A Herefordshire landlord has taken to social media to explain the difficulties he has had with a building he owns.

The following content is from Robert Denny, a landlord from Herefordshire.

“A true story of our times. 20 years ago I bought a 2 / 3 bed apartment in a rural market town. I bought it because it was “unmortgageable” and was known to have a difficult freeholder. Consequently it was cheap and the potential rental return was excellent.

“I was a Chartered Surveyor, an expert property manager in all types of leases & rentals. I could weigh up the risks & make informed decisions & do the necessary repairs & renovations. We let the property to a lovely girl who looked after it as if it was her own.

“After 4 years she gave notice and left the property in immaculate condition. The rental market was a bit sticky at that time so, with some reluctance we let it to a single mother with 2 young teenage children. It was not long until she was having the rent paid by the council.

“At the 1st 6mth inspection we discovered that the youngest child, a boy was “troubled” and the mother was unable to control him. He had taken a saw and chisels to parts of the staircase – not massive damage just very annoying. The mother said she’d stop it happening again!

“We can inspected a month later and the son had gone! It transpired he had been rehomed – the mother could not cope.
Years went by, the rent was paid by the council and the place was sort of looked after. Then one day the rent wasn’t paid by the Council.

“Just a glitch, it turned out. We inspected again and found that the elder daughter had moved out. The tenant was still single and living at tax payers expense in a 3 bed apartment.
Her mental health deteriorated as did condition of the property.

“The Council’s payments no longer matched the rent – arrears began to mount. We inspected and reminded the tenant and her guarantor that they were responsible for the growing arrears.
We got the arrears paid! But it was noticeable that a “friend” had moved in.

“The heating engineer who did the Gas Safety Certs, alerted us to needles on the floor and the state of the flat. The Tenant claimed ignorance and said it would never happen again!
Two years ago a Detective Sergeant telephoned us.

“The flat was being used by a “County Lines” drug gang as a hub. The tenant got drugs in return for all & sundry kipping & dealing from there. The police wanted us to work with them: serve notice to quit, evict & secure it leaving it empty or 6 months. We were happy to help.

“In the meantime the police made a few arrests. The crazed druggies, without their cheap fixes had decided to strip the copper piping from the flat! We had to disconnect the flat’s water supply.

“Those who rent properties out will know that you can’t serve Notice to Quit on a tenant if the property is lacking in repair. The police wanted her out, as did we but because it was now becoming dangerously inhabitable we could not serve the notice we all wanted.

We informed the council who stopped paying any rent! (Thanks guys!). Their environmental health team got involved & prevaricated. The tenant was arrested & put on remand awaiting trial. The county lines gang moved back in. The police had not told us she was being arrested!

“Covid struck & the notice that we had served could not be used – courts could not evict for any reason! The tenant was released & finally the council agreed to rehouse. Great news. Turns out she had a tag on and it could not be registered to another address – terrible news!

“The Council backed away and, knowingly left a highly vulnerable, drug addicted woman in a property with no water for sanitation, cooking or heating for the last 12months.
The rent had begun to be paid but 6mths ago it dried up again.

“It turns out she had gone onto Universal Credit. Apparently the recipient gets all of the money and pays her bills from that! She hadn’t paid us nor the council tax and had shot it all into her arm!

“Today the council re-homed her. I’ll leave the smell to your imagination but here are a few photos. She was a hoarder too.

“There is a massive disconnect of powers and responsibilities that could easily have resulted in the death of a vulnerable person. We were lucky, in the end we did not have to rely on the courts evicting her. 1000s of other landlords won’t be so lucky!

A bit more detail:
The Council placed a Section 20 Prohibition Order (a registered land charge on the property) meaning that it can not be occupied or sold until listed repairs are carried out. The council had to re-home the tenant but when served 3 others were in occupation.

“The council effectively said, “they are your problem”! As the 1 month S20 Notice counted down, we heard that the police had arrested 2 of them, leaving us with the potential of 1 refusing to move out and us immediately in breach of the law.

“In the end the third man was not there. We will clear the property and carry out the repairs and consider the future.”