Court Hears How “Tenant From Hell” Trashed Home

A frustrated mother claims her house has been trashed by a “tenant from hell” who refused to pay almost £4,000 in rent.

Lynda Howroyd thought Steven Wakeham – a childhood friend of her son Nick – would have been ideal to rent her home in Pucklechurch while she was temporarily living in Spain last year.

But Bristol Country Court heard that over the next nine months Wakeham paid for less than two months’ stay and refused to give up possession of the house until Mrs Howroyd took him to court.

When Mrs Howroyd finally got her home on St Aldam’s Drive back, she claimed valuables including jewellery, DVDs, and computer equipment had been stolen and substantial damage caused.

Theft allegations were included in a bundle of papers she submitted to the court in the proceedings.

Police have arrested and bailed Wakeham on suspicion of theft and fraud between February and November last year. He denies all the allegations and has not been charged with any offence.

As Mrs Howroyd applied for rent arrears and costs at court, she told District Judge Lucinda Howe: “Steven Wakeham has been a tenant from hell. Not only has he left us out of pocket financially, but he has also brought a lot of stress, upset and disruption.”

The 55-year-old said: “When we eventually returned to the house, it was uninhabitable.”

In her bundle of evidence, Mrs Howroyd submitted a letter from British Gas saying it believed her electricity supply had been tampered with.

The court heard Wakeham, who worked in security, moved into Mrs Howroyd’s house after helping her evict a previous tenant.

At first, his then girlfriend Laura Iles was a joint tenant and they agreed to pay £550 rent per month, but giving evidence against him at court Miss Iles said she was “kicked out” after a month of living with him. In total, only £950 was paid to Mrs Howroyd, who had hoped to move back in to the home with her husband Walt, the court heard. No claim was pursued against Miss Iles.

After Wakeham refused to allow Miss Howroyd to return in May last year, court proceedings followed to regain possession and claim the arrears. Wakeham, 29, finally gave up possession on November 2.

But in a failed counter claim, he said Miss Howroyd had not returned a £1,000 deposit he said had been agreed in credit of his services evicting the previous tenant. He also failed in claiming £3,000 in compensation for that deposit not being put into a deposit scheme.

Mrs Howroyd told the court: “The alleged invoice for the deposit that Mr Wakeham has produced is not an original and does not include a signature signed by me.”

She also produced an email from Wakeham promising she would “not be charged a penny”.

Wakeham, now believed to be living in south Bristol, denied saying he would help out with the eviction for free.

He also denied falsifying any evidence.

However, District Judge Howe found he was an “unreliable” witness and found in favour of Mrs Howroyd in all aspects of the case. She ordered unemployed Wakeham to pay £3,986.16 rent arrears, plus £1,240.15 costs within 14 days.

Mother-of-three Mrs Howroyd, formerly known as Lynda Hudd, has appeared in the Evening Post previously campaigning against people using their mobile phones while driving.

In 1996, her 11-year-old daughter Rebekka was killed after being hit by a Mitsubishi Shogun 4×4 while she waited on a pavement near the family home for her brother Nick.

The driver was found guilty of careless driving, fined £250 and given six penalty points.

Supported by her family, she is considering taking Wakeham to court again for the alleged damage to the house.

This article was originally written by Daniel Evans for the site This Is Bristol

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