Making Small Claims Online for Overseas Landlord

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    Making Small Claims Online for Overseas Landlord

    Hi everyone,

    I currently have a TDS adjudication with my ex-tenants ongoing. The tenants' deposit is 4300. The damages i am trying to claim in total is 7000. Even if i do get awarded the full deposit, i'm still short 2700. Im wondering if Small Claims via Money Claim Online (MCOL) is available to me given i am an overseas landlord. I can get a friend to let me use a UK address but if there is a need for me to present myself in Small Claims Court, that will not be possible for me and legal representation will likely be too expensive given the amount of my claim.

    Without first considering the merits of my small claims case, can anyone share if it is probable i need to present myself in court ?

    I appreciate any advice.

    Thanks !

    Ah, forget it buddy. Even if you attend, you stand little chance against landlord hating judges. But not attending? Not even worth the court fees.


      I believe courts dont like reopening cases that have already been settled by a deposit scheme either, so I think your only option would be to appear in person for a court case at which the entire claim is heard and for TDS to hold the deposit until instructed by a judge.


        Judges do not hate landlords. They decide cases on the basis of the evidence presented and often weak cases are presented, without proper evidence and without fair deduction for wear and tear.

        Whether you would need to present yourself in court cant be determined - but knowing what your case was might indicate if it was likely. Forgetting it is probably good advice.


          Originally posted by buzzard1994 View Post
          Judges do not hate landlords.
          I beg to differ:


            As much I love to believe judges are pure unbiased embodiment of justice, they are only human, and like it or not it is human natural to root for the under dogs. Most people watching a pack of wolf hunting a deer will want the deer to win, even though by failing to hunt, the wolves may starve to death as well.

            In this case, tenants will always be percieved as the weaker party and landlord as the bully by default. You can try your best to suppress your instincts, but you will never be able to elminate it completely.


              In the quoted case of 3yrs ago, only 1 Judge refused the Possession Order, a decision that was reversed by a 2nd Judge soon after. OP failed to paste original form.
              I appreciate some Judges can arrive at bizarre decisions, that is why an Appeal process is avail. Can we accuse all Judges of bias on the decision of a single Judge?


                Originally posted by JK0 View Post
                Probably done by one of the court staff and rubber stamped by a judge who was having a bad day and missed it. Cock up is always more likely than conspiracy - or landlord hating judges.


                  As far as I know there is no appeal process. I believe the court staff only showed my letter to another judge in view of the outrageousness of the first judgement. I have reproduced the form below:


                    There's nothing to stop a landlord from using the court system to make a claim beyond the deposit once a deposit service adjudicator has made a decision.
                    If the decision was not to award the landlord the entire deposit, that is unlikely to be successful, because the arbitration process is binding on both parties.

                    But if the adjudication has awarded the landlord all of the deposit and there is further loss to be claimed, the landlord isn't re-opening the case, they're simply making a further claim.

                    There's an EU wide small claims process if the landlord lives in the EU (which presumably doesn't require the landlord to travel to the UK), but I have no experience of using it.
                    When I post, I am expressing an opinion - feel free to disagree, I have been wrong before.
                    Please don't act on my suggestions without checking with a grown-up (ideally some kind of expert).


                      Thanks everyone. I figured I should wait for the adjudication decision - if its in my favor, then i can consider small claims. If it isn't, i definitely can forget it.

                      But i suppose if the adjudication is in my favor, i can start small claims , since it is possible i will not be required in court. And if my presence is required, i suppose i could pay my property managing agent to represent me. They'd probably charge am exorbitant hourly rate but still cheaper than a lawyer. (My property management firm charges GBP 120 per hour to help clients like myself to submit the TDS response online and they estimated it would take around 5 hours in my case to submit my response. Naturally, i minimise my already burgeoning losses by doing the submission myself but goodness, it took me more like 10 hours in total).

                      But first the adjudication. Just to share : the main cost of damage was repainting my 2 bedroom apartment (750 sq ft), it came up to around GBP 5000. My ex-tenants did a DIY paintjob and repainted walls black, blue and grey and their DIY job was quite bad and smothered ceilings and woodwork. So repainting involved walls, ceilings, woodwork and bath panels. The choice of colors made it necessary for up to 4 coats of repainting in a lot of areas to cover over. But my apartment hasnt been painted for at least 5 years. Im not expecting to get the full repainting cost given the no exchange old for new principle but hoping at least the tenant has to contribute at least 50% of the repainting.

                      Next up is tenant replaced light fixtures and light bulbs that were Non IP rated, badly installed and were reasons for the EICR demmed unsatisfactory. The cost of rectifying these C2 items so the EICR could be reassessed as satisfactory came up to GBP 690.

                      Other items :
                      (1) Professional Cleaning including carpets, and steam cleaning 2 mattresses GBP 472
                      (2) Disposal - GBP 672 - tenants left a lot of rubbish - inclduing artificial grass that were mouldy and bamboo privacy blinds in balcony that were very dirty and new tenants did not wish to retain.
                      (3) Missing miscellaneous items : GBP 195
                      (4) Check out report fee : GBP 168

                      I have the check in and check out report done by third party inventory companies with written report and photos documenting condition of the apartment. Tenancy agreeement(TA) have the usual clauses that require tenant return apartment professionally cleaned and in same condition (sans normal wear and tear) as handed to them, also has clause indicating tenant is to pay reasonable fee for check out report. TA signed in 2017 and not subject to recent changes where tenants cannot be asked to pay for check out report. It was a 2 year tenancy. 2 quotations for repainting - 1 for GBP 7500 and another for GBP 5000. Invoices for all the above items except missing miscellaneous items that are just estimates by my property mamagement co. Contractor report with photos detailing why the DIY paintjob left entire apartment needing to be repainted and explaining that choice of colors required 4 coats of paint in many areas.

                      Tenants has until end September to reply. I think TDS will take 28 days to decide so likely end October or early Nov i will know the result. I will update again to share the adjudication decision when its out.

                      I suppose whatever amount TDS adjudicates to be awarded to me, i should just accept and dont bother with small claims. If TDS awards less than full deposit, i am unlikely to succeed in small claims. If TDS awards full deposit, i am still unlikely to succeed at small claims given i am unlikely to get full amount of repainting back. Ah well..... I kinda wanted to go small claims so i would know the entire process for future reference, but now that i have written my reply here, i suppose there's not much point in my case to do so.



                        I used Once white emulsion to paint over black walls and ceilings and just one coat really did cover it, and I'm no decorating expert. I also used Once gloss to cover black gloss and again it covered it. £5000 seems very high for a 2 bed property, unless it was a huge place.

                        £672 also seems very high for rubbish removal. An 8 foot skip is £125 and, based on my past experiences, 2 skips in one day would clear rubbish from a 2 bed house, using 2 people.

                        If the defendant submits a defence then you will be called to court (based on my experiences). You will need to respond to the defence in court. You should receive a copy of the defence which should be sent direct to you from the defendant. Last time I went to court the defendant hadn't sent me a copy of his defence, but there was no 'punishment' to him for not adhering to the rules. You should check with the court, at intervals, to see if a defence has been lodged with the court and ask for a copy to be sent to you if you haven't received one. You'll have to keep your eye on the ball. When you get a copy of the defence you should prepare your response and explain your situation to the court. I don't know if you can do the court appearance by conference call but it might be worth asking.


                          Agent can't (and won't) represent you in court. Can only be a solicitor if you aren't there. Are you sure you wanted to keep those mattresses?



                            The reality for an overseas landlord like me is i have to depend on your property management company contacts for most everything - cleaning, redecoration, disposal, EICR, EPC, Inventory check-in, minor repairs, major repairs. I dont have reliable contacts of my own in London since i am not located there so the management company gets 2 quotations and you pick the lower of the two. Are the quotations cheap ? Definitely not. Are the quotations within market range ? The property management company would claim so. Are the quotations on the high end of the market range ? Definitely. But i dont really have a choice. If the tenanat wanted to save money by repainting the apartment or disposing rubbish themselves, i would have no issue. If the TDS adjudication indicates the quotations were exorbitantly high, i am again left vulnerable because i could go after the management company who would just claim i should go after the contractors and it wouldnt be easy nor cost effective to claim against the contractor without legal action. These are just the additional risks i face being an overseas landlord. But i have switched to another property management company - Not that i think they will be much different to be honest. Or maybe ibam just cynical.

                            Thanks for sharing your experience on small claims. I think its unlikely I will pursue that.


                              Originally posted by cancan View Post
                              But i dont really have a choice.
                              Yes you do. You (and every one of us) always has a choice. We just don't often think we do, or we don't like the choices.
                              Even a mugger who demands you hand over your money or he will knife you, is giving you a choice.
                              Your situation is entirely of your own making, through a series of choices that you freely made.

                              I have lived overseas for many years and although it took me a couple of years to have what i did, I eventually found someone reliable to do viewings (and provide their gut feeling about potential tenants) and also, I found a reliable, honest, competent, multi-trade tradesperson, who also could provide other tradespeople for things they don't do, like decoration.

                              Like many a landlord, I went through my fair share of cowboy builders/plumbers/electricians, etc. (as well as tossy/incompetent/foul mouthed/disinterested agents), but then I came across a tradesperson who wasn't like such people and they have been my only maintenance person for many years. I managed everything remotely except viewings and never had any difficulties. I also provided my tenants with my phone number and sometimes spoke with them over skype/FT too.

                              If you do not want to do any/most of what is required for a rented property (or you can't), then that is your choice and if so, your costs will likely always be higher in that scenario. If you want to manage things yourself, I suggest you come back to the UK and find (and then try out) new maintenance people and go from there. Which magazine online lists trusted tradespeople, which you could try if you don't have another source. I would also recommend meeting any tradesperson first before you use them.

                              If you need to use a letting agent, ask for let only services and manage the paperwork, money and maintenance yourself, remotely.
                              General builders, can empty a property of items and if they can't dispose of them, you could try your local council if they can help. My council provides a low cost bulky items collection service and which I can arrange and pay for online.

                              I have worked in property management and the management fee is not worth paying in my view, unless you have a dodgy/full of problems home, or you just don't want to be bothered by it all. Its money for old rope really.
                              Another legitimate reason to use a property management service, is if you are not good at reading people, either in writing (and what they don't say in emails), or what they say (and how they say it/their tone, etc.) or don't say, during phone conversations, or you're just not good with dealing with people at all.
                              Last edited by Mogino; 19-09-2019, 01:25 AM. Reason: typos


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