Tenants make counterclaim

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  • Tenants make counterclaim

    I took my tenants to court for non payments of rent and the hearing was on 12/10/09. The judge upon hearing gave them 7 days to file their defence and counterclaim because they dispute what they owe me. The owe me more than 2 months rent and the council had been paying me dirctly.

    They have made a counterclaim of £10000 (Ten Thousand Pounds) because my property was in disrepair and caused them alot of distress including hospitalisation. No proof of hospitalisation has been attached with the counterclaim. They left my property on 09/10/09 and in doing so, removed furniture that belonged to me and they left a lot of mess behind which I had to take care of. They even removed 2 BT sockets and council refuse bins. They did not tell the court on the 12/10/09 that they have vacated my property. The only time I came to know was when my letting agent phoned me to let me know. All the tenants did was dropped my property keys at the Letting Agents office with no forwarding address.

    I now have new tenants that moved in on 02/11/09. Says alot about my property being in disrepair

    Please guide me as to whether I need to get a lawyer to defend their counterclaim. Can they sue me for so much based on circumstantial evidence. If my property was in that much in a state, how is that I could
    get new tenants (also on benefits) quite quickly. Can I use this argument in court

    The council have rehoused them (and although I have no
    proof), the Tenants were not entitled to a three bedroom accommodation but a two bedroom accommodation and given a deadline to move out.

    My LA has carried out an inventory subsequent to them leaving my property and has made a report of the findings. The total bill comes to £4800.00. Can I send this to court as further evidence of their dishonesty a make a further claim to what they already owe me. They have totally disregarded the tenancy agreement.

  • #2
    There are 'real' legal people read this board, and they'll give you more thorough information, however...

    A general rule is that they have to prove the monetary value of their loss, so unless they are backed by "shoddy claims R us", you should be fine. You will need proof that the property wasn't in the state they claim. Normally, the leaving inventory would be done in the tenants presence and have their countersignature - proof of it's true condition, but if it was done by the Agent alone it will still be considered by the judge. The onus of proof in your case against the T is on you - you have to prove your loss. The onus of proof on the counterclaim is on the Tenant - they have to prove their loss.

    I think I know what they are trying - I assume Ts are on benefits? If so, their claim will have cost them nothing but will have pushed the case over the £5k for 'small claims'. This means the costs will be considerably more and they re hoping that the allocation fee and hearing fee are going to put you off. This does mean that (presuming you win) you can claim the costs off them, but if they are on benefits it won't make any difference because you won't be able to enforce the debt in any meaningful manner (ie - no money, no payment).

    Others will comment, and if I'm right, hopefully they'll be abe to advise you how to proceed

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Gurcharan Singh View Post
      Please guide me as to whether I need to get a lawyer to defend their counterclaim. Can they sue me for so much based on circumstantial evidence.
      What "circumstantial evidence"? If there was no disrepair (or hospitalization), and moreover the T didn't report any disrepair to you during the tenancy, then the T will have no evidence, circumstantial or otherwise, and the claim will fail.

      It sounds to me like a "vexatious" claim, i.e. one without any genuine legal basis and issued purely to cause problems/costs for you. See
      http://www.gillhams.com/dictionary/145.cfm

      It may be advisable to consult a solicitor (ideally a specialist in landlord/tenant/housing law). Not because the T is likely to win, but because you need to ensure that your defence is well presented - a mistake could be expensive.

      My LA has carried out an inventory subsequent to them leaving my property and has made a report of the findings. The total bill comes to £4800.00. Can I send this to court as further evidence of their dishonesty a make a further claim to what they already owe me. They have totally disregarded the tenancy agreement.
      In principle, yes, you can claim for damage as well as rent arrears. However, do you also have an inventory carried out at the commencement of the tenancy, signed by the tenant? Without this, it'll be hard to prove the T caused the damage/theft.

      In future, do not accept tenants on government benefits without 1) a guarantor for the tenant's liabilities, 2) credit and reference checks.

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