magazine reported the case of a landlord who abused his gay tenants and continued to do so even after they had left the accommodation.
Olly McClellan and partner Scott Cole’s landlord allegedly followed them to their new home, dumped bags of rubbish outside of their door and left a note saying “Sleep well, ugly poofs”.
I must admit I haven’t seen that before, but as I say, I’m not surprised anymore.
AirBnB and lawbreaking
The Residential Landlord’s Association have had their knives and their calculators out this week for AirBnB and similar portals. Landlord Today reported on the findings that 41% of London properties listed on AirBnB were multi-listed, meaning the owners had more than one property, indicating that holiday home swapping is not what is actually going on.
The RLA report noted that rogue landlords were targeting the site which showed a 38% increase since February with 12,744 properties growing to 17,593.
The scam is to advertise 90-day holiday lets which (attempts to) deny tenants normal protection on the pretext that itisn’tt a tenancy, just a holiday let. I wrote about this new scam a couple of weeks back.
This also flaunts regulations in that real holiday accommodation shouldn’t be for more than a total of 90 days per year without needing planning permission.
The RLA’s (and Anthony Gold’s) David Smith said:
“Given the pressures faced in the capital it is important that properties advertised as being available for more than 90 days a year are genuine holiday lets with appropriate planning permission. Otherwise, as well as taking rental stock off the market for those looking for somewhere to live, they are also putting tenants in a vulnerable position without all the protections offered by a tenancy agreement.”
David also points out that landlords whose properties are sub-let without their knowledge could fall foul of the rent to rent checks and HMO licensing breaches so it’s quite a serious issue and getting more widespread by the minute.
I expect to see more of this as word gets around.
OK I’ve kicked rogue landlords around enough in this week’s newsround, what about rogue tenants?
Dirty tenants leave properties in a mess
Writing in Property Reporter Warren Lewis has caught up on new figures from deposit protection schemes showing an increase in claims on deposits where outgoing tenants leave the property in need of a full clean.
Apparently a rise of 50% over the past 5 years.
Howard Lester of Balgores Property Group said:
“At a recent check-out, the property was left in a disgusting state. The tenants had not cleaned the oven for months and it was caked with grease and spills on the hob and on the inside. Bags of rubbish were left in the kitchen and the worktops were filthy with grime. The carpets were heavily marked with pet excrement and numerous spills”
Yeah but I’ve seen worse Howard. You should take a look at my collection of toilet bowl pictures. Invite me around for dinner and I’ll run them past you.
A chance for Merseyside tenants to improve their credit score
Tenants on Merseyside have a new service available that could help improve their credit score in the form of The Rental Exchange backed by Experian to bring tenants in line with mortgagors where payments are recorded against your credit history.
Didn’t Experian introduce a similar scheme a few years back?
Anyway, estate agents Karl Tatler is the first to offer the Rental Exchange initiative to tenants signed up with them.
Mind you, ever aware of business I note that head of lettings Dave Seed isn’t bothered by how this could benefit the tenants:
“Landlords will benefit from our partnership with Experian -These tenants will have a greater incentive and motivation to pay their rent on time”.
Anything that can protect landlords from the marauding, Mongol hordes of private tenants rampaging through their properties trailing a pack of Howler Monkey’s in mud covered boots through the kitchen just because they can.
What made me smile this week.
Well, actually it was Tessa’s article from a couple of days back about the “How to rent” booklet, a requirement since the introduction of the Deregulation Act came in.
I work in housing law, I take it seriously and I think it’s a good thing but every now and again I’m struck by the occasionally surrealist turn of the bloody thing.
I think it was Lord Denning who pointed out the difference between an ordinary mind and a lawyer’s mind when he said “An ordinary person would say ‘Look, there are some brown cows in that field but a lawyers mind would say ‘Look. There are some cows in that field that appear to be brown, at least on the facing side”.
As my beloved Frazzy says to me regularly when I try to explain a legal conundrum from my day job “Yeah but it’s all just bollocks isn’t it?”
See ya next week.