Court - Payments

My tenant has £1500 rent arrears after backwards and forwards by email about his obligation to give notice under the tenancy agreement. He says he’s sought legal advice and if he paid £25 immediately he would avoid being given a CCJ. We’re disputing the amount he wants to pay off the rent arrears each month, I.e £100 per month - 2021 before the rent arrears are paid off. If I took him to court, is it likely that they would award in his favour? Legal costs are extortionate.

Also, he says he allowed someone to stay who had a party and my very heavy expensive bed, mattress, armchair and duvets and bedding were damaged. He says nothing about the bedside cabinets that also ‘disappeared’ from the property. There’s no evidence of damage anywhere else in the flat. The neighbours haven’t reported a party taking place though they did see the second hand bed being brought into the flat as a ‘replacement’. Can I a) report it as theft to the police (as I believe this to be the case) and b) take him to court for the value of the missing property? He says the bond will cover the chair and the replacement bed covers the one taken.

Dear Vicky,

What your tenant is misguidedly referring to is the part payment of overdue rent which will negate a section 8 claim for eviction on the grounds of unpaid rent.

There is no such option or recourse in regard to your right to register a CCJ. If they owe you money, the actual portion of the rent paid is irrelevant once you have lodged your claim, except of course the debt due will have been reduced accordingly.

However, I believe the same criteria of a minimum of 2 months rent being outstanding at the time you claim is required. That is one full month plus the day the rent becomes due for the second months rent, not 2 whole months.

If you are seeking to evict the tenant as well as claiming back your losses, you need to apply to issue a section 8. If you are seeking an eviction on unpaid rent grounds without requiring repayment of the debt, you need to issue a section 21.

Regarding the contents damaged / stolen, the tenant is liable for those costs against their deposit and, if necessary, a county court claim, which can either be in the form of a section 8, as described above, or a simple county court claim for damages, in addition to the unpaid rent on one combined claim.

A County Court claim can be registered relatively cheaply online then, if there is no response to your claim, you can apply online for the court to register the CCJ against the defendant after 2 weeks. If the defendant rejects your claim, you will have to request a court hearing for a judge to decide the outcome.

Make sure you include the wording on your claim that “you require the court to grant the release of the DPS deposit #…, in the name(s)…, at the address… to you”, to ensure DPS cannot withhold the deposit.

I cannot be certain, but I’m fairly sure the police will not get involved, stating it is a civil not a criminal matter in respect of your tenancy agreement.

Aside from all the alternative recourses, whether or not you get recompense depends on the integrity / ability of the defendant to pay whatever you are awarded. You do have the further option of requesting a warrant against their assets if they refuse to pay the court awarded sum to you.

If you issue a claim through the Small Claims Court procedure, you still cannot apply Court costs to the defendant if the case is found in your favour. Yes, I know, it’s very unfair that you are subjected to those costs when it is your only course of action to recoup your losses.

If you have sufficient funds held in deposit, in particular the DPS, you can make a claim through them for the release of the funds to you. If the tenant objects you can request it be settled in DPS’ arbitration
process for free, but only if the tenant agrees also to this process, otherwise it has to be a court claim. Beware, the DPS are renowned for favouring the tenant in such arbitration awards, so make sure all your evidence is watertight.

I hope this helps and that you get a satisfactory solution eventually.

Hi. What a nightmare. I would agree the DPS are heavily biased in the tenants favour. Our contract was clear on the tenants responsibilities, as was our photographic evidence of the damage, but DPS still found in their favour. Really didn’t think it it was a fair process. I would take my chances with the court in future.

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It’s unfortunate that the DPS lawyers and the county court judges appear to ignore the evidence of actual damage and neglect, in favour of reducing the tenants liability on the grounds of ‘fair’ wear & tear and the necessity for periodic maintenance. Unfortunately the description ‘fair’ usually gets dropped from their statements and assessments.

At least in a court hearing you have the opportunity to emphasise such dilapidations, but even then it’s down to the judges attitude / interpretation, which I have found can be somewhat naive. I’m sure many of them have never had any experience of the real situation and contributing circumstances.

DPS are a law unto themselves. I have experience of reversing their judgements, but they never compensate fairly for their errors, as they wish to limit their exposure having already released the actual deposit back to the tenant the instant their judgement is decided, assuming, quite rightly I’m my cases, that landlords will have had enough by then and simply walk away from the case.

I would be delighted to hear of anyone who has successfully prosecuted DPS for mismanagement / incompetence in their handling of deposits in such cases in particular.

Hi Chris,
I would like to know that too!
I did appeal but no joy so sounds like you did well.
I would say in our case the DPS were extremely naive too. Their comments were just plain stupid in fact.
Now I pay the fee to the DPS to keep the deposit safe ourselves but don’t think it makes any difference as in the event of a dispute I believe we have to return it to the DPS until a legal judgement is made, by either the courts or the DPS.

I was not aware there was any “fee” option. I understood the deposit is safe as long as you have lodged a claim for it and refused permission to release it to the tenant pending an arbitration decision or a court award.

Aside from the above there are time limits you need to be aware of. That was the basis of one of our successes, albeit a nominal compensation and not the return of the full deposit, wherein DPS had failed to acknowledge an email sent within the required timescale, and released the full deposit to the tenant. Shear incompetence! Unfortunately, being overseas, I’m at the mercy of the letting agent when considering further action against DPS for the full deposit repayment, they obviously have not got the appetite for protracted disputes, being their time but not their money!

Hi Chris.

It’s all a farce!

We paid a small fee to the DPS (approx. £15) to hold the deposit ourselves.

But it makes no difference as in the event of a dispute we have to return it to the DPS and they hold it until the dispute has been settled one way or the other. so like you say the DPS aren’t allowed to release it. Landlords keeping hold of it is only really useful to anyone that actually needs those funds for cash flow etc.
Must be really hard being abroad. We are a days drive away from our house. Really hard to find a good agent.

You’re absolutely right Clare about finding a good agent, rare as hens teeth!

It is difficult being so far from the properties, particularly when we were hands on management before we left, and capable of doing almost all of the maintenance ourselves. So not only do we have to accept inferior management, longer void periods and expensive tradesmen rates for slower repairs, we have to bite our tongues and accept the situation, better the devil you know…

To be fair our agent is not bad, and credit where it’s due, they manage to collect the rents rarely with any issues, install good quality tenants and don’t charge us the earth because we have a large portfolio. The fact I’ve not been back to check in 5 years, tells its own story. They actually acknowledged that they couldn’t do the same job as we did for ourselves when we set them on, which is fair enough to a degree.

The happy compromise is living in a tropical paradise and being mostly retired :slight_smile:

I think you have it worse, being a days drive away, if you don’t have an agent. That’s a long trek for a potential no show viewing.

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