Deposit recovery after vexatious bullying claim and no address?

Deposit recovery after vexatious bullying claim and no address?

9:05 AM, 6th January 2022, About 3 weeks ago 45

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A tenant of mine left my flat with about £7,000 rent arrears: £6,300 during the tenancy and another £750 or so after refusing to vacate, and only leaving after a possession order hearing date had been given.

I have a £5,000 CCJ, which he is required to pay £200 per month.

I’m trying to reclaim his £1,265 deposit, but he is contesting this saying that I bullied him to leave before getting a possession order by threatening him with court action (!) if he didn’t leave.

He is refusing mediation, and the deposit company say I can only recover the deposit with a court order. Unfortunately, I don’t have an address for him.

How can I get a court order to recover my money without an address for him?

Many thanks

Tom



Comments

by Simon M

20:28 PM, 8th January 2022, About 3 weeks ago

I used the phrase nature of letting first, but reality of letting might be closer to the meaning I intended. Reading Tom's request my first thought was that it sounded like my experience of DPS. We don't know if it is, but it's worth noting Chris Novice Shark Bait and others have only commented on DPS.

One of several examples: I submitted a claim with inventory in & out, quote for identical replacement, reduced the amount for fair wear & tear. DPS still only awarded what their book said - as if all landlords buy the cheapest carpets, appliances & fittings. That may work if you rent at the lower end of the market but not for me.

The deposit is the tenant's money but many tenants do little or nothing to comply with processes, while landlords have to jump through hoops. This is all work for the landlord - unpaid because you can't claim your time (even when it's in the TA, according to DPS). The process is bureaucratic and one-sided but if it's to work for landlords and tenants in the long-term it needs to be seen to be fair.

by Tom Crispin

17:28 PM, 9th January 2022, About 2 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by Simon M at 06/01/2022 - 11:28
Thanks for everyone’s useful comments.

The remaining deposit (£500) is with DPS.

Rent was £1100 pcm, with a goodwill temporary deduction of £50 pm.

Way back in April things started to go wrong and in May I gave my tenant a Section 21 notice (6 months) to leave at the end of the tenancy in November. By September he was £5250 in arrears and I made a money claim for £5000.

At the end of his tenancy he owed £6,300, and I had a CCJ for £5000, and with his deposit of £1,265 I had the debt more or less covered.

But he wouldn’t move out.

I wrote to him explaining that if he wouldn’t go I’d seek a mandatory possession order, and if necessary a bailiff eviction which is a “brutal” process for both parties. He left with a further ~£750 arrears.

The order with his CCJ is to pay me £200 per month until the debt is cleared, and of the £800 he should have paid already I have had £300.

To reclaim the remaining £500 with DPS, I can see two possible routes.

1. An enforcement for the £500 CCJ arrears.

2. A new CCJ for the ~£2,050 arrears.

My problem is that I don’t have an address for my former tenant. Can I use my flat’s address as his last know address for the enforcement and/or second CCJ?

Or should I wait until I have a current address for him, which I am moderately confident I will eventually get as he is a limited company director?

Thanks for your thoughts and advice.

by Seething Landlord

19:05 PM, 9th January 2022, About 2 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by Tom Crispin at 09/01/2022 - 17:28
The following clause from the DPS t&cs gives the two options for obtaining the release of the deposit after a Court Order has been obtained, as in your case, at 24b:

24. Court Orders
a. If you obtain a court order against your Landlord or Tenant, we will only release the
Deposit if:
i. it refers to the Deposit and/or The DPS as the Scheme administrator; and
ii. it specifies how much of the Deposit should be paid to the successful Party.
b. If the court order does not comply with section a above, we will not be able to release
the Deposit. In this case, the order must be amended, or a third party debt order must
be obtained before we can release the Deposit.

by Tom Crispin

22:31 PM, 9th January 2022, About 2 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by Seething Landlord at 09/01/2022 - 19:05
This feels like a very long-shot of a thought.

Could I take DPS to the small claims court to recover the remaining £500 of my former tenant's deposit, given that I have no address for for my former tenant?

by Seething Landlord

23:39 PM, 9th January 2022, About 2 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by Tom Crispin at 09/01/2022 - 22:31
Why do you not want to take one of the two steps specified in the DPS t&cs?

by Tom Crispin

8:20 AM, 10th January 2022, About 2 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by Seething Landlord at 09/01/2022 - 23:39
"Why do you not want to take one of the two steps specified in the DPS t&cs?"

I don't know how, and I don't want to throw money at solicitors to find out how for what is a relatively small sum.

by Kate Mellor

8:56 AM, 10th January 2022, About 2 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by Tom Crispin at 10/01/2022 - 08:20
You don’t need a solicitor the guides are all online. It’s pretty simple, I’ve had to do something similar myself. I’ll find you the links later this morning and post it on here. I think a 3rd party debt repayment order is probably simplest. You also should consider pursuing the tenant for failure to comply with his repayment agreement. You can pay a small sum to obtain his address. There are many companies that offer a tenant find service. I think Tenant Verify offers this, but others may have recommendations of one’s they’ve actually used.

by Kate Mellor

9:32 AM, 10th January 2022, About 2 weeks ago

CORRECTION:
Apologies, I meant a DEBTOR TRACING SERVICE rather than tenant finder service!

by Kate Mellor

10:25 AM, 10th January 2022, About 2 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by Kate Mellor at 10/01/2022 - 08:56
Debtor tracing (or skip tracing) costs approx £20-£50 and is usually on a 'no find, no fee' basis.

Options for enforcing a judgement, including links to the relevant forms and guidance notes:
https://www.gov.uk/make-court-claim-for-money/enforce-a-judgment

Guidance for 3rd party debt orders:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/third-party-debt-orders-and-charging-orders-ex325

Application form for 3rd party debt order:
https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/958283/n349-eng.pdf

As you can see, you can apply for more than one 3rd party debt order. For example you could also apply for one for his bank account.

You could try an attachment to earnings if he's employed by his company, but as a director he has the ability to manipulate his earnings.

If you wish to claim the total amount owed by this debtor, which you've stated is more than the amount you currently have a CCJ for, you will need to make a NEW CLAIM. You can choose to apply for a 3rd party debt order using the existing CCJ for ease, but you can still choose to apply for the additional amount owed at any point within the 6 year period allowed.

Have you tried contacting your ex-tenant recently through the DPS website? He was clearly being obstructive purely to ensure that if he can't have the money neither can you. He may change his tune if he's since realised that he won't be free from this debt until it's repaid. Perhaps you could agree not to issue a further CCJ for the remaining debt if he agrees to release the deposit to you. It would be a concession on your part, but it would save you some work and you'd receive much needed funds in a lump sum now. (A bird in the hand is worth more than two in the bush).

One piece of advice I would offer, (learned the hard way by me), is to ALWAYS use a private process server to serve the documents on your debtor. Serial debtors are VERY good at avoiding court bailiffs. I waited for about a year before giving up on the court bailiffs and engaging a private one based in the area the debtor now lives. He had the papers served within a month (and I don't think they made it easy). Private bailiffs will do what it takes, but court ones just do the minimum. The one I used eventually pretended to be reading the meter or something similar after he'd struck out a few times.

This was my one and only time of pursuing a debtor. I normally take pity on those who are just a bit hard up, but these guys were the absolute pits. I'm now getting £75pcm back (which will take them years for the thousands they owed in rent arrears) and I haven't even gone to court for the £15K of property damage they caused. I only applied for the rent arrears at first as the tenants were still in the property at the time, so we had no idea of the damage yet. I wanted to get started while we knew where they were! They were both employed and living the high life with private schools and golf club memberships etc. It was important to me that they had some inconvenience for what they'd done and not just walked away to do it to someone else. It might be a pyric victory, but it meant something to me. The photos of the brand new property before and after their tenancy would make good fodder for an episodes of 'Tenant's from Hell'.

by Tom Crispin

10:59 AM, 10th January 2022, About 2 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by Kate Mellor at 10/01/2022 - 10:25
Thank you - this is all really great advice.

The 3rd part debt order looks the way to go, and I will start the process tomorrow.

Just a little history.

This guy moved from Glasgow to London in November 2020 to set up a new branch of his business. The business failed possibly due to the pandemic, and he stopped paying rent. He informed me at the earliest opportunity, and I offered him a debt free way out plus £500 cash if he left my flat by the end of June 2021 and at the same time issued a Section 21 notice (back in April this required 6 months' notice). He stayed.

I then got a £5,000 CCJ soon after his arrears reached £5,000.

With the £5,000 order and deposit more or less covering debts to the end of his tenancy, I again offered £500 cash if he left at the end of his tenancy.

He stayed.

Within 7 days I lodged the possession order papers with the court.

He left voluntarily just over 17 days after the end of his tenancy - just as well as the Court decided the possession order required a hearing with date set for 7 February 2022.

He is staying with a friend, so difficult to trace his address. He blames me for tricking him into leaving before a possession order, which is how he is justifying his claim of £500 of his deposit to be returned.

I am certainly willing to forgo a considerable chunk of his debt to me for a simple resolution and to draw a line under this episode. But I am also willing to put up quite long lasting and determined battle to get what is owed if he resists compromise.

We have all suffered to a greater or lessor extent throughout this pandemic. While there were four of us living in a three bed house, he was a single man in a two bed flat. To counter our loss or rental income our two boys (6 & 7) moved into the same bedroom and we took a lodger into our spare room. My tenant could have done the same with his spare room and paid me a partial rent throughout. He didn't.


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