No win no fee OR small claims?

Hi All,

A previous tenant (which I was very lucky to get rid of) has arrears (aprx £400) + damage to a newly renovated property (aprx £2500). There was no deposit scheme (my fault as an accidental landlord, I admit), and the tenant is now non-responsive.
I am in the process of finding out their current address and wonder which route is better, or even an option. I know I can go down the small claim route, but don’t mind paying the fee to someone, if they will manage the case, and have the additional needed knowledge. I am also thinking that once the tenant receives an official letter at their home address, they might just pay.
Any thoughts about what to do, and any recommendation of an agency that might want to have a look at the case?

Thanks in advance!

Forget it and move on get a cjj though just to be awkward for the tenant but it will drag on and even if you do get something it will be pennies

MCOL is relatively easy to initiate once you have an address. Once you are awarded compensation by the court, you will need to attempt to enforce it before the CCJ will be registered.

Not defeated yet, but will keep your advice close to mind :slight_smile:

Thanks. I’ll look into it.

If you do pursue them in a small claims court, you should be made aware that the tenant can seek 3 times the deposit amount in compensation from you as it is now a legal requirement for all tenancies. 3 times any deposit is going to put you in the financial territory of what you are claiming for.


You can use the last known address, i.e. the residence he rented.

It is not the claimants concern if the tenant has not left a forwarding address, or redirected his mail, and doesn’t receive the claim documents. An automatic CCJ can be applied for on MCOL following 10 working days after the claim has been registered.

Pam is correct in stating you will be liable for 3 x the deposit sum if the tenant decides to pursue it, you therefore need to decide if it is worth the cost and effort, depending on the amount of the deposit.

I didn’t quite understand if there was no deposit taken or deposit was taken but not registered with a deposit scheme. If the latter, then you better forget about the arears and damages because you could be liable to pay the tenant more. If you didn’t collect any deposit at all, then you can also try using debt collection agencies. If there is a clause in your contract about the tenants being liable for the cost of collecting rent arrears then you can add on the cost of the debt collection agency as well.

The problem with using the property address is that its easy for the tenant to show that they never received notification as theyre no longer living there and to get the judgement set aside. To get the ccj to stick its better to use a tracing agent or other methods to find their next address.

It’s so easy for TT to avoid the black mark by just moving on. regularly. Another scam is maxing every credit card and then going back to your home country a couple of years later. Apparently, quite a few people do this.

Thanks everyone - apologies, I was in transit, but it’s great to know the community is here to help.

The tenant was at the prop for 8 years and in the past, eventually, after prompting, always paid. I waived aprx £1300 during covid time and the rent ended up around 60% of market value. The house was in bad condition (but certainly habitable) and I decided to do a big renovation. I allowed him to stay without paying during the renovation (April to August 23), because he said it would be better for his kid’s mental health. At that time I realised that he is so unhygienic and lacking of any care to the house (I have evidence from all the trades persons that came + pics and videos) I need him out.

I didn’t set the original contract/deposit (it was my ex and managed for my mum as an overseas landlord until July 2020 when she gifted it to me), and it wasn’t clear if one was even taken - by neither myself OR the tenant. Eventually, when I asked him to leave, and he refused, turning to legal, I went back to check all due diligence etc. I don’t justify not knowing etc, just telling it as it is. Everything was set before giving section 21 for October 23, and I carefully went through all the payments. I ‘returned’ the ‘deposit’ of £550 and saw there are £400 unpaid from before covid. I alerted him. By this stage he, for whatever reason, felt as a victim of an unjust landlord and stopped replying… his parents ended up buying him a house, and he moved at the end of September. I am in the process of finding out the address.

When he moved out, the new kitchen was damaged and a complete redecoration needed. An additional £1200 - again, I have videos and pictures from before and after and can get statements from my builder. To replace the damaged kitchen is another £1500, but this will only be done if I get him to pay. I can’t afford to do it without.

I was very lucky. I know. He could have refused to leave, ruining the house completely. Receiving benefits, it might have taken years to get him out. There is a new tenant now, through Open Rent, all due diligence done. I learnt my lesson. There won’t be too little, but also no extras. Unfortunately, he taught me that kindness is not always reciprocated and needs to be used wisely.

I think, I hope, that even if he will claim that a deposit was paid and that I was wrong not to use a deposit scheme - I understand that by ‘returning’ it I am admitting it might have been taken - the judge will look at the whole story, and not end up saying I need to pay him, or at least balance it with the aprx £3500 I waived during his tenancy period.

I hope it also explains why I feel I need to pursue it (besides the rise of cost of living and the increasing need of this money).

Again, thanks for the replies so far, and any additional information will be great.

If he can show that a deposit was paid, a court will have no choice but to impose a penalty on you of 3x the deposit value, and no, they won’t take into account any rent you’ve waived in the past or anything else. If the house was “in a bad condition” anyway and you are planning a major re-furb, then I think it will be harder to show that the damage deserves compensation from him, especially after an 8 year tenancy where most of the contents would be expected to be written off after that time. If I were you I would just let this go.

First judges are biased towards tenants they see themselves as champions of the poor
Second getting money out of departed tenants is rarely successful or worth it
If there was no deposit then you cant be fined 3x however if you took a deposit and then did not bond it within reqd time you may be fined. Most judges will fine you but it is actually in their discretion
Best action sort it out record costs to set against tax and move on.
Courts are not the landlords friend, even if awarded something you try getting the money

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Just accept that its all part of the wonderful world of being a landlord where everyone thinks your minted. Small claims is a waste of time. You may get a judgement but getting your money is another hope. It causes stress and grey hairs! When you take on a tenant make sure the legalities are tight and you take a large deposit1

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