advice please: Small claims court or accept lost arrears of £4k

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    advice please: Small claims court or accept lost arrears of £4k

    Hi everyone, I need some major advice!

    im new here... I’ve been a landlady for a number of years but let an agency deal with things. I decided to take it from them as I had a long term resident and (fortunately for them) they bought their own property and so moved out, and then I (made a mistake of) allowing a single mum of 2 on benefits rent the home. I didn’t ask for a guarantor as I received this letter from her housing advisor “

    Good Morning

    Thank you for your time earlier.

    This is to confirm that My name is xxxx xxxx and I work for xxxxx City Council, Housing Advisory Service. I am working with a lady called xxxx xxxx and looking at options of private rented for her.

    Xxx has been accepted for assistance with a deposit for a private rented tenancy through the Council’s discretionary housing payments. This can be paid direct to the landlord. Due to the payment run of the council the money won’t be in the account until the back end of next week but this is confirmation that you will get this. The housing benefit can also be paid direct to you.”


    So I, like a sucker, agreed. She moved in end of October 2018. I got paid a deposit of £450 for first months rent from the council. And then nothing since then.... I left it for 2months thinking council may need time, then tried to contact the housing advisor multiple times with no luck. Then found out that she put a “change of address” form in late -registered to universal credit in Jan 2019. Tennant told me that payments will be made directly to me but nothing was coming through. I tried to call universal credit and council and left 100’s of voicemails. Universal credit kept telling me they can’t give any information to me, and the Tennant kept saying universal credit have sorted everything. In May, I threatened her with giving notice to move out so she sent me a screenshot to say that she has put an application in for rent to come to me. And she paid me £30. At this point, she was over £3k in arrears. In the meantime universal credit kept messing me around and finally told me I should be receiving rent+some contribution to arrears(but won’t tell me how much) in May, then last week I got a phone call from them saying that there is a mistake and I would receive it this month. So I’ve been waiting patiently all this time.
    2 days ago, I received a text from the Tennant saying I’ve moved all my belongings out of the house...! I called universal credit, they said they have no info and I should seek advice from citizens advice. Also been told that they have been paying her rent money since March- Which she didn’t tell me - and that no payment arrangement was put in place for June, despite me receiving an email to say this will be the case. I will call citizens advice on Monday.
    But ive been back and forth with the Tennant through texts trying to get her to agree to clean the property and meet to give the keys. She keeps telling me that she’s pregnant and will be delivering her baby on Sunday and one of her friends is happy to move in straight away etc etc. she also agreed to pay £70/month for the money she’s received from March. And when I directly asked what about the rent of the money she says “if you talk to me like that I won’t do anything”
    obviously I don’t want her friend to move in. She won’t tell me where she lives to collect money (says she will online transfer) but I can definitely find out from another friend (who works at the school where one of her kids go).

    But im stuck... Do I take her to court? Do I take the council/ universal credit to court? Do I just accept the money is lost and not Pursue it further and sell the property/ leave agencies to deal with it? I’ve lost out on nearly £4K and more given now the property is not claiming rent - and I still need my keys back!

    disclaimer- she complained about the door not working at the beginning of the tenancy... this was never mentioned by the agency/other Tennant... I told her I’ll get it sorted once some rent comes in. She said she feels unsettled in the house coz of this. But also mentions an ex partner knows of her whereabouts etc and that she didn’t move out because of the house etc

    please help me oh knowledgeable ones!!!

    Much obliged!

    #2
    Join NLA/RLA and do some basic LL training. You were 'conned' by the Council Official.

    Comment


      #3
      Thanks for your reply! So you think I just need to make peace and move on?
      what’s NLA/RLA?

      Comment


        #4
        Yes, move-on. NLA = National Landlords Association. Rla = Residential Landlords Association. This is a minefield of legal and retulatory issues in which you can lose a lot more than a few grand in unpaid rent. You don't even know the basics so I strongly recommend you sign back up to an Agency until you are able to learn these things.

        Comment


          #5
          First thing which isn't clear, do you have possession of your property? If no, that would be the first thing I would do, and the CCJ a secondary aspect. Serve S21 or S8 get possession.

          My personal view is to follow through with a Small claims, it's unlikely you will be paid, but would place a CCJ on the person for future, the more landlords do this then less likely these types of tenants are passed onto other landlords.

          Comment


            #6
            Will do. Thankyou

            Comment


              #7
              Didn't the council give an undertaking (which you have in writing) to pay the rent direct to you? Although I'm not experienced with HB claimaints (and never will be given what I've read on this forum!) I would be on straight on to them to see what happened and seek to get the rent back from them! It certainly sounds as if they messed up.

              Hopefully more experienced members can give more advice.

              Comment


                #8
                You’re absolutely correct.i do have it in writing. And I thought exactly this,but now the council man is just not replying... to be honest, I have over a 100 telephone calls to his direct line on my mobile bill, but he hasn’t replied or answered since January.

                Comment


                  #9
                  That's terrible! In that case I'd would (as a first step) submit a complaint via the council website today. A brief, factual outline to start with.

                  I'm sure others will be along with more advice on how to approach this.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    With unpaid rent she will be able to get council house assistance so he's definitely worth putting a CCJ on there so that she can't hide from that also another point is that if she did suddenly come into money then she would pay off their CCJ in insta it will last on there for 6 years or quite simply if she wants credit and she finds out she's getting refused everywhere she might come to you and make a token arrangement of paying a certain amount of month which is better than nothing or at the very least you get the satisfaction of knowing that she's not going to be able to easily get away with what she done to you

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Agree with the above in regards getting a CCJ on her, she has taken you to the cleaners and always intended too, this is why i have a total ban on any one on UC or housing benefit there are sob stories a plenty out there and i believe none of them, i am not a charity for the desperate and dispossessed. Also agree with the post regarding getting full possession now, get her and anyone else out asap and then re-assess and join a landlord association for assistance in the future. The council can not be trusted when it comes to housing tenants they need them '' off their books'' and will say anything to achieve this. Sorry to hear about this mess, but as more stories like this come up more and more landlords will do what i and many others are doing and ditching anyone on benefits. Sad but sensible.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by blinko View Post
                        With unpaid rent she will be able to get council house assistance so he's definitely worth putting a CCJ on there so that she can't hide from that also another point is that if she did suddenly come into money then she would pay off their CCJ in insta it will last on there for 6 years or quite simply if she wants credit and she finds out she's getting refused everywhere she might come to you and make a token arrangement of paying a certain amount of month which is better than nothing or at the very least you get the satisfaction of knowing that she's not going to be able to easily get away with what she done to you
                        to clarify not be able to get council house

                        agreed council will want them off their books any way they can

                        join RLA best advice line out there

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Regretably move on and don't take any more benefit tenants. Councils need to follow through on promises. As long as tenants like this are conning the system there is no hope for the genuine landlord.



                          Freedom at the point of zero............

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Originally posted by Interlaken View Post
                            Councils need to follow through on promises. As long as tenants like this are conning the system there is no hope for the genuine landlord.
                            More accurately, tenants are given free reign to con the system without any repercussions whatsoever. I'm amazed at the fact councils (gov initiative I know) hand over thousands every months in tax payers money to benefit tenants for rent who essentially can do what they like with it!

                            Don't the council in this instance have some responsibility here as well? They did, after all give an undertaking rent would be pair directly to her. Although I'm not dismissing this route entirely, chances of getting the money back through a CCJ (and some couldn't care less about these) are remote if not impossible IMO.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              The only way is to simply never house those on benefits. We as landlords have to be strict about this, because ultimately if we be clear and head strong about it, it's the only way for policy to change.

                              Primarily, guaranteed payments direct from the council to landlords upon commencement for the tenancy for the duration of the tenancy. Non of this, if there is 8 weeks of arrears you can apply for direct payments. Councils should be required to be guarantors.

                              Absolutely get a CCJ out of principle.

                              Comment

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