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JimLawyer
JimLawyer, Solicitor
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 13836
Experience:  Senior Associate Solicitor
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I have a property that I rented out through a local letting

Customer Question

I have a property that I rented out through a local letting agency. The tenant they found fell into serious arrears and vacated the property 11 months ago. I know that it will be difficult to recover the arrears but we have not received the deposit which we are told is held in a secure deposit scheme. When challenged they blamed covid and the difficulty in the previous tenant giving permission to recover the deposit. They now say that they have to go to court to recover the deposit but seem unwilling to do so. Can I recover the money from them through the small claims court? it is £575
JA: What steps have you taken so far? Have you prepared or filed any paperwork?
Customer: No I have spoken to them on the telephone and told them that I expect them to recover the money with out delay. We have sent several emails asking for information but nothing more formal
JA: Where is the property located?
Customer: Holywell in North Wales
JA: Is there anything else the Lawyer should know before I connect you? Rest assured that they'll be able to help you.
Customer: No I just need to know what action to take and to see if i can do it without engaging a lawyer at this stage
Submitted: 12 days ago.
Category: Property Law
Expert:  JimLawyer replied 12 days ago.

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.

Expert:  JimLawyer replied 12 days ago.

Yes, you should consider court action as the tenant has not given permission meaning you are left out of pocket. You need to pursue them for arrears and the deposit can be used to offset those.

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 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 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.

Expert:  JimLawyer replied 12 days ago.

Template letter as below :

(insert their 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 you 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)

Expert:  JimLawyer replied 12 days ago.

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

Expert:  JimLawyer replied 12 days ago.

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 12 days ago.
Thanks I will follow your advice and let you know how I get on. Clive
Expert:  JimLawyer replied 12 days ago.

Thanks Clive, best of luck with it.
Jim