We regularly come across cases where tenants have fallen on hard times and rather than communicate with their landlord for fear of losing their home, they instead choose to avoid paying the rent until the landlord reaches breaking point and the end result is eviction.
This is why we always try to encourage landlords that come to us asking for help with problem tenants, particularly cases with rental arrears, to try and engage in dialogue with their tenants and understand the reasons behind the lack of payment. Sometimes this can be enough to save the professional relationship and work out a payment plan that suits everyone. After all, if a landlord has a tenant who has been in their property for some time and has taken good care of it, it can be more beneficial to be understanding and support the tenant to get back on course than to get rid of them.
However, there are also cases where the tenant just wants something for nothing, even if they can afford the rent, in other words ‘crooks’. We had a classic case of this recently, where I’m pleased to say the landlord has had the last laugh. The case was brought to us because of a tenant who had not paid rent for over a year.
We obtained judgment in the County Court, but the high value of arrears in this case enabled us to apply to have the case transferred up to the High Court for Enforcement.
We obtained a combined writ of possession and writ of control, as well as managing to recover the £16,000 debt prior to carrying out the eviction. High Court Enforcement Agents (HCEA) have more power than County Court Bailiffs but in a recent survey we carried out, only 16.5% of cases get transferred up.
Our research had found that the debtor (tenant) was in possession of two vehicles. The DVLA confirmed the tenant as the registered owner. When he failed to settle the writ within the compliance period, the case was assigned for attendance by our HCEA’s.
Upon arrival at the property, the agents clamped both motor vehicles prior to knocking on the door.
One of the tenants came to the door and was surprised to see us. He became hostile towards the agents demanding that they leave. They explained why they were there and requested full settlement.
The tenant refused to settle the amount and claimed that he did not have funds to do so. The agents advised him that they were taking an inventory of goods as they were taking control of them.
The tenant still refused to deal with the situation, so the agents called tow trucks to collect the vehicles and a removal vehicle for the household belongings. At this time the tenant agreed to settle the outstanding amount in full.
The tenant then arranged a bank transfer of the full amount, and showed the bank transaction to the agents. What was most interesting was that there was a credit balance of £100,000.00 in the account that the funds were coming from, so there was no reason for the tenant not to have paid the arrears of rent previously, or even just the rent on a monthly basis!
Three days later the agents again attended the enforcement address to carry out the eviction under the writ of possession issued in the High Court. Vacant possession was obtained within an hour of arrival and the occupant removed most of his assets and arranged with the landlord to return for the remaining items.
It’s a shame that cases like this can be enough to put landlords off renting their properties in the future, and yet we have a desperate shortage of rental properties. Fortunately in this case, we were successful and the landlord had the last laugh. Hopefully this will be a deterrent to other people who think they can get away with renting someone else’s property for free.