Rogue Landlord in Weston super Mare
Last week I wrote about how we bought a one-bed flat about 30% BMV (below market value), when the cost of all works are factored in.
I’d been trying to contact the owner of the two top-floor flats, as to make it legally lettable we’d have to install linked fire alarms in all flats. I’d been told he wasn’t interested in cooperating in any way – not a good start. A couple of days into the refurb he pitched up on his bicycle. He refused to shake my hand, and the first thing he said to me was to tell me to move my van – it wasn’t getting any better!
I asked what he wanted to do about the alarm, and the conversation went like this:
“I don’t want to do anything about it.”
“But it doesn’t work!”
“Well we have a legal responsibility to provide a working alarm.”
“I don’t care.”
“The maximum fine for non-compliance is £60,000.”
“If you don’t co operate we’ll have no choice but to report you to the fire officer.”
“Ok I don’t care.”
Unbelievable! Non-compliance also invalidates his insurance – assuming he even has any of course. We considered reporting him immediately but decided he might come to his senses and sure enough he did. As to why he was so sore at me, it became clear he’d wanted to buy it himself, but been caught out by our super-quick 4-day completion. He then assumed we were amateurs who’d over-paid, he was saying things like ‘These flats are only worth about £35K and they are cheap for a reason’ (but he later offered us £40K for it!) His face hit the floor when I told him what we’d actually paid!
I also found out from the OO (owner-occupier) in the other GFF (ground floor flat) that he’d been trying to bully her into selling cheap because of the title issues (absent freeholder and no management co). He’d been uncooperative about intercoms, communal décor and carpets, and even tried to claim that she had no right to park on her own drive. All this was making me feel more inclined to do the refurb and sell, rather than try to do BTL (buy-to-let) with this person in the building. Or we could buy him out cheaply, using the same issues he’d been trying to use against the OO, plus dry rot plus his non-compliance with the law in running illegal tenancies. I’ve offered him £40K each (same as his offer to me) for the six flats he owns in this and the adjoining block, subject to an inspection of course. A long-shot, but it would be delicious to profit from a rogue landlord!
I’ll write about how I’m changing the layout next week.
Edit – I met him again on Monday, since I wrote this blog, and he seems to have had a change of heart and was attempting to be more co operative. Also all his tenants speak well of him. And he’s offered to contribute £500 towards soundproofing our ceilings. Things may not be as straightforward as I’d assumed and we may be able to work with him after all.