Jon Tatam is Head of Client and Commercial Services at Court Enforcement Services, the UK’s largest High Court and Commercial Property enforcement company. Jon is a specialist in providing recovery solutions to landlords and throughout his 10+ years in the industry he has helped landlords recover their properties, unpaid rent and other costs.
Below, Jon shares his top tips on what to give some thought to from the point of eviction onwards. They are not all essential requirements but some will certainly be very essential and others may seem drastic but if you have a particularly difficult or troublesome tenant, they are certainly worth considering.
You have successfully served your tenant with notice, obtained a Court Order for possession of your property, transferred the enforcement to the High Court to expedite the matter and the High Court Enforcement Agents are now on site executing the eviction for you….
Problem solved and you have your property back, right?
Unfortunately, not quite, there are a few more things you need to consider to fully resolve the matter:
TORTS (Interference with Goods) Act 1977
A TORTS Notice essentially gives the tenant a fixed period of time to arrange to collect all their goods and chattels from the property post eviction if they cannot achieve this on the day.
The last thing you want is to be left with a property full of your tenant’s belongings that you cannot remove and dispose of leaving you with a property that is technically returned to you but that you cannot use.
At the point of eviction Court Enforcement Services Limited (CES) will always serve a TORTS Notice simultaneously to evicting in accordance with the Torts (Interference with Goods) Act 1977.
The timescale on our TORTS Notice is typically 7 days as it needs to be deemed as reasonable, therefore, for a larger scale operation you may consider giving longer accordingly.
If the tenant fails to act within the terms of the Notice, then you can remove the goods and chattels yourself. You would not be permitted to do so if you had not firstly served the TORTS Notice.
It is a very good tool to put some pressure on tenants when they are likely to try and cause issues and delays, whether you follow through on it or not, is up to you but it could help. The test of a TORTS is have you been reasonable, so, I would not recommend providing anything less than 7 days to protect your own position.
This follows on from the above tip around the service of a TORTS Notice. When the tenant wants to collect their goods and chattels how do you manage that scenario?
At the eviction and on the assumption that the tenant won’t be able to remove all their items on the day, they will pack enough for a few days and then will have to return to collect the remaining belongings at a later date.
At CES we offer a “Supervised Access” service whereby we retain the keys to facilitate this access in order to protect your position and minimise the risk of a claim for missing or damaged items (which happens more regularly than you would think) or alternatively you can handle that aspect yourself.
It essentially is a balance of cost versus risk, however, if you wanted to remain distanced from the matter and for CES to conduct supervised access for the tenants to remove their goods then we can easily organise this for you.
If you decide to handle this yourself then the key points you should remember are:
- There may be a conflict, especially given that you are emotionally involved in the matter and our attendance removes this worry.
- Have a suitable number of people present depending on how many the tenant has. I would suggest equal numbers.
- To avoid the tenants trying to reclaim possession of the property you absolutely should do the following:
- Dead lock the doors open so that the door cannot be properly closed on you.
- ALWAYS ensure that you or someone you have with you is inside the property. Do NOT merely wait outside.
- If the tenant refuses to vacate, do not leave and allow them sole occupation. Call the police and/or the Enforcement Agent for assistance.
- Keep an eye on what is going on inside to prevent any damage being caused or items being removed that my belong to you.
This is a very important requirement for almost all landlords and is very regularly overlooked. Most landlord insurance policies will state that if the property is stood vacant then it must be “drained down”.
This means that the water tank, systems, central heating etc., need to be fully emptied. If this is not done and the property sustains water damage for any reason, then the insurance policy may be voided.
This is a relatively simple and speedy process and CES can make all these arrangements for you at the time of the eviction.
If your tenant is particularly difficult and/or troublesome and you think they may take extreme action to try and break back into your property or land, there are many options available to add additional security to try and prevent this from happening, such measures include but are not limited to:
- Manned guarding
- Canine guarding
- Dog handling
- Concrete Barriers
- Steel protection
- PIR alarm system
- CCTV systems
CES can make the necessary arrangements for any of these additional measures to prevent an unauthorised re-entry. If the tenants do break back in then whilst it is a lot quicker to remove them a second time around by way of restitution, it does still involve a Court process and associated costs. As they say, prevention is always better than cure.
Finally removed the tenant and all their belongings from your property but they still owe you money, maybe for rent arrears or damages, costs, or other dilapidations?
The good news is that at CES we have a range of tools available to trace your tenant to their new address. We would, however, recommend waiting at least 2 months to do this so it is not a wasted exercise. The reason being is the databases we use such as the Electoral Roll and credit reference agencies take time to update and we want to maximise the chances of locating a new address for you.
Once we have found your ex-tenants new address what happens next?
If the Order you already have from the Court allows for the recovery of the monies owed to you then we can immediately proceed with our enforcement process to attempt recovery for you.
If, however, you only obtained an Order for possession of the property and not the monies owed it can be difficult to ascertain whether the further cost exposure to try and recover the debt amount is a worthwhile risk.
Whilst we can never guarantee a successful recovery or make a promise on the chances of one, at CES we can carry out a pre-sue report for you. This service is designed to try and ascertain the debtor’s propensity to pay and/or the availability of any assets that may be identifiable as available to assist in the recovery process.
Whether the assets are removable tangible assets such as vehicles etc., or fixed assets such as property will determine the best route to take in trying to recover, or worse case, secure your debt.
Our pre-sue reports help in identifying such assets and propensity to pay to greatly mitigate the calculated risk you would take in pursuing further recovery options.
As I said above, these measures are not all essential requirements but some will certainly be needed, and, others may seem a bit drastic but if you have a particularly difficult or troublesome tenant then they are worth considering.
Please do not hesitate to get in touch if we can help.
How Can We Help?
Contact us and discover more about how we can help you to use High Court Enforcement to speed up the eviction process as well as to locate former tenants and recover any monies owed to you: