They’re back. The firm. The management. You know – the men who help ‘persuade tenants to leave.’ I was reminded of this sinister phrase by the excellent Digs – a tenant rights group based in London. They sent me details of a firm who offer to help owners be rid of bothersome tenants. Some troublesome occupants do not vacate immediately when issued notice to quit by power of thought alone. Some stay, and must be ‘persuaded’ to leave.
Now, let’s not pretend that all tenants are angels. Let’s also accept that some rentiers are saints. Meanwhile at the far end of the rentier spectrum are the pond-life who refuse to use proper lawful method of serving notice.
So let’s explore that ‘persuasion.’ It doesn’t mean a nice lady from the days of Jane Austen in a pretty frock comes for tea for and a chat about the day you’re due to quit the property, soothed from your home by healing flute music and free money. Nor does it mean being served proper notice, timely notice of a court date and the chance to appear and counter claim. No. ‘Persuasion’ means random thugs, often former bouncers, showing up at random times to hammer on your door, then threatening to kick said door down.
This is done by firms of so-called ‘eviction specialists’ and their own ‘legal experts’ who are anything but. These self-appointed ‘experts’ are rarely qualified solicitors, let alone proper barristers. They send pseudo-legal, incoherent letters, badly phrased, unlawful demands with no backing in law, under a thick layer of intimidation or simple threats. Then they add thousands to any outstanding rent, supposedly to cover those ‘legal’ fees.
But this can be really nasty. I’ve tales of tenants being visited late at night by boorish, inarticulate thugs who bellow threats through the front door letter-box, or loudly hurl abuse from the street below. These supposed bailiffs have, I am informed, tried to evict tenants on the wrong day (ie by before the courts say they must, when the owner finds it convenient, or even when no notice has been issued.)
The group using their services the most are new buy-to-let owners. Few have any formal training, and many are oblivious to the need for a series of properly drafted official documents, even if the tenant is in arrears. These are the type of person who find me here by googling ‘Why can’t I just throw tenant scum out onto the streets.’ (Yes – that happens.)
The worst case I’ve heard involved a disturbed landlord, in collusion with his letting agents, ‘visiting’ a tenant, issuing threats but never proper notice, then employing ‘bailiffs’ to come round and try to kick open the door, until the police were called and, unusually, the neighbours intervened.
Now such behaviour is admittedly, unusual and rare, but just imagine the reverse. Picture what would happen if a the benighted tenant of a bad landlord visited them repeatedly at their home, late at night, terrorising their family, hammering on the door, demanding they were removed from a register of landlords, issuing violent threats.
The police would arrive fast, the tenant would be swiftly arrested, then convicted. Simple and without an eyebrow raised.