A landlord calls:missed rent payments and a hazardous smell mean the accidental landlord has to take action - and fast

The accidental landlord must consider eviction for a tenant who has stopped paying the rent and leaves the place in a very unclean state.

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There are butterflies in my stomach. I am about to evict one of my tenants and it feels horrible. But she hasn’t given me any choice. She stopped paying her rent a couple of months ago and she has ignored all of my emails and letters, which is so frustrating. If only she had been in touch, we might have been able to avoid this unpleasantness.

I’ve tried to be as nice as possible to her without crossing the line between landlord and social worker. When she skipped her rent payment, I emailed a firm-but-friendly (okay, maybe slightly passive-aggressive) reminder. When she still failed to pay, I wrote her a letter suggesting that if she had money trouble she should call to let me know so that we could work something out. Still I heard nothing.

As the fixed term of her six-month tenancy agreement had expired, I thought I’d give her a jolt by sending a Section 24 notice giving her two months’ notice to leave, but I included a note telling her that if she wanted to stay she should call me. Still no reaction.

My unease intensified. Why wasn’t she responding? Had she lost her job? Was she subletting her room? The two boys who had been renting the other two rooms in the flat until they’d left a couple of weeks earlier hadn’t mentioned any problems.

I decided to visit the tenant and left her a voicemail saying I wanted to carry out a flat inspection. True to form, she didn’t reply, but I decided to go anyway. There was no response when I knocked at the front door but as it’s a multi-let property and I have a clause in the tenancy agreement stating I can enter with 24 hours’ notice, I thought it was okay to let myself in.

It smelt dreadful. I really didn’t want to go in, and I was thankful the flat was in a large block with neighbours on all sides — at least someone would hear me if I screamed.

Leaving the front door open, I walked slowly from room to room, looking for the dead body. In the kitchen I had to clamp my hand over my nose as the stench was so bad. Dirty dishes were piled on the worktop, the cooker, the microwave and the fridge, and the sink was full of swampy water. Flies buzzed round an overflowing bin and a swarm of ants had colonised the table. Clothes were hanging out of the washing machine and strewn across the floor.

I only made it one foot into her bedroom before I was knocked back by the stench. There was no one dead in there. The only sign of life was the mould growing on a discarded plate of food. I had seen enough and hurried back outside for some fresh air. My visit had reassured me. The tenant wasn’t doing anything illegal in my flat, but I have to get her out — and fast.

As soon as I got home I sent her a Section 8 eviction notice, giving her 14 days to leave on the grounds that she was two months behind with her rent. Hopefully this time she will react, but so far, she hasn’t.

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