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I'm not an expert. I'm old enough to realise that I won't know everything about anything there will always be someone who knows something I don't.
I like to call on the 'collaborative mind' that is the experience of many - a bit like the Mastermind Group from Napolean Hill's great book Think and Grow Rich. I have used this to my advantage when taking clampers to court and successfully using forums to cover other perspectives that I may have missed, by posting my case I'm sure that I'll benefit more people than trying to be the Lone Ranger and trying to work out all the moves by myself.
That said I don't always win.
I usually win but sometimes I won't even bring a case to court. On part 1 I mentioned that you need to be sure the person you are suing is worth suing. In my experience some people aren't.
Where the juice wasn't worth the squeeze
Tenants must be worth suing before you decided to sue them. I lost out to the tune of £2000+ to a tenant on Housing Benefit who stopped paying their rent.
Single parent renting from me. Inspected the existing property and had a letter of reference from a parent along with my other extensive referencing process. She moved into the property with a child and a new dog (also referenced.)
My tenant stopped communicating with the housing benefit department. Despite their repeated letters she stopped replying to them. This results in suspended payments despite being entitled to the money. They wait for the tenant to get back to them and verify they are still living at the property. I realised this when communicating with my Housing Benefit department and brought this to my tenant's attention. Still she assured me it was their fault and she was dealing with it. No communications with the council were made, payments ceased and on month later she abandoned the property and did not return the keys.
Not returning the keys means the tenancy has not been surrendered. I appealed to her mother to have the keys posted back without success. She assured her Mum she had returned the keys to me leaving me no further choice than to apply for possession of the property through the county court. This is time consuming and expensive.
The property was empty. Eventually was granted access and I was left the rotted remains of a deflated Halloween Pumpkin grey with mould and reflecting the feeling of the house after it's keeper had abandoned it. Her dog had been replaced with a puppy which through boredom had damaged the property where it had been imprisoned without attention. I had not taken a guarantor (someone who guaranteed the rent if the tenant ever failed to pay.) The tenant fortunately stripped the room housing the dog of now urine stained carpets. Unfortunately my cleaners had the task of bringing the property back to a clean and comfortable state. Loss £2000.
Did I take them to court? Well yes and no. Yes I did to regain possession of the property and I had a CCJ registered against them when they failed to pay the possession costs.
I did not however take them to court for the £2000+ unpaid rent they still owed.
You have 6 years to take court action on someone - a lot can change in 6 years. However if you're on benefits and have a child to bring up on your own then your circumstances may not change for some time. As I said I already have a CCJ registered which will warn a potential Landlord of this slippery tenant.
If I took her to court, for further expense it will grant me a CCJ for the £2000 but in reality that's a activity on paper.
How would you enforce it?
You could try to get money out of their bank account, that's with a big assumption there's enough in it - you can't get blood out if a stone and realistically it's probably overdrawn. They don't have any assets. With no car, perhaps their flat screen tv, but realistically you're wasting your time and energy. Best put that effort to re letting the property and re establishing regular payments.
I would suggest you monitor social media to see whether anything has changed. Whether they marry, get a job or change their life. If not register it as a bad debt on your accounts and move on. Learn your lesson - get a guarantor, make educated risks, act quicker when payments are missed. Take Rent Guarantee Insurance.
Next time - the history of insurance.
Read other articles from Phil Wheeler
When all avenues have been exhausted… Part 1 – Taking non-paying tenants to court
When all avenues have been exhausted… Taking tenants to court – Part 2 – When they defend
The History of Insurance - why you should invest in Rent Guarantees
Sorry to hear your story, I been there a few times and like you say you have to make a judgement about who you take action against and who you do not. I once took advice about a rent debt from my solicitor and he advised that if I formally requested payment of the debt before the end of sixth year then I would have another six years to recover the debt and I could keep the claim going indefinitely if I formally requested payment every six years there after. Just a though if you wish to keep someone on the hook. But as you say most of the time I just put it down to experience and move on. Now thanks to Paul R. we have LRS and can upload these wrongons and hope no LRS registered LL or LA will give the a property.
73 new ones uploaded across the land last week and 53 of those had a problems and that's 53 we now don't need to take and when we stop taking them all maybe the government, shelter-and all the others who think we should house problem tenants free will realise we don't I say join Lrs free and don't take those bad tenants off of other members
Paul Routledge CEO
Tenant Referencing UK.Com
Phil, I am afraid we have all had them and I do agree sometimes its not worth the hassle of taking them to court. However, we now just register them with LRS and keep spreading the word.
Hi Lister, Cathy and Paul,
If you have to get a possession order I suggest always ticking the box to request costs of the action to be factored in. S21 won't get you your rent back but can get a CCJ for your tenant for the same price, thus triggering a warning for those Landlords who care enough to get a credit check on their tenants. You must tell the court that they haven't paid you to get the CCJ added.
Registering them on LRS is essential, as is mentioning this website to everyone you meet. Only through networking will we unlock the power of the swarm against the few who attempt to break the trust and goodwill shown to them because they can. By uniting we have the collaborative mind working for us to make better informed decisions so those in genuine need can be shown compassion and those that feign this need will be stopped.
It's good that as Lister points out you can extend the 6 years recovery time by writing to the court. It seems very wrong that, what amounts in my eyes to theft, in our industry cannot carry a criminal charge when illegal eviction certainly does. It appears that justice the statue that appears outside courtrooms across the world, blindfolded and with a set of scales has a serious imbalance when it comes to the legalities around letting property. They heavily imbalanced in favour of the tenant.
When I speak to friends with little understanding of renting property and liken non paying tenants to a patron of a restaurant who halfway through the meal admits to the waiter that they don't want the bill as they aren't going to pay, then continue to order desserts, coffee and drinks and then the staff are forced to serve these waiting patiently with their fingers crossed that they leave. Unfortunately we have to do the same when renting to a non paying tenant and if we kick them out of the 'restaurant' or refuse to serve them we can be given a criminal record.
No wonder people aren't investing heavily enough in the PRS for if the process were easier less money would be lost and more in investment could be made in building housing, bringing empty homes back into use and renovating existing ones.
Totally agree Phil, the system really does not do itself any great favours at all. I have worked in this profession for over 20 years, and its getting worse in my opinion. not better. I have no issue with tenants being informed of their rights, in my previous career as a letting agent, I have advised many tenants of what they can and cant do, I have issue with those who flout those rights and abuse the system to the detriment of their landlords, of which I am one mysellf.
Sites such as this really are invaluable to give us all a voice and to network with each other. Now I am sitting on the LRS side of the fence in our new offices in Bristol, its really interesting to see what is posted daily and how members can help each other out. I wish help like this had been available when I was setting up my agency, as the lettings profession can be a lonely and scarey old place.
Keep those great articles coming Phil!
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