The terrible tenant – a cautionary tale

I have heard about a lot of bad tenants, so why am I making a fuss about a particular tenant? I think it was the speed with which a pleasant, dream of a tenant turned into a nightmare.

On Friday, 3rd October, a landlord thought he had found an ideal tenant. She had paid a months’ rent as deposit, a months’ rent in advance and had a Guarantor. Both tenant and Guarantor passed the credit checks, so all seemed set for a settled and pleasant tenancy.

The terrible tenant - a cautionary tale Residential LandlordAt 10.45pm on the same night, the landlord received a call to tell him that the toilet had flooded. This was very unfortunate and anyone would feel sorry for the poor tenant; the landlord was no exception, so by 9.00am on Saturday morning, the plumber was at the flat and investigating. The flat was in a purpose built block and a tenant in a different flat had blocked the drains with disposable nappies. The previous tenant had had no problem and left the toilet spotless, but in the void period, the blockage had occurred. The landlord had not needed to flush the toilet as it was clean. The plumber unblocked the drain and left.

On Monday morning, the landlord received a vitriolic telephone call, telling him that the property was filthy, it was unhygienic and not fit to live in. Urgent action obviously needed, the landlord sent his cleaner around, to rectify the problems. The cleaner did not find anything, but to re-assure the tenant, he thoroughly cleaned the bathroom, disinfecting it and the patch of carpet damp from the flooding. Speedy resolution and problem solved – sadly not. Tuesday morning, the tenant’s Guarantor, her father, living 70 miles away, was on the telephone ranting and raving. The flat was infested with flies, it was affecting her health. The landlord was at a loss. He had done everything he was required to do. Was this just angry bluster and everything would now settle down?

She wouldn’t be a nightmare tenant if nothing else happened. On Wednesday morning, the landlord received a letter from a solicitor, threatening serious action. The tenant had a disability (unknown to the landlord – she had depression) and this added weight to their charges of disrepair etc. The solicitor was asking the Housing and Public Health Unit to inspect for disrepair.

This was an exaggerated situation which the landlord dealt with at the earliest opportunity. So hopefully, if it gets to Court, the landlord’s speedy actions, the inventory, the photographs taken at the start of the tenancy and statements from the plumber and cleaner about what they found, should prove there was nothing more that could be done. However, even if the claim dies a death, there will still be a lot of stress for the landlord. Probably also some cost, as where one side has a solicitor, it is perhaps as well for the other side to have one too, but whereas the tenant will be on a ‘no win, no fee’ arrangement, that won’t be possible for the landlord.

The only thing that the landlord could have done differently, which is worth other landlords considering, is that when a property is left empty, particularly in a block which may share a sewage system, always flush the toilet and run taps, just to make sure there are no problems. Having said that, there is nothing that can be done when you get a tenant who is really not interested in having problems sorted, just wants to make a fuss in the hope of stinging the landlord for several thousand pounds of compensation.

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