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  • Legal FAQs

    Chasing tenant debt - Can I do it myself?

    Hi Guys

    Hoping for some advice if that's ok.

    I have some tenants that I need to chase for rent arrears and repair costs. Some have guarantors, some not. I have tried using a solictor to send chasing letters and had little success. I was going to try a debt collection agency, but having looked in to this they do little more than the solictor does, except for maybe telephoning the tenant as well.

    My thoughts are to chase the tenant myself. Therefore

    A)Could someone confirm the process is as follows:

    1) use tenant tracing company to find tenants address

    2) send 7 day letter giving tenant 14 days to clear debt

    3) use mcol.

    B) where there is a guarantor, can I use mcol to claim against both the guarantor and tenant under the one claim?

    C) I live abroad but have read if the costs of you attending court will be greater than the debt, the court will act on your behalf

    'But if the cost of getting to the court hearing is higher than the claim merits, you can write to the court (the letter must arrive to both the court and the defendant no later than seven days before the hearing date) asking them to deal with the claim in your absence.'

    Can anyone confirm, or done similar?

    D) can anyone advise what most landlords here do...chase themselves or use a debt collection agency.

    Many thanks for any help

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    I would not use a debt collection agency without trying yourself. If the money owed is more than £700 then once you have a judgement you can use the HCEO to enforce who are both privately run and paid by results and also have the advantage of collecting their fees from the debtor rather then from your recovered money. In other words you get your money in full.

    To answer your more specific questions:

    A. Yes. But if your solicitor has sent such a letter you don't need to do so as well. You need to make sure your letters comply with the practice direction on pre-action conduct (here: https://www.justice.gov.uk/courts/procedure-rules/civil/rules/pd_pre-action_conduct)

    B. Yes

    C. This tends to work poorly. I would look at employing a barrister on direct access for this. The court will also not usually deal with overseas postal addresses so you may need to instruct a solicitor locally for at least some of this.

    D. I will have to leave to others

    Hope this helps

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    David Smith
    Landlord & Tenant Solicitor
    Anthony Gold Solicitors

    Find me on LinkedIn: uk.linkedin.com/in/dsnsmith

    All opinions are my own and do not reflect those of my firm. No comment made should be taken as legal advice and you should consult a solicitor or other legal professional for advice on your specific situation.

    Thanks for your most kind and comprehensive reply David - I really appreciate it!

    I do have access to a UK correspondence address so that should be ok. As regards getting a barrister, how do I go about this. I have seen a website called mybarrister.co.uk, would you recommend searching here? Would a barrister be required purely for attendance in court should the tenant dispute the claim?

    thanks for any help

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    Dear Lucky Girl,

    Sorry that you are experiencing issues with tenant debt.

    You have used all the correct procedures if you wish to pursue the debt yourself.

    If you need further assistance or advise please feel free to give me us a call and we will be more than happy to offer you advice and talk through procedures with you.

     

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    Thanks Sherrelle for all your help, your time and for putting me in touch with a specialist solicitor, he was a great help and his advice was invaluable. One of the issues I had with one of the debts is that I felt unable to chase rent arrears without a counterclaim as the letting agent did not lodge the deposit correctly. The solicitor was able to guide me on how to deal with this.

    Many thanks once again for providing such good advice and for being so responsive to my emails - really appreciate it!

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    Dear Luckygirl.

    Thank you for your feedback and we are glad that you found our advise useful.



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    Hi Guys

    Sorry to resurrect this thread. Just wondered if anyone could help.

    Further to the above, I have got all the letters the solicitor sent to the ex tenants that owe.

    However I notice they have sent the letters to either the property the tenants were  renting from me, if no forwarding address was given, or the forwarding address they have me when they left. However a couple of the debts are 5 years old (I am aware of the 6 year limitation).

    What do I need to do now?

    1)Should I do a tenant find and resend a similar letter before claim letter to the newly found address (if different) stating its a letter before claim and giving 14 days to pay are per the pre-action protocol then proceed to mcol if I dont hear back?
    2)If so, is one letter entitled letter before claim adequate? The solicitor sent a couple.
    3)Or is the solicitors letter adequate, and now its a case of doing a tenant find and proceed straight to mcol? (seems a little unfair on the defendant?)

    Thanks for any help

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