A TENANT has become the first in Burnley to be named and shamed as a ‘rent dodger’ by a fed-up landlord.

Angry bosses at Taylor Housing have put up a sign declaring ‘Rent dodger lives here’ outside one of their properties in Branch Road, Burnley Wood.

The Bournemouth-based letting agency insists it has been forced into the move as a “last resort” after a tenant is said to have left, owing them around £1,500 in rent and leaving they property in a mess.

Bosses at the firm say have since been unable to trace the man, leaving them with a clean-up bill of more than £1,000.

Now they have erected the sign hoping that by shaming him they can deter others from doing the same.

Burnley council’s housing chief said he saw “little point” in putting the signs outside problem homes.

But the move has been backed by East Lancashire’s landlord association and a Burnley Wood councillor.

Paul Taylor, from Taylor Housing, said the man had moved into the Branch Road property in February.

But since then, he had paid no rent, leading the staff from the landlord firm to give 15 days’ notice of entry, Mr Taylor said.

Staff found the house empty, covered in dog mess, with damaged kitchen units, the agency said. The back yard had also become a “dumping ground”, they said.

Mr Taylor added: “When we got in there it was not in a liveable state and it will not be for a while.

“He is not the only one who hasn’t paid his rent but the biggest upset for me is that the place has been left in a complete mess and now we have to pay for the refurbishment.

“The majority of our tenants in Burnley are good ones but we are sick of the bad ones and we don’t want them spoiling things for the others.

“We treat tenants well and we expect them to be good tenants.”

The firm, which has around 20 properties in Burnley Wood, said it is willing to erect the ‘rent dodger’ signs outside its homes in future.

Meanwhile, Mr Taylor said he expected the clean-up of the property to take several weeks. The former tenant, who owes rent from February, is now untraceable.

John Sharp, chief executive of the East Lancashire Landlords’ Association, said the system which sees local housing allowance paid to tenants and not landlords made it difficult to claw back unpaid rent.

And he added: “I think this is a very brave thing to do.

“Landlords are upset that local housing allowance now goes straight to tenants because often they spent it on other things.”

Burnley councillor Frank Ashworth, who represents Burnley Wood, added: “The name and shame sign is a good idea and it would be very useful for landlords to know who the bad tenants are.

“Good landlords in Burnley Wood are as important as good tenants, so good luck to them.”

Burnley Council housing executive member Martin Smith said internet databases which tell landlords about bad tenants are more effective than name and shame signs.

He said: “I don’t see a lot of point in putting the signs up. The register is a better bet to help out landlords.

“It is a real problem for landlords when their tenants don’t pay and sometimes, in desperate measures, they have to do these things.”

He said the council runs a good tenant and landlord scheme to take much of the risk out of finding people to fill houses.

Burnley housing association Calico said it has no plans to put up bad tenants signs outside its properties.

A spokesman said only 1.5 per cent of its 4,500 tenants are currently in arrears.