Evicting a rogue tenant takes at least nine months and costs the average landlord more than £30,000, according to research from a leading letting agent.
London letting agents Benham & Reeves claim bad tenants are difficult to evict and leave a trail of damage behind when they finally quit a rented home.
Dealing with nightmare tenants during the COVID-19 pandemic has been even more challenging as the government extended notice periods and stopped eviction cases going before the courts, says the agency.
The bills stacked up for landlords as the government left them to deal with problem tenants.
Working on an average monthly rent of £985, landlords who had to give six months notice to quit and then wait another six months for the case to go before a court, the rent loss could be as much as £11,820.
Unfortunately, many rogue tenants damage their rented homes.
- 1 The mounting cost of an eviction
- 2 How long does evicting a tenant take?
- 3 Case study: Jane and Vic Shoulder
- 4 Evicting a rogue tenant FAQ
The mounting cost of an eviction
“It’s not unusual that landlords will have to fork out thousands to refit their kitchen and bathroom, redecorate their property and even replace the windows. But, unfortunately, these costs can climb extremely high, and even the average property will require a refurb budget of more than £20,000 to rectify these basic bricks and mortar fundamentals,” said the firm’s director Marc von Grundherr.
That takes the eviction bill to £31,820 – but the outgoings do not end there.
Most landlords must add an average of £3,000 in legal fees, making the final bill around £35,000.
Grundherr added: “Rogue tenants are a landlord’s worst nightmare. Unfortunately, this nightmare rarely ends with an eviction. More often than not, the property is in severe disrepair when repossessed, and this is sometimes done out of spite or to strip the property of materials they can then sell on.
“What’s more, the landlord will have usually suffered arrears before starting the eviction process and is still required to make mortgage payments out of their pocket during a period where their property is generating no income.”
How long does evicting a tenant take?
|Stage of evicting a rogue tenant||Timeframe (weeks)|
|Organise Section 8 or 21||2|
|Section 8 or 21||26|
|Order of repossession||4|
|Instructing a bailiff||2|
|Enforced eviction by bailiff||7|
|COVID Court delays||10|
|Total||51 (11.7 months)|
Source: Benham & Reeves
Case study: Jane and Vic Shoulder
Husband and wife landlords Jane and Vic Shoulders know more than most how much evicting a rogue tenant can cost.
In January 2020, Jane, 60, and Vic, 63, let a buy to let home to a single mum who paid just one month’s rent of £750 for the three-bedroom semi in Swindon.
After an 18 month battle in the courts, the couple finally won their property back, but they were shocked when they saw the state of the house.
They claim they filled 240 black bin bags with rubbish strewn across every room. The ceiling collapsed in the kitchen due to water damage, takeaway food containers and piles of broken toys littered everywhere – and the couple even found a pair of dead hamsters among the debris.
“It was such a lovely home, but she has completely ruined it,” said Mrs Shoulder.
“Despite only paying rent once at the start of last year, we had to wait three months to start a lawful eviction.
“Then we went into lockdown, and there was nothing we could do.
“The tenant changed the locks before fleeing, so we had to pay to enter, and when we finally got back in, we were in disbelief.
“Every room was trashed. I have never seen so much rubbish.
“She refused to pay her rent, but the rooms were full of takeaway boxes scattered everywhere. There were over 100 pizza boxes, plus McDonald’s bags and other fast-food wrappers and boxes.”
Working from the Benham & Reeves analysis of landlord eviction and refurbishment costs, the Shoulders could face a bill of up to £28,000 to put their property back to rights.
Evicting a rogue tenant FAQ
What are the current eviction notice periods in England?
Landlords asking a tenant to leave a rented home on or before September 30, 2021, must give four months notice in England and six months in Wales.
From October 1, 2021, the notice period returns to pre-COVID-19 levels of two months notice in England. For Wales, the notice period is remaining at six months until at least 31 December 2021.
Why do a minority of tenants trash private rented homes?
One of the most significant incentives is landlords can do little to recoup the cost of damage caused by rogue tenants. The law does not protect their interests, and few tenants have the financial resources to repay rent arrears or other penalties.
In other cases, some tenants don’t know how to manage their lives, while others deliberately damage their homes. Cannabis farms are a good example, as floors, walls and ceilings are often destroyed growing the drug.
Can landlords reclaim lost rent and the cost of damage?
Yes. Landlords can take a tenant to court to claim the costs of damage and rent arrears, but not with a Section 21 no-fault eviction notice using the accelerated possession procedure.
While Section 21 offers the easiest route to an eviction, landlords have to take separate action through the courts to claim financial compensation if accelerated possession is used.
How can landlords check out tenants?
The best way to check tenants is to reference them before moving in. However, letting agents and landlords are loathed to give references because of libel and slander laws which can lead to hefty penalties for making negative comments that cannot be backed up.
Can I minimise arrears and damage?
A six-monthly inspection of the property will give landlords an early warning of any misuse of their properties. Tenants must let landlords or letting agents in, providing they have reasonable notice of the inspection.