Author Topic: What action can you take against tenants who destroy a rental property?  (Read 6392 times)

Offline Duffield1

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My chav neighbours have moved out, but have left the property they were renting in a right state - they were four months behind on rent, and paid only a 500 bond, but the damage they have done to the house and garden will cost thousands to repair.

What action can the landlord take against them, that wouldn't end up costing him more money?  Criminal damage?

Offline siasl

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There's either small claims court (limits potential damages to 5,000, and must be against an individual), or a proper civil action which will require a solicitor to prosecute.

See here for small claims:

The difficulty may lie in tracing them - he'll only be able to prosecute if he can find them, and some tenants can be rather lax in registering their presence with the local councils...

There's a good leaflet here:


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Do any of them actually have regular income?

If not, then there might be little chance of getting anything back, even if they could be traced and legal action were pursued.
5 per week for the next 47 years isn't going to help put the damage right in time for the next tenants.

There might be some comeback if they were placed via the DSS or other government body; he'd need to chase that up with them directly.

You could also try getting hold of a copy of the "Pacific Heights" DVD.  Set in USA so the legal aspects are different though.
« Last Edit: 03 March, 2011, 03:27:35 PM by Wumpus »

Offline P-Kasso2

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A friend of mine had a second home on the coast of the Romney Marshes that got totally trashed.

Kitchen cupboards were even chopped up and used as firewood. An 18th century sea captains chest went
the same way. As did his 15 foot sail boat.

He was, to say the least, decidedly definitely not happy.

The police were called (hilariously, the local cop was called Sergeant Ripper! I kid you not).

My friend Dick had a signed inventory signed by the tenant on moving in.

He had hours of videos that had been shot in the year or two before he rented the house out that showed
the condition before and also showed the items that had been wrecked and the sheer scale of the damage.

Despite all this, and knowing where the family had done a flit to, when it came to court the magistrate decided
that the poor ickle chav tenants could not pay anything back and just gave them a short but suspended sentence.

Fortunately, under the terms of his household insurance, Dick had had to notify the insurance company that
the property was being rented out.

So he got the money for repairs and replacement but that only goes part way to assuaging the sheer heartbreak of seeing
a home you love being trashed.

So, there may not be very much you can do after the event except to treat the whole experience as a learning curve.

And make sure next time that you are adequately insured against the risk.

Signed inventories and 'before and after' videos are also vital...not much good as advice after the event, I know, but it may help
next time it happens.
« Last Edit: 03 March, 2011, 04:05:31 PM by P-Kasso »
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Offline AtMyWitzEnd

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I agree. The most likely answer is nothing. This is a common problem for landlords. Almost certainly the people didn't leave a forwarding address anyway. I've seen quite a few properties put on the market in terrible condition because the landlords couldn't face / be bothered to repair the mess left by tenants.

It is possible to insure against malicious damage (and theft) by tenants but it normally only covers the contents but many landlord policies only cover accidental damage.

Offline KentPDG

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All correct, but the wise landlord realizes that in most cases a property is not trashed overnight.  It takes a good while to burn up all the cupboards, a big chest, and a sailboat.

A wise landlored visits his properties periodically, or has an agent who visits in his behalf.  Often, particularly with tenants of dubious character, the rent is collected personally on a monthly or even weekly basis.  If undue damage is observed, the owner immediately contacts the police, and lodges a charge of criminal mischief.  He then visits his attorney, to determine whether and how the people can be evicted; and perhaps to initiate a lawsuit for damages against them.

The matter of how often and how much the owner has a right of access to and inspection of the premises is controlled by laws.  But nowhere is the landlord utterly barred from the premises until after the tenants have vacated.  Because tenants often vacate without giving any notice, but for such laws the inattentive landlord might have to wait several months before determining that they have gone, and then discovering the damage done.