A tenant who is refusing to move out and forcing the family who own it to stay overseas says he will pay landlords back ‘when this is all over’ – but kicking him out now would leave him, a baby and a pregnant woman ‘out on the street’.
House owners Emma and Russell Burton, 41, are living with her parents in France after the tenant at their Merseyside home stopped paying rent and refused to leave.
The family left their home in Newton-le-Willows in early 2019 for Qatar where Emma and Russell found work, and started renting out their home through a letting agency.
Within a few months they decided to return to the UK, but in December 2019 they said their tenants stopped paying their £800 rent and refused to leave the house – meaning they could not return.
Now the tenant in the modern terraced house insists he will be reasonable and pay them back when he is able to.
He told MailOnline: ‘We want to be out, but they just seem to want us out on the street with a one-year-old and a 35-week pregnant woman.’
Emma Burton and her family are living with her parents in France after the tenant renting their Merseyside home stopped paying rent and refuses to leave
The family left their home in Newton-le-Willows in early 2019 for Qatar where Emma and Russell found work, and started renting out their home through a letting agency
The couple’s son Thomas, four, suffers from a rare metabolic disorder and needs medication and a special diet, but because they are not French citizens he is unable to access the country’s health care system
The tenant added: ‘I have told them I will pay when this is all over, but at the moment we just don’t have the money.
‘I dropped from having about 4,000 a month to 800 because of coronavirus.
‘I told the estate agent but they didn’t get back to me.
‘No-one expected it to last this long.’
The situation for the Burtons and their two children, Thomas and Poppy, had been worsened by the government’s extension of their ban on evictions until September 20.
Many are thankful for the government’s intervention to prevent evictions by rogue landlords, but the Burtons, who rely on rent income to support themselves, have been hit hard.
The Burtons claim that their tenant is still working as a car salesman, despite taking a rent holiday.
The situation has been further complicated by the Government introducing a ban on evictions during the pandemic.
Landlords across the country are worried they could be left without income indefinitely if the ban is extended further. They called the eviction ban a ‘kick in the teeth’.
It has left many ‘pushed to the brink’ of their finances, with nearly two in five of the country’s private landlords experiencing rent arrears over the last year.
A survey of landlords, reported by The Times, found the total owed has increased by almost £300million during the five months of lockdown.
Boris Johnson and Lord Jonathan Marland. In a letter to the PM, the National Residential Landlords association asked for help for landlords
Some 600,000 tenants took the option to stop paying their rent, or to pay at a reduced rate as lockdown restrictions affected jobs, according to the Government.
Ben Beadle, of the National Residential Landlords Association, which conducted the survey, told the newspaper: ‘Most landlords are not property tycoons with deep pockets able to subsidise rents indefinitely but are ordinary people who rely on this income to pay their living expenses.
‘Ministers must use the next four weeks to come up with a credible plan that pays off rent arrears built due to the pandemic and gets the courts hearing cases again.’
With courts usually dealing with up to 10,000 eviction requests a month, a significant backlog is expected once the restrictions are lifted.
The National Residential Landlords Association said 94 per cent of landlords rent property as an individual with 45 per cent renting out just one property and 38 per cent renting out between two and five.
In a letter to the PM, the association said: ‘As a result of this action, repossession cases on the grounds of rent arrears will not be treated as a priority until tenants have built over a year’s worth of rent debts.
‘This means that it is entirely possible that landlords could be faced with no income for up to two years.’
The association said landlords will also face financial hardship themselves as a result of being unable to evict tenants who do not pay rent.
The Government announced the four-week extension to the eviction ban on August 21, meaning in total no legal evictions will have taken place for six months (file image)
Their letter says the ban could mean many landlords will default on their mortgages and it could expose them to legal action if they are unable to meet certain requirements within their property as a result of lost income.
They argue landlords will be much more discerning about who they rent to if they are unable to evict tenants.
Mr Beadle said: ‘The overwhelming majority of landlords have been working constructively with their tenants to sustain tenancies where rent arrears have built as a direct result of the pandemic.
‘The Government’s actions are a kick in the teeth for all these landlords who have done the right thing.
‘Ministers must use the next four weeks to come up with a credible plan that pays off rent arrears built due to the pandemic and gets the courts hearing cases again.
‘Stopping landlords from legally ending failed and disruptive tenancies is not a solution. The Government must act to cover the costs of providing homes, they cannot expect landlords to foot the bill for their failure to support households.’
First announced in March, the scheme stops landlords keen to take back control of their properties from submitting possession applications to courts.
‘[The eviction ban] is now up until September 20, and then there’s a backlog with the courts as well so we don’t know when it will actually go to court so we can apply for a possession order to get them out of there,’ Emma told the Liverpool Echo.
Mr and Mrs Burton’s son Thomas, four, suffers from a rare metabolic disorder and needs medication and a special diet, but because they are not French citizens he is unable to access the country’s health care system.
Emma is now worried Thomas will ‘suffer irreversible brain damage’ without proper medication.
She said: ‘We can’t get back into our house, but because the tenant isn’t paying rent, we can’t afford a mortgage and to rent another property.
‘When we came from Qatar a dietitian kindly gave him enough food and medication which will keep him going until the end of September, and by that time we expected everything to be resolved and be back in the UK and we could re-register him with doctors and Alder Hey.’
But with the family stuck in France, they are worried Thomas’ medication will run out by the end of September.
And without any money coming from work or rent from their property, Emma could be left unable to afford their mortgage.
The Government announced the four-week extension to the eviction ban on August 21, meaning in total no legal evictions will have taken place for six months.