This story has an update following a court case – see below.
A landlord fears he could lose his home after claiming to run up £30,000 in rent arrears.
Max Christian (pictured, above), from Stockport, signed up his three-bedroom Camden flat with Camden-based London Residential in March 2019 but only received the first quarter’s rent. The agency refutes this (see below) and say he did this only on a tenant-find basis.
Christian tells LandlordZONE that his nightmare began later that year when he discovered the original tenants had moved out and one of the letting agent’s employees had moved in.
“I eventually got them out by having their two Mercedes ticketed on the private forecourt and got the flat sold STC last year through another agency,” he explains.
“Then just before completion, new squatters appeared and new high-security locks were installed so I couldn’t sell it with vacant possession. London Residential then rang to suggest I use them instead to sell the flat, as nobody else could access it.”
These people have now been in his flat for nearly a year and Max is owed more than £30,000 in rent arrears.
He’s handed the firm a Section 8 with the help of Landlord Action, but the situation is also complicated by the fact that the tenancy is in the name of the letting agent’s co-founder who lives in the States and therefore beyond the reach of the county court order Max obtained. London Residential says this tenant used to be a director of the company but is no longer involved.
Max says Landlord Residential has twice acknowledged that the second set of squatters are under its control – which the agency denies – once by offering to sell the flat with vacant possession and once by saying they won’t leave until forced by law. A recording of the conversation is available on YouTube.
Adds Max: “I just want my flat back so I can sell it and pay my bills as I have a mortgage on my own house too. I find it incredible that the law protects their rights more than mine, but I’m not going to give up.”
The experience has left him vowing never to let out a property again and resigned to the fact that the rent arrears will never be paid.
London Residential says…
The agency says it disputes the claims made by Max Christian:
- Mr Christian instructed our firm solely on a tenant find basis – a very important point – and elected to manage the tenancy himself when his tenant moved in during October 2019, and not in March 2019 as alleged. Mr Christian was responsible for full dealings with the tenant from the commencement of the tenancy in October 2019.
- The tenant paid his rent for the initial six months, not three months as stated in the article.
- When the initial lockdown started in 2020 he fell into financial difficulty at this point, not in 2019 as stated by the article. Negotiations between the Landlord and tenant failed to find a resolution and the tenant retains possession of the property.
- London Residential have never been in control of anyone living in this property and this seems to be a case of the tenant allowing guests to stay in the flat.
- As the Landlord has given possession of the property to the tenant, it is not a case that this property is being squatted in. The reference in the Article to squatters is pejorative and inflammatory the purpose of which is merely designed to damage the reputation of London Residential. A Section 8 notice has been served on the tenant but by a different firm of solicitors than mentioned in the article.
- The Tenant was briefly a Director of London Residential 15 years ago but since has no involvement with the company and any suggestion that he is involved with the business is incorrect.
- Whilst the article references that Mr Christian is taking legal action to recover possession of the property he had previously attempted to force this issue by changing the locks to the flat which the tenant has reported as a matter of harassment. There are clear laws in place that govern the eviction process and it is unacceptable for any Landlord to take matters into their own hands.
Max won his court battle with the firm and was awarded full rent arrears of £48,750 at the County Court in Central London on 9th November 2021.
Deputy District Judge Greenidge considered the defence and counterclaim, which included the text of this LandlordZONE article and London Residential’s accusation of locks being changed.
He dismissed the counterclaim and also awarded Mr Christian his legal costs along with mesne profits of more than £4,000 – damages for trespass by illegal occupants who are not tenants. The flat continues to be squatted.