My tenant has disappeared, I’m owed thousands in damages and unpaid rent. How do I get my money back?

Posted on February 28th, 2020.

Whilst I was at a market appraisal the other day, the Landlord was telling me about how he’s recently had a tenant abandon one of his other properties. The tenant had simply disappeared without a trace owing more than 3 months’ rent and had caused £3,000  of damage in the property. The Landlord was able to recover some of the money from the deposit scheme, though was still £800 out of pocket. The flat is empty, there was no forwarding  address, all his calls, emails and texts have been ignored.

He then went on to say that whilst he filed for Court Proceedings, the Court was unable to progress his case as he had no forwarding address. To make matters worse, there have been notices to the property from Debt Recovery Agencies demanding payment for unpaid Council Tax and other utilities. Frustrated and distressed, he asked what he could do.

I explained that firstly he must locate his former tenant. This can be done by instructing a tracing agent, whilst adding to the cost, for the sake of around £80 it will save a lot of time and hassle.

If his former tenant couldn’t be found , he could apply to serve notice at his work address. The Court may assist with this, though he will still need the tenants address to enforce the judgement.

Dishonourable tenants know that most Landlords won’t follow this up as the Court proceedings are slow and expensive. Despite the £800 or so cost, I recommended to the Landlord that its worth pursuing. If the tenant is located, he may claim hardship and the debt paid at a rate of £5 per week. This is a common scenario, but the Tenant will need to prove hardship for it to be agreed by the Court.  

The Judgment is the Landlords Trojan Horse, so long as the debt remains unsatisfied, the tenants Credit rating will be adversely affected. In many cases, the elusive tenant reappears offering to clear the debt in full as the judgement is stopping them from getting finance for a car or a mortgage.

With empathy for the Landlord, I encouraged him to stay optimistic about re letting the property, as most tenants are trustworthy and reliable. My advice was to use the services of a reputable Letting Agent to ensure tenants are thoroughly vetted with credit scoring a crucial part of the process that will reveal any adverse credit history.

If you have any issues in your current tenancy and are not sure what to do next, don’t hesitate to give me a call for a chat on 020 8366 9777  or drop me a line [email protected]