Tenants from hell!

Bribing inventory clerks, growing cannabis plants in the airing cupboard and building an extension without permission – these are just a few eyebrow-raising crimes allegedly committed by UK property tenants in the last 12 months.

The survey of 40 UK inventory clerks has uncovered a litany of damage, disastrous decorating and petty theft stories – enough to make landlords and property agents wince.

The research – complied by The Video Inventory Agency (TVIA) – has highlighted the ‘top 10’ worst tenant atrocities.

Topping the list was an occupant who built a two storey extension without the landlord’s knowledge or planning permission. Cases where tenants have tried to bribe clerks not to report damage also featured strongly, whilst one inventory clerk reported finding cannabis in the airing cupboard of a doctor’s flat – he claimed it was for ‘medicinal purposes’.

Landlord and property investor Frazer Fearnhead, who founded TVIA last year, said: “During my career I have seen more than a few ‘interesting’ cases that have gone above and beyond the boundaries of fair wear and tear.

“Whilst cases like this aren’t common, there is no doubt that the problems caused by a few rogue tenants can have major financial ramifications for landlords. It’s important, therefore, to ensure inventories are watertight so there is no room to refute a claim for damages, neglect or blatant vandalism.”

Launched in 2009, TVIA offers state-of-the-art video inventories that have been designed to protect landlords’ interests. Using similar practices to police standard operating procedures for filming crime scenes, each inventory produced by TVIA is supported by high-definition video evidence that has been designed to stand up in court.

Fearnhead launched TVIA after an incomplete photographic inventory on one of his own properties. This resulted in a lack of evidence to corroborate a deposit dispute.

He continued: “When landlords hand over the keys to a property, they are completely reliant on inventories to protect their assets, and many old-fashioned inventories just don’t cut-it.

For those still getting away with scribbling a list of fixtures and fittings on the back of an envelope, it’s time to ensure your property is covered for damage. Video inventory evidence is the only way you can be sure your claim will stand up in court”

The following cases made it on to TVIA’s ‘Top 10’ list of tenant misdemeanours:


  • Structural damage to a ceiling committed by a female tenant in Birmingham who installed a pole dancing studio in her front room.

  • A tenant who built a two storey extension without the landlord’s knowledge or planning permission.

  • The inventory clerk who went to a supposedly ‘empty’ property to find the tenants had moved back in.

  • The doctor who had several cannabis plants growing in a cupboard, claiming they were for ‘medicinal purposes’.

  • The tenants who tried to bribe an inventory clerk not to report damages.

  • A decorative whip and other sex toys left in a city centre flat – the tenant was very embarrassed and claimed she was into horse riding.

  • The trainee medical students who claimed doctors were exempt from having to tidy up after themselves when the state of the flat was queried.

  • The female tenant who objected when the inventory clerk claimed the carpet was dirty. She denied it needed vacuuming stating: "Why does it need cleaning, Ive only been here for six months?"

  • A tenant who stole a 10-year-old cherry tree from the back garden having lived in the property for six months – he claimed he had planted it himself.

  • An interim inspection which revealed several illegal immigrant families were living in a two bedroom property, including one in the attic.


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