A landlady who was scammed by a fraudulent lettings agency has told how she lost £15,000 in rent and eviction costs.
Blaire Bartholomew, from Wandsworth, London, thought she had finally rented her flat with the help of an agency.
After having no luck letting out her property, she was overjoyed when an agency contacted her and offered to set up a meeting with an interested tenant, who they said was urgently looking for a home after losing their own place.
Blaire explained that she met with the tenant and approved them, before handing over the keys.
However when she received no payment from the agency, and was unable to get in contact with both the agents and the tenants, she soon realised she had been scammed.
On returning to the property, Blaire found a different man living in the property, and began the lengthy process required to evict the reluctant tenant, who refused to pay rent or leave the property.
Speaking in tonight’s episode of Nightmare Tenants: Slum Landlords on Channel 5, Blaire is seen driving to the flat on the day of the eviction, as she reveals how she is having to sell her car to foot the cost of the expensive legal bills.
Landlady Blaire Bartholomew (pictured) was scammed by a fraudulent lettings agency and has told how she lost £15,000 in rent and eviction costs
Tenant Derek, seen, refused to either leave the flat or pay rent, leaving Blaire with no choice but to get an eviction notice
Speaking in tonight’s show, Blaire reveals that she sensed something wasn’t right when the contact details for the agency stopped working, along with their website.
She says: ‘I think that’s when I knew, in my heart, and I think I knew all along that I had been scammed and just felt sick.’
On discovering the unknown tenant, a man named Derek, she told how he refused to pay rent or leave the property.
‘He started screaming at me, I was just crying on the phone while he was swearing at me on the phone,’ Blaire says.
Blaire (pictured) is waiting outside of the property during the eviction process. She is exasperated by the behaviour of the tenant
Startled by Derek’s apparent aggressiveness, Blaire enrolled the help of lawyer Chris Shaw and two high quoted enforcement officers in order to act on the eviction notice.
‘I did feel like I needed a human shield,’ she explains in the documentary.
Eviction Lawyer Chris Shaw (left) is there to help enforce Blaire’s eviction order. Derek, who is hiding from the camera (right) has forced the landlady to spent thousands on legal proceedings to get him out of the flat
Three other tenants (two pictured) are in the flat when the team of enforcement officers arrives. They vacate the property promptly and apologise to Blaire visibly confused
‘I did think Derek would get aggressive when we finally evicted him, she adds, as the team prepares to enter the property.
‘This whole property for me, I get a sense of dread and regret coming here.’
Chris and the two enforcement officers eventually enter the property while Blaire waits outside.
They find that three young men have been living at the property alongside Derek, something they did not know.
Once he’s exited the flat, Derek comes up to Blaire in order to defend himself and says he’s a victim just like her
Blaire cannot take it anymore and snaps at the tenant, telling him that he’s been despicable and that she’s done with him
While the three young men vacate the flat quickly and personally apologise to Blaire, it becomes apparent they were not aware of the situation.
‘I’m completely confused right now,’ one of the young men says.
Meanwhile Derek takes almost a hour and a half in order to pack his things and leave the premises, to the frustration of Blaire, who is waiting by the entrance.
Blair is completely disheartened by the eviction process and says she now hate the flat she owns
Eventually, the tenant exits the flat and the locks can be changed – Blaire has got her property back.
‘This has been one of the worst experiences of my life,’ Blaire tells the camera.
‘Coming to this flat, I just hate it, I shouldn’t feel like that, of something you own and that you’re proud to own,’ she says.
‘I’m mad with him, he’s been living in this property for six months,’ she goes on.
‘I’d like Derek to feel my pain, but I don’t think he ever will.’
But Derek is not done, and wants to discuss the issue further – as he claims he has also been scammed – though it is not clear how.
‘It’s not that I didn’t want to apologise to you,’ Derek starts, ‘when I spoke to you around June or August, I told you about the tenancy agreement I had and you knew that I was scammed.
Blaire (pictured) admits she’s in debts following the eviction battle, and had to sell her car in order to ‘put money back in the pot’
‘It’s not that I was aggressive towards you,’ he goes on, ‘it’s just that I wanted to show you that I’ve been a victim just as you’ve been a victim’.
This proves too much for Blaire, who snaps back: ‘I’m done, I’m done with you.
‘You have ruined my life with this. I offered you help to find a place, I offered to pay your deposit, and you were the most aggressive, and awful person to me.
‘Do you know how much much it cost me to evict you? What you’ve done is despicable, I’m done,’ she concludes before walking away.
The loss of rent and Derek’s eviction mean that Blaire is now in debt, with her adding: ’15 grand is huge,’ she says, ‘I’m in debt, I’m selling my car because I have to put money back in the pot.’
Nightmare Tenants: Slum Landlords airs at 9pm on Channel 5.
Also on this week’s Nightmare Tenants: Slum Landlords
Dale Prime-Holder (left)is managing a flat on behalf of his elderly mother. Their tenant (centre) has not been paying the rent for months and owes almost £10,000 in arrears
A well-meaning son managing his elderly mother’s flat in Lewisham successfully gets her tenant – who owes almost £10,000 in arrears – evicted, only to find that he is making her homeless.
Dale Prime-Holder is determined to get his mother’s property back from the woman currently occupying it.
He heads to the Bromley County Court as a last resource after unsuccessfully trying to get through to the woman.
‘She’s not paying rent, she’s not picking up the phone, she has to go,’ he explains.
Dale (pictured) enlist the help of an eviction lawyer Paul Shamplina (right) in order to get rid of the woman but it appears she has already gone
While the court gives Dale the right to evict the woman and repossess the flat, things soon get complicated.
On paper, the woman has two weeks to vacate the property, however, when Dale visits the flat on the agreed date, he finds that not only is she still living there, other people he doesn’t know seems to be staying at the flat as well.
When Dale enlists the help of an eviction lawyer, the tenant finally vacates the property. But the young man soon discovers the woman is now homeless, after losing her tenancy.