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

8:03 AM, 18th June 2015, About 8 years ago

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

Dear Wanda,

As per our previous DVLA report to you the company vehicle which you mentioned in your instruction is registered to the Ministry of Defence although our enforcement agent is investigating this further. In any event the value of this vehicle is estimated to be approx £500 at auction and once the costs of removal, storage and auctioneers sale fees are considered it is not financially advisable to remove such a vehicle. It should be remembered that vehicles will often have to be removed without keys, log book, MoT and service history.

As you know, the other H-reg (1990) vehicle has been standing for some time and is untaxed hence why the costs of removal and sale would far outweigh it's value also.

Should you wish to indemnify us for the costs of removal, storage and sale we will of course adhere to your instructions regarding removal.

However, I must advise that during our visit yesterday the debtors claim that they have submitted an application to stay enforcement and set aside judgment. They could provide no proof of this so we shall continue with enforcement action in the meantime.

A full report will be sent to you later today.

I fully understand your frustration in this matter but please bear with us whilst we continue to try and negotiate payment.

Regards, David

12:05 PM, 20th June 2015, About 8 years ago

I also have a case currently with the Sheriffs Office. Again for unpaid rent and only two payments made after the CCJ. I do wonder how tenants can pass a credit check through an estate agent when after they had left found they had paid no electricity, gas water, television licence etc etc. However they did keep their Council tax up to date. Perhaps because father was local mayor and recently elected local councillor. They stupidly left a box in the property full of mail relating to debts going back a few years but how can they pass a credit check when owing so many companies so much money? When asked the utility companies why they dont cut the supply off they said they are not allowed to do that in case the people living in the property are elderly or children and vulnerable. At least since the case has been transferred up to the bailiffs they have started to make payments and on a regular basis so enforcement does work and very grateful for this. However unsure whether DVLA can reveal whether a person at a certain addresa is the owner of a car without knowing the actual registration number. Almost certain they do have a car but when bailiffs have visited the property the vehicle hasn't been there.

David Asker

12:14 PM, 20th June 2015, About 8 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Ann Large" at "20/06/2015 - 12:05":

Dear Ann,

I'm pleased to hear that your debtors are now making some payments towards what they owe.

In terms of DVLA checks we can only submit a request using a registration number. I have always lobbied for the DVLA to provide reverse checks using a name and address. They hold this data and this would increase the chance of successful enforcement of court judgments significantly. Alas, this has fallen on deaf ears thus far.

It is common knowledge that various forums and advice groups advise debtors to park their cars away from their house if bailiffs are chasing them for a debt. If the DVLA allowed the reverse check this would immediately give the enforcement agents the ability to find the debtors vehicles in the surrounding roads.

12:23 PM, 20th June 2015, About 8 years ago

It is helpful to know this and as someone posted earlier, a good reason to make a note of car registration details for tenants from the start. Again, very grateful there is a low cost option to go to for enforcing a CCJ. Would recommend the option of asking tenant to appear in court to declare finances also which is what happened in our case. Think at times it seems much easier to just give up in some cases because of all the hassle but important not to to ensure these people realise they shouldnt be able to go through life getting a free ride.

wanda wang

13:13 PM, 20th June 2015, About 8 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Ann Large" at "20/06/2015 - 12:23":

I am glad to hear that your case has a little optimistic outcome since it is the hands of bailiffs. However, even you know actual cars registration number, I don’t think that will help either. I have been advised by The Sheriff’s Office, the costs of removal, storage and sale could greater than car’s value. So I will have more money out of pocket.

Declare their finances, they could make up their expenditure is greater than their income. Then you get reward for £10 a month.

I totally agree with you, we can not let these people get away with. but the law is not on our side.

13:21 PM, 20th June 2015, About 8 years ago

It is still good to have them go to court and they need to take bank statements with them too. You can also ask questions of them whether you appear at court in person or not. Our tenants certainly didnt like being asked to appear in court which is more reason to ask them to do so if needing to find out a bit more information. Our case has been going on 15 months since initial small claims and not used a solicitor at all, did it ourselves. But not giving up as someone else will have same problem with them further down the line

wanda wang

16:56 PM, 20th June 2015, About 8 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Ann Large" at "20/06/2015 - 13:21":

Good on you, did all by yourself. I used solicitor to help drafting section 21 notices, because of their fault, costing me one more month unpaid rent. They are only interested in dragging longer and charge you more money.
Surprise me, this disgraceful family rent through the Estate agent again, how did they pass all checks? How did they pass previously landlord reference?

Mark Alexander - Founder of Property118

17:06 PM, 20th June 2015, About 8 years ago

I really can't understand why landlords put themselves through such grief when for £35 pm it can be somebody else's problem, even the legal fees, letting, management, rent guarantee insurance, deposit protection, tenancies, notices etc. PLEASE check out next time you're looking to re-let.

Jack Craven

11:39 AM, 10th July 2015, About 8 years ago

I have recently written about an ex tenant, a self employed window cleaner who owes rent, I have just been informed that he claims working tax credits and housing benefits because of his low earnings. A friend of mine who is a law student tells me that I can make a claim for attachment of earning to these benefits, does anyone know if this is true?

Mark Alexander - Founder of Property118

11:42 AM, 10th July 2015, About 8 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Jack Craven" at "10/07/2015 - 11:39":

Yes it's true but I think the maximum award in terms of deductions against benefits is capped at a very low number. Something like £10 a month I think!

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