Monday, 17 November 2014

What can you do when it all goes wrong as a landlord?

I've updated the blog this week (May 31st 2015) as we're in-between tenants and after an unpleasant discussion on face book where I was called selfish.

There's plenty of information available if your a tenant, but very little about your rights as a landlord. I'm fed up as a landlord as being seen as the problem by tenants.
We're not running a business, we're letting out our home, that we still pay a mortgage for, at an additional charge. We pay insurances, fees to the rental agent for managing the property. We have to pay for electrical and gas safety checks every year, maintain the property both inside and out. When a tenant chooses to leave we have to in most cases repaint, pay new fees to find new tenants and usually have the property empty with no rent for around 2 months. 
As a landlord while we're living over seas we have to pay hefty fees to transfer money back to the UK and while the tenant is sitting there paying my mortgage for me, we're not actually making any money off it as don't forget there is tax to be paid also and then money has to be found in our host country to pay our rent to someone else to pay their mortgage.
There have been a few conversations on face book and twitter recently, where I've been called selfish for not siding with someone when the landlord has given notice because he wants to sell the property, that we're raking in money and swanning off to live abroad and might need our house back to pay school fees. So what? it is after all our house, which we've paid for, through hard work.

We appreciate that not all tenants are bad tenants and I'd like to see people accepting that not all landlords are unscrupulous , selfish and not caring, but after our experience with our first tenants, the money we lost and the amount we now have to pay for insurance to protect us should it happen again, we no longer accept tenants who require a guarantor or receive any form of income support support including housing allowance. We are not being selfish, it is our right.

Even more alarmingly and what prompted this update was someone of face book admitting to writing their own references.

My advice is to write the debt off, if you do get anything back it’ll be a long time coming, if at all. I’ve yet to find out if we’ll get any money back from our tenants or guarantor and it’s been an extremely stressful process, but since accepting we will probably never recover our money, we’ve been able to move on, put the past behind us and make sure we take the necessary precautions to ensure it never happens to us, or others if we can be of any use, again.

I had a rental agent and a contract and the agent carried out reference and financial checks and got  a guarantor. I thought they were doing us a favour, turns out the guarantor was needed not a ‘just in case’

In January 2013 I was contacted by the gas insurance company who informed me my land lord safety certificate was out of date as the tenants kept missing appointments, so I contacted the agent who said he’d sort it out and added ‘I’ll make sure January’s payment is made promptly. It was mid month, so I checked my bank account to discover no money had been received since October 2012 and that for the previous year it had arrived late every month. On contacting the agent I also discovered they’d received late payments via the guarantor on more than one occasion and that before they had bought the company the first agent had been paying me on time every month out of his own money.

So where now and this was my first mistake I took advice from the agent who said not to issue eviction notice until they’d caught up with missing payments and apologizsd for a ‘computer error’.

My contract states I give 2 months notice which was issued in February and then the agents sold the business and in the process the tenants were given 3 months notice and a date of May 24th 2013 to vacate the property.

The tenants moved out August 8th 2013 having not made a single payment.

I didn’t need a reason to issue a Section 21a eviction notice. I then had to apply to the court, which I did by flying to the UK to sort as my insurance company said I wasn’t covered for eviction. A month later I discovered I was covered and after a lengthy battle they finally agreed to pay back my court costs and appoint a solicitor. Due to the hassles of living in South Africa and managing issues from the other side of the world, it was decided I would remain in the UK until the bailiffs application had been issued and I spent 4 months in the UK sleeping on sofas at friends and family.

The application to the court gives 2 weeks for the tenants to respond as to why they cannot move out, once this date is up notice is given which can be up to 6 months.

The court gave a date mid July and if the tenants didn’t move out by then I could apply for an application from the bailiffs to forcibly remove them from my property. Once the date of August 12th was given I returned to SA for a few weeks until I returned to clean and remarket the property.

I’d received annual inspections, the last one being in February 2013 and it did not state the level of dirt or repairs needed to the property. I also had to replace an oven at the property in the April as the door ‘fell off’ and if I didn’t I would be in breach of contract and legally the tenants could withhold rent…that’s a laugh.

In the meantime I went to the Worcester Hub and Festival Housing for advice, technically I was homeless and what they told me still makes my blood boil. They have advised the tenants to remain in the property until they receive the notice of eviction from the bailiffs before they can be rehoused, if they leave before that date they’ve made themselves homeless and won’t be rehoused.

When I asked what was on offer for me in regards to accommodation as my 14 year old was returning to the UK in August I was told I hadn’t secured housing for myself therefore I’d made myself technically homeless and wouldn’t be offered any accommodation. I had a 6-bed house I was trying to get back into, still paying a mortgage and not receiving any rent.

On completion of the exit inspection we sent local companies in for quotes which totaled over £5000 to clean and redecorate the house, plus the cost of the over grown garden, oven and window cleaning. Both companies that cleaned the oven and windows stated that these were the worst they’d ever seen and when I told the oven cleaning guy the oven was only 4 months old, he nearly passed out.

Having decided it was cheaper to clean the property ourselves I flew to the UK in September 2013 for 3 weeks and with help from friends @stephiemalverns @niffer62 and @brackett1 and my neighbours children and a steam mop from @bissellclean and hubby flying over for the last week we got the house ship shape and back on the rental market, with new agents, no guarantor and indepth reference checks after turning down people on housing benefit, people who had been backrupt and people who needed a guarantor.

In total we spent £2500 on repairs, paint, general DIY and preofessional cleaners, plus £700 on two return flights plus replacing items such as wardrobes, desk and a stolen chest freezer and the new tenants didn’t move in until December 2013, so with lost rent and a mortage to pay we were out of pocket over £8000.

So now to recovering the money from the guarantor and a solicitor who went on maternity leave.

Despite having sent all the receipts to the solicitor and them having the proof of missing payments from the first agent and the exit report. I’ve since had to send detailed photos to justify my need to spend so much on cleaning materials and to illustrate the damage to the walls, doors and ceilings.

I’m still waiting. The contract states the guarantor is liable for rent and damage and it also states that professional cleaning is to be carried out on leaving the property. Oven, carpets, windows, curtains.

I don’t know what the delay is, but when I add this snippet of information you’ll understand why this has gone on so long.

The solicitor was unable to locate the tenants or the guarantor, she hired a tracing company who came back with zero results.

I turned to google and face book and found them, addresses, emails and contact numbers within a day.

The current situation is we are waiting to hear back from the solicitor to say we will accept the £2,000 offered by the guarantor, without prejudice. He states we received the deposit back which covered the professional cleaning costs and the £2,000 covers the rent outstanding. He has failed to acknowledge the stolen items, the court costs, the damaged items, including a solid wooden door and furniture. Let alone the building work, complete redecorating of all the rooms, new toilet seats, etc, etc, etc.

We are accepting the offer as I fear we won't get any more. I think we are quite lucky that we got off so lightly.


  1. Bloody hell, makes you weary of ever letting out a property !

    1. we've re let it since, but due to our 'diva' demands we go 3 months between tenants