Urgent help needed: Tenant troubles, rent arrears, and court setbacks

Urgent help needed: Tenant troubles, rent arrears, and court setbacks

9:40 AM, 2nd February 2024, About 3 months ago 50

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Hello, I rented out my only house in April 2022 due to a job opportunity in a different city. Two months into the agreement, the tenant claimed job loss and sought support from DWP and the council. Throughout the process, the tenant was uncooperative and failed to provide evidence for her claims. Unfortunately, I couldn’t evict her until waiting at least four months to serve the notice.

I had full landlord insurance covering rent arrears and legal expenses. To secure the property, I requested a guarantor through the agency, who underwent a credit check and signed the agreement.

When the tenant fell into rent arrears after four weeks, I filed a claim with the insurance. However, after two months of document verification, they denied the guarantor’s liability due to the absence of a signed guarantor deed. This resulted in a cancellation of my claim, causing not only the loss of precious time but also additional expenses.

Furthermore, I came to the crucial realization that the tenant and the agency were collaboratively involved in this situation, even though I lacked solid evidence to substantiate my claim. They even share family connections, adding to the complexity of the matter. In summary, I found myself as a victim of this intricate scenario, with no alternative but to disengage.

Simultaneously, the tenant continued to send emails asserting that she had applied for DWP assistance to cover the rent. Taking matters into my own hands, I reached out to the officers and discovered that she had been receiving housing elements for over three months (since January 2023) and retaining the funds without allocating them toward rent.

Despite submitting applications for a Direct Rent Payment on more than 20 occasions, each time the tenant intervened and canceled the requests. Despite my complaints to DWP’s case manager and multiple requests for contact, including escalated phone calls, they consistently ignored me. Consequently, the tenant persists in occupying my property, making no rental payments, and receiving DWP’s housing elements for over 13 months.

I enlisted the services of a reputable solicitor (based on reviews, etc.) to serve the notice, and my hearing was scheduled for August, experiencing delays due to court backlogs. During the hearing, I was informed that the solicitor failed to allow an extra two days for the postage process, resulting in a one-day shortfall, causing me to lose the court case and necessitating a restart. Subsequently, I engaged another solicitor to serve both notices, 8 and 21.

However, as I prepared to apply for court proceedings, the tenant initiated a breathing space application, hindering my ability to proceed. Attempts to cancel the breathing space due to non-payment and accumulating debt were unsuccessful, as they favored the tenant, who was engaged in fraudulent activities, and I provided evidence to support my claims.

In January, I attended another hearing where I obtained a possession order and a money order totaling more than £18k. The court granted permission to transfer the case to the high court, extending the tenant’s time from two to four weeks. However, just four days prior to the expiration date, the tenant reached out to the court, seeking an extension due to her ongoing application with the homeless team. The court contacted my solicitor, but as he was in a meeting, despite not providing us with enough time, the court proceeded to make a decision in only two hours after their phone call, granting the tenant an additional four weeks to stay in my property without paying rent.

I’ve submitted an additional application to set aside the previous decision and prompt a reconsideration. It is evident that the tenant is employing a mere delay tactic, attempting to prolong her stay to secure more housing benefits and accumulate additional income. As of now, she has received over £11k. Despite my persistent efforts to follow up with the court on a daily basis, they do not appear to be proactive, unlike their swift response to the tenant’s requests within a few hours.

I genuinely require assistance and advice to determine whether a judge can alter their decision without substantial evidence, especially since their secretary confirmed the absence of evidence from the tenant, who is not facing extreme difficulties.

As previously stated, this property is my sole possession. Losing a job opportunity in London has compounded the financial strain, as I must fulfill mortgage and rent obligations due to a non-paying tenant. Consequently, I am at risk of losing my house and facing homelessness, having depleted all my savings accumulated over years of work without any assistance or support.

Given the tenant’s familiarity with the system and its loopholes, I am seeking guidance on options to recover my owed funds. What are the most effective strategies for handling this situation, including any procedures involving banks?

Additionally, I need clarification on when and how to establish contact with the high court. During the hearing, the judge mentioned that the high court bailiff would evict the tenant the day after the specified 28 days. However, upon reaching out to several companies, they advised that acquiring the right would take a few weeks, followed by the need to serve another notice independently.

I am also interested in understanding the avenues available for filing complaints against the DWP. Despite my consistent efforts, spanning 13 months, which include numerous contacts, letters, and reports urging the discontinuation of payments to the tenant to encourage her to vacate my property, it appears that the DWP is aligning with and supporting her.

Feeling trapped in a relentless cycle of this problem for over 22 months, any assistance and advice you can provide will be genuinely appreciated.

Thank you for taking the time to read and consider my situation.


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Comments

Kat Scott

1:01 AM, 3rd February 2024, About 3 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Happy housing at 02/02/2024 - 10:19
As have been said you have cases against your first solicitor and the letting agent. Workout your costs for the solicitor including the cost of.the delay due to their mistake and offer to settle without prejudice. It's important that you compile all the paperwork and timeline of events that lead to the solicitor's mistake. If you did not want to take them to court you could complaint to their solicitor body for compo.
The letting agent will be a member if a redress scheme that you could complaint to or take them to court. Given the amount of money involved, you could employ a solicitor as their cost will be recoverable from the agent. Look to claim all other losses from the letting agent, including insurance costs, damage to property, all lost rent, and recovery costs. It's important to have inventory for check-out and check-in etc. As the letting agent for copies of all the paperwork, they collected when referencing the tenant, before taking action against them. Within the paperwork should be the tenant's bank details. You could use this for a third party order.
Tenant tracing companies say to wait six months before using them to find a former tenant.
With regards to UC not paying you directly, I would suggest looking up their rules as long as you provided all the relevant information to them when they make a mistake you can get compensation for the rent they should have paid you.
It's worth doing the paperwork for the different avenues open to you that I have mentioned above as you will get your rent & costs back. Many of the "professionals" rely on people not making a case to rightly get their money back.
Best of luck,

Happy housing

5:27 AM, 3rd February 2024, About 3 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Kat Scott at 03/02/2024 - 01:01
The issue is I've used the Solicitors from the agent, which would have cost me alot but was free and got them evicted. Now I'm using their rent recovery and Damages claim. It would have costs me 1000s at the time do go find a Solicitors to get tenants evicted and I just did not have the funds. I'm still using them as it was a fault from the predecessor, if their recovery does not work I'm going have to find an alternative.

Happy housing

5:32 AM, 3rd February 2024, About 3 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Kat Scott at 03/02/2024 - 01:01
Also UC did pay me directly but was short and few months missed otherwise it could have been much worse. I called dwp afterwards as they made an extra payment and they said we want the extra months money back and I asked whats happening about tenants arrears, they claim 20% from the benefits until debt is paid which take over 5 yrs but not sure this will happen.

philip allen

17:43 PM, 3rd February 2024, About 3 months ago

Reply to the comment left by JC at 03/02/2024 - 07:59
Should that not be, " I am a property expert...........probably"? I, too, have more than 20 years of professional landlording but I would leave it to others to refer to me as a ' property expert '! You seem to be promoting Legal Mentor rather frequently without elaborating on what they actually do. Some enlightenment, please.

Badger

19:15 PM, 3rd February 2024, About 3 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Happy housing at 03/02/2024 - 05:27
Regarding your previous solicitor, and as Kat Scott suggests, it could well be worth approaching them for redress and if they, as they very likely will, try to give you the brush off then you can scare the living daylights out of them by threatening to put the matter before their regulatory body, the SRA.

The SRA are the legal equivalent of a pack of ravenous attack dogs - very very eager indeed to nip any potential threat to tarnish the reputation of the profession as a whole or bring it into disrepute in anyway.

In a not directly related case to myself (I had used the firm concerned in the past but the issue that they fell foul of did not concern the matter they had custody of on my behalf) the SRA slammed the firm concerned very very hard indeed.

What did they do wrong? Lax book keeping had led to a modest sum (low thousands) of client money not being transferred as it should have been at the time to pay an SDLT bill on behalf of a client.

Even though the issue was corrected as soon as it was discovered the SRA threw the book at the partners and imposed some serious life-long restrictions on the practice of one of them in particular.

I would have thought that a credible threat of a referral to the SRA would likely see them jump to attention and see you right straight away as the negative consequences to them and their business of the alternative will not bear thinking about from their POV.

Happy housing

19:50 PM, 3rd February 2024, About 3 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Badger at 03/02/2024 - 19:15
I'm not sure if this is directed to me or the person original post?

Badger

19:53 PM, 3rd February 2024, About 3 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Happy housing at 03/02/2024 - 19:50
Apologies for the lack of clarity.

The comment is for the OP.

Mike

0:24 AM, 7th February 2024, About 3 months ago

Such nasty tenants should be named and shamed and so that we don't end up housing these undeserving scums.

Happy housing

7:11 AM, 7th February 2024, About 3 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Mike at 07/02/2024 - 00:24
If someone steals from a shop its a crime but when it's a LL seems to be ok.

GlanACC

7:48 AM, 7th February 2024, About 3 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Happy housing at 02/02/2024 - 15:23
A couple of words of advice here from an experienced landlord -

I used to work for a credit referencing company, one thing I learned early on is that if you are not registered on the electoral register, have no loans and no mobile phone contract then you are unlikely to have your adress registered - the DWP don't provide names and addresses to the credit reference agencies (certainly not in a form that can be generally searched by tracing agencies), so a trace is unlikely to find them.

Using a solicitor is generally an expensive waste of money, they use tracing agencies and the like to find a person - you might as well engage the tracing agencies (eg SHCE) directly , you can also use MCOL to sue for money, but if the plaintiff has no money then you are wasting yours - you might as well write it off.

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