Agent clashes with tenant activists after failed eviction attempt

A letting agent says his firm has been wrongly labelled a villain rather than a victim by tenant activists.

The latest clash with Acorn centres on claims that Bristol based Murrays Lettings attempted to illegally evict a tenant four times.

In fact, the property was being sub-let illegally and  an agent for the same firm had agreed to let the property to the sub-tenants without the knowledge of Murrays Lettings boss Rob Murray.

Murray told EYE: “The real villain is sub-letting – it is too easy to do, there are no repercussions or ramifications.

“We and our client are being held to account for someone else’s actions.

“This issue will get a lot worse if the court process isn’t boosted once Section 21 notices are gone.”

Bristol student Cyrus Coxswain agreed to rent a property last year from a purported landlord called Sam Mitchell, who was actually the original tenant and had effectively converted the property into an HMO without permission.

The sub-letting tenant had been paying £750 to Murrays to rent the property while collecting £1,800 from his sub-letting operation. At one point it is believed that eight people were living in the property.

Mitchell has disappeared but once Bristol City Council was aware of the HMO situation, it was ready to fine the owner of the property for letting without the required licence.

The landlord and Murrays Lettings were shocked to discover the property had been used as an HMO and took action to evict the tenant, who they assumed was still Sam Mitchell.

An eviction notice was granted at the end of last year, but Murray had not been made aware that one of his agents, Mark Dehaney, had agreed to let the sub-tenants stay longer and pay the rent directly to him instead.

On March 20, Dehaney then sent a text and letter to Coxswain warning that he was set to be evicted.

It was at this point that Coxswain joined Acorn and together they approached Murrays Lettings offices to protest.

Murray said he was shocked at the “mob mentality” and was not aware of the agreement with Dehaney, so described Coxswain as a squatter and angrily ordered him and the protesters to leave.

Bailiffs arrived at the property the following day, when Coxswain then revealed a recording he had made of Dehaney agreeing to let him and others remain in the property.

An agreement was then made through police at the scene for Mitchell to be effectively evicted in his absence, but it was agreed that Coxswain would sign a formal agreement with Dehaney to stay.

Murray apologised at the time to Acorn for his response and said he was unaware of Dehaney’s actions.

The property was taken off the agent’s books and managed privately by Dehaney who failed in another attempt to evict Coxswain earlier this month.

Dehaney has been suspended by Murrays Lettings pending an internal investigation.

Murray said Dehaney had been naive but was a friend of the landlord and had been trying to help her.

He added: “The Acorn protesters were aggressive. I know I got angry but we were doing everything within the law.

“I am running a business, and it is not nice to have your office invaded.”

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  1. Will2

    Mob rule and bully boy tactics seems to be the way modern society feels negotiations should be conducted.

    1. JMK

      And Government will no doubt support their actions.

      1. Will2

        Government are part of the Bully Boy culture.   Do as we say not as we do!

        1. Deltic2130

          If only landlords and agents were prepared or able to do the same!

          How’s our ‘No DSS’ or ‘mass S21 eviction’ campaigns coming along?

  2. ArthurHouse02

    A mob of protesters turn up at his office and he has to apologise for getting angry????

  3. Eric Walker

    Sam – I thought you said Housesimple was doing well.

  4. RosBeck73

    Unfortunately, natural justice is going out of the window with the approach of the Government and others towards private landlords and letting agents. A feature of this is that we are ‘given’ responsibility without power – and others have power without responsibility. In this context, the landlord did not have the power to stop someone subletting their property – didn’t even know about it, but she and the agent are made responsible for it. It’s also linked in with the nanny state and an idea that tenants are always victims and infantilised, whilst the narrative is that all landlords and letting agents are demons.

    Similarly, I remember hearing that if tenants put the wrong things in bins, the landlord will be fined. What’s next? If a tenant stabs someone in the street, will the landlord go to prison? How can this be the state of affairs in 21st century Great Britain? We need more and better justice, not less and worse. Fairness, balance and common sense should be at the core of our society. The people who act illegally and immorally should face the music, not innocent people who have done nothing wrong.

    1. Will2

      The problem is we vote the idiots in that legislate. THINK BEFORE YOU VOTE

      1. Tcos

        Labor are no better and the other parties have no chance of getting in.

        1. Will2


  5. PossessionFriendUK39

    It will be interesting to see if there’s anything in the Sub-Letting Bill that will strengthen a Landlords case  –

    But I’m Not holding my breath !

  6. Eyereaderturnedposter12

    Disgusting behaviour by these “activists”…the organisers and participants should be prosecuted…(they won’t be of course)

    A classic example of an Agent taking the flak for something completely out of their control…blaming Agents who employ, work (most of whom work very hard and in an increasingly hostile environment) and pay into “the system”.

    To quote a wonderful satirical programme…”England used to be a green and pleasant land…now it’s the colour of anemic dog sh*t”


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