If you are a decent size player in the flatshare business, you will definitely get to know and understand the UK Judicial system. You will learn and come to recognize how civil matters and housing can become criminal matters and vice versa depending on how and who is looking at it. Especially with the legislation for shared accommodation which is vague at best and it leaves a lot of room from interpretation.
From my “cowboy” days when the whole flat-sharing and subletting industry was considered as some type of quasi-criminal operation, the only thing we were doing was renting out rooms, we started understanding the judicial system from all angles. From disputes with the magistrate court regarding council tax, unfinished payments where councils will send you magistrate court summons because your direct debit would not go through fast enough to pay the property council tax, to hearings in relation to unlawful eviction (where tenants have left voluntarily and have after claimed that they did not know that leaving the property actually meant leaving the property for real), or where you would have dodgy tenants offering you money to unlawfully evict them so they can go to the council and ask for free housing.
In this industry, we have seen it all and tried everything imaginable. We have used solicitors of different backgrounds, different law firms, different approaches, defense strategies and claims. I, Gian Paolo Aliatis, have won cases against landlords which for example have decided that locking us out of the property was a viable solution to a leak. In this instance, the dispute was over a leak caused by their faulty system. As a result, we were awarded £40,000 for the damages and legal costs. We have seen council workers telling our tenants not to worry about payments and that we cannot do anything until we get a court order. In other words, what they are basically saying is “do not worry, do not pay, nothing can happen to you.” We are talking about the same tenants that we have managed to confiscate kilograms of drugs from their rooms and pass it on to the police. As a drug confiscation team, taking into account that most of our tenants are simply young professionals, we have over 500 crime reports and the police know our property management number as a drug confiscation machine. So, while the council workers are telling tenants not to pay us, we are helping the police and society getting drugs off the streets.
In this industry you will always be surrounded by disputes with tenants, landlords, neighbors, councils, etc. You name it. Disputes ranged from who pays for a faulty boiler to tenants moving in friends to empty rooms in their properties, health and safety issues, trespassers etc. I Gian Paolo Aliatis remember the first time I was summoned by the magistrate court; I attended the court in a suit and tie assuming that I was going to have a formal and proper court hearing for an unpaid council tax to finally find out that the court was expecting me and 200 other people at the same time hoping that actually anyone will show up. I did show up and learned an important lesson. To keep reading please check my next post.