Decorators refuse to leave

The Association of Residential Letting Agents has dismissed a case of decorators refusing to leave a property as uncommon and says this is not an issue that should concern landlords.

Buy-to-let landlord Nita Bowers bought a 215,000 flat in London’s Poplar High Street two months ago.

When she visited the property she noticed that two Polish decorators were working in it and when she questioned the vendor she was told the property was vacant.

The decorators have since refused to budge and claimed squatters’ rights. The police have refused to help and Bowers is going through a drawn out and costly legal process to get a court order to evict the squatters.

Bowers says: “I thought it would be wonderful. I would be able to rent the property out and then sell it as prices go up. I was shocked to find squatters in my first buy-to-let property but am not going to be put off making further purchases in the promising world of property investment. However, I am going to be careful.”

A spokesperson for ARLA says this should not worry buy-to-let landlords.

He says: “This case is unusual. I have never hear of anything like it before. However, owners should be careful who they employ to work in their homes and who they lend their keys to.

“The chances of something like this happening again are negligible. It is not an issue for the buy-to-let market.”

Lee Grandin, managing director of Landlord Mortgages, says: “The key issue here is that solicitors make it clear you need to gain vacant possession on completion. I have never heard of this before but if scams like this work people should be aware of them.”