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Tenants’ classic ruse of claiming disrepair

In light of the recent proposals by the gofmint to link payment of LHA to housing standards, the phone call that I’ve just had has caused me to wonder yet again if they’ve thought through, or even thought about it at all, the shenanigans that tenants get up to when it comes to making allegations of disrepair.

The caller was a nice chap from the Housing Standards dept of the Council wanting to talk about a one of my properties. It appears that the tenant, who has very famously spent her LHA on other things in the past, as a result of which the LHA is now being paid direct to me, and who is in the process of being removed via the S21 process, has decided to go down the “claiming disrepair” route. She has been a particularly devious and ungrateful tenant, who has no compunction about lying, or at least being economical with the truth. And she has a young son to bring up!! I feel for the young man, I really do.

Miss H, as I will refer to her, spent the LHA at the start of her tenancy last year, and then tried to say that the Council had paid it into the wrong account etc. etc. She even used the ruse of paying in a cheque into the nominated account, then reporting her cheque book stolen, resulting of course in the cancellation of the cheque, and a further reprieve whilst she attempts to find the money!! She couldn’t produce her statement of account to enable us and the Council verify that she hadn’t received the LHA, even when I offered to pay for any cost incurred in getting the bank to give her copies. After several weeks of toing and froing, she eventually admitted to receiving the LHA and spending it – something I already knew – but as she’d run out of room to run, she gave up. I’m a sucker for trying to keep a roof over the heads of young single mums, but I suppose it comes from being a parent of young kids myself. Anyway, we came to a payment arrangement which she broke after the second instalment. I told her the tenancy would not be renewed at the end of the fixed term, and she pleaded and pleaded and asked for another chance and all that stuff – and I fell for it again….¬† sucker!! Guess what, the second arrangement fell apart after only the first payment instalment. So, I decided enough was enough and I would apply for possession of property.

This is when the disrepair shenanigans began. First she goes to another Local Authority, which was where she had been prior to moving to my property, and claimed that we had not turned up to carry out some repair to a door, as we’d agreed to do. Imagine my surprise, getting a call from a housing officer from this LA, asking me about repairs to a property that is not in his jurisdiction!! Ms H was trying to get on the housing list there and rubbishing me, so I explained that Ms H was trying it on, enlightened him about the situation with rent arrears etc., and he thanked me and rang off. Never heard from him since.

Then today, I get the call from the housing officer from the LA for the property, wanting to arrange a meeting at the property due to the “concern that the tenant had expressed about some damp issues in the property”.¬† It was not unexpected, and I had a good chat with the officer, and gave him the facts about the matter, which he was unaware of. Ms H had not given him those facts, and she seemed to be picking alleged disrepair items at will or to suit. Anything to try to deflect the authorities from her misdeeds and blame the landlord. She obviously knows the system and how to work it, but still can’t get it round her head that she’s no match for me and can’t get around me like that. In the word’s of the Dragons in the Den “she’s out”.

And just as we came to the end of the conversation having arranged a date and time to meet at the property, the officer mentioned that another T in same LA had reported disrepair. Now, with this one, I am really surprised – they even claimed they didn’t have a CP12!! For goodness sake… They claimed that lock on front door isn’t working properly, a socket is broken, the joint bar for the newly laid laminate is not done properly, middle bar of gas fire not working … I didn’t hit the roof, I just told the nice officer that as an accredited landlord, I’d know better than to put someone in a property without a valid CP12! and if the fire was not safe, my Gas Safe plumber would have capped it off. He then says to me that “you obviously know what you are talking about and know what is right”, etc. etc. and we agreed on a way forward. Anyway, guess what, my dear tenants had recently missed a topup payment…. and looking for an excuse.

So, when will tenants learn that alleging non-existent disrepair will not remove their responsibility for paying rent? and if they don’t pay rent, they limit the Landlord’s ability to carry out their responsibility. If there is no rental income, what is the Landlord supposed to use for effecting maintenance and repairs – cowrie shells? monopoly money? And when will they learn that reporting bogus direpair is not guaranteed to enhance landlord-tenant relationship? Tenants like these almost make the word “compassion” a dirty word to even consider.

And all this even before the gofmint’s proposed¬† Landlord Feedback Website is put in place. If tenants cry foul at whim now, what are they going to do when there is an official website in place, licensed by the gofmint, for the sole purpose of bashing landlords? When will the gofmint learn that tenants need educating on their responsibilities, and giving them rights without emphasising the responsbilities that come with those rights is tantamount to legalised abuse/theft, call it what you want.

Heaven help us all.

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    Posted in LHA, Maintenance, Tenant Behaviour.

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