A landlord who fought to evict his ‘tenants from hell’ left such a trail of ruin that police have classified it as criminal damage.
He believes that the tenants, who came via a letting agent, supplied false references.
Landlord Glenn Schofield had gone to great expense and trouble to refurbish the property, a four-bedroomed house in Darlington, before the tenants moved in.
He will now have to do the work all over again – and more – having also lost more than six months’ rent.
Damage included carpets pulled up, windows smashed, the kitchen ripped out, banisters left hanging, paint splashed across walls and the toilet blocked and overflowing, while a ceiling gave way after lead flashing on the roof was removed.
The damage was done by the time Mr Schofield successfully gained an eviction order through the courts to remove the tenants.
Mr Schofield said: “It’s almost indescribable. I’ve done everything by the book, but I don’t understand why it has taken so long.
“I don’t know how much it is going to cost to repair and I don’t even know yet whether the landlords insurance company will pay out for it.
“If they don’t pay out, then I’m really in the mire.”
Community beat officer PC John Forster said: “Normally when there’s a problem with landlords and tenants, it tends to be resolved as a civil case.
“However, here the level of destruction is so high that it’s criminal damage without a doubt.
“It’s just reckless destruction. The upsetting thing is the level of pride Mr Schofield took in the house, and then someone comes in and trashes it throughout.”
Mr Schofield said problems began shortly after the tenants moved in last June. When they stopped paying rent in February, he began the eviction proceedings, which have taken him over six months.
The case highlights the difficulties landlords have to secure possession when they do things through the book and go through the county courts With many county courts due to close, the length of time that a lawful eviction takes could stretch even longer.
Angry landlords say the long and ponderous procedure, which is riddled with loopholes that work in the tenants’ favour, leaves them powerless to prevent tenants exacting their revenge by trashing properties.
Last year, the Residential Landlords Association delivered a petition to Downing Street calling for a fast-track eviction process.
Jonathan Daines, Founder of LettingaProperty.com commented on the damage to Mr Schofield’s property saying that
“It is extremely frustrating for landlords who set out to provide a safe and comfortable home for tenants only to have it thrown back in their faces. There are unfortunately, rather unscrupulous people out there who will take advantage and it is very important to try to weed these people out before you had over the keys to your property.
If you are going to carry out your own tenant references, DO NOT allow the tenant to produce the references themselves.
If you have an employment reference, make sure you search the company on the Internet and call the number on the company’s website to speak to the tenant’s line manager or HR department. Do not accept references from employers if they come from a generic hotmail or gmail email address.”
If you decide to instruct a company to carry out the references, make sure they follow this simple process to minimise the risk of bad tenants.
To discuss our comprehensive tenant reference process in further detail, please call our landlord team on 0333 577 8888.