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Landlord Blues: Renting out the house from hell

I am using this blog to publish extracts from my third book on the subject of dealing with tenants from hell. The aim of the book and blog is to give people an insight into what the life of a landlord can be like and to provide tips for making landlords’ lives easier. This is done by describing real experiences of our worst-case scenarios. This should help you avoid getting into the same fixes.

Getting in the bailiffs
11 May 2014 @ 17:58

At 10am on 10th December, I received a call on the mobile. It was from a  ‘private number.’ 
‘Hello, I’m ‘phoning from the council. I’d like to speak to Mr Lynch.’ 
I knew it would be about  Jason, and replied, ‘I’m Doctor Rebecca Lynch. You can speak to me instead as he isn’t here. I presume it’s about Hill View.’ 
‘The usual caseworker isn’t in today, so I would like to discuss it.’ 
The usual gobbley-dook ensued, with her keeping a calm voice and insisting on calling me ‘Rebecca,’ which frankly is rude in this context, and I got more and more angry. 
‘We’re just chasing up the paperwork,’ she kept saying. 
‘What on earth does that mean? We gave him his notice three or four months ago and you’re chasing up paperwork.’ 
‘Well, did you tell him that he has to get out by tomorrow?’ 
‘Too right I did,’ and I went through the fire extinguishers, the smashed-in fire alarm panel, broken doors, not being able to fill the other vacant room. 
‘Don’t be taken in by him,’ I said, ‘he can play the part alright, come along all soft, but he’s a flipping nightmare. A drunkard and a druggy and I know what you’re doing at the council; constantly telling him to hang on as long as he can. And in the meantime he stays at our house, costs us thousands and has time to do even more damage.’ 
In other words, ‘I know your game, Missy. So don’t come the friendly, helpful council official with me, because, to me, you are the enemy. You’re on the side of these useless, drunken wasters.’ 
I got her off the 'phone as quickly as I could, having gone back to bed after a late night and an early start with the kids. It was a bloody annoying way to come around.
That day I planned to double-check the procedures for instructing bailiffs in that area as they might differ to the policies we were used to in Cardiff. And on the Wednesday morning I had to traipse up to the house, when I could be doing something else and see if the waster was still there, which of course he would be. I then had to pay the £110 bailiff's fee. It was frustrating that we weren’t allowed to make the appointment five or six weeks earlier, as we'd known then that he wouldn’t get out. 
Instead, we had to wait until the court notice date had passed. It was like someone had sat down and worked out a system whereby the tenant could have five or six months in your house, despite the official legal notice being for two months. Anyone not in the know, who read up on it before becoming a landlord would think it only took two months. 
In the meantime, Adrian was away working on our Spanish building project so I was hoping he wouldn't get too much hassle over there and would get a bit of a break, after having to face going up cleaning up after these filthy men constantly. It was demoralising. I got all worked-up just having to take control of a small part of the process while he was away. 
Of course,  Adrian also had to be careful about what work he did while  Jason was still there. He got Peter’s room redecorated and re-carpeted and locked it and then got the landing and hall painted. If  Jason got them a bit dirty while he was still there, they could be touched up fairly quickly. He didn't get the hall and stairs re-carpeted, for obvious reasons (after Peter bled all over them, the fire extinguishers were let off on them and they were covered in all kinds of irremovable stains). I texted Jason:
Me (12.30, 10th December):
So are you getting out tomorrow or what?
This would probably lead to a bombardment of texts about his problems and having nowhere to go etc., despite having had months to sort it out. He was a poor little victim. It wasn't his fault he spent 17 thousand pounds in two years (his inheritance) on drink and drugs. This was something that happened to him (when they talk about alcoholism and drug addiction being an ‘illness’ they play right into the hands of these ‘victims'). 
And here came the answer:
Jason (12.34, 10th December):
No I have no where to go till next week sorry.
Me (12.36, 10th December):
Where are you going next week then and what date are you going?’
I was also about to ask when he was going to pay the money he owed us, but decided against. The first thing was to get him out. The problem when they say things like ‘I’m going next week,’ is that you don’t know whether to hold off paying for the bailiff or not. We’d been fobbed off so many times like this with the tenant always playing for time. Sometimes we believed them and saved ourselves the fee; other times we paid for the bailiff who then didn’t have to actually come, so it seemed like a waste of money. Sometimes though it was the letter from the bailiff which stirred them into action. They don’t want some big, burly bloke coming to chuck them out physically and they magically find somewhere to go the day before. 
I tried to keep the pressure up, texting again after the ‘phone call from the council (he was presumably sitting next to the woman as she fed me the usual empty nonsense). I told  Adrian about the conversation with the woman and he said, ‘Was she saying things that didn’t make any sense and didn’t mean anything?’ 
'Uh, yes.
'Oh, I know that one,' he said.
Jason then texted that he thought he was going to ‘Maerdy,’ but wasn’t sure and would be ‘told’ the next day. He was a baby, sitting passively until others sorted things out for him. 
On the 11th of December: I ‘phoned the court, first speaking to the bailiffs, who said I needed to speak to ‘enforcement,' who would then pass the case to the bailiffs. The woman in enforcement said it wouldn’t really make any difference to the dates if we waited another week to see if he left, thus saving us the bother of making the application and more importantly the £110, that we would of course never get back from  Jason.  She said the bailiffs were nice and would prioritise individuals over mortgage companies and try and squeeze us in as soon as possible, but it would be the second week of January at least before an appointment, so another month. I had to not let  Jason or the council know this or they would tell him to sit tight until then.



Like 1


Sheriff said:
12 May 2014 @ 10:27

Did you know that by transferring the order for possession to the High Court for enforcement (the order remains in the County Court) you could have seen the tenant evicted within days?

It is hoped that in 2015 reviews to the enforcement industry will see restrictions lifted so that troubled landlords can use the services of an HCEO instead of having to wait weeks for the county court bailiffs like you had to.

eggcup said:
12 May 2014 @ 19:47

Hi Sheriff. No I don't know anything about that. If it helps get tenants out more quickly when they're not paying and playing up in other ways it can only be a good thing. So thanks for the comment.

Sheriff said:
12 May 2014 @ 20:02

No problem. Have a read of the link which gives details.

Section 42 can be used either before the order or after but is dependant upon the Judge accepting the reasons. The most common reason is significant delays by the County Court Bailiff.

We carry out around 30 of this type of eviction every week.

Glad I could point you in the right direction but hopefully you won't need us.

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