Deadbeat Tenants and Squatters, and Their Cost to Landlords

There are several reasons I’ve created this website.

One  is to give evidence, in the form of case stories. of the kinds of very serious problems that property owners can experience, when tenants stop paying rent and start squatting, or when serial squatters prey on multiple landlords.  This kind of evidence is needed politically, particularly in regions where politicians are trying to change legislation to slant landlord-tenant law even further in favor of tenants and their “right” to squat without paying rent, on someone else’s property.  Stealing a houseSimply put, we need to show the damage and at times grave harm that can be caused to property owners when the system requires them to take a serious financial hit while going thru a lengthy court process to remove a squatting tenant.
Another is to warn prospective or new landlords, about what could happen if a tenant stops paying rent, and help them plan ahead to best respond to such a situation should it occur.  Forewarned is forearmed. Forewarned is Forearmed

Yet another is to try to ensure that at least in a few of the more egregious situations, as where there was a media story done on the situation, some of these dastardly deeds and their doers are exposed.  The stories shared on this site are but a tiny, tiny fraction of the sum total of these kinds of incidents, since I’m only gathering stories by finding ones that have already been published in news online, or in blog reports, or shown on YouTube or news videos or TV shows.  What this means, is that for the most part, perpetrators of these kinds of malicious deeds may possibly see few repercussions for their actions.  Consider —– court cases containing the stories of these proceedings, and all evictions, cannot be found through standard online search engines.  You’d have to know which city/region/county to look in to find court records, and you might even have to pay a fee to look up court records.  Hence, those whose tenancy has been terminated but who choose to squat and refuse to leave, requiring the landlord to go through a long eviction proceeding, (or those who simply break into a property and squat, resulting in the same court action),  will generally be able to “hide” their bad deeds, except possibly from those prospective landlords who do background checks which reveal the previous eviction record(s).  Only those landlords who pay for a background check, (and sometimes those checks will be limited to one country’s court records) would find the evidence of the previous squatting and eviction.  Scot Free cropped Other than that, the tenant who squatted on someone’s property is likely to get away scot-free.  They might even be able to avoid paying the back rent owed to that landlord, particularly if they move far away or out of the country.

So, here on this site, I’m doing my small part, to see that for a very tiny fraction of more egregious cases of the total number of deadbeat or squatting tenants, or serial scammers, serial squatters, vandals and others who harm small property owners, that they will see at least some consequences for their actions, through public exposure.

One of the greatest problems about squatters, and the legal rights of tenants to refuse to leave a property until they are evicted in a long court proceeding, is the incredible amount of financial harm that can thus be done to small landlords.  In fact, for many landlords, they might well consider it would be better and far less costly for a criminal to steal their car, Stolen caror for a robber to point a gun at them and demand they hand over their wallet and smart phone, than for a tenant to refuse to pay rent, and squat on their property for many months, or even years.  A stolen car is insured.  A stolen smart phone may cost $500 to $1000 to replace, but not $10,000, or $20,000 or $40,000 or more, which is what it has cost some of these property owners, in their legal cases with squatting tenants, damaged premises, attorney fees and more.  So in my eyes, the ethical wrong done by these squatters may exceed that done by a criminal in a case of felony theft.

And yet, in spite of the ethical wrong involved in essentially stealing another’s income or use of their property, there are organizations which actually encourage people to illegally squat on other’s properties, as this group does:

I think that the court systems in many countries, and many “tenant’s aid” agencies or attorneys, are also culpable in the grave wrong done to small property owners, because the existing law is so unjust.

It’s understandable that some would not want to see tenants who may experience a hardship, suddenly thrown out on the street with all their bags, as in Dickensian tales.  However, laws that allow nonpaying tenants to stay in a property, essentially force small property owners into being charity organizations, something that many absolutely cannot afford to do, and which in any case, governments should not be compelling them to do. That someone is experiencing a hardship, does not make it justifiable for them to engage in theft of accomodations or use of property from someone else.

It would make much more sense to me, if any tenant who could not pay their rent, could apply for and be given up to 6 months emergency rent support from the government.  In this way, it’s the government not a small businessperson, which would be the charity provider, and that is much more appropriate.  Uncle sam collects debtThe tenant would be obligated to pay this back later on, and if they didn’t, it would be the government which could come knocking and collecting, with all their government-sized power to extract money from someone, rather than leaving this task to a small business owner and their very meagre collection power.
The tenant would only be supported in paying rent for up to 6 months — if at the end of that time they could not continue to pay rent on their own, they would be removed from the property, without any court proceeding or expense on the part of the landlord.  As a concession to recieving rent support, the tenant would have to waive their right to any court proceeding.  If the tenant chose not to receive rent support, they could go to court to fight the eviction, but could not request a jury trial, and the trial would have to occur within 30 days of the filing of the eviction suit, or if it took longer, the government would have to pay the rent due to the landlord beyond that point.  This concept that a tenant can squat and not pay rent and then demand a jury trial — well that is one of the stupidest ideas we’ve had in the last half century, and has got to go.  There’s no good reason for allowing jury trials for eviction cases.  They can and should be heard by a judge, preferably without attorneys present, just as occurs in all small claims cases.

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