Ask a Family Law Question, Get an Answer ASAP!
I am sorry to hear about this situation and fully sympathise with you. Having difficult tenants can be very challenging, especially when they damage your property.
In this situation the correct process would be to deduct the damage amount from the tenants' deposit which you should have had securely protected in one of the three deposit protection schemes.
If there is any shortfall in the amounts owed you are free to commence small claims proceedings against the tenants after you have given them a reasonable length of time to make payment of the shortfall. The reality is that if the tenants have moved away or back to ireland they are likely to be quite difficult to trace IE serve legal paperwork on and this would mean that you may incur more money trying to sue them for the amounts owed than the actual amount your are claiming.
Based on the value of damage I would recommend getting a surveyor to obtain a report to quantify the exact damage. Serve the report on your former tenants at their new address and give them a deadline to make payment or agree a payment plan. If they do not engage or fail to agree a suitable payment plan you can issue proceedings.
The surveyor report will be your primary expert evidence and you may ask a court to make an order for your former tenants to pay.
Please do not provide personal information on this platform as it will not assist your case.
You will need to follow the correct legal process as I have set out above in order to exercise your right to recover the property damage amount. Further details of the court process is set out below:
Tracing your tenant
The first thing you need to do is find where your tenant is living so that you can serve any of the court documents on them or make an online claim through the Money Claims Online website.
Tracing your tenant can be done by you if you fancy doing some ‘private investigation’. You can use electronic surveillance such as Facebook to help trace your ex tenants or even if you want to be a bit old school ‘Friends Reunited” (remember that) to look into what your tenants are up to and what part of the country they might be living in. Alternatively, there are a ‘whole load’ of tracing companies that will promise to find your tenant for a fee. As with any professional service the quality of these services is variable and much will come down to the skill of the individual landlord in selecting the right service.
Getting your money back
Once you have traced the tenant the next thing is to get your money back. If they are employed then this is a good start. This means that you can get an attachment of earning order which if successful will mean you get repaid each month out of the tenants salary. The great thing is that they have no option once you have secured an attachment to earning order of paying you back what they owe as the funds are deducted at source prior to your ex tenant receiving their salary. There are other options to getting the money owed to you back through the Smalls Claims Court.
If your tenant has no job and does not own their own home there is every chance that they may be considered to be a ‘man of straw’. In this case your victory could be a pyrrhic one. So you may successfully have a County Court Judgement (CCJ) awarded against them, but will get none of the money owed to you to offset the hard work and expense you have incurred through the process.
Have a look at some government advice on what happens if your tenant doesn’t pay up following a successful judgement.
As I said at the journey to get your money back is not an easy one and is full of legal complexity ( which the lawyers love obviously). If you have a head for legal stuff and the patience to carry it through there is no reason why a landlord should not be successful in getting their money back.