Last week in Wolverhampton, a tenant who threatened her 76 year-old landlord with an imitation gun is now facing trial at crown court. In a conversation concerning the tenant’s rent arrears, the 21-year-old tenant brandished a cigarette lighter in the guise of a gun, she then informed her landlord she wanted to kill him.
With a growing private rented sector increased further by the introduction of the ‘accidental landlord’, more emphasis surrounds tenant safety than landlords. While we can appreciate the need for tenant protection, is there a need to introduce new safety measures to ensure landlord or letting agent safety and should this be an issue that the sector needs to address?
Last years terrible death of 43-year- old landlord, Peter Berkley, who was stabbed 83 times by his tenant over rent arrears, highlights a very real issue as do a number of similar incidents involving violence and intimidation by tenants. Under the Data Confidentiality Act, a previous offence does not have to be declared by a tenant, unless the letting agent specifically asks a potential tenant to fill in a CRB check. Under the usual tenant referencing system, previous criminal activities, including violent behaviour, is not picked up. Last known address’s can easily be validated for tenants by family or friends, with no mention of a previous stays at her majesty’s pleasure.
There are a few companies that protect a landlords address by offering a virtual one on tenancies etc, giving landlords some security in their own home, but it still leaves landlords and letting agents vulnerable to doorstep visits to tenants. Along with an enhanced tenant reference product enforced by ‘Legal 4 Landlords’, the legal eagles new iPhone app, helps landlords gather information on prospective tenants in the UK, and specifically, if they’ve previously been listed as tenants from hell in the past and is completely free to landlords and L4L afilliates.
If for any reason a landlord or letting agent feels wary or nervous through a tenant’s behaviour or their tone of voice, it is strongly advised that they remain calm and under no circumstances should they engage in any argument but should simply leave. If any threats are made by the tenant, they should contact the police immediately. Landlords and especially letting agents should record any threatening or offensive behaviour.
You can download the free app by visiting http://legal4landlords.com or by calling 0844 567 4001