suing ex-tenants for rent arrears of over £10k

by | 8 Aug 2017

Hi, we evicted our tenants for non payment of rent in March and appointed debt collectors who have abandoned any further efforts. We asked a friend to try and mediate a settlement with the ex-tenants and this has also run aground. What are our chances of recovery if we take them to court? And in a further twist the joint tenants say they are now splitting up and the husband might move back to Italy. And lastly, if they get themselves declared bankrupt does that mean we will not be able to get anything and their debt to us will be discharged after 12 months?



  1. guildy

    Please accept our apologies for not replying sooner. Our automatic notifications don’t appear to be working and we just thought it was quiet due to holidays so didn’t check until now! We will investigate the notifications shortly and fix them.

    In answer to your question, it is very difficult knowing how much to spend on obtaining an order – especially if there’s little prospect of getting paid.

    A court order does not get the money paid to you. It simply obtains a judgment from the court that the money is owed to you and opens up some other options such as attachment of earnings or bailiffs. Bailiffs are generally not much use because there’s rarely sufficient assets that can be seized by the time the costs of seizure are considered.

    If the former tenants are working, then an attachment of earnings after judgment may be possible but it’s often not a great deal per month.

    Unfortunately if there’s no home owning guarantor, it can be very difficult getting paid from a tenant who doesn’t want to (or can’t) pay.

    Please see here for our small claims guidance.

    • Ros Davies

      Hello Guildy, an update and another question in this vexed matter from us: we brought a claim for the arrears (c. £10k) via MCOL, the tenants have just filed their defence and counterclaim for £10k on the basis – they say- that the property wasn’t habitable. Clearly haven’t had legal advice as the grounds for their D & CC are barely literate, the amount counterclaimed is not quantified by reference to any tangible loss. We can provide evidence to counter all their arguments about the condition of the property, from estate agents, handymen, new (happy, solvent) tenants and so on. We did have a leak while they were there which took a long time to diagnose, but once diagnosed was fixed promptly and damage made good, and we gave them a £5k rent rebate by way of compensation for the inconvenience. This was all a good 9-10 months before they actually stopped paying rent.

      Do you have any idea as to how sympathetic courts tend to be to these sorts of arguments as a defence for non-payment of rent?

  2. guildy

    It’s not really a question of sympathy. The outcome will be based upon the facts and the paperwork. I was once told the rule for a successful court case is “paperwork, paperwork and paperwork”. Not sure if that always works but it certainly helps!

    Have in mind if you are relying on other parties statements, they may be called to court to give evidence and be cross examined. Therefore ensure any witnesses you rely upon are willing to do that.

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