Landlords and letting agents in the UK are facing rising numbers of ‘tenants from hell’, according to the Association of Independent Inventory Clerks (AIIC). With the backdrop of a continuing difficult economic climate, there is a plague of bad tenants who are causing unprecedented problems, it says.
One recently publicised case involved a family that included five children and 14 large dogs which turned a once loved four bedroom family home in Lincolnshire into a stinking wreck. There was dog faeces, urine, rotting food, hundreds of flies swarming in the kitchen, torn rubbish bags and clothes strewn all over the house. Two of the four bedrooms had been turned into kennels and dog mess was embedded in the walls and floor. The family were evicted after accruing £7,000 in unpaid rent.
‘We are seeing a rise in the number of bad tenants and have been shocked by the damage and neglect we have found in properties and their grounds. Time and time again we see major damage,’ said Pat Barber, chair of the AIIC. This includes damage to carpets, furnishings, skirtings, door frames, and front and rear gardens full of rubbish. Old white goods, car parts, rusty bikes, scooters, pushchairs and hoovers can be left. Other problems include tenants that sublet without authorisation, pets in a property without permission and nuisance tenants who hold rowdy late night parties and have a stream of shady and noisy visitors, day and night.
‘We had a recent case of a middle aged woman who lived in a two bed roomed cottage style property for several years. The landlord was happy collecting the rent and never heard a word from her. On check out day the place was completely trashed. A couple of doors were literally pulled off their hinges, badly cracked and splintered. Large areas of wall paper had been torn away and there were several holes and burns in carpets. A mattress was left in the garden soaking wet from a recent rainfall and the place was generally filthy,’ explained Barber. ‘The landlord was shocked. She had given notice to the tenant as she wanted to sell the property but the disgruntled tenant obviously wanted to make things as difficult for the landlord as she could,’ she added.
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The advice to landlords and agents is firstly to make thorough and detailed checks before taking on a new tenant. Secondly, make visits to the property every three months, so that you can check its condition. ‘If you fail to do this, you could be hit with severe and costly damage and find it uninhabitable for any new tenants, causing a void period while you repair and refurbish the property,’ said Barber.
She added that the AIIC is committed to excellence and professionalism in the property inventory process and works hard to ensure that all landlords, tenants and letting agents understand the importance and benefits of professionally completed property inventories.