Former tenants suing for deposit, damages, stress, harassment, and injury but I am now abroadMake Text Bigger
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.
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 Therefore, the address for service on their tenancy agreements is no longer valid.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.
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