Diary of a tenant: playing by the rules offers protection … for now

A pertinent letter, plus a chat with a police community officer, quell the landlord’s threats for the time being

Part eight An angry landlord crosses the line

I’ve been notified about another visit. Despite Bill’s aggression throughout the last inspection, the bailiffs representing him have written. I’ve had enough. His actions are unlawful and also entirely disproportionate to any perceived sins or misdemeanours: seriously – threatening me with violence because a few weeks’ rent are missing?

Even if Bill behaved courteously throughout, this inspection regime is a simple ploy to undermine me. My solicitor has written to the bailiffs, but the message isn’t getting through – so I also write to Bill, care of the firm, copying them in. I recount his behaviour: threatening to hit me, threatening to break the door down, arriving before the pre-arranged day, actually attempting to break down the door, and arriving with thugs.

I stress that he is not coming in – no matter what he thinks. The flat is obviously being well cared for – something his many inspections have demonstrated. I mention that I have informed the police about his past actions, so they are prepared to respond and that anyone accompanying him on these bullying jaunts is complicit in any illegality (I know, if any lawyers are reading out there, but I feel obliged to state my case forcefully: this man likes trying to scare me).

I have contacted the police. I spoke to a community officer – a friendly chat, nothing more – starting at the beginning. Her immediate response was: “Well, it is his house.” I knew she’d say that. Yes, it is his house, but no, he can’t come in whenever he wants, no matter what she thinks. Then she tries: “Well, if you owe him money …” I also knew she’d say that, but I respond by stressing that he’s threatened me.

The next part is tricky, requiring great tact. I ask if she had any training in property law and police action. I explain that I have consulted a solicitor who has assured me that Bill can’t just retake his flat at will, or even come in when he feels like it. The policewoman is reasonable. I then go on to explain that unlawful eviction is (theoretically) a criminal offence carrying a fine, even imprisonment (and I make a weak joke about the police colluding if they let Bill kick me on to the streets).

Slightly ashamed, the policewoman bravely confesses to being uncertain about my rights. I stress that no matter how much Bill claims I owe, and even if “it is his house”, he must submit to a legal procedure. Apart from anything else, he’s threatened to assault me. In an instant I have her attention. The policewoman records what she has heard, promising to inform her colleagues, so they can deal with Bill’s threats.

The day of the proposed visit passes without incident. Bill does not show up and neither do his henchmen. I don’t exactly feel safe, but I do feel as though as if I have some protection, in theory at least.

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