Tenants evicted; How can I get my money back?

As a landlord you have managed to evict the tenant. You would think the job is over, but the tenant still owes you money for rent arrears; what can you do?

The problem for landlords is if the tenant genuinely does not have any money he will not be able to pay you. Landlords need to be aware that although it is difficult to recover the money owed, it is not impossible.

There will always be those tenants who will try to hide the fact that they do have money and will try to avoid legal proceedings. This is why proper referencing is important in order to avoid becoming stuck with such a tenant.

On occasions, even with good referencing a good landlord can end up with a bad tenant. So what options are available to recover money owed? Below are some useful tools;
1. The first step is to obtain a County Court Judgement (CCJ) for the money owed before deciding what enforcement action is appropriate. A CCJ on its own can also be a useful tool, a tenant will find it difficult to get a mortgage or bank loan in the future. A tenant may therefore decide to pay off the money owed and have the CCJ removed.

2. Attachment of Earnings Order; this order allows money owed to be deducted from a tenant’s wages if they are in employment. This route is very popular with landlords who know that the tenant is working. The disadvantage of this order is that the landlord will only recover a very small amount of money each month so it will take a long time to recover the money owed. Further this process cannot be used if the tenant is self-employed.

3. Third Party Debt order; this is an order of the Court ordering someone who owes money to the tenant to pay to the landlord rather than to them. If the tenant is due large amount of money eg redundancy settlement, inheritance or an insurance pay out, the landlord could order the employer or Solicitor to pay the money directly to them instead to clear the debt owed. For this tool to be successfully used the landlord will need the tenant’s bank account information (this should have been obtained on signing up of a tenancy) there also needs to be money in the tenant’s bank account at the time the order is served on the bank.

4. Court Bailiffs; this procedure can be used where the bailiffs will attend the tenant’s property and seize goods to cover the debt owed. However, this route can only be used if the tenant lets the bailiff into the property, if the goods are taken to auction the landlord will be responsible for costs.

For further information please contact Aisha Akhtar, Assistant Solicitor, Prince Evans Solicitors LLP