Is it Time For a Rogue Tenant Register?
Industry website LandlordZONE has called for the problem of rogue tenants to be addressed in a similar way to that of rogue landlords. Editor Nigel Lewis says law-breaking landlords “generate a disproportionate number of headlines in comparison with their size”, whilst the press tends to “expend too much effort laying into this minority of rogue landlords and too little targeting the ‘nightmare tenants’ who wilfully damage properties, avoid paying rent or run circles around the evictions process.” It is for this reason, he says, that there should be a rogue tenant register.
The National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) responded to criticism that it had not done enough to push the issue of rogue tenants. A spokesperson said, “The NRLA team works day-in-day-out to assist landlords in dealing with challenging tenants, and the harm that they can cause.”
Examples of Rogue Tenants
In January 2020, a legal firm that had worked on behalf of a landlord in Barking, Essex released photographs detailing the damage caused by a tenant’s neglect. They included a maggot-infested fridge and debt letters piled up in the kitchen. In addition to the issues within the home, the tenant racked up more than £6,000 of rent arrears and it took the landlord seven months to evict. The tenant, who turned out to be a repeat offender, had no UK assets, leaving the landlord to pick up the bill and unable to recoup damages.
A landlord in Oxford told his local newspaper in April 2021 about an evicted tenant who stole numerous items from the property before leaving. The landlord said “the tenant took with her the television, all of the cutlery, the microwave, the toaster, and even took my lawnmower. Everything had been stolen and it was completely unclean when we got there. The fridge was filled with muddy water.” The tenant was also in rent arrears and had been accused of antisocial behaviour.
A West London family discovered in November 2020 that their two rental properties had been turned into cannabis farms by rogue tenants who had broken through walls and ceilings to set up ducts. After having to break into their own properties, as the tenants had changed the locks, the family ended up spending £150,000 to remove the equipment and repair the damage left by the tenants.
How Would a Rogue Tenant Register Work?
The rogue tenant register would work in addition to the regular background checks to give letting agents and landlords additional reassurances on their prospective tenants’ histories. Any tenant with a history of causing damage, repeated unauthorised subletting or any other issue could appear on the register, informing decisions made over onboarding them in the future.
The argument for the move is that, without a clear, honest reference from every property a tenant has rented, it is easy to miss potential problems. This is especially true if the issue didn’t go to court, as the landlord did not deem it financially viable to pursue. When rogue tenants leave out an address on their applications at which they caused problems, it means that landlords don’t receive the full picture of their past.
However, some people suggest it might seem like bullying on behalf of landlords and letting agents. In addition, adding a tenant to such a register without a conviction may be legally questionable.
Rogue Landlords Register
Although there is no database for tenants, there is a Rogue Landlord Register. In England, local authorities are duty-bound to add a landlord or letting agent to the Rogue Landlords Register when they receive a banning order. The database should include the name of the agent or landlord, their contact and business details, the reason for their inclusion, the length of the ban and the date on which it expires.
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