Tenant Debt – My tenant has left owing me £3500. I want to know, is it worth pursuing this as I don’t have a forwarding address?
In the current climate tenant debt has become more of a problem for many landlords. It’s not unusual for tenants to leave owing money, plus giving no forwarding address. £3500 is a considerable debt.
The first thing to ask your self is: can this tenant pay the debt if I pursue him/her? The proverbial “man of straw” of course would not be worth pursuing, but working people, or those likely to work in the future, would almost always be worth it, certainly for this amount of debt.
The second thing to ask is: do I want to do this myself, with all the effort involved, or should I use a debt collection specialist or a solicitor?
The advantage of doing it yourself is the amount of money you save in professional fees. The disadvantage is the time and effort involved. The first claim I processed myself took 2 days to put together – with some complicated paperwork running to something like 30 pages. The last one I did took 2 hours. It’s a steep learning curve, but you learn a lot and it’s very satisfying and even therapeutic, given the anger creditor landlords feel, if successful.
The first course of action is often locating the tenant at a new address. These days it is usually a matter of routing for tracing agents, which can be found on-line. They usually do this on a no find, no fee basis and of course the fee you pay can be added to the debt, along with any damage and dilapidations you may add to the rent arrears.
Good evidence is the key to any successful claim. A good inventory, final demand letters, comprehensive rent schedules showing payments and defaults, bank statements showing payments in or not, and your original tenancy agreement.
Paperwork for the court will include the Particulars of Claim and your Evidence Statement, plus if necessary additional Witness Statements, with clearly referenced pieces of supporting evidence. Resist rambling on about personalities – stick strictly to the facts and keep it concise.
The court itself is an informal affair with the claimant and defendant often sitting round a table with the judge. There’s no need to feel intimidated, you just need to put forward your case clearly and as concisely as possible.
©LandlordZONE All Rights Reserved – never rely totally on these standard answers which apply primarily to England and Wales. Before taking action or not, always do your own research and/or seek professional advice with the full facts of the case and all documents to hand.