ADR Insight: ‘Rogue’ landlords – fact or media fiction?

Lately, there’s been a strong media focus on so-called ‘rogue landlords’ but is it always so one-sided? Our adjudicators tell us that they do on occasion see some quite shocking behaviour – by both landlords and tenants. Here’s some real-life examples of unreasonable landlord claims, recounted by those deciding cases on behalf of the DPS: 

  • One landlord claimed for loss of rent for the remainder of the fixed term of the tenancy. On the face of it this seems quite reasonable until you read the ‘notice’ they served on their tenants by email, giving them 24 hours to vacate the property. They did as they were told, but the landlord then insisted that they should still be liable to pay rent for the remainder of the fixed term.
  • Another landlord who, having received notice from their tenant, allowed a new tenant to move into the property a week or so before the outgoing tenant was due to vacate therefore denying the outgoing tenant the right of exclusive occupation of the property. 
  • And another landlord claimed a sum in excess of £3,500 for ‘late payment reminders’ when rent was paid a few days late on two occasions. Whilst it is of course accepted that there is a contractual obligation to pay rent on time, the landlord provided no evidence as to the extent of loss he suffered, or the number of reminders he had sent to get the rent paid. The landlord may well have been entitled to some reasonable compensation, but it is hard to see how a sum of over £3,500 for two slightly late payments can be justified.

They’ve also seen equally unreasonable behaviour by tenants, such as: 

  • One who left a huge amount of rubbish in the shed for their landlord to clear out; this included the decomposing body of the tenant’s cat
  • Another who rented a property and erected a completely unauthorised two-storey ‘home office’ extension to the garden shed
  • And a tenant who decided to ‘decorate’ their lounge without the landlord’s permission, using silver foil over the walls. From the photos supplied by the landlord, it looked like a dodgy 1970’s Dr Who set!

These issues could easily have been avoided if the parties had carefully read and understood the full extent of their obligations under the agreement. We’re often surprised at the number of people (tenants in particular) who tell us they didn’t keep a copy of their tenancy agreement. It’s absolutely vital for both parties to have a copy of this document available at all times for reference purposes. A quick check of the terms of the contract could easily avoid a number of the disputes which come to us for decision.

The above are examples of previous cases. Each ADR case is assessed independently by our adjudicators on the basis of the evidence presented to support the claim.