Landlords Beware!!! A cautionary tale

Had an interesting eviction case recently which highlighted the ease that a well-practiced tenancy fraudster was able to secure tenancy after tenancy after tenancy.

It all began several years ago in a very affluent area where the tenant in question, a lady of some means, was not getting along with her neighbours. Things eventually came to a head and her local London Borough secured an ASBO against her to prevent her from upsetting future neighbours, where the terms of the ASBO included every London postcode for a period of 10 years! Honestly, I’m not kidding! This information was all uncovered after we became involved in the case.

The problem at hand was that the lady in question was not paying her rent. She was a shade under two months in arrears at the time we got involved. In addition, she appeared to have swallowed large chunks of the Deregulation Act 2015. She was very adept for a mature lady, informing us that the landlord had not complied with the 2015 Act. She said he could not evidence that he had served the prescribed information on her, that she had been misled into accepting the apartment and that her life had been made a living hell.(Are you starting to get the picture?)

The landlord, having done a bit of research himself, noted that her landlords reference appeared to be from a person who it was rumoured she was in a relationship with. Further enquiries, through HM Land Registry, provided a name of owner for the previous property that was not her supposed previous landlord – not outright evidence of fraud, you don’t have to own the property to be the landlord, and maybe she was his lodger and their relationship now platonic. Of course, he could have been her landlord through a rent-to-rent kind of arrangement which is so common these days.

However as suspected, it was not the most innocent of situations in reality. We managed, through social media and good old dogged determination, to find the real landlord and owner – not before contacting his cousin first, who had an identical name! And guess what? Only the previous year, directly before taking up the current landlord’s tenancy, our genteel lady was evicted for rent arrears of more than £4K. Bingo! We even had the court order to prove it.

Apparently our professional naughty tenant had been doing this kind of thing for the past six years! So, if you are a landlord who sometimes feels altruistic and likes to give a person a chance, maybe this might encourage you to do a little more questioning….?

This is what she would typically do when she needed a new tenancy:
Say she was returning to the UK after many years living abroad – her husband had recently died (he actually died many years earlier). Consequently she would not pass traditional credit checks or referencing.
She would offer to pay the deposit and several months rent up front.
She was very well spoken and groomed – which helped her always to be very convincing.
We were able to evict her by using a s8 notice seeking possession and citing grounds 8,10,11,12,13,14, and 17. I’m glad I didn’t have to read that out!

I suspect that by now she might have found her next landlord victim. Unfortunately, tracing agents and debt recovery agents that were subsequently used had very little success in finding anything of any note on her anywhere in the UK – which almost fits with the story of being abroad a long time – except that we know that she left a trail of unpaid rent and devastation across London spanning at least six years.

A cautionary tale indeed….