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 Tom Crispin

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

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.

by Seething Landlord

11:34 AM, 10th January 2022, About 2 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by Tom Crispin at 10/01/2022 - 08:20
Tom, Kate Mellor has given some detailed insight about third party debt orders.

I have never been involved in either process so cannot speak from experience but suggest that you also investigate whether an application to vary the Court Order might be the easier and less expensive option.

Despite what I have said earlier, I would also ask the DPS whether they can give any pointers on how to get the order varied and the wording that they would expect to see - quite possibly they will tell you to seek legal advice but it's worth a try.

From a brief bit of googling I think that you would use form N244 https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/form-n244-application-notice and pay a fee of £14 (this seems too good to be true so check with the Court office, but is what it says on page 9 of EX50} https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1042440/EX50_web_1221.pdf

Regarding service, if you are not able to find his current address I would:
1:investigate whether service at the last known address is possible and/or
2: use the address given in the prescribed information for contact by the landlord at the end of the tenancy and/or
3: consider whether service by email is possible, particularly if the tenancy agreement provides for this or the tenant has consented

by Seething Landlord

12:04 PM, 10th January 2022, About 2 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by Tom Crispin at 10/01/2022 - 10:59
I think you need to be clear in your own mind exactly what you want to achieve overall before embarking on further legal steps, particularly as £500 is only a small part of his total debt. Better to cover everything in one go if you can.

Offering a cash inducement of £500 when you already had an unsatisfied judgement of £5000 against him seems slightly bizarre. I am confused about how the deposit held by the DPS reduced from £1250 to £500 - does this mean that they have paid you £750 previously? If so, on what basis?

by Chris Novice Shark Bait

12:10 PM, 10th January 2022, About 2 weeks ago

I am still watching this debate, but stood back for a while so Tom could come back to what was initially his problem and I hope this community will assist him first and foremost. I have to agree with Windsor woman, that as far as the DPS are concerned their staff appear to be inexperienced. They could quote their T&Cs but do not. We are left to run around like headless chickens over a dispute of what on the face of it was a simple administrative task, unachievable by their policy of working, which fell short of common sense.
So is their a consensus amongst us as to whether deposit services are performing in both tenant's and landlords best interests in General, or are they
drawn into a mind-field of discontent with which they struggle to cope? All that is required is application of common sense which appears lacking when circumstances venture out of the bounds of what is commonplace. Is Tom with the DPS or not? If I have missed this then, apologies, but this thread is asking for direction to a less arduous route than using the DPS for whom seething landlord appears to be a fan. Of course they provide value for money because they charge nothing! However it is the service we pay for or suffer from with our own wasted time and unnecessary obstacles littered in our way.

by Kate Mellor

12:18 PM, 10th January 2022, About 2 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by Tom Crispin at 10/01/2022 - 10:59
I have a 'funny' pandemic story...a business tenant phoned me when the first lockdown was announced, worried. I told her not to worry, none of us knew what would happen and that we'd have to just wait to hear what the government plans might be and what assistance would be offered, but we'd work with her etc. I forwarded her details of grants, business rates holidays etc offered by her local council. Still no rent arrived.

When I eventually spoke to her on the phone her shocked reply to my demand for rent was, and I quote; 'You said I didn't have to pay rent for the whole of the pandemic! I spent the £10K government grant on a new heater/air con unit and repainting the premises because I didn't think I had to pay any rent!'

Good grief! The troubling thing is I actually believe that this is what she genuinely thought...she was sobbing.

No good deed goes unpunished!

Good luck with your debt recovery Tom

by Kate Mellor

13:28 PM, 10th January 2022, About 2 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by Chris Novice Shark Bait at 10/01/2022 - 12:10
Yes, it was DPS. In this instance the tenant refused to allow the DPS to use their arbitration services which would have been binding to both parties. That is an option either party has. The DPS or any of these services are purely independent “holders” of the deposit until an agreement is reach on the correct distribution at the end of the tenancy. They will arbitrate if allowed, otherwise the landlord must obtain a decision from the court as to the amount a landlord can claim. I believe this is common to all the providers.

by Seething Landlord

13:28 PM, 10th January 2022, About 2 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by Chris Novice Shark Bait at 10/01/2022 - 12:10Chris, yes, Tom's issue is with the DPS.
I would not describe myself as their fan but you have picked up on my tongue in cheek "value for money" comment in exactly the way I intended i.e.it is a free service, so don't expect too much..
Many of the problems that people have seem to result from their failure to read, understand and comply with the terms and conditions or to try and vary them to suit their own expectations. The service is what it is and has been around long enough for landlords to be aware of what it provides. Their website and processes have improved dramatically over the years so that it is now very simple to register a deposit and initiate a repayment, particularly if you have followed their advice and agreed with the tenant what should be paid to each party.
They also set out quite clearly in the t&cs what happens in the event of a dispute and on the website give examples and guidance on how they deal with disputes and calculate deductions for wear and tear etc. My experience has been that if you do everything "by the book" you get what you are entitled to.
The overriding principle is that the deposit belongs to and is held in trust for the tenant and as in any legal action it is for the claimant to prove his case. What you see as unnecessary obstacles are probably seen by the tenant as necessary safeguards, which was the whole point of the deposit protection legislation in the first place.
The adjudication service is provided as a free alternative to suing the tenant for rent arrears, damage or whatever and only comes into operation once both parties have agreed to be bound by its findings. Go into it with your eyes open and do not expect to be able to challenge their decision after the event.
If as in Tom's case you choose to embark on Court action and expect the DPS to satisfy the judgement in part or in whole it is important to seek the appropriate order at the time which is always going to be simpler than doing it retrospectively.
I have no experience of other deposit protection providers so cannot comment on them..

by Tom Crispin

14:14 PM, 10th January 2022, About 2 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by Seething Landlord at 10/01/2022 - 12:04
"Offering a cash inducement of £500 when you already had an unsatisfied judgement of £5000 against him seems slightly bizarre. I am confused about how the deposit held by the DPS reduced from £1250 to £500 - does this mean that they have paid you £750 previously? If so, on what basis?"

I just wanted him out of my flat as soon as possible with an incentive for him to leave my property in good order; thus the £500 cash incentive for him to go.

His deposit was £1265.75 (5 weeks of £1100 pm). He has agreed a partial repayment of £765.75.

by Seething Landlord

15:01 PM, 10th January 2022, About 2 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by Tom Crispin at 10/01/2022 - 14:14
Have you actually received the £765.75? If not, and you are going to apply for a 3rd party debt order or a variation of the previous order you should probably be looking for an order for the DPS to pay you the full £1265.75.

by Tom Crispin

16:15 PM, 10th January 2022, About 2 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by Seething Landlord at 10/01/2022 - 15:01
"Have you actually received the £765.75?"

Yes - it was paid into my bank on New Years' Eve.

My next step is to reclaim the £500. Then I will add up what is still owed and decide if I can make a second money claim for the £800 or so still owed and not already with a judgement.

My difficulty is that I think he's skint. But he has recently retrained as a fork lift truck driver, so that might not be the case now.

I'd be perfectly happy forgoing the remaining debt if I felt he was making some effort to repay the £5,000.


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