What would happen if you wandered in Marks and Spencers helped yourself to some lunch and walked out without paying?
Do you think you would get away scot free without paying or would one of those beefy security guards feel your collar?
You may even end up in court with a criminal record, at the very least you would be made to pay for the goods!
Even rogue landlords face hefty fines and penalties and are put on the “rogues board”.
Well did you know that tenants who decide not to pay their rent often walk away without even so much as a slap on the wrist.
Take my friend Alice, a pleasant lady who always sees the good in people. Alice has a tenant – Miss X who decided she no longer wanted to pay her rent even though she’s on a very generous salary. Miss X even thought it was all perfectly civilised to carry on living in Alice’s apartment.
So Alice couldn’t report Miss X to the police unlike M & S, instead she had a long drawn out and expensive eviction process she had to go through. To make matters worse the beloved sofa and dining suite that were part of Alice’s mothers estate disappeared with Miss X. Alice reported her complaint to the police, missing furniture and nearly nine months rent unpaid. The response from the police “sorry, nothing we can do, this is a civil matter and not a criminal offence”,
So if you steal even as much as a bag of crisps from M & S it’s a criminal offence whereas stealing thousands from a landlord it is only a civil matter.
Landlords have no option if they want to try and get the money owed to them, they have to take their ex-tenants to Small Claims Court. Even if they succeed in getting a County Court Judgment against the tenant, there’s no guarantee the landlord will receive any money.
According to the National Landlords Association, the past year saw 35 per cent of landlords experience rent arrears – 29 per cent had their property damaged by tenants and 13 per cent experienced anti-social behaviour.
While all this is going on, landlords still have to carry on paying the mortgage and maintaining the property while the tenant lives rent free.
Organisations, renters and their sympathisers have little or no sympathy for the supposedly “fat cat” landlord in this position, but let’s look at the bigger picture.
For every non-paying tenant waiting for the bailiff to arrive before they vacate, there’s a good tenant complaining about the lack of rental properties or the cost of renting has risen. Many a wronged landlord finding themselves thousands out of pocket will look to recoup any losses once they have possession of the property. So the rent is increased for the next tenant.
If the Government is keen on protecting tenants from rogue landlords, why not protect landlords from bad tenants too?
To my mind, it’s only the same as shoplifting and should be the same crime – NOT A CIVIL MATTER.
Until next week