The Inside Edge
A landlord has been left picking up the pieces after a tenant wrecked his property and then walked away from court without paying a penny. £20,000 of damage was caused in total rendering the property inhabitable until the damage is put right.
Teenage tenant, Lee Davis destroyed the flat he was renting in Darlington following a request to vacate the property due to non-payment of rent. Most tenants would simply accept this as a fair request, but Mr Davis was intent on going on a rampage instead.
The Judge, whilst admitting that he would like nothing better than to make Mr Davis repay the costs of repairing the property, was only able to give the defendant 300 hours of unpaid community service as punishment. He said his hands were tied as there was no way that Mr Davis could find the funds to pay for the damage. The defendant walked away whilst the landlord was left open-mouthed and out of pocket.
These problems are actually fairly common in the rental world. Often, when discrepancies arise between tenants and landlords they are settled amicably, but occasionally a tenant will take umbrage over a request or issue and set about destroying their surroundings in anger. Many of these issues can of course be avoided by carrying out thorough checks of tenants before agreeing to let the property. The good news is that the majority of tenants are law-abiding, respectful and honest and will give no cause for concern.
We don’t believe thorough checks were made in the case of Mr Davis and that if checks were made there was probably fraudulent information supplied or shortcuts taken. A thorough tenant check requires credit checks, personal character references, financial checks, and employment checks to ensure the tenant is who they say they are and that they can afford to pay the rent each month. £20,000 is not a figure that any landlord wants to think about coughing up and we think this landlord probably cut their losses and sold the property in the end. A big price to pay for not checking up on a tenant.
Any landlord who has suffered losses because of malicious damage will understand how important it is to conduct proper checks of their tenants. Of course, even a tenant that looks great on paper can suddenly turn into whirling dervish when tempers fray and there is little you can do in these cases.
In addition to carrying out the right level of checks you should also add malicious damage to your landlord insurance. Many low price insurance policies won’t usually include this as standard so it’s worth covering your back and your property.