Former tenants suing for deposit, damages, stress, harassment, and injury but I am now abroad

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3 years ago

Former tenants suing for deposit, damages, stress, harassment, and injury but I am now abroad

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Former tenants suing for deposit, damages, stress, harassment, and injury but I am now abroad

I had a dispute last year with my two tenants over the return of their deposit where they wanted a higher rent abatement than I offered them for some major bathroom works that was done while they were there. They therefore failed to pay some rent in their last month.long arm of the law

When they moved out, I retained some of their deposit to cover this rent and they raised disputes with DPS where the deposit was registered. I had to send cheques to DPS for the respective amounts. I dealt with one using the ADR service (which I was successful on), and the other I opted out of the ADR service (so it would have to be dealt with in court). The latter’s deposit has been held with DPS ever since.

However, this month both tenants have sent me letters before action by e-mail and are making a number of claims against me. One of these is that I did not register their deposits within 30 days which is a failure to comply with s213 of the Housing Act 2004. I understand that there is no defence for this and I will be liable to compensate them between one and three times the deposit amount. One of them is also claiming for disrepair of the property during the bathroom works which took longer than expected, for stress due to harassment from me attending the property without proper notice (they were under separate room-only ASTs and I entered common areas only to inspect the ongoing bathroom works), and for a minor injury to her foot where she claims she stepped on something sharp. The claims are £1875 and £6500 respectively.

Now, my initial query isn’t so much about the validity of the claims (I will cross that bridge if it comes to it), but more about the procedures they must follow when I no longer live in the UK but still have properties in the UK. I am now a Mauritian citizen (no longer British) and I moved to Mauritius after the end of their tenancies. Therefore, the address for service on their tenancy agreements is no longer valid.

I understand that documents other than the claim form (such as the letter before action) must be served in the UK or EEA in accordance with Section III of CPR Part 6 – https://www.justice.gov.uk/courts/procedure-rules/civil/rules/part06#III – but I’m not sure if this applies to me since I have moved outside of the jurisdiction since the tenancies ended. Therefore, I believe Section IV of CPR Part 6 applies. And if Section IV – https://www.justice.gov.uk/courts/procedure-rules/civil/rules/part06#IV – applies in my case, then I guess that would leave them in a much more difficult situation if they do not have my overseas address or any other details.

Any advice on this would be appreciated.

Jason



Comments

Neil Patterson

3 years ago

Hi Jason,

Personally I would go straight to our specialist legal team and make conatct with Mark Smith (Barrister-At-Law) please see his members profile >> http://www.property118.com/member/?id=1945

Neil is right Jason - your situation raises lots of issues and Mark or I would be delighted to help. We offer a free initial consultation. It is certainly not the case that there is no defence to a deposit penalty dispute, and your tenants might have severe trouble pursuing a case against you in Mauritius. The strict obligation to provide a tenant with a landlord's address in England and Wales (under section 48 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1987) does not apply once the tenancy has ended. A legal letter to them or their representatives might head them off.

3 years ago

Would agree with Neil and Charles on this. I have dealt with cases where the tenant was under the impression it was a ‘done deal’ in such cases and proved there is a right to a defence. I have also come across a couple of companies who ‘try it on’ over deposits and similar situations. Check out my profile.

White Collar

3 years ago

Dear Jason

If they do not have your up to date details then your last known details can be reasonably used as a substitute.

May I suggest you advise them of your situation that you are no longer in the UK

If you require any assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me

Kind regards

Phil

Jason Payne

3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "White Collar" at "31/10/2015 - 17:54":

Thanks, Phil. I have already informed them I'm abroad by e-mail but have not provided them with my overseas address. On that basis, can they still use my last UK address as a substitute even though I've told them I no longer live there?

3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Jason Payne" at "01/11/2015 - 09:24":

Jason, they could use your 'last know address' to issue a claim against you. Then if you are unaware the action and they get Judgement by default and could go for various enforcement actions. I have dealt with many cases were the claimant has been 'sneaky'. It becomes costly and stressful to ward off such situations. They could also deny ever receiving the email about you being overseas- hence a lot of law firms do not accept service by email. My opinion is this needs sorting before it costs you and gets out of hand

Jason Payne

3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Peter Fisher - Fixed Fee Law" at "01/11/2015 - 09:52":

Thanks, Peter. Makes sense. I had a judgement made against me once where the claimant was using the wrong address the whole way through. The judgement was revoked once this became known.

In this new case, I have all my mail at my old UK address automatically managed so that it is all returned to sender with a note that I no longer live there and am overseas. Surely, if a court receives their mail back in this way, surely they would inform the claimant of such and note this on file?

3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Jason Payne" at "01/11/2015 - 13:19":

Yes Jason to some extent you are right about 'Return to Sender', but you have 14 days from date of issue and often the time taken for the 'Return to Sender' letter to get back to sender can be longer.

White Collar

3 years ago

Yes, the Court would inform the other party of a 'return to sender' but the document would still be considered served

Jason Payne

3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "White Collar" at "02/11/2015 - 16:53":

Thanks, Phil. I understand that applies where the party to be served is within the jurisdiction as this falls under Section III of CPR Part 6. But, since I am outside of the jurisdiction, Section IV applies, therefore the rules governing deemed service are not the same. This is my understanding which is also echoed here: http://www.aboutsmallclaims.co.uk/serving-court-papers-documents.html

Is my understanding correct? If so, what happens in such cases as the document cannot be deemed served as the correct address being the usual or last known address of the defendant is only the case when the defendant is within the jurisdiction?

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