Is this ex tenant worth taking to Court?

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    #16
    Yes there was disrepair reported and my solicitor says not to discuss it.

    The former tenant is saying the disrepair has been unresolved since 2015 and that if I sue her for the rent arrears she will argue offset against the disrepair.

    The rent is £1000 pcm and she owes ten months.

    When she signed up for the property she told me she worked as a photographer and earned almost £40k per year but she's recently told my solicitor she has stopped working all together because of severe mental illness and has five different diagnoses and is getting EESA and DLA. She never told me she had been claiming housing benefit otherwise after two months I would have asked the council to pay directly to myself.

    She has also sent me an email saying if I sue her for the rent arrears she intends to put in a counterclaim for five years of disrepair plus harassment from myself directed at her. I imagine it could cost a fortune to defend. If I lost would I pay her costs? Can I do this myself or do I need a solicitor?

    And how do you distinguish between disrepair and damage she has deliberately caused?

    Comment


      #17
      If you keep your claim at/below £10k there is no real risk of costs except court fees and some very minor fees (travel expenses of the other party to the hearing for example).

      I would definitely take her to court, someone who so vigorously claims they will defend a court claim normally has something to hide. True benefits claimants normally know that the outcome of court claims doesn’t really affect them, so don’t tend to be overly bothered. So my suspicion would be not all is as she claims.

      I would also not be overly worried about the ‘disrepair’ claim. She would have to substantiate what this is for, when she told you, that you ignored her demands, ... in other words, it’s easier said than done.

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        #18
        Thanks for responding Chris.

        The problem is with the rent arrears and damage and filthy carpets and rubbish left in the garden then my claim would be well over £10,000.

        Plus she did actually report a roof leak in January and I didn't do anything for two months and she's raised this.

        Is it a legal rule that if the claim amount is more than £10k then I'm at risk of paying her costs if I lose? She's sent me the rudest letter saying she is entitled to legal aid and if she loses it doesn't matter whereas I will have to pay all my solicitors costs and hers if she wins. Her attitude is that she is on benefits so has nothing to lose whereas I'm a property owner who must pay for my own legal expenses and therefore she intends to make life very hard for me. She also claims to have contents insurance for her belongings with a legal Insurance policy which will cover her up to £50,000 of legal fees. She says I caused her harassment which made her abandon her home and that she has been reporting disrepair for the whole 11 years of the tenancy and I should compensate her for this. The truth is there has been some disrepair throughout the tenancy which has been ignored but not as much as she claims. I'm very worried. She's already got her brother to send an abusive email to the agents

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          #19
          The truth is there has been some disrepair throughout the tenancy which has been ignored

          and

          she did actually report a roof leak in January and I didn't do anything for two months



          Move on and actually learn from it - how you can admit to not sorting repairs over many years is beyond me and puts you in the category of landlord that ruins it for the majority of decent ones.

          I have very little sympathy for your situation.

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            #20
            Originally posted by GivemylovetoJudy View Post
            The problem is with the rent arrears and damage and filthy carpets and rubbish left in the garden then my claim would be well over £10,000
            Work out what you can sue her for that's less that £10,000, then.

            But, given you didn't fix a roof repair for rwo months, unless you've got a damn good reason, I'd walk away now.
            At every stage of the process, everyone's going to take against you.
            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


              #21
              Agree with above, this appears to be a lost cause and she is savvy enough to know that, i think she has you over a barrel.

              Given you have rented to a ' wrong-un' i would be super careful with the next one, check and then check again everything they say and only pick the top of the pile, you need to learn from this disaster and not repeat it.

              Comment


                #22
                How does the roof leak cancel out her huge rent arrears? She reported the roof leak on 4 January and I didn't fix it until 11 March.

                Comment


                  #23
                  Originally posted by GivemylovetoJudy View Post
                  Thanks for responding Chris.

                  The problem is with the rent arrears and damage and filthy carpets and rubbish left in the garden then my claim would be well over £10,000.

                  Plus she did actually report a roof leak in January and I didn't do anything for two months and she's raised this.

                  Is it a legal rule that if the claim amount is more than £10k then I'm at risk of paying her costs if I lose? She's sent me the rudest letter saying she is entitled to legal aid and if she loses it doesn't matter whereas I will have to pay all my solicitors costs and hers if she wins. Her attitude is that she is on benefits so has nothing to lose whereas I'm a property owner who must pay for my own legal expenses and therefore she intends to make life very hard for me. She also claims to have contents insurance for her belongings with a legal Insurance policy which will cover her up to £50,000 of legal fees. She says I caused her harassment which made her abandon her home and that she has been reporting disrepair for the whole 11 years of the tenancy and I should compensate her for this. The truth is there has been some disrepair throughout the tenancy which has been ignored but not as much as she claims. I'm very worried. She's already got her brother to send an abusive email to the agents
                  If it wasn't clear from other people's answers, yes, it has to be below 10k. Being below 10k means it can be dealt with in small claims court, you want that. It's cheaper, faster and means there's no order for costs (unless you are completely unreasonable).

                  If it's above 10k you'll be placed on the fast or multi track, where orders for costs etc are the norm.

                  People seem to think there's a separate small claims court, there isn't, it's just a county court. Small claims is intended to be dealt with litigant in person to save on costs, so go do that.

                  The temptation is "I want my day in court!", The reality is, if the judge has had a bad morning and rules against you, you'll regret that stance. If you take her to small claims, worst outcome is you don't get what you ask for, and you suck up your own legal bill.

                  Comment


                    #24
                    Originally posted by landlord-man View Post
                    The truth is there has been some disrepair throughout the tenancy which has been ignored

                    and

                    she did actually report a roof leak in January and I didn't do anything for two months



                    Move on and actually learn from it - how you can admit to not sorting repairs over many years is beyond me and puts you in the category of landlord that ruins it for the majority of decent ones.

                    I have very little sympathy for your situation.
                    Hmm I think we would need to know more about the whole story here. I.e. what 'disrepair' was claimed when ams how was it actioned upon (or not and why not).

                    The tenant's letter threatening legal aid as a retaliatory measure wouldn't go overly well with most judges...

                    Comment


                      #25
                      Not only is it the lack of repair to the roof but his other admission - The truth is there has been some disrepair throughout the tenancy which has been ignored

                      Comment


                        #26
                        The disrepair was reported, yes, but I never had an agency manage the property and I live in Australia and have six other rental properties.

                        She emailed me about roof leaks over the years but said her brother would patch up the roof, is that enough to satisfy my repairing obligations? The roof has never been professionally looked at or professionally repaired since 2012 and there have been emails saying rainwater was dripping through the ceiling onto the kitchen floor and dining room.
                        I'm not sure how much thin ice I'm on.

                        Surely if her friend was making some sort of attempt at the roof repair that is enough to strike out her disrepair claim although she says he works in a petrol station and is not qualified in roof repairs.

                        If there is a roof leak, what should be done? I've always allowed the tenants to repair it themselves.

                        Judy

                        Comment


                          #27
                          Originally posted by GivemylovetoJudy View Post
                          If there is a roof leak, what should be done? I've always allowed the tenants to repair it themselves.
                          You have a legal obligation to have the roof repaired.
                          Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 s11.

                          Allowing the tenant's brother try and fix it would probably satisfy the legal requirement if it had actually worked.
                          But if "over the years" the tenant repeatedly reported a leaking roof and you didn't get it repaired I'd say you were on "thin ice".

                          You sound like a bloody awful landlord.

                          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


                            #28
                            Originally posted by jpkeates View Post

                            You sound like a bloody awful landlord.
                            I try not to judge, but I'm inclined to agree with JPKeates here, if you DO take this to Court, you'd be foolish to pursue this anywhere but small claims, as this would be a very strong case for a counterclaim for disrepair. If you won your claim about the monies owed, and the tenant won their counterclaim for disrepair, the judge would likely offset the values, but THEN they'd make a decision about who should pay costs. Which may be both of you, or one of you. And if in anything other than small claims, you may also risk indemnity costs (where they disregard the proportionality of the cost and they generally scrutinize claimed costs less), leading to a much larger costs order.

                            You might be able to argue the roof situation, as the tenant told you they had acted to address the problem. But if they re-reported it following that suggestion, you'd have an uphill struggle.

                            Small claims, or don't go at all, I'd say.

                            Comment


                              #29
                              Yeah I've got to say the last few comments turned my opinion on this as well. If you're in Australia and are managing six properties without a local agent this to me sounds hugely unprofessional so I don't think going to court would be your best idea. Maybe rethink your business model...
                              ​​

                              Comment


                                #30
                                Why not say you are in Australia until now?
                                If you can't attend court then you need to instruct a solicitor - and that's money you won't get back in a small claim.
                                There is very little to be gained, and a lot to lose, so it's probably not a sensible course of action.

                                Comment

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