Calls for 'rental banning orders' after Portsmouth tenant jailed for 6 months for trashing house
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The demand comes as a man was handed a six-month jail sentence for trashing a shared house in Stamshaw causing £42,000 worth of damage.
Amphetamine-user Christopher Beddall’s anti-social behaviour was so bad for months that he forced seven other tenants out of the terraced home.
Beddall, 39, smashed toilet bowls, showers, sinks, left faeces in carpets, broke beds and headboards, and punched holes in walls.
While the damage is covered by insurance, landlord David Manchester told The News he lost about £30,000 in rental income from the other tenants - and forked out £3,000 on legal costs for an eviction.
It took Mr Manchester, who runs First Class Assets Ltd which has about £2.1m in assets, months to get Beddall kicked out.
Landlords in Portsmouth have said the incident makes the case for a so-called private rental sector banning order.
They have said courts should have the power to ban individuals from privately renting - putting them onto councils’ housing waiting lists.
But a Labour councillor has said ‘blacklisting’ tenants would be ‘wide open to abuse’ and fuel homelessness.
Alwin Oliver, vice chairman of Portsmouth & District Private Landlords Association, said: ‘Ultimately, this case illustrates the need for a private rental sector banning order to be available to courts to tackle tenants who prey on well meaning or vulnerable landlords time after time, seemingly with few consequences or delayed access to the courts.’
Documents seen by The News show the association already screens out troublesome tenants who hunt for properties via its website.
Mr Manchester, who had spent £100,000 refurbishing the professional house share property, said he let out a room to Beddall in June last year, going against his normal practice of not renting out to people on housing benefit.
‘I thought I’d give him a chance - it was the worst thing I did,’ he said.
‘In a month I had other tenants complaining about his behaviour in terms of the noise he was making.
‘Then the tenants started leaving. It was clearly his intention to get them all out.
‘He went to the toilet on the kitchen floor - so just made it very difficult in terms of lots of anti-social behaviour to put pressure on them to leave.’
Mr Manchester applied for an eviction order in November last year, and this was granted on March 31 - with Beddall having two weeks to clear out.
But police were called to the address on April 7 - with around 10 officers needed to subdue him as he kicked off. The extent of the damage was then discovered.
He was held in custody until last month where he appeared for sentence at Portsmouth Crown Court having admitted damage, possession of amphetamine and threatening behaviour.
Beddall was jailed for six months - but released immediately having served this on remand. A restraining order imposed indefinitely bans him from contacting Mr Manchester.
The landlord said: ‘It’s absolutely crazy. It makes you become even more careful about the tenants that you take on in your properties.’
Government is looking to shake up the sector under its Renters’ Reform Bill.
As part of this, there are plans to scrap a controversial notice used by landlords to kick out tenants without having to give a reason.
As reported, section 21 - a so-called no-fault eviction - was used in 279 cases across Portsmouth, Havant, Fareham and Gosport in the year to March 2021.
Mr Oliver, from the landlords’ association, warned that without it communities and landlords will be ‘vulnerable’ to unruly tenants.
He said: ‘‘This is a sad case of a criminal tenant waging a campaign of terror against the landlord, the neighbours and the local community.
‘That he was able to do so for so long shows how badly the court system lets down landlords and communities alike.’
He added: We have yet to see realistic and robust proposals for dealing with criminal and anti-social behaviour.
‘If legislation does not take cases like this into account communities will remain vulnerable to these rare cases of criminal tenants and no amount of licensing or other measures will prevent it.’
The call for a rental banning order comes after The News and The Bureau of Investigative Journalism revealed how people were losing their homes in the pandemic.
Labour councillor Cal Corkery is a housing activist and represents Charles Dickens ward on Portsmouth City Council.
He said: ‘Renters’ rights in England are already among the weakest in the world and it is outrageous that some wealthy property owners would see them watered down even further.
‘The practice of blacklisting people from renting homes would increase homelessness and be wide open to abuse.
‘I'd much rather see policy focused on holding dodgy landlords to account, for example through a strengthened local landlord licensing scheme of the type Portsmouth Labour has been campaigning for over the past few years.’
Beddall admitted causing £5,000 worth of damage while prosecutors said he caused £42,000.