Paul Shamplina, Director of Landlord Action is well aware of these serial non-payers.
He said: "They are often in cahoots with other people who help them produce false references and they normally have one good bank account which shows regular money going in.
"I would always advise landlords to get sight of at least three most current months’ bank statements, giving proof of a regular salary being paid, what date it is paid, other living expenses and, more importantly, evidence that they have been regularly and currently paying their rent.”
Lucia Amati became a victim in January 2008 when she let her London flat. The tenant paid the first month’s rent, then nothing, something which Ms Amati later learned was a regular pattern for this particular tenant.
Ms Amati had been the perfect landlord in that first month, arranging for work to be carried out at her tenant’s request.
However, this was to be the only time either she or her agent had contact with him who, when he was challenged about non payment, claimed not to be the tenant at all, but his twin brother and also cited identity theft as a reason for not paying.
After two months, Ms Amati’s agent contact Landlord Action, a tenant eviction service which has successfully evicted 13,000 rogue tenants in the past 10 years.
Landlord Action set about the process of court proceedings, however, the tenant knew exactly how the system worked and neither paid up or left.
He eventually left the day before the eviction date, eight months after he had moved in, owing £6000 in arrears and costs of £350.
He had already arranged a further tenancy to start on this date and, true to form, he paid the first month’s rent then, again, nothing.
The landlord of this property, who asked not to be named, was left feeling appalled and powerless to make an immediate eviction of a tenant who had no intention of paying the rent.
He said: "This tenant has, in essence, been stealing from me for the past six months, causing me considerable emotional stress and financial difficulties with my mortgage while I, as a law-abiding citizen, follow the frustratingly long eviction process.
"I am saddened to know that serial fraudsters such as this can brazenly continue to use and abuse the system without care for the effect it has on landlords, their families or their agents."
Once again, the tenant left the day before the set eviction date, owing £6400 in arrears and costs of £608.25.
Shamplina said: "Under current data protection laws there is no bad tenant register, although private companies such as Landlord Action do hold their own list of rogue tenants.
"Although you can get a register of people with CCJs, unless a landlord has taken possession action in the past and actually enforced a money order, these don’t get registered at all, leaving people such as this tenant free to rent again."
Landlord Action’s Top Tips for landlords
1 Obtain references
2 Ask tenant for at least three months bank statements
3 Ask their employer how long they have worked for them
4 Use a credit referencing service
5 Seek information, utility bill of tenant
6 Speak to previous landlords
7 Does the tenant have any assets?
8 Obtain a copy of the tenant’s passport
9 Obtain the tenant’s National Insurance number
10 Secure a guarantor (for example, a parent)
11 If you use a Management Agent find out about the company
12 Do they have a large management department?
13 Ask to speak to some of their landlords
* Landlord Action offers a Three Step fixed-fee service and gives free advice to all landlords who call 08707 652005.
Alternatively visit its website at www.landlordaction.co.uk
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