Tenant has done a runner, what can I do?

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    Tenant has done a runner, what can I do?

    I'm sure that everyone is facing their fair share of challenges at the moment, but i was hoping to get some advice form this forum with regards to a tenant that has absconded.

    To caveat, i'm an accidental landlord so letting is not an industry i have gone into with a view to making extra income. The rent I receive barely cover the mortgage and service charge.

    Even before the Covid19 situation, my tenant was regularly late with paying the rent and had also failed to pay me the full deposit (instalments had been drip fed to me over months). Once the lockdown started, she announced that she wasn't going to pay me the rent - but had not request a payment holiday, just simply not pay. She then told me that she was moving out, with a lacklustre promise that everything would be settled before she left. However (surprise, surprise!), this weekend she has sent me a one-liner message saying she has gone, and now refuses to answer the phone or any further messages.

    Aside from the fact that she still owes me rent and has left the place in a sorry state, it also appears that she has not settled the council tax or utility bills. Is there any means by which i can pursue her for these outstanding amounts? She has not provided a forwarding address, and she no longer works at the company that she was registered with on her background check, so I literally have no means of getting hold of her. I presume that this is not something he police/authorities would be interested in, but I imagine that the council and utility company want paying and are going to expect me to settle up if she cannot be located.


    Any advice would be much appreciated.

    #2
    I am not an expert and you will probably get advice from people with better knowledge of the law than me but:

    The tenant leaving does not necessarily end the tenancy so make sure you keep all the messages that she sent saying she was leaving. If she has given keys back I believe you can assume she has surrendered the tenancy and move forward. Document what she owes in terms of back rent & sorting out the property, claim what deposit she did pay from the holder then use all means you can to find her - think social media, work, friends etc. Do a Money Claim on line for what she owes - you may not get anything but she may get a CCJ. Take pictures of meter readings and put all the bills in your name - you are not responsible for her debt so don't pay it. Make sure if she has left a debt on gas / electric meters it is is not transferred with the account - the utilities need to chase her themselves for it not you. Same with Council Tax & water. Any loses should reduce your tax bill so make sure your document them/

    You are right that the authorities will not be interested and you may just have to be glad a bad tenant has left. Get the property sorted, do thorough checks on your next tenant and consider rent guarantee insurance - or sell.

    I know it leaves a bitter taste in your mouth, but you have to just out the experience behind you and move on.

    Good luck

    Comment


      #3
      It sounds like you did not go through the paperwork rigmarole at the start you were supposed to. (Deposit in instalments!?) Forget claiming anything IIWY, lest you get a 3x deposit compensation claim.
      To save them chiming in, JPKeates, Theartfullodger, Boletus, Mindthegap, Macromia, Holy Cow & Ted.E.Bear think the opposite of me on almost every subject.

      Comment


        #4
        Unless you somehow inherited the property with a tenant, you aren't an accidental anything.

        If you are confident that the tenant has left with the intention of ending the tenancy, recover possession of the property and change the locks.
        Tell the utility companies that you are responsible for the account from the date the tenancy ended and the same with the local authority for the council tax.
        You shouldn't be responsible before that date (although the tenant may have given misleading information themselves).

        The deposit sounds like a complete mess, and the chances of it being protected correctly sounds like zero.
        So I wouldn't advise making any claim against the tenant, and I'd hope that they simply move on and don't try any legal action against you from the safety of their new place of residence.
        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).

        Comment


          #5
          I consider myself a very inexperienced landlord having only one property but never would I allow somebody to take up a tenancy if they couldn’t afford to pay the deposit in one go before moving in.
          If she only stopped paying when lockdown was announced then you haven’t really lost a great deal of money and the outstanding council tax and utility bills should not be your responsibility to pay.
          Accept that you made a mistake by taking on an unsuitable tenant and move on.

          Comment


            #6
            What is the point of a deposit In installments ?

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by Section20z View Post
              What is the point of a deposit In installments ?
              It pretty much guarantees failing to comply with deposit regulations and thus laying yourself open to an up to 3x full deposit claim.

              We've heard from many claiming to have "accidentally" become landlords, but none with a credible story of how it was genuinely an accident
              I am legally unqualified: If you need to rely on advice check it with a suitable authority - eg a solicitor specialising in landlord/tenant law...

              Comment


                #8
                To clarify:

                1) when i say "accidental landlord" i mean because i moved abroad with work and therefore rent out my primary residency. This doesn't make me some mean, dark landlord profiting off poor, helpless renters (as the press current seems to suggest all landlords are), i simply rent out my property to cover the cost of the mortgage.

                2) Regarding the "deposit in instalments" - this was not my choice. Per a post i made a few months ago (https://forums.landlordzone.co.uk/fo...-letting-agent) a rogue letting agent put this tenant in my property without my consent. This letting agent had originally collected the deposit from her, which i eventually managed to reclaim but it turned out that she had also fallen behind on paying rent to the letting agent who then used some of her deposit to cover the shortfall. Thus i was left with recouping a portion of the deposit, and stuck with a tenant in a contract who promised (and i fool-heartedly believed) would pay me the balance of the deposit.

                Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and maybe my mistake was not being the evil landlord that is required....

                Comment


                  #9
                  You didn’t mention anything about a rogue letting agent in your original post at the start of this thread, you just said that your tenant was regularly late paying you the rent and that she had failed to pay you the full deposit and that it had been drip fed to you. You also didn’t mention anything about being abroad, the way the post was written it sounded as though you allowed a tenant to move in and then pay the deposit in instalments. That’s why you’ve received the sort of replies above.
                  Having now read the thread that you have provided a link to I would now advise you to think yourself extremely lucky that this tenant is gone, inform the local council and utility companies of the date she moved out so they can chase her for the money she owes and if you intend to again let the property then firstly do some research into letting agents local to the property, check out their websites, Facebook pages and online reviews, and let it through a more professional agent than the last one.
                  And if anything like this happens again i.e an agent moving a tenant in without your consent then act upon it immediately.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by ricoeliso View Post
                    To clarify:

                    1) when i say "accidental landlord" i mean because i moved abroad with work and therefore rent out my primary residency. This doesn't make me some mean, dark landlord profiting off poor, helpless renters (as the press current seems to suggest all landlords are), i simply rent out my property to cover the cost of the mortgage.

                    ........
                    That seems a little hard on mean, dark, landlords.

                    If renting just to cover cost of mortgage (quite likely not covering all your other costs..) I sincerely hope it's a market value rent as HMRC have powers to tax you at market rent (mainly due to fiddles by other, clearly not you, dodgy landlords with shall we say dubious letting arrangements.

                    You'll be aware of HMRC non-resident landlord arrangements?? See

                    https://www.gov.uk/tax-uk-income-live-abroad/rent

                    Hope things get better & you find this little scr*at..

                    When I started I thought I didn;t need training & education. Expensive, painful, long-drawn out, legally very iffy issues transpired! Ah, the price (in my case only obviously) of ignorance.

                    I resolved to learn: Learning since: Still making mistakes...
                    I am legally unqualified: If you need to rely on advice check it with a suitable authority - eg a solicitor specialising in landlord/tenant law...

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Originally posted by BTL investor View Post
                      You didn’t mention anything about a rogue letting agent in your original post at the start of this thread, you just said that your tenant was regularly late paying you the rent and that she had failed to pay you the full deposit and that it had been drip fed to you. You also didn’t mention anything about being abroad, the way the post was written it sounded as though you allowed a tenant to move in and then pay the deposit in instalments. That’s why you’ve received the sort of replies above.
                      Having now read the thread that you have provided a link to I would now advise you to think yourself extremely lucky that this tenant is gone, inform the local council and utility companies of the date she moved out so they can chase her for the money she owes and if you intend to again let the property then firstly do some research into letting agents local to the property, check out their websites, Facebook pages and online reviews, and let it through a more professional agent than the last one.
                      And if anything like this happens again i.e an agent moving a tenant in without your consent then act upon it immediately.
                      Sorry my bad, i didn't give the background as i didn't want to bore people with a long winded post, i thought it easier to just get to the point. but in summary, it has certainly been an ordeal. i do indeed count myself lucky to just get the property back and be rid of the tenant. My main concern was that i might be liable for any bills she has run up but it would seem from the advice on this forum that it wouldn't be the case thankfully.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by theartfullodger View Post
                        If renting just to cover cost of mortgage (quite likely not covering all your other costs..) I sincerely hope it's a market value rent as HMRC have powers to tax you at market rent (mainly due to fiddles by other, clearly not you, dodgy landlords with shall we say dubious letting arrangements.

                        You'll be aware of HMRC non-resident landlord arrangements?? See

                        https://www.gov.uk/tax-uk-income-live-abroad/rent
                        Thanks. Yes, up-to-speed on what is required from HMRC and i make sure my tax returns are done, and correct. I have no problem with paying tax on rental profit as required, just becomes even more frustrating when there is seemingly little protection for landlords, even when you try to do good and abide by all the rules. Anyway, live and learn with tenants.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          The Government well intentioned no doubt did us a great dis-service reducing by law the max deposit we could take.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            As said, chalk this up to experience and learn from it otherwise your landlord career (accidental or not) is going to be a bumpy and expensive ride.

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