London’s Worst Landlords

houses_16May14While we were putting together our article about Build to Rent, we started thinking that the biggest plus to the scheme is that it replaces dodgy landlords with professional, reputable companies. We also started thinking about all the times we’ve been screwed over by landlords (and letting agents; Build to Rent also removes the need for that middle man) so we asked people following the @Londonist Twitter account to tell us their stories.

Here’s a selection of the replies we got. Fairly terrifying — and sadly, from conversations we’ve had in pubs, not as uncommon as you might think. You can see more on the #ldnlandlord hashtag.

The repairs

  • @iamSim our ceilings leaked during a storm & our #ldnlandlord told us to expect that during heavy rain. Apparently it’s perfectly normal
  • @hroberson61 Our ceiling collapsed after leaking for over a year. Landlord still refused to fix faulty plumbing. Yes, it happened again…
  • @RoyaleMacDuff told that problems with damp were caused by us cooking without lids on saucepans
  • @LauraMagsGreen Pal’s had no hot water/heating for 3months, landlord lives in S.Africa. They’ve stopped paying rent to get his attn. Still no!
  • @ViciousCraig Surface mould on walls in every room. L/lord came round and smashed hole at top of each wall revealing daylight. SOLVED
  • @brazier_john Storms blew window out of the casement leaving a hole in the wall. Still not been fixed, but rent going up anyway
  • @Andreabolt had a rat in our bathroom the landlady said to open the door and see if it’ll go out!
  • @emmapentland severe damp and mould with rotting/rotted windows – “Just paint over it & shut the curtains!”

The deposit

  • @alliesolskjaer One #ldnlandlord of mine withheld our deposit as he inspected the flat 3 weeks after we left and found dust…
  • @wisemikes landlord then offered to mow lawn at tenancy end, tramped grass thru house then charged us for it from deposit
  • @C_A_R_O_caro Landlady outraged when asked to insure our deposit, claiming we should trust her bc “she’s a born-again Christian!!”
  • @forest_watcher I had a landlord who had spent the deposit I gave him and said it was up to me to find new tenant.
  • @wigglymittens Letting agents released our deposit w/o our agreement to landlady, who spent it. [We think this also falls under 'illegal'.]

The money

  • @patrickcmets started 3 tenants 4 bed house. To add 4th tenant she wanted £350 extra!
  • @EllenMcIntyre 1 month into a 6 month tenancy I was asked to leave immediately because she’d found someone who’d pay more for room
  • @Lumbo_1 charged £200 for cleaning on check out, despite them gutting the place the next day
  • @Antpocalypsenow been without a working washing machine since May Day having just forked out £150 “Admin fees” to print off our own renewal forms
  • @tommytit24 Had a landlord with bad debts. Bailiffs always trying to take our stuff. Ended up paying bailiffs & withholding rent

Ah, yes. This last one reminded us of an incident long-since buried: the landlord owned the whole building we lived in and tenants paid council tax in with the rent. Except the landlord thought he only had to pay council tax on the one building, not all eight flats. The council thought differently and sent the bailiffs round. To the tenants. Despite the council tax bills being addressed to the landlord. (Thanks again, Haringey.)

The illegal

Your landlord has the right to enter the property without notice in an emergency. Other than that, you should have 24 hours notice before they turn up. If your landlord/agent lets him or herself in without permission, they’re actually trespassing.

  • @MsAnthropia Agent would let themselves in unannounced constantly, twice while I was in the shower, once while vomiting with food poisoning
  • @btgolder Our landlord would turn up unannounced & let himself in. A houseguest once woke to a strange man standing over him!
  • @catrionahelen [landlord] was also prone to showing up unexpectedly and ‘hanging out’. not helpful when working at home.
  • @SimonSharples1 ex lived in a bedsit and asked the landlord to fix the washing machine. She woke to 2 men letting themselves in at 03:00.

The just weird

  • @jamessbruce Ex-Landlord interrupts dinner, unannounced, stores two huge boxes of incontinence pants in the hall. No explanation. Leaves.
  • @ladygraceless woke up one morn to drilling under our bedroom floorboards. Landlady had decided to build basement flat underneath!
  • @B_Mumbles Our #ldnlandlord accused of us trapping a dog in a room so we’d have to pay for new carpets. We didn’t have a dog.
  • @Travel_Rich My #Ldnlandlord comes over once a week, replenishes toilet paper, washing up liquid, takes rubbish out & vacuums. It’s very odd.
  • @philipsquire Paid rent on time, #ldnlandlord wanted to borrow an extra £50 to “buy my family dinner”. He cried (literally) when we said no.

The B&B

Who are these landlords who consider your flat their personal crashpad?

  • @travelgeekuk Landlord said I wasn’t allowed guests of any kind, but his daughter would use the house when she liked
  • @helenium we had one that used to turn up drunk when his wife would chuck him out. We refused. Obviously.
  • @Daneeeboy saw a flat where landlord lived abroad. Landlord expected to visit sporadically and for us to make ourselves scarce for her stay.

The agents

It’s not always your landlord’s fault.

  • @baileyfallon Empty flat above started leaking (gushing) through our ceiling. Agent refused to come turn water off as he was ‘out for dinner’
  • @EllenMigo I think our landlord was fine but the letting agent was a nightmare. Aggressive or didn’t respond. Very glad we moved
  • @MsAnthropia Pipes in our wall flooded downstairs, Agent blamed us for overfilling bath, put sealant round SINK PEDESTAL to fix it, nice one
  • @threedaymonk Letting agents gave me the wrong bank details. A few months later, they threatened to evict me for non-payment. After a year of wrangling with banks and Financial Ombudsman, I discovered that they had actually received the money!

The ‘for god’s sake, why don’t tenants have more rights?’

  • @saxylizbeth Paid rent on time, yet received letters advising unpaid mortgage, repossession due. Lost deposit & digs in 2 weeks flat.
  • @ginglesnuff Contract came to end and #ldnlandlord told us to leave. Why? We’d forced them to fix a structural leak causing damp and mould.
  • @EmofJohnson our landlord moved someone in before the end of our contract (we were away). Our table became the new renter’s.

The other side

Because they’re not all bastards.

  • @Swill_i_ams For balance, I rented from a lovely bloke who worked for BA & once sorted me out with a business class upgrade for nothing
  • @cyclerunner Just to put the other side of the story, I’ve rented from three different London landlords, and all of them have been really good

See also: Londoners Tell Us Their Housing Horror Stories

Photo by Kate from the Londonist Flickr pool

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  • Wayne Murray

    Always wondered how many ppl are allowed in a house. We have 12/13. Its a 6 bedroom house with sounds like a lot but no lounge or anything and the rooms are small are shoehorned into a small house that should a 3 or 4 bedroom max.

    • Brook123

      Rooms that are counted include living rooms, bedrooms and large kitchens. For the space and floor area calculations:

      children under one year old are ignored
      children between one and ten years old count as a half
      rooms under 50 square feet are ignored.

      As a general rule:
      1 room = 2 people
      2 rooms = 3 people
      3 rooms = 5 people
      4 rooms = 7.5 people
      5 or more rooms = 2 people per room.

      But the floor area of a room also determines how many people can sleep in it:
      floor area 110 sq feet (10.2 sq metres approx) = 2 people
      floor area 90 – 109 sq ft (8.4 – 10.2 sq m approx) = 1.5 people
      floor area 70 – 89 sq ft (6.5 – 8.4 sq m approx) = 1 person
      floor area 50 – 69 sq ft (4.6 – 6.5 sq m approx) = 0.5 people.

      • HoosierSands

        And these criteria have not changed since the 1930s.

        If you think your landlord is overcrowding the property, please contact your local authority Environmental Health Department.

  • flamingnora

    These stories are all too common. We’ve just set up http://www.rentalraters.com precisely so tenants can share their experiences (good and bad) through reviews. This short film explains why this is needed better than we ever could! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wcZOhkQA5So

  • HHGeek

    Is @Travel_Rich’s comment actually a complaint? Coz that kind of treatment would be welcome here.