How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site. Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • Go back-and-forth until satisfied
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask JimLawyer Your Own Question
JimLawyer
JimLawyer, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 13947
Experience:  Senior Associate Solicitor
97337639
Type Your Law Question Here...
JimLawyer is online now

I had a tenant who walked out of a 12 months tenancy

This answer was rated:

I had a tenant who walked out of a 12 months tenancy agreement without notice claiming it was because the house was unfit to live in. They had only been there approx. 6 weeks. During this time the boiler had stopped working and was fixed, the electrics downstairs also stopped and was fixed. They have left some furniture in the property, still have the keys and now can't be contracted because no forwarding address was given and their mobile numbers have changed. Please advise if I should trace them and take this to court. Thanks
JA: What steps has your tenant taken so far? Have they prepared or filed any paperwork?
Customer: No paperwork. They advised verbally to the letting agents they had left but not completed the early release paperwork and the agents can't contact them.
JA: Where is the house located?
Customer: Durham, UK
JA: Is there anything else the Lawyer should know before I connect you? Rest assured that they'll be able to help you.
Customer: They gave a list of repairs which were needed, I asked the agents to forward this to me before doing any work. Due to video the file size was large so I never got the information for a month. They moved out 2 weeks after complaints.

Hello, this is Jim and welcome to JustAnswer. I will be the lawyer working with you today.
Sorry to hear of the issue. I will set out my written answer shortly.

My view, given the facts, is yes you should pursue them for this, under breach of contract. For you to be liable they would have to have repeatedly requested you to fix the various issues for a period of time, and you did nothing. That isn't the case so I do not see any difficulty in you pursuing them and then suing for your losses. You need to work out what your loss to be - you can use the deposit to cover some of the rent though they will owe you 11 months' rent on top.
To find them you may need a litigation tracing agency - most work on a "no trace no fee" basis and you can add their modest fee to the sum you are claiming from the ex tenant.

Here are a selection of tracing agencies you could approach :

  1. https://www.candlinvestigations.co.uk

  2. https://www.investigate.uk/legal-litigation-services/tracing-investigations

  3. http://www.andersonchanceinvestigators.com/private-investigations/find-missing-persons

  4. https://arklineuk.co.uk/tracing-agents

Once you know their whereabouts I would recommend that you send them a formal letter before action to demand payment within 14 days and say that if they do not pay you, you will issue county court proceedings against them. See attached template as an example of what to say. Please let me know if you cannot see the letter which I have uploaded. You will need to tailor this letter to your situation.

You will need to register at https://www.moneyclaim.gov.uk/web/mcol/welcome so that you are ready to issue the claim in the event they dispute the claim and do not pay you. The website is very user-friendly and you would not need a lawyer to use the money claim site.

Claims with a value of under £10,000 are classed as a "small claim", so legal costs are not recoverable and the matter may be dealt with on paper by a Judge, not at a hearing. This means the parties are on an equal footing, so you don’t need to worry about legal costs if you lost.

A hearing may be necessary if the court thinks that oral evidence is required to dispose of the case.
Here is a user guide for the money claim online site: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/762843/mcol-userguide-eng.pdf

The court will then issue the claim and they will send you "notice of issue". The papers are served on the defendant who then has 14 days to acknowledge the claim - they do this by filling out an acknowledgment of service and they post it to the court. They indicate their intention when they do this, i.e. whether they admit the claim in full or partly, or if they deny the claim. If they want to defend the claim then their defence is due by 28 days from the date the court served them with the papers. The central court processing centre then sends the claim to the defendant's home county court for case management and directions - the directions will give a list of dates which you both must comply with. If there is no settlement then the claim will be dealt with at a final hearing which takes anything from 9 to 12 months from when you start the claim - longer if the claim is higher value. You can pursue the claim yourself or use a law firm. For the hearing you can use an advocate if you wish, though it's not compulsory. I have details of law firms and advocacy agencies if you would like those. Though in a small claim you won't be able to recover their charges from your opponent. A small claims hearing is easy to do, it's quite informal and no lawyer is required.

Claims between £10,000 and £25,000 are subject to fixed costs only so if you lose then the risk is minimal. Further, the money claim website allows you to sue for an amount up to £100,000.

You would claim the sum for the loss, the court issue fee (details of the money claim fees are listed here at page 5:https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/904862/ex50-eng.pdf) and court interest which is 8% calculated on a daily rate from the date of loss to date of court judgment.

So for example if you were owed £10,000, interest would be £2.20 per day, which you can also claim.

The site allows you to calculate the interest and add it to the claim. If a hearing is required then there is a fee for this too - see page 7 of the previous link for details. Again, that fee is recoverable if you win.

If you are on a low income or have low savings (or in receipt of means-tested benefits), you can ask the court for a fee remission so you do not have to pay the court issue fee.

If you are eligible, let me know as you cannot use the online money claims site – you have to use the paper method, which is an N1 claim form sent to the County Court Money Claims Centre (I have a copy, let me know if you would like one).

If you win then once you have the CCJ from the court the defendant has 14 days to pay in full. If they do not then it gets registered with the credit agencies after 30 days. You can also enforce the CCJ with the county court bailiffs or transfer the debt to the High Court for a small additional fee assuming the total amount owed is at least £600 and you can use the high court enforcement officers who have greater powers than county court bailiffs. The transfer fee is added on to the debt and payable by the defendant.

There are other enforcement methods which I can help with, including bank account freeze, charging order on their property (and then apply to force a sale), apply to summons them to court for questioning, attachment of earnings order against their employer (if employed), apply to bankrupt them if they are an individual or sole trader and they owe £5,000 or more - all of which can ensure you are actually repaid the money.

You may find they just pay you after receiving the letter before action – hopefully they will want to avoid litigation. If you prefer a law firm to do this for you, the following is an example and they offer a fixed fee : https://stormcatcher.co.uk/practice-areas/dispute-resolution/small-claims-lawyer-service/

(insert name and address) (insert date)

LETTER BEFORE ACTION

Dear (name),

Re: Claim for (insert sum)

I refer to the above matter. (Insert details of the dispute).

This letter is being sent to you in accordance with the Pre-Action Protocol (“the Protocol”) contained within the Civil Procedure Rules (“CPR”). In particular, I refer you to paragraph 7 of the Protocol, and paragraphs 13 to 16 of the Practice Direction on Pre-Action Conduct and Protocols regarding the Court’s powers to impose sanctions for failing to comply with the provisions of the Protocol.

I therefore put you on notice of my intention to issue county court proceedings against your for my losses should I not receive payment in full by 4 pm on (insert date 14 calendar days).

Should court proceedings be necessary I will claim the court issue fee and statutory interest. Should I succeed in obtaining a judgment, same will be transferred to the High Court for enforcement against you whereby further costs will be added to the judgment sum.

I trust the above will not be necessary and I therefore look forward to hearing from you as a matter of urgency.

Yours sincerely,

(insert name)

I hope this helps and answers the question - my goal is to ensure you are happy with the answer and have the information you need. If you have any follow up questions then please let me know. I will reply as soon as I can to help with any further queries.

Many thanks,
Jim

Please let me know if the answer helped or if you need me to cover anything else?. I am happy to clarify the answer or if you have any follow up questions. If so, I’d be grateful if you would let me know. I am free most days, including weekends, so feel free to ask me anything you are unsure of.

Best wishes,

Jim

Customer: replied 13 days ago.
Thank you for your response. It’s been very useful. Should I re-advertise the property as the tenancy agreement was in place until January next year?

Yes you can - they have breached the contract / tenancy meaning it now no longer applies and you just need to see to recovering your losses. You can re-advertise it, no problem at all.
Thanks

JimLawyer and 4 other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 13 days ago.
Thanks

My pleasure