COMMENT: Mediation is a good way to help catch tenant issues early

Admittedly, it's an extreme example. But today's story of how a tenant trashed a shared house in Portsmouth and cost the property owner £33,000 shows the problems that landlords can face.

Thursday, 4th November 2021, 12:00 am

Amphetamine-user Christopher Beddall got a six-month prison sentence for causing the damage and anti-social behaviour so bad that it forced seven other tenants to leave.

In the end, landlord David Manchester had no choice but to start eviction proceedings that took months. He's now out of pocket in a big way, from paying to get an eviction to losing rent because nobody wanted to live at the house.

So we can understand why landlords are calling for powers to ban badly-behaved tenants from renting privately.

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They say the Beddall case demonstrates the need for what is being called a private rental sector banning order.

City Labour councillor Cal Corkery says this is ‘blacklisting’ and that such a system would be open to abuse.

But surely landlords should be able to decide to whom they rent rooms or houses?

They are already facing the scrapping of a section 21 notice to evict tenants without having to give a reason, under the government's Renters’ Reform Bill. Not surprisingly, landlords fear this will leave them without any protection.

The problem with taking court action is that there are no winners - rent arrears and legal costs build up and the tenant/landlord relationship is ruined.

So the solution could lie in creating local mediation services.

A pilot running in Portsmouth has already seen 16 landlords trained in how to take a restorative approach.

It won't resolve the worst cases, but issues such as rent arrears could be caught early and resolved without resorting to the legal system.