10:55 AM, 16th November 2014, About 9 years ago 7
We rented a property to a working couple with children, they paid the deposit and provided a rental guarantor in the name of the father of the male tenant.
They paid the rent direct into our bank account via internet banking.
The tenancy started ok, then a payment went missing, I followed this up and was told it had been paid into the wrong account, next month the same happened. Again I met the tenants and they seemed genuine.
A few months later and we are up to 4 months in arrears, I meet with the tenant and agree an action plan to recover the monies from the wrong account and to keep the rent up to date. I provide them with a paying in book so they have the correct details to hand at all times.
Around Christmas time the same situation occurs and the rent has gone missing, on contacting the tenant, the same reason is given, the money has been paid into the wrong account.
I then receive a payment of four months rent and a letter from the tenant explaining how they will repay the remainder.
The couple part ways and the male tenant promises to meet the rental obligation and pay off the outstanding arrears.
Then he disappears off the radar and she is left with the rental obligation, and unbeknown to me makes a claim for HB. This seems to be going well and the rent is coming on time. However, every time I talk about the arrears and chasing the bank to get the money back from the misdirected payments I am told that the person who received the funds has not responded.
6 Months on the rent is not paid and I chase up the tenant. I am told that the claim has been stopped and her tax credits have not come and she has not been paid from her job.
Three months down the line with no housing benefit being paid and no tax credit (this is what I was being told by the tenant) I manage to persuade her to leave the property. NB the council wouldn’t talk to me about her claim as I did have her authority to deal with them direct.
Subsequently I have found out that she was in receipt of HB all along and was still trying to claim entitlement for living at the address even though we had taken possession.
Having instructed debt collectors to chase the tenants for outstanding rent, the collection company tried pursuing the tenants. Letter at her new address returned not known, once I knew the address I took a picture of her car at the address proving that she was contactable.
The debt collectors, having no joy with the tenants, then move on to the guarantor.
I have just received a letter from the guarantors solicitor via the debt collectors:
Unfortunately the guarantor has died and now his wife denies that the signature is his, in addition the tenant is volunteering that she forged the signature of the witness on the guarantee form. The solictor’s are suggesting we employ a handwriting specialist to determine the signatures validity.
I am 50/50 on the truth in this as I know the guarantor, did guarantee an HP agreement for a new car about a year/year and half into the tenancy. I am of the opinion this is a ruse to get out of the legal obligation he signed as a guarantor now his is no longer alive.
I have spoken to a friend in the police who has suggested I make a complaint of fraud against the tenant as the tenancy would not have been given if the guarantor document was not signed.
At the moment I don’t know what the best avenue to take as I wish to recover outstanding debt.
Any professional suggestions would be appreciated.