Today I got rather a rude awakening. Keen to get on with some work I switched my phone to silent for a couple of hours so I could concentrate.
2 hours later and I see I have a multitude of missed calls from the office and a panicked message left on my voicemail
“Sam, call me as soon as you get this message. The police have been in and they want the keys to your property”
Suddenly I am caught up in the moment – the police want keys to my large property which I converted to 4 flats 3 years ago.
I call her straight back and she gives me the telephone number and details of the police officers involved.
I call them immediately, worried as to why they want access.
The officer cannot give me full details, but can tell me they need access to perform a search at one of the flats and they have a warrant. They were planning to do a raid this morning, but having arrived at the property and seeing the beautiful antique oak Edwardian stained glass door they opted to call and ask for keys rather then the usual ram raiding approach.
Relieved that they have decided not to force their way into the property and cause thousand’s of pounds worth of damage, I was then worried if the suspect had seen them arrive this morning and then change their mind due to the damage they may cause…did that mean he may have hidden what they were searching for?? Had my old door stood in the way of the criminal justice system?!
They come back later on to collect the keys…
I hear nothing more.
So now it’s today (Tuesday) and the police call me at 10am to tell me they are about to do a drugs raid and can I confirm the location of the flat in the building. So I dutifully tell them the location.
Two hours later they call me. The tenant had actually barricaded himself in the flat, locking the flat door and leaving his keys in the door so they have had to force entry and ram down the door. They have retrieved “a large quantity of very interesting items”. They now need me to secure the door as they cannot leave it like that. Rather than calling in their contractors the police wanted to give me the option to use my own – but he needed to get there that minute.
My usual tradesman is currently on hols, so I call another tradesman who I also trust and who is able to do the job. He is halfway up a ladder and has just turned off the electricity at the property he is working on…I tell him they will have to cope without electricity – the police are waiting! He races over to the property and the police wait while he secures the property.
The police then call again to tell me they have arrested the tenant and are taking him into custody – they will keep me updated with regards how the events unfold.
But there is a twist which makes this story even trickier….
So here’s the back story:
Four months ago the electric shower at the flat stopped working. A tradesman attended and the issue was fixed. Or so we thought. The next thing we knew environmental health wrote us an official letter claiming works were required and that we had failed to complete them. This was news to me!
And so I contacted environmental health informed them of the previous repairs to the shower and that we had not been contacted again by the tenant and were unaware that the problem was still persisting. I organised that the shower would be looked at again…and so we tried. 15 missed appointments by the tenant later and we could not get in to get the shower fixed….but he was continuing to blame me for not fixing the shower and reporting me to environmental health. Environmental health decided we were bad landlords for not fixing the problem – although we had all the proof that we had tried to gain entry to fix this but the tenant had refused us without him being there…and then when he was meant to be there he then would not be there!
And so the environmental health department got a power of entry from the court so that we could gain access to the flat to carry out these repairs. The tenant was meant to meet the official, the trademan and myself so that we could fix the shower…but he didn’t turn up. As the official had the court order he was able to enter the flat. But I refused to go in as the court order did not have my name on the papers – I was not getting done by this tenant who I suspected knew the law inside out. And so after much huffing and puffing the official takes the keys from me and opens the flat door. As he does so a tiny piece of paper flutters down. The tradesman saw it. It was a piece of paper which had been balanced on the top of the door and which you would hardly notice – but it would then give the tenant evidence that we had been in the flat while he had not been there. The official freaked when he understood what the tenant had done…he seemed to realise the sort of character he was dealing with!
Anyway, the official then makes a few official phone calls and we do not go into the flat and put the piece of paper back on the door.
And then the tenant decides he’s not going to pay his rent any more as the shower has not been fixed!
So things go from bad to worse. The tenant no longer communicates in any way, shape or form. He does not respond to letters, phonecalls, texts, emails. We have no way of getting into the property to carry out the repairs…BUT environmental health are claiming “they should throw the book at me” for what I am unsure. I lose my rag. I am f****ing furious. And I tell them this. I tell them all the proof I have of all I have tried to do. I am not ignoring the problem – I have tried to do everything and more. What am I to do when a tenant continually ignores all methods of communication and refuses to open the door to contractors.
So we agree that we’ll get another power of entry to get the repairs done.
In the meantime I serve a section 21 on the tenant. I could have served a section 8 – but I know the tenant has money and I know he’ll give me the run around when it gets to court.
So the notice expires the end of this week. Having inspected the property it would appear the tenant is not looking to leave any time soon. And so I am ready with my court forms to get the court order to get my property back if he hasn’t left…but how is he going to leave now he is in custody??
Time will tell how long he is kept in…in the meantime I will just have to wait 🙁