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Hi I dont know if anyone can help, but I'm not really sure of the best way to handle this. My tenant moved in in December, he was housing benefit which I thought was ok as the money was paid directly to me. Shortly after he found himself a job, and the housing benefit was reduced and he was supposed to pay a top up. Since then he has not paid a penny of his share, and now owes 1100 pounds. I have served him a section 21 which expires on July 20th (He hasnt said if he will move or not). The council liason people are being really helpful as he has a deposit scheme with then, and have had all sorts of meetings ect with him, but he wont budge. He is saying he wont pay because of maintenance issues, and makes lists of really silly stuff. I have sent tradespeople in to address his concerns. He wont communicate with me by phone (he hangs up or directs it to voicemail)or letter. Im overseas, and dont know the best course of action. On some other posts debt collectors are mentioned, would I have to take him to court before I send a debt collector to chase it? (the debt collection option sounds really good)Or should I serve him a section 8 and if I do this do I have to be in the UK (he has kids by the way). This is such a worry and so stressful.

Thanks in advance for any help! Sahara

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Hi Sahara

You are owed money - a debt - this is due for collection , you may either persue the money yourself or you can employ a debt collector to act as your collecting agent at any time.

This is normal business practice , first an invoice is sent, then a reminder, if debt remains upaid it will go to the accs overdue section of a company, who will try to recover monies, if this fails then a deadline is set, at which point the debt will be handed over to a debt recovery service(Debt collector) these guys come in various shapes and sizes, some will buy the debt(for alot less than its true value) some will charge an upfront fee, some will charge a percentage of monies recovered, the best are the "no win, no fee" and "fee" payable by the person who owes the money.

Only as a last resort do you go to court over money - as it is time consumng - has real unrecoverable costs in order to set it up and facilitate, and the reality is that you are "fairly" unlikely to get all of the debt repaid -much more likely to get a pittance paid weekly or monthly then the problem of going back to court to reinstate this(when they stop paying) or bailiff action which generally once again will leave you out of pocket !

If you set this up "Properly" within your ast with daily late payment fees, admin charges for reminder letters, a clause the states all costs in recovering outstanding debt will be bourne by tenant, daily interest plus DC fees etc Then you can invoke these to pass all of these cost to a the T - now if as a tenant you £500 bill is going to turn into £ 800 by the end of the month, this alone is usually enough motivation for them to pay it and quickly !(or at least negotiate a suitable repayment plan ) Normally i will accept payment of debt only, and WIPE OUT ALL COSTS- just accepting the original debt -this is on the understanding that they stick to the agreed(in writing)payment plan- should they renage then all previous costs plus what ever else has accrued since will be added to the amount and THEN and only THEN will be passed to DC -I also explain that once the DC has taken case on, DC fee will apply and cannot be removed and that i will have little or no control over the collection process. So it is a good idea to pay asap!

If this is set up properly you should have enough "fees" to "play with" to use to create a very god deal for them -I recently had a T who owed me £1200 the situation had gone on for 8 months with dribs and drabs comming in from time to time. Finally i drew the line and hit him with a s21 and a bill for just under £3000 (with all the costs ) but with the option of just paying the £1200 and surrendering the property within 28 days - he of course, hit the roof roof

he actually threatened me with court action- which i welcomed ( although as with 99.9% of threats of court action- amounted to nothing !)

He "apperently" went to citizens advice and his solicitor - then came and paid me and vacated my property. THERE WAS AS USUAL NO NEED TO "ACTUALLY INVOLVE" THE DEBT COLLECTOR.

If you want to start the s21 s8 prcedure immediately as a seperate issue you of course can !

Personally as i have mention before I have NEVER taken a tenant to court as i use the above system very successfully( i have upto 100 "tenants at any one time !) - although I'm sure one day it will happen !

Landlords/Letting agents need to understand that they are running a business and that standard business models, practices, procedures and systems should be adopted and incorporated in to the running of your business. As any small business will confirm "getting the orders or business is easy- getting paid is a completely different matter".

In short this problem should be addressed right at the beginning when a T is referenced - credit checked and assessed for risk - then ast should provide for this problem occurring - then a set procedure should be designed and followed - with both parties clear of what is going to happen.

It astounds me to read of all these problems on here because people go into this blind - like lambs to the slaughter !

We all pay regular bills to organisations; gas, electric, CT , credit cards, water, phones, mobile phones, loans, car finance etc

Now just have a look at all of the agreements you signed with this lot and how they all handle debt problems and look at their procedures.

And lastly just have a little think on what your mortgage co will do if you start Pxxxxxx about with payments - do they pull their hair out and bang their head on the wall..................? NO they like any other business have procedures in place to deal with any given situation.


I am also amazed at the amount ( the vast majority ) of Letting Agents who do not have procedures or the infastructure in place to deal many problems like this and simply pass it back to the Landlord saying "they havent paid "

These are the very same guys who question using debt collectors!

It is for these reasons that i dont and never will use and agent, until i find one who is capable of living up to their inflated claims and has the experience to do the job properly.( i believe there are one or two out there but i cant find them !)

Guess i will be self managing for the forseeable future then .................!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Unprofessional ?

Immoral ?

Unethical ?

I think not !

All comments welcome - Is there a better way ?


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Hi Sahara,

I do, sort of, sympathise with the point of view expressed by Simon (rodent) below - but I would firstly focus on getting your property back. You have served a Section 21 order that is due to expire on July 20th and I would write to the tenant telling them that you will be calling around on 21st July to pick up the keys. Be as pleasant and as professional and as relaxed as possible. You must get possession FIRST.

The most important point is to get the tenant out, get the property back AND THEN start chasing the tenant for the money owed. If you start involving debt collectors, right now, then you run the risk of the property getting seriously damaged between now and 21st July 2007 as you seriously upset the tenant.

If the Council are providing a Deposit Guarantee Scheme then I think it is valid and fair to charge them for the underpayment of rent by the tenant (up to the amount of money that the Council has agreed to guarantee). Issue an invoice to the council for the amount of rent owed. The Council can then chase your tenant for the money that they have paid you on his behalf.

Good luck,


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Hi Mark

Hope you had a nice holiday - we all missed you!

I fail to see the logic in waiting - the debt is getting larger all the time and probably less and less affordable to the T

If the T is going to damage the prop then he probably will anyway

The action of trying to recover an outstanding debt is not a "sin" and should not be shied away from It is overdue rent and should be persued immediatley - if it structured as above it usually removes tthe tenant without even going to court.

Never mind seriously upsetting the the T it is more a case of "the T has seriously upset me " by not paying and causing a load of grief.

Also inform tenants that a new tenant has been found and will be moving in on the 21/07/07 even arrange a viewing and have "a new Tenant " on standby if necessary- a load of hassle ? Nothing compared to court- bailiffs- eviction and trying to find and recover monies once Tenant has been removed and dissappeared !!

You know what i am saying !

I am no fan of " court being the answer" to me it is the last possible resort - there are an awful lot of steps which can be be taken first - without pussyfooting around or treading on eggshells!

But i will repeat - you need to have a set procedure integrated into your paperwork and business from the offset - not be having an emergency with nothing in place - just assume all T will do this and make sure your procedures allow for it - the good news is actually not many do it !( with good referencing)

Mark ?



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There seem to be many posts on here about bad tenants, not being able to recover unpaid rent and having to get debt collectors / courts involved.

All of this is very time consuming and costly as well as being problematic if you are not local to the property.

I am surprised that more landlords (especially) those that are not 'professional' i.e. have only one or two let properties don't purchase Rent Guarantee with Legal Expenses insurance. Various companies provide these at a reasonable cost (some include the tenant reference). If you do have such a policy then once the Tenancy Agreement has been broken by the Tenant you notify the insurer of a potential claim. Once accepted, the insurer pays you the monthly rent (less the excess usually one month), obtains the property back on your behalf and collects any money owing from the tenant. Why have all the hassle when someone else will take it on for you? The cost for a month rent of £500 can be around £175 per annum - bargain.

Check out our website: www.leaseguard.net

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Hi, thanks guys for your help and advice. I really was a lamb to the slaughter, but I'll be wiser next time. I will try to recover the rent arrears of this tenant, and when it comes to re-renting the property I will definitely be issuing a more comprehensive tenancy agreement, and getting the back up of insurance. I have one more question about the letters asking for payment for the arrears. As the housing benefit pays a fraction of the monthly rent, in the letters will I itemise how much he owes for each month, or add the H.B payments together to complete monthly payments, and then tell him how many complete months he owes money for ?



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You can only ask for rent that he hasn't paid. You have already been given part of the money by HB according to your 1st post so you can't ask for it again.

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