A LANDLADY claims she’s been left with a £10,000 bill after squatters finally left her home.

Rita Patel, 45, says she has collected 40 sacks of rubbish and will have to throwout furniture and rip up carpets after bailiffs evicted them last week from her house, in Pleasant Road, Southend.

She said she had faced a “legal minefield” while trying to reclaim her home after the squatters moved in last autumn.

Mrs Patel said: “Every room was in a state. Metal has been left in the garden and rubbish in the house.

Southend Standard:

Scrap: Metal left in the garden

“The kitchen units are full of mouse droppings and mattresses are stained.

“The property was perfect when I let it out in January 2011. I have lost £4,000 in rent, paid £3,500 in legal costs and the clean-up will be hundreds or thousands.”

Mrs Patel’s problems began after the original tenant, Teresa Usowicz, fell into rent arrears in September 2012.

After court action, Mrs Usowicz was evicted last autumn.

However, when Mrs Patel tried to move in a new tenant, she discovered Mrs Usowicz’s estranged husband, Romuald, and several relatives were living there, despite having no tenancy agreement.

Southend Standard:

Messy: Surfaces were left in a state

Southend Standard:

The eviction process had to start again and earlier this year Southend Council began paying housing benefits to Mr Usowicz, despite him paying no rent, and only stopped after Mrs Patel complained.

She said the whole experience had put her off letting property to anyone claiming benefits in the future.

The Echo spoke to Mr Usowicz before the eviction and he claimed the rent was stopped because Mrs Patel had refused to carry out repairs.

He would not be drawn on living there without a tenancy agreement, or receiving housing benefit that was never passed on to Mrs Patel.