Other Landlords experiences of successfully getting Rent arrears from evicted HB tenants

Other Landlords experiences of successfully getting Rent arrears from evicted HB tenants

10:47 AM, 12th August 2014, About 10 years ago 83

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Hi fellow members, Other Landlords experiences of successfully getting Rent arrears from evicted HB tenants

Love to hear your thoughts/experiences:

I’m going through the eviction process on two properties which are let to tenants claiming Housing Benefits. They have a combined arrears of over £6,000!

Is it worth the emotional stress (as well as time and costs) to go on a not so fruitful expedition of getting these arrears back after they have been evicted?

Yours  – a very frustrated landlord!


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Robert M

14:19 PM, 15th October 2014, About 9 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Arran Pritchard" at "15/10/2014 - 13:13":

Hi Arran

You have altered some of the forms and procedures I advised, and are also sending the DWP some information they do not need which may be confusing matters. I have sent you a further e-mail with additional advice specific to the paperwork you e-mailed to me.

One of the main points is that you are asking for direct deductions due to rent arrears before there are sufficient rent arrears for this criteria to kick in, but what you are really trying to get is the direct deductions for the ongoing service charges, so you need to adapt the request letter to make it clear to the DWP that this is what you are asking for (and thus however many weeks arrears there are is irrelevant to this particular request).

Make the amendments suggested in the e-mail I've sent you, and send just a few requests at a time (don't overwhelm DWP staff, as it won't do you any favours long term). See what response you get, and build up from there.

David Asker

16:25 PM, 15th October 2014, About 9 years ago

Just thought I'd add my two penneth.

We are instructed on many cases similar to the issues at hand here. If I'm honest, most of these cases are unenforceable at the time of instruction.

However, what we have seen is Landlord's waiting to see if the tenants situation changes for the positive and then re-instructing us to enforce. This can only be done of course if judgment was obtained in the first instance.

One such case was against a former student who left owing £1800 in rent in 2010. We were unsuccessful at the time and aborted the case after many attempts to recover. 3 years later the Landlord instructed us to do an address and employment trace. We found our man who was now working for a well known financial institution and taking home a sensible income. We were re-instructed and this time were successful, recovering the full rent arrears, the court costs, interest at 8% and our fees.

As with most enforcement, the decision should be made on a case by case basis but getting judgment at the time can literally pay off later.

Robert M

17:50 PM, 15th October 2014, About 9 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "David Carter" at "15/10/2014 - 16:25":

Hi David

I agree that someone's situation may change for the better and they may then have assets that could be seized, but unless it's a car easily identifiable as theirs (and not bought on a finance agreement), then they can just tell you to go away, as you have no right of entry to residential accommodation, and until the law changes on this, then you are virtually powerless unless they choose to co-operate. However, in an instance such as the one you give as an example, it may be that an attachment of earnings (AOE) would be a more reliable enforcement method (as the debtor cannot just close the door and tell the AOE court order to go away).

However, if you are gaining entry as part of a possession, do you then have to power to seize assets at the same time, as you would then have gained lawful entry to the property?

David Asker

17:57 PM, 15th October 2014, About 9 years ago

We've had this discussion before Mark and whilst you're technically right regarding entry there is a lot more to it than that.

Our own recent statistics show that we gain entry to over half of all residential addresses. This isn't a 'foot in the door' tactic but a simple method of communicating with the debtor in the right way, explaining to them the benefits of resolving the issues rather than 'we're here to take your stuff'.

But you are right that High Court Enforcement is just one of several options open to a creditor and whilst it will not always be the one that works, from a cost perspective it has the least exposure at just £60 for a Writ and only £75 if we're unsuccessful. Commercially, that make a lot of sense to many, hence the continued use of our services.

And yes, an AoE is another option, albeit a more expensive one.

Robert M

19:09 PM, 15th October 2014, About 9 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "David Carter" at "15/10/2014 - 17:57":

Hi David,

I note that there is another discussion going on about using High Court Sheriffs for evicting tenants without notice, rather than waiting weeks for County Court Bailiffs and the tenant having plenty of notice of the cc bailiff's arrival date. As most tenants in this situation also owe money to the landlord, if you are gaining entry as part of repossessing it for the landlord, can you AT THE SAME TIME also seize the contents of the house (tenant's assets) to force payment of the rent arrears or to sell off to pay towards the rent arrears? (as in that instance you would have gained lawful entry to the house, so could presumably then levy on everything in it?).

If you do have the power to seize tenant assets at the same time as evicting tenants, would this be done on the same Writ (and thus just one fee), or would a second Writ be required?

David Asker

19:22 PM, 15th October 2014, About 9 years ago

Hi Robert,

The answer is technically yes although a complication arose during the introduction of the Taking Control of Goods Regulations in April of this year.

Since then, an HCEO is required to send a Notice of Enforcement to the judgment debtor giving 7 clear days notice when executing a Writ of Control (for money).

Accordingly, if you have a combined judgment for possession and money you can technically evict without notice but can only enforce for money with notice.

What I would say is that most tenants facing eviction do not have goods of value that are worth taking. It must also be remembered that most household goods have limited value at auction and once you consider the costs of removal, auctioneers costs and enforcement fees they often aren't worth taking.

Having said that, in many enforcement actions for money the goods seized are not worth removing and selling but it is the replacement cost that drives the debtor to pay.

And yes to confirm, you can get an order for possession and money at the same time.

One last thing, as mentioned before, it could be worth waiting a while before enforcing the monetary aspect, you have 6 years.

Robert M

19:38 PM, 15th October 2014, About 9 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "David Carter" at "15/10/2014 - 19:22":

So if a landlord got a possession order and a money judgement order, and asked you to enforce both, then you could give 7 days notice on the enforcement of the debt but not mention the eviction, then after 7 days you turn up and evict the tenant and seize any goods worth seizing at the same time? This is all done on one £60 Writ?

If the tenant has nothing of value at that point in time, there would be nothing to stop the landlord applying for a Writ of Control again in the future, or indeed taking an alternative form of enforcement, (for up to 6 years)?

I always find it amazing how many tenants have massive TVs, i-phones, i-pads, laptops, X-boxes, Playstations, etc, and of course they have gone out and bought these and other luxury goods INSTEAD OF paying their rent. Therefore, at the point of eviction, it would seem to me quite reasonable for the HCEO to seize these.

Ray Davison

19:44 PM, 15th October 2014, About 9 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Robert Mellors" at "04/10/2014 - 18:15":

I have been reading this thread with interest and learning much. We do not do room lets or HMO's but I have a couple of questions.

Can you ask the DWP for the £3.65pw deduction for arrears even if they are no longer your tenant? If so do the arrears still need to amount to 8 weeks?

Thinking about your comment re LHA shortfall. Say the LHA on a 1 bed flat was £400 and we wanted to charge rent of £425. If I understand you correctly the DWP would not pay either a TPP or the £3.55 arrears deduction for the additional £25 rent? If so, could we therefore charge £400 rent plus £25 service charge (To cover common areas maintenance such as cleaning, gardening, window cleaning etc) and then have this as a TPP from the DWP. To clarify the question, the tenant would still be responsible for their utility bills as it is a normal one bed flat in a block.

David Asker

20:02 PM, 15th October 2014, About 9 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Robert Mellors" at "15/10/2014 - 19:38":

Exactly Robert.

The form for either is an N293A which is a combined writ of control and/or possession.

Robert M

21:37 PM, 15th October 2014, About 9 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Ray Davison" at "15/10/2014 - 19:44":

Hi Ray

Unfortunately the DWP will NOT pay the £3.65 pw Third Party Payment (direct deduction) for a former tenant, only for a current resident. I've had a whole series of correspondence with the DWP on this point, and have not (yet) found a way around it.

There is nothing to stop you setting a rent of £400 and a service charge of £25 but it does not really assist you because the Housing Benefit will still only pay the LHA rate, and the DWP will NOT pay the £25 service charge because it does not relate to gas, electricity, or water, (as you said these are all set up in the resident's own name). However, what it may do is take out the "shortfall" element so that when your tenant has got 8 weeks rent arrears then you can ask for the £3.65 pw TPP, and there is no issue (and thus no objection) in relation to whether the arrears are due to the HB shortfall.

Also, there is nothing to stop you saying in your tenancy agreements, that the first 2 months rent are due in advance. This would mean that if your tenant does not pay rent on the first day of the tenancy, you can immediately request that Housing Benefit is paid direct to you, as the tenant would have 2 months rent arrears, which is the criteria for HB being paid direct to the landlord. This would also mean you can apply for the TPP sooner than you would otherwise have been able to.

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