Landlord has the last laugh in rent arrears debacle

Landlord has the last laugh in rent arrears debacle

10:21 AM, 15th June 2015, About 8 years ago 30

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Paul Shamplin of Landlord ActionWe regularly come across cases where tenants have fallen on hard times and rather than communicate with their landlord for fear of losing their home, they instead choose to avoid paying the rent until the landlord reaches breaking point and the end result is eviction.

This is why we always try to encourage landlords that come to us asking for help with problem tenants, particularly cases with rental arrears, to try and engage in dialogue with their tenants and understand the reasons behind the lack of payment.  Sometimes this can be enough to save the professional relationship and work out a payment plan that suits everyone. After all, if a landlord has a tenant who has been in their property for some time and has taken good care of it, it can be more beneficial to be understanding and support the tenant to get back on course than to get rid of them.

However, there are also cases where the tenant just wants something for nothing, even if they can afford the rent, in other words ‘crooks’. We had a classic case of this recently, where I’m pleased to say the landlord has had the last laugh.   The case was brought to us of a tenant who had not pad rent for over a year.

We obtained judgment in the County Court, but the high value of arrears in this case enabled us to apply to have the case transferred up to the High Court for Enforcement.   We obtained a combined writ of possession and writ of control, as well as managing to recover the £16,000 debt prior to carrying out the eviction.  High Court Enforcement Agents (HCEA) have more power than County Court Bailiffs but in a recent survey we carried out, only 16.5% of cases get transferred up.

Our research had found that the debtor (tenant) was in possession of two vehicles.  The DVLA confirmed the tenant as the registered owner. When he failed to settle the writ within the compliance period, the case was assigned for attendance by our HCEA’s.

Upon arrival at the property, the agents clamped both motor vehicles prior to knocking on the door.

One of the tenants came to the door and was surprised to see us. He became hostile towards the agents demanding that they leave.  They explained why they were there and requested full settlement.

The tenant refused to settle the amount and claimed that he did not have funds to do so.  The agents advised him that they were taking an inventory of goods as they were taking control of them.

The tenant still refused to deal with the situation, so the agents called tow trucks to collect the vehicles and a removal vehicle for the household belongings.  At this time the tenant agreed to settle the outstanding amount in full.

The tenant then arranged a bank transfer of the full amount, and showed the bank transaction to the agents.  What was most interesting was that there was a credit balance of £100,000.00 in the account that the funds were coming from, so there was no reason for the tenant not to have paid the arrears of rent previously, or even just the rent on a monthly basis!

Three days later the agents again attended the enforcement address to carry out the eviction under the writ of possession issued in the High Court.  Vacant possession was obtained within an hour of arrival and the occupant removed most of his assets and arranged with the landlord to return for the remaining items.

It’s a shame that cases like this can be enough to put landlords off renting their properties in the future, and yet we have a desperate shortage of rental properties.  Fortunately in this case, we were successful and the landlord had the last laugh. Hopefully this will be a deterrent to other people who think they can get away with renting someone else’s property for free.

Contact Landlord Action

Specialists in tenant eviction and debt collection. Regulated by The Law Society.

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David Asker

22:36 PM, 15th June 2015, About 8 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "wanda wang" at "15/06/2015 - 22:33":

I'm sure there will be a reason for this but if you email me personally your case details I will look into the matter for you.

David - view my profile page for contact details.

Mark Alexander - Founder of Property118

22:40 PM, 15th June 2015, About 8 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "David Carter" at "15/06/2015 - 22:36":

Please share the outcome.

wanda wang

20:57 PM, 16th June 2015, About 8 years ago

Previously I shared my section 8 eviction story some time ago, I do find property 118 is a very useful website and I do use the company that is on this website.
Now I am going to the next stage to enforce my CCJ. The bad tenants would rather have a CCJ against them than pay up. Having read about various options to enforce and the county court bailiff and High Court Enforcement officer. I still had a go with the county court bailiff first, it turns out to be true, and they are not good at all. They have no incentive to collect. After county court bailiff two times visit, I had had enough waiting and waiting, nothing really happened, especially as I drive pass the debtor’s house every day, I saw the cars parked there, but there is nothing I can do. Determined not to let these bad people get away with I put my hope in the High Court Enforcement officer. It took 3-4 weeks to transfer to High court to be enforced, and then a letter was issued, another two weeks to wait, after expired date, you are waiting for High Court Enforcement officer to pay them a visit. I had given them all the information and best time to go, but they went out at a different time I suggested, so the first visit result was rather disappointing. All this time spent waiting; the debtors could move again to somewhere else or dispose of the assets such as transfer the ownership of cars. There is no swift action, just waiting and waiting, and in the meantime I was helpless. The Law is a shambles, one side they say to claimant you can use bailiff to collect money owed to you, other hand they say to defendant, if bailiff coming, don’t open the door. This legal system is totally useless.
To use High court officer, I have questions to ask, what time scale for them to go, how long do they spend on each case? What is the success rate for collecting rent areas? I heard someone say it is 1 in 5? Then you know your chances are slim. And then they will guarantee to charge you £90.00, who is the one suffering -The Landlord!

David Asker

21:22 PM, 16th June 2015, About 8 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "wanda wang" at "16/06/2015 - 20:57":

Unfortunately, like all HCEOs, we are in the hands of the courts when it comes to transferring a County Court judgment up to the High Court. Some courts do it in days, others take a few weeks.

We are also bound by the Taking Control of Goods Regulations regarding the Notice of Enforcement that has to be sent and the 7 working days that are required for it to expire.

I have received your email and will respond to you accordingly.

One thing I would advise is that we are unable to seize the debtors company car as you stated.

I wholeheartedly agree that the court system can be favourable to the debtor these days and enforcement against debtors for rent arrears is notoriously difficult on occasions.

Regards, David.

wanda wang

20:12 PM, 17th June 2015, About 8 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "David Carter" at "16/06/2015 - 21:22":

Thank you for your reply, I never meant to ask you to seize the debtors' company car. What I mean is the two cars belonging to them. If swift action was taken after expiry date, then you could have seized the two cars. What make me angry is that I drive passed the debtor's place every day just after 5 PM. There is only one car left now, and I am still waiting for the action .

Mark Alexander - Founder of Property118

20:26 PM, 17th June 2015, About 8 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "wanda wang" at "17/06/2015 - 20:12":

Can I ask Wanda, how much do you think the other car is worth? If it's only an old banger, often it isn't commercially viable to have it lifted and sold at auction because the recovery costs can exceed the sale proceeds. Cars really need to be worth a few thousand net of finance to make it viable to take forced possession of them, so I understand.

wanda wang

20:36 PM, 17th June 2015, About 8 years ago

HI Mark, at the time there were two cars that could be seized. It should make up a few thousand. But now there is only one car left. I don't know how much it is worth, I have provided the registration number to the Sheriffs office. Even if it only sells for £500.00 , I still want it seized. Because all along , I am the one who is suffering.

Mark Alexander - Founder of Property118

20:48 PM, 17th June 2015, About 8 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "wanda wang" at "17/06/2015 - 20:36":

Hi Wanda

If it sold at auction for £300 but the costs of removal and sale were greater than that figure would you still want it done? If so, I suspect an HCEO would be prepared to do that if you were to pay the costs up front. I do understand that sometimes principles outrank money and you want to feel that you have taught somebody a lesson, even if it ends up costing you money.

Obviously I know nothing about your case, I'm just an interested bystander, happy to share my thoughts and keen to understand the implications of the various decisions.

wanda wang

21:08 PM, 17th June 2015, About 8 years ago

Hi Mark
I have always thought your thoughts are very valuable. I know you knew nothing about my case, but if you re-read my section 8 eviction experience, you may understand what is behind my decision. But HCEO never came back to me and said the car is not worth seizing.

Mark Alexander - Founder of Property118

7:02 AM, 18th June 2015, About 8 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "wanda wang" at "17/06/2015 - 21:08":

Hi Wanda

I have read your section 8 article again to refresh my memory and I totally understand your frustrations.

I'm sure David Carter will be able to find out why communication hasn't been too good between you and your appointed HCEO and I'm sure he will prefer to discuss that offline with you.

Whatever happens, remember you have up to six years to enforce judgment. Sometimes, revenge is a dish best served cold. If you can't get your money out of your tenants now, six years is a long time for them to continue to live in poverty.

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