Special Features

How to be a horrible landlord

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11th March 2016
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Many years ago, when me and my Mrs first started looking for a flat to rent together, our only experience of dodgy landlords was my even dodgier impression of Rigsby from Rising Damp.

"Ahhh Miss Jones" - still got it.

Anyway, we found our first 'palace' together. It was the ground floor of a terraced house in a part of town that prompted my mum to buy us extra locks for a house moving gift and was owned by a Machiavellian old bugger that I'm just going to refer to as Mr S. Not that I imagine he'd ever read this, he was knocking on 80 when he was our landlord and having to fork out for a computer would probably have made his head spin faster than the unusual electicity meter he had kindly fitted for us.

Despite looking like something from a Werthers Original advert, Mr S was a crafty old sod that loved money.

While inspecting the flat and signing all the forms (reading them, exactly the same way that you don't with iTunes terms and conditions) I asked if we could have a look in the back yard. After worrying about the state of the fences I spotted an old Raleigh bike leaning against the bin. Noticing I was looking at it, Mr S asked me if I had a bike. "No, I don't actually Mr S" I said. "I havent ridden one in years."

"You never forget!" he chuckled and signaled for me to get on it. I rode around the back yard for a bit, much to the amusement of my wife and leaned it back against the bin.

"You want it?" Mr S asked me. "You'd be doing me a favour, I don't know what to do with it?"

"Honestly? Are you sure?, I mean, yes I'd love it thanks. Thanks very much Mr S that's great!" I beamed at my wife.

"My pleasure son." said Mr S and we all went inside to finishing signing everything.

We moved in and the following week, Mr S turned up on the doorstep to collect the rent. I handed over the agreed amount and it was as this point Mr S informed me that it was £20 light.

£20? You know, for the favour I'd done for him by not making him remove the last tenants bike from my garden. He'd bloody sold it to me without me realising.

This was only the begining. Our damp problem in the back room was referred to as a 'water feature' in one heated argument and when we complained about a massive ants nest on the property in the summer he just laughed and said "I should charge you more for pets."

After enduring his wily ways, surpise inspections and erratic rent collections for 8 frustrating months, we parted company. Losing the deposit (as expected) because we didnt give him the required notice and just wanted to get out, but it was worth it.

And that was that.

Although Mr S was MY worst landlord ever, he probably wasn't THE worst, as we'll see...

Katia Goremsandu

The 65-year old Bulgarian currently stands accused of being Britain’s worst landlord after she was convicted of an impressive seven housing offences in eight years — all while receiving thousands of pounds in housing benefit from her tenants.

Goremsandu currently tops the Ministry of Justice’s record of landlords prosecuted for providing poor quality or unlicensed homes, however, she claims she has been persecuted by her local council and her properties are deliberately vandalised by tenants envious of her wealth.

Goremsandu is the director of a property company registered in Kensington. Company records list her address as an apartment in a rather fetching Georgian villa in Bayswater, west London. At the time of writing, she owns eight properties in the capital, three of them run-down bedsits in the north London borough of Haringey, most of which have been financed with buy-to-let mortgages.

In an interview with the Guardian she said: “The mentality of a homeless person or the person who doesn’t have work or a property is ‘why should [the landlord] have [a property] and I don’t. And they bash it, they break it. It is a well-known fact. It is a state of mind. They punish you for being a landlord.”

we are the victims and we cannot take any action against the tenants. My places are vandalised periodically, alarm systems are broken. It is a war between the landlords and the tenants and they begrudge the fact that we have property."

My health has deteriorated and my finances have suffered. I am being victimised and harassed. That is the God’s honest truth."

Fergus Wilson

The notorious Fergus Wilson, who kicked out 200 families on benefits from his properties to replace them with Eastern European migrants, once said coldly of his decision: “I have taken the decision to evict all families with more than two children and also three-generation households.

Most of our houses in Ashford go to childless couples. However, after a couple of months there are four, five, six children and I have to evict the family. The tenancy has been taken by deception. We have had a number of eastern European families slip in under the radar with four, five and six children. We have had no British tenants with three or more children for some weeks. They have been evicted as I took the decision to no longer take housing benefit cases. All those British tenants with three or more children have long gone.

We’ve found [migrants] to be a good category of tenant who don’t default on their rent.”

Mr Wilson once told Channel 4: “I feel sorry for battered wives who have come to us because we’re very much consigning them to go back to their husbands to be beaten up again.”

Nicholas Van Hoogstraten

Infamous businessman and property magnate Nicholas van Hoogstraten gives most dodgy landlords a run for their money.

A judge in one of his many court cases branded him as a "sort of self-imagined devil who thinks that he is an emissary of Beelzebub", and his devilish landlord behaviour seems to back this up. Van Hoogstraten was quick to send in heavies if rent was late or he wanted tenants evicted. He once tore the roof off a property to get rid of the tenant, and one lady came back from hospital to find that her home had been left open for looters to take what they wanted.

The controversial millionaire once described Zimbabwe's tyranical President, Robert Mugabe, as "100% decent and incorruptible",  and remains close to the government of Zimbabwe, where he is now said to be the biggest landowner.

In 1980s, he acquired more than 2,000 properties during the housing boom and described his tenants as "filth". Van Hoogstraten faced multiple charges for harassing tenants in west London. He was accused of cutting off hot water and electricity supplies, kicking down doors in the middle of the night, and throwing tenants’ belongings into the streets.

However, it wasn’t just tenants that were terrorised by him. In 1968 he was jailed for paying a gang to throw a grenade into the home of a synagogue official and was given further prison sentences for handling stolen goods and trying to bribe prison officers.

In 2002 he was sentenced to ten years in prison for the manslaughter of businessman Mohammed Raja, who was killed by two men allegedly working for Van Hoogstraten after Raja had threatened to sue.

Van Hoogstraten was later acquitted, but was branded a psychopath in court and the dreadful way he treated his tenants cited as proof of his propensity for violence.

So there you go. Come back Mr S, all is forgiven.

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