OpenRent Community

Advice needed - tenant has CCJ but willing to pay upfront

Hello all,

I’m looking for some advice. I have an interested applicant (family of 4) and he’s been upfront and told me he has an outstanding CCJ for around £5k, but his wife has a good credit file. The CCJ has been in place for 5 years, and is still being paid off. He tells me that the CCJ is in reference to a loan that was taken out on behalf of a family member, not himself. (not sure if I believe this, but even if I did, it wouldn’t really make any difference).

They have a combined income of around £35k, which I think will be fine to cover the cost of rent + other bills & living expenses. He’s also told me that he’d be willing to pay 6 or possibly even 12 months upfront due to the CCJ.

I’m not sure what to make of this. On one hand I can’t help but to think if they’ve got that much liquid cash, why not pay off the CCJ? Does that then mean the thing about it being a family member’s debt could be true?

They’ve never previously rented, and currently live with parents. I haven’t done any reference checks on them yet as I’m not 100% sure on them. Would really appreciate some feedback on this from the OR community.

What are the potential pitfalls I need to be wary of? If I was to take on 6 or 12 months upfront, would I be potentially postponing issues for later down the line?

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Do they have a guarantor?
How old are they that they have not rented before ( is that an excuse not to give a landlord reference?)
Look at their social media
Ask the employer for a reference including their current address. If they are self employed last return submitted
Bank statements for last 6-12 months will tell you if they are paying stuff and will confirm address etc
All of this stuff is free
Email searches can be done to

Then make a decision

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Make sure you do full referencing, which should pick up what the CCJ was for. If it turns out to be for rent arrears, I wouldn’t contemplate it.

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Thanks for the replies all.

Would this not be a deal breaker for you then? The mere fact that they have a CCJ of this type?

And what about the upfront rental payments? Are there any downsides to this?

I would not take anyone with a CCJ This is their punishment for not paying some poor sod , and next time it may be you.

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When you ask all of the questions ref bank statements you can read their body language (they always avoid eye contact and make excuses, they always tell you a sob story to get on your good side or they tell you they don’t discriminate because God is in everyone etc etc).
They will have an excuse why they can’t give you a reference ( why is a family of 4 living with parents. How long has that been going on and why? That is a red flag)
Some stories are odd and their answer unplausible. You must probe and ask them to substantiate what they say with evidence.
Prospective tenants will leave of their own accord if they have something to hide.

If you decide to take the rent I would advise 12 months if they are offering ( hopefully we may get back to a 2 month notice by then too). The contract reads rent paid monthly on date x. Do not document a 12 month rental period ( it will prohibit serving a section 21 ) and if it goes onto a periodic rent is paid monthly.
Tenant has paid 11 months and one month (do not document as 12 months) so you may want to defer the 12th month till the time of the 12th month, ie take 11 months. Take legal advice on how to word the contract so you don’t shoot yourself in the foot if you need to serve a s21.

Some people do take these tenants. TBH I don’t pay for a reference check. By the time I ask for a guarantor no tenants are left to view. If they do come to view they try and negotiate on paperwork thinking a face to face will get their foot in the door or they change their story (the truth does not change, it’s hard to remember fabricated stories)
Only one person out of all the enquiries will put forward their paperwork.

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HI, thanks so much for your reply. Would you mind clarifying what you mean here? Do you mean to say have the AST show a completely standard monthly payment setup, but in reality request 12 months payment up front from the tenant? If so, can I ask why documenting the 12 months isn’t a good idea?

Again, what’s the relevance/benefit of doing it this way?

I was thinking about X number of months upfront payment (at least 6), with the view for it to go periodic (monthly) afterwards. The idea being that I use this is a means of assessing if they’re trustworthy or not. If they are, then it switches to periodic. If not, then my understanding is that the minimum term you can offer a tenant is 6 months, and can only serve a section 21 2 months in? Can someone confirm that?

do you not have any other applicants of better “standing” ?

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I’ve actually had 31 enquiries. Majority of them either failed my pre-screening questions, or otherwise didn’t bother responding to them so I ignored them. I’ve done two viewings so far, both seemed ok but one of them declined on their own accord due to wanting a slightly larger place.

Just keeping my options open on this CCJ one as I really haven’t had many “good ones” as you can tell.

Incidentally, I’m really quite miffed with Openrent deciding to switch on their own tenant screening automatically at the point you reach 30 enquiries!?

yes I get it. it can take some time to find a good one . I never take anyone with a CCJ. But I have taken 6 months upfront from A couple of applicants and had no probs later

How did you handle the legal/AST side of taking 6 months upfront? Was it just an additional paragraph on your AST?

I’m certainly thinking of asking for ‘first’ and ‘last’ month’s rentals upfront for regular applicants, and was thinking of simply putting in an additional line on the standard Openrent AST where the rental profile is detailed.

I used the RNLA agreement And in the section for ""extra remarks put in that six months are paid up front and dated it . Then wrote in, that on the 7 th month at xxx date the. rent is paid MONTHLY from then on. No probs for me.

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Sounds like what I was thinking of doing, thanks for confirming.

I’ve taken people with ccjs. It depends what they’re for and whether they’re addressing them

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Thanks. Do you do anything other than the usual? I.e. rentals upfront etc?

How do you go about proving they’re doing something about it? Ask for a statement of satisfaction? Or request bank statements to show they’re paying it off?

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I never ask for more than a months rent in advance as its just kicking the can down the road. I’m also not a big fan of guarantor agreements as its difficult to get them right and most fail in court. If the person has a ccj that they claim to be paying off I would ask for bank statements proving it. If they’re for unpaid loans I would also ask for credit card statements to check their spending patterns. Such checks are extremely intrusive and are only really justifiable if you are serious about the possibility of accepting them.

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I’ve got tenants with ccjs but not at £5k. Thats not small. Like David, I’m always wary of people offering lots up front, I suspect desperation. What happens if they stop paying as soon as the 1st payment has run out? I have successfully taken guarantors through court & won on 2 occasions. My opinion is that its just another person to put in court if I need to. Harsh but true. Unless the tenant is perfect in other ways, they probably wouldn’t be for me. If you have 31enquiries, you have a desirable property. A good one will come along eventually. I would play the waiting game.

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Thanks for your reply, I’ve actually decided to give this particular applicant a miss.

Regarding the 31 enquiries, unfortunately since OR decided for me that I have to switch their tenant screening service on, the enquiries have dried up. Nothing for the last few days, and that’s coming from receiving at least one a day. I wish I could switch it off and revert back to my own screening questions!

So stop the ad for a few days. Can you make it more attractive? A bit more fun & less estate agent speak can be a good thing. If you apply tenant screening from the outset in the changed ad, I’m fairly sure they won’t increase the level of screening. Its never happened to me. Maybe its the income question I ask that does this. I always check the web to see what the latest opinion is about income vs monthly rental & state in my screening questions that they must earn at least xx to rent this property. Has worked brilliantly for me. So its dried up, a bit, no worries, weekend will be here soon & thats when people look at new homes. Publish your revitalised ad on Friday afternoon. It really is better to wait than take on a tenant you’re not happy with.

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To add to that, stay on the right side of the law. Use the word income, not earnings!

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