Here is a question to the blog clinic from John (not his real name) who is a landlord.
My tenant left without paying the final rent. What options do I have to recover the money the tenant owes to me? Grateful for your advice
This is not uncommon and I think the usual way of dealing with it is to take the money from the deposit. This should be possible provided your tenancy agreement contains suitable clauses regarding the landlords right to deduct for rent arrears.
If there is no deposit, or if all the deposit has been used up to pay for damage to the property, then you have a problem.
The only legal way to recover the money, assuming the tenant fails to pay, is to bring proceedings for a County Court Judgement (CCJ).
There are two problems with this:
- Often tenants move out leaving no forwarding address – and to bring legal proceedings you need to have an address where the paperwork can be served, and
- Tenants often do not have enough money anyway to pay the judgement debt, And you cannot get blood out of a stone.
Unfortunately, the court procedures to enforce payment of a CCJ are not particularly good. I take a look at them in this blog post here – they have not changed much since it was written.
Your best chance of getting some sort of payment is if the tenant has a job. You can then apply for an attachment of earnings order (once you have the CCJ).
You may also be able to apply to the court for the paperwork to be served on the tenant at her employers which would get around the problem of having no address. However, this will need a separate application to the court for leave.
Mind you, the monthly payments under an attachment of earnings order are not normally very high and many landlords decide that it is not worth the bother.
Although you will sometimes find that the tenant will pay up to prevent a CCJ being made in the first place as it will affect their credit rating. If you are lucky.
The only real solution to this problem is to try to choose a tenant who is unlikely to do this in the first place. But it is easy to be wise after the event.