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How do we enforce a tenancy deposit award against a non paying landlord and agent?

law caseHere is a question for the blog clinic from Bea who was a tenant:

We won against our Landlord/Estate Agents for not protecting our deposit, about £1500.

They should have paid by 30.09.13 but have failed to do so and we have tried to contact them without success.

My questions is, the landlord lives in Republic of Ireland but the Estate Agents provided us with an address for him that is in the UK, more importantly his asset, the house we rented is here in the UK.

As far as we aware the house is mortgage free by now.

How do we go after? I mean the Estate agent is a business and we might be able to get anything from them if we use bailiffs and the Landlord lives in Ireland but his asset is here, surely it would be better to chase him or his asset in the UK?

Well done on getting the CCJ.  However the fact that it is unpaid does not bode well.

If a ‘judgement debtor’ fails to pay a judgement there are various procedures you can use to enforce the judgement.

Charging orders

Probably the best thing to do in your case is go against the house. It is possible to apply for your CCJ to be converted to a legal charge which can be registered against the property.

This means that your landlord will not normally be able to sell the property without paying you off first.

Then once you have obtained the charge, it is possible to apply for an ‘order for sale’ although maybe the costs involved in this will be a little high for a £1,500 debt. I suspect however that the mere threat of this will make your landlord pay up.

Before doing anything though I suggest you apply for ‘office copy entries’ from the Land Registry as you will be able to see from this whether there are any mortgages or other charges registered against the property.

Obtaining a charging order is not an easy process and it would probably be best to use a firm of solicitors. For example a firm like Shergroup who are also High Court Sheriffs and who are specialists in enforcement work.

Note that it is particularly important when getting a charging order that this is also registered at the Land Registry – first as a pending action and then as a legal charge. Note that there may be difficulties if the property is owned in joint names and the CCj is just against one of the owners.

There is a useful page on charging orders on the CAB website, written from the judgement debtors point of view.

County Court Bailiffs / High Court Sheriffs

So far as enforcing against the agents is concerned, I am concerned that they have not responded to the judgement, as most businesses will take care to discharge this as soon as possible as it will affect their credit record.

The silence from the letting agent may mean that they are in financial difficulties and not in a position to pay even £1,500.

Sending n the bailiffs is an option – or their higher priced but more efficient cousins the High Court Sheriffs.

Be aware though, with both bailiffs and sheriffs, if they actually ‘levy execution’ on goods, you are responsible for the storage charges and for the cost of sale at auction. Many judgement creditors have found that they end up out of pocket as goods siezed by bailiffs/sheriffs are sold by auction where they frequently go for very low prices.

The trick with this form of enforcement is to get the judgement debtor to pay up BEFORE the goods are removed, to prevent this happening.

Have any readers used these procedures and if so how did you get on?

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Important note. If you are reading an old post, remember that the law may have changed since it was written.

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3 Responses to How do we enforce a tenancy deposit award against a non paying landlord and agent?

  1. Tessa,

    Once the dept is registered against the property, are there companies that will buy the dept without too much of a discount?



About the post author:

Tessa Shepperson

Tessa is a lawyer and specialises in creating products and services which help landlords and letting agents learn and understand landlord & tenant law. For example, she runs the Landlord Law website (now in its 14th year) and is a director of Easy Law Training Ltd and Your Law Store. Tessa also sits on the Property Redress Scheme Council. When not working she enjoys reading, cooking and messing around on the computer. You can also find her on Google

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Tessa is an English lawyer specialising in residential landlord and tenant law.

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