planning

30 Jan 24

A BBC presenter and GP has revealed how a ‘friend’ of 25 years turned into a nightmare tenant who trashed her flat and refused to pay rent or leave.

Dr Renee Hoenderkamp, known to many as Dr Renee, regularly appears on BBC Radio London and Inside Out, rented out her one-bed flat in Hendon, northwest London, to a builder in February 2021, after her son moved out.

She offered him a discounted rent of half the market rate, hoping he would look after the property and pay on time.

But she soon regretted her decision, as he stopped paying rent and damaged the flat beyond recognition.

On X, formerly Twitter, Dr Hoenderkamp wrote: “Don’t be a landlord. I became one to help my son move.”

‘Corroded the floor, left the bathroom filthy’

Dr Hoenderkamp told MailOnline: “He cracked the bathtub, corroded the floor, left the bathroom filthy, and made the glass screen so dirty you can’t even see through it.”

She went to court to evict her tenant but the process has been delayed by almost a year due to the pandemic and the slow justice system.

A possession order was granted in September 2022, but she is still waiting for a bailiff order to evict him.

She says she has spent thousands of pounds on legal fees and repairs, and she is worried about the state of the flat when he finally leaves.

‘Will it ever come to an end?’

Dr Hoenderkamp added: “It’s been really stressful. All the time you’re wondering: will it ever come to an end?

“Even then, I know when it does come to an end, I’m going to have to get builders in to replace the bathroom.”

Dr Hoenderkamp took to X, formerly Twitter, to warn other landlords not to make the same mistake as her.

She wrote: “Don’t be a landlord. I became one to help my son move.

“For 5 years I had the most amazing tenants, I reduced their rent as they hit financial difficulties to try and help, until eventually they divorced and left. Sad day.

“Then I made the biggest mistake ever. I took pity on a friend. Let him rent the flat at half the market rate, so that: a. He could and would always pay the rent. b. He would maintain it beautifully, he was a builder.

“Not only did I rarely get any rent until he agreed to let the local borough pay some of it directly, he smashed up the place.

“After repeatedly asking him to leave I had to go to court. I started the process almost a year ago. He has never attended a hearing because he knows the court will do his work for him.

“I had a possession order last September. I am still waiting for a bailiff order. A year and time and costs.

“Do not be a landlord. The system hates you. Is it any wonder why landlords are giving up and the rental markets becomes more expensive with less property. @LandlordAction have been brilliant with their advice, shame about the courts.”

Helps landlords recover their properties

She received support from Paul Shamplina, the founder of Landlord Action, a company that helps landlords recover their properties from non-paying tenants.

He replied on Twitter: “Renee as you know @LandlordAction we help landlords get their properties back from tenants refusing to pay their landlords or vacate the leave.

“In my 33 years in the industry I’ve never known the courts to be so slow.

“Landlords have been selling up adding to the housing crisis.”

She never intended to become a landlord

Dr Hoenderkamp said she never intended to become a landlord to ‘make a profit’, but it was a way for her to keep paying the mortgage on her flat, which is worth £340,000 and has a garden and patio.

She said she had previously had five years of bliss with the ‘most amazing tenants’, who kept the flat in an ‘immaculate’ condition, and even improved it with their own touches.

Dr Hoenderkamp said: “They were lovely. They painted the walls, put up shelves, made it look like a home. They even left me a bottle of champagne and a thank you card when they moved out.”

She said she hopes her story will serve as a cautionary tale for other landlords, and a wake-up call for the government to reform the eviction process and protect landlords’ rights.

Dr Hoenderkamp, who has been left around £7,000 in repair costs, said: “I don’t want anyone else to go through what I’ve been through. It’s not fair. Landlords are not all bad. We need more support and faster justice.”

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