Friday, 9 September 2011

Bully Boy Bailiffs

Several readers have contacted me about those new-fangled ‘eviction specialists’ and shared some of their unpleasant experiences.

By now we know that there will be no more social housing, a situation which imprisons tenants in a familiar private sector housing hell where landlords/wardens view their investment as a fiefdom or a precious heirloom, and never as a home (more importantly someone else’s home.)

Solicitors are amongst the ultimate professionals, aren’t they? They study for years incurring debt to learn the complex nature of the law and how to apply it. All that knowledge explains why they charge so much money. When dealing with legal matters, many landlords deeply resent handing over money for anything, let alone something that costs because experts train for years to protect themselves and the people hiring them.

That’s why landlords are sometimes stung after downloading and using poorly worded, dodgy documents, or worse don’t provide an agreement at all. More worryingly when confronted with problems (and there will always be problems) they are increasingly reaching for the nearest firm of eviction specialists, also known as bully boys, to harass and terrify tenants into leaving or ‘behaving’ themselves.

Ads for these gentlemen are appearing all over the place. Some are honest solicitors specialising in property services and ‘eviction specialist’ is a poorly chosen, attention-seeking term for what they do.

Others are bullies. They are largely unregulated, and offer to get rid of tenants ‘efficiently’ and ‘fast’.

One reader told me of an informal meeting with one such company. She was a newly graduated lawyer, and along with the legion of recently qualified lawyers she was unemployed. During her brief chat with the firm, which was operating at the blunt and confrontational end of the industry, she was left feeling quite disturbed: they mocked tenants, openly despised them actually and even seemed to get their thrills from intimidating people instead of using formal, appropriate legal channels.

Considering that many landlords operate on the assumption that tenants should just jump out of the property when (let’s hope metaphorically) they are shoved, and that renters genuinely have very few rights at all (apart from the right to be given notice and the subsequent legal process) this is a disturbing development. Seriously, owners can get practically get rid of tenants by saying three times: I evict you, I evict you, I evict you.

I predict a problem. I think it’s going, to get out of hand. In the near future, a tenant eviction specialist/ex-bouncer (they are often ex-bouncers) will go too far, revert to violent type and injure a tenant or worse while ‘persuading’ them to leave.

Some operators are legitimate, but you have to wonder why landlords need a gang of hired hoodlums, as opposed to using the well-established legal process, as happened to one reader, recently. Are they cheaper? Do landlords get their kicks from hanging around with rough bad boys?

Stopping this will involve strict formal regulation of a growing, emerging industry. And what are the chances of that happening?


Anonymous said...

I'll start by saying I wholeheartedly do not agree with 'bully boy' tactics to evict tenants and respect their rights.
But from a landlords point of view, can you see how it is fair that a tenant can remain in a property for 3-5 months without paying rent while a landlord goes down the correct route...during which losing the rent and racking up extremely large solicitor costs and any damages that are caused?
I want to sympathise with tenants but should a landlord have to risk losing their OWN home whilst their rented property gets abused?
It works both ways.
I'm interested to hear your thoughts.

RenterGirl said...

Hello Anon (I think I know who you are BTW...) Landlords cannot expect a guaranteed income, no matter what. Theirs is a business. They should have insurance for voids etc. And let's emphasise again: there is no excuse for intimidation.

Dazzla said...

"should a landlord have to risk losing their OWN home whilst their rented property gets abused? "

If you regard it as your OWN [sic] home, you shouldn't be renting it out.

Anonymous said...

Im calling troll on Dazzla, no one can be this stupid.

RenterGirl said...

Not a troll. Just wise. Landlords give up 'their''ownership' when they rent out a property. it is no longer their home. That's what tenants pay for.