A landlord who is owed £14,000 in rent arrears and is in the throes of trying to evict his errant tenant has warned others to use professional letting agents to protect their investments.

The tenant, a former friend, has always been on benefits that were originally paid directly to landlord Max Ferzoli until a few years ago.

Problems started in 2020 when he stopped paying and Ferzoli tried unsuccessfully to get the DWP to revert to direct payments. Civil servants refused to switch to direct because they said Ferzoli didn’t have his tenant’s consent to do so – a common problem LandlordZONE has highlighted many times before.

Ferzoli served a Section 21 followed, with Landlord Action’s help, by a Section 8 in March 2021 and finally got a possession order last November.

As the tenant just stayed put, he has the bailiffs ready to step in next week, but the frustrated landlord reckons his tenant’s past history and unpredictability mean it might not go to plan.

‘Awful situation’

“We started out as friends and I didn’t take a deposit – based on trust – which was admittedly amateurish,” he tells LandlordZONE. “It’s an awful situation – I’ve pleaded with him to pay me the money and even let him off paying a rent increase as a favour but it didn’t help.”

Ferzoli, who’s self-employed, already has possession of the downstairs flat at the property in Hounslow and when his tenant leaves the upstairs flat, aims to convert it into an HMO so he can spend some money on updating the electrics and then get a better return.

However, he’s now reluctant to take any more benefit claimants: “Another tenant recently left me with £7,000 worth of repairs after trashing the property which cancelled out the capital appreciation,” he adds.

“I plan to only use letting agents in future and do most maintenance myself to save money. It might be cheaper not to go through an agent but if it all goes wrong, it’s more expensive in the long-term.”

11 COMMENTS

  1. Agreed . I use a good agent and pay for full maintenance, as it covers inspections, dealing with all communications, as well as tenant vetting, deposit protection, rent collection, right to rent, booklets, notices and also organising Electrical and gas safety certs , record keeping , data protection, tenancy agreements, (ie all legislative requirements .J It also helps when you have a tenant that needs help to move somewhere else (eg because they can no longer afford the property or circumstances change). Essentially gone are the days when you could just be an accidental landlord even for friends in need. That is asking for trouble , risking fines and criminal liability if something goes wrong, as well as rent arrears, rent repayment orders , evictions and putting your capital asset at risk. etc. No matter what the rent, it cannot ever outweigh the risk of being a naive landlord. Even though I have full property management I still spend a lot of time dealing with a few properties and ensuring agent does what is required. Renting property is not the easy ride it once was, it’s also very tax heavy, and not for those easily stressed. If I had my time again I would have done only ISAs and pensions. Much less hassle and probably more lucrative after tax.; But that is with the benefit of hindsight.

  2. Never use a LA unless you have no alternative.

    Self management is always the best solution if achievable.
    2nd best choice is to use a LA

    First thing is don’t take on DSS tenants.

    If you do NEVER have rent paid directly.

    Insist the tenant opens a CU account and have the FULL CONTRACTUAL RENT paid from the DWP into it and then from from the CU to the LL before the tenant gets their grubby mitts on the UC.

    That avoids any ‘clawback’ issues.

    Of course a tenant can require the rent to be paid directly to the tenant.

    If that happens the LL should immediately issue a S21 and S8.

    This because the LL will know there is trouble ahead.

    This LL should avoid any DSS tenant.
    If not possible then selling up would be the wiser solution.

    DSS tenants just aren’t worth the hassle.

    This LL is clearly clueless!

  3. I have rent paid direct to Letting Agent by Universal credit but they did a review this month and decided they weren’t paying the housing costs, well they paid 1p, yes that’s right, 1p! It’s a joke. UC won’t talk to landlords unless you’re a social landlord, it’s an impossible situation. I have issued a s21 accelerated procedure in December as never thought UC wouldn’t pay and now I can’t claim for the arrears. Who would be a landlord? . And don’t get me started about tax now MI is not longer deductible.

  4. My experience of using a
    Letting agent should put you off tenant did not pay 8 months. I then went through all the court processes and got an eviction order. Only to find out the tenants had left months previously, the letting agent had not bothered to check. Poor Lettings agents has cost me about 8k

  5. The headline could equally be “Don’t use a letting agent to avoid getting stung like me’ warns landlord facing £14k arrears.
    I welcome the trend towards the sector being more “professional”.

  6. As above, the article is nothing to do with using an agent or not, but one of knowing what you’re doing and not falling for some of the common pitfalls. In my experience, some agents really don’t do anything for their 10+% other than forward the rent the tenant actually pays on to you when/if it’s paid and arrange for tradespeople to come and do poor quality (from my PoV) repairs if that’s part of the package.
    There may be some that are proactive, but I bet they are a minority.

  7. Having a letting agent won’t change the legal obligation of the tenant paying rent.
    Ultimately, as the article points out that the landlord failed to do the basic checks on the tenants including taking a deposit. Business is business regardless of connection.

    Hope this is not a disguised article for the lettings agency industry.

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