View Full Version : Landlords: do you often have to sue/evict tenants?

02-01-2007, 12:55 PM
Just out of interest and being a new landlord already saddled with a bad tenant, are court proceedings and evictions common or have I just been unlucky so early?
Would be interested to hear from experienced landlords how often they have had problem tenants.

02-01-2007, 13:21 PM
Generally forums are skewed - they tend to report only the negatives.

The advice given to new landlords is that if they undertake thorough tenant screening, they reduce the risk by 90% through filtering out most of the unreliable ones before they can get a suitcase over the threshold.

What checks did you undertake (employer, credit, previous landlord references, etc) and did you do them yourself or use a service like www.tenantverify.co.uk? How much deposit did you take?

As a novice, I didn't encounter legal problems with my first bunch but I did get lots of time-wasting calls from prospective tenants who seemed either not to be particularly serious about their accommodation search (in perpertual 'browse' mode for the fantasy apartment at fantasy prices) or vague about what they were looking for and their income.

My ads stipulated a furnished property for long-term working tenants and I was inundated with calls from students, those who wanted a short-term lets, and migrant workers who wanted to cram themselves in like sardines and have beds in all the reception rooms to make it cheaper for themselves.

I even had one guy offer me substantially less rent and requesting that I take out the furniture, to boot, thinking that would justify making the rent cheaper for him. Really - he was genuinly baffled why i wouldn't reduce the rent if he bought through his own furniture - it hadn't occured to him that I would face greater expense putting it into storage on top of the large rent reduction he thought would be due.

However, that's all part of screening them out with a pre-set criteria for the ideal tenant and having a checklist of questions ready when they make contact to guage if they are suitable.

I did, however, lose money through an 'avoidable' void by waiting for a group of tenants to complete the paperwork and forward the deposit to me. They kept insisting it was being sorted out, that they were really keen, were definately moving in and all was fine and then eventually admitted that one of them had changed their mind and they couldn't afford to move in. I lost at least 6 weeks waiting for them and going through the re-letting process again.

I now have a firmer, less flexible approach which means them a short deadline to come up with the tenancy application form (to form the basis for the tenant checks) and deposit and keep the viewings taking place until the AST is actually signed.

And while full tenant checks are a blessing, they aren't infallible - those with addictions are adept liars (as I have found out) and you are unlikely to identify all of those with anti-social tendencies.

Tenant screening seems to be the key and following your instincts - the signs were definately there for the prospective tenants that dropped out and the tenant that had an addiction and I have learned that you should never give tenants the benefit of the doubt or be swayed by a story.

02-01-2007, 14:09 PM
I agree. New landlords are at risk from "experienced" tenants.
Consider tenancy insurance (eg MARAS) to improve protection?

02-01-2007, 14:33 PM
I think you have been unlucky, especially since you did everything "by the book". If you offer good quality accommodation through a competant Agent, it's very unlikely that you will end up seeking eviction through the Court.

Your other thread suggests that you have a professional bad tenant and I'd certainly be asking your Agent about their checking procedures. Generally you should be fairly safe with tenants who are employed and/or have assets. this is because you have a reasonable chance of recovering arrears through the Courts. Also, most people don't wish to go to Court or to have a CCJ against their name.

As Beeber says, thorough tenant screening is the key. Of course there are good tenants who haven't got good jobs and/or assets and in those cases the screening has to be at least equally thorough, but different. You'd probably look for a Guarantor and you'd need to know a lot more about the tenants personal history and character - otherwise their hard luck might become yours. When things go wrong in such cases, the Courts aren't very useful. You will get your property back eventually but you're likely to lose at least several months rent.

There are of course lots of relatively minor problems like damage due to carelessness, eg. scratched worktops or neglect, eg. overgrown gardens. Dead time between tenants is also important, but these things are all part of the game.

02-01-2007, 17:17 PM
In my experience - that's letting property for more than 25 years - most tenants are good. That is, around 95% of working and professional tenants will pay you rent on time (by standing order) and respect and look after your property - you can't really ask for more.
If you let at the bottom end of the market - namely, students, Housing Benefit tenants, HMOs, expect more problems and much more management time and effort.
It's the other 5% you need to avoid if you are going to be a successful landlord - someone is going to get them, just make sure it's not you. Having said that, if you are a landlord long emough, sooner or later, whatever you do, you are bound to get a bad tenant - it's just the law of averages.
However, you can reduce your risks considerably and tenant checks are one element in this, though by no means the whole story. As a baseline, I would not let any property without a tenant check, but read this article for other things you need to do.

02-01-2007, 18:02 PM

Bad tenants are part of the costly learning curve, unfortunately.

No matter how thorough you are, one will always find a way to beat the system.

I was plagued by bad tenants at the early stages of being a landlord. My previous letting agency was largely to blame for this as the number of houses increased, they started to reduce the level of quality of tenants to fill them.

However, when I moved to a smaller letting agency I found that over the past 2 years the quality of tenants has been great and the void periods have also been reduced drastically.

I found that the court route was slow and costly, I had to cut my losses and move on.

Don't let that stop you.

Good luck.

02-01-2007, 20:37 PM
The bottom line is -it is a risk that all Landlords have to take regardless of refrences.

However I can understand problems occuring at the lower end of the market,
its affordable rent that most people are looking for.Most of them,regardless of occupational status know the law.

Very difficult to find upmarket tenants willing to pay the price of good accomodation...they could simply afford a place of there own? This is a reality.

Saying that, I had an upmarket property rented out to a professional excutive client, the company paid the rent...no problems at all. I just got my property back trashed!

However, I aggree what 'PublicAngel.com' and 'johnjw'.


03-01-2007, 10:37 AM
Thank you for all your comments - I nervously await my next experience (that's if I can get rid of my current tenant)!!

03-01-2007, 11:11 AM
that's if I can get rid of my current tenant!!
So long as you issue assured shorthold tenancies, you are guaranteed to obtain possession of your property through legal means.

It's the older rent act tenants and assured tenants that stay in your property even past their death.

03-01-2007, 11:29 AM
It's the older rent act tenants and assured tenants that stay in your property even past their death.Oo-er. That statement conjures up an image I don't even want to think about!

03-01-2007, 12:27 PM
Oo-er. That statement conjures up an image I don't even want to think about!

No- deceased tenants can be safely interred in cemetery, and it's only the tenancies which [sometimes] linger on if members of family/cohabitants have succession rights.

03-01-2007, 23:22 PM
8 years experience of landlording (not all me but ex-partner). Had 2 instances in first 6 years where tenants "did a bunk" but he didn't bother pursuing them (no really, he just didn't bother!) and 2 trips to court in the last two years for non-payment and to defend my reasons for hanging onto deposit.

Previously as a tenant myself, had 2 instances where landlord held onto some or all of deposit, one where he'd ignored our notices that the en-suite was leaking, smelt bad and was growing mushrooms on the carpet. So we sealed up the door and left it, reminding him with monthly calls that we couldn't use it and it was still growing mushrooms. Didn't know enough about it to realise we could have made the repairs ourselves and deducted it from the rent so he just held onto all of our deposit to rectify something we'd been asking him to fix for months! Oh well, you live and learn.

Hope your next ones are better than the last ones.