Tenant wrecked property

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  • Tenant wrecked property

    Hi All

    Wondering if anyone has any advice on the following:

    Got a Housing Benefit (HB) tenant through a local Letting Agent, got a guarantor etc. Signed AST, deposit sent off to DPS.

    After a painful tenancy we issued an eviction notice and the tenant moved out.

    The house was left open and unlocked when T moved out. T did not clean the house and it is a complete F'ing mess! Disgusting throughout. Walls have deep scratches, floor is heavily scratched and covered in paint, pockmarks etc. There are stains and heavy over multiple walls, my furniture has been kept outside and is covered in mould, all the mattresses are ruined, expensive blinds ruined, loads of stuff dumped around etc etc. .... you get the picture.
    We are also owed a month's rent.

    T has not left a forwarding address, but they obviously still have the guaruntor. Also we know that they wre letting through another LA just down the road.

    Deposit = 1 month's rent.

    We have put together a list of costs to make the house let-able again and included costs to replace items, minus a reduction for wear+tear according to logical rules of thumb. That bill comes to almost £2000 which is more than double the deposit.

    So here is the dilemma: Do we claim the deposit for unpaid rent and pursue through the courts for damage costs? Or vise versa. It seems cleaner to claim for unpaid rent via DST since that is breach of contract, but something tells me that once we get it and the LA gets their slice, that they will completely wash their hands of us and not provide any assistance for recouping costs. They are advising me to take the deposit for unpaid rent - but then that will serve their ends better.

    Any advice of which way to go?

    All advice much appreciated - we only let the house due to jobs moving and not wanting to take a loss since we bought at top of market etc.... we know very little about all of this.

    Thanks

  • #2
    I'd go straight for the Guarantor, as T is already in default.
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    1. Public advice is believed accurate, but I accept no legal responsibility except to direct-paying private clients.
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    • #3
      Thanks Jeffrey

      Do we go for the G for rent or for damages? Or does it not matter?

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Efferneti View Post
        Thanks Jeffrey

        Do we go for the G for rent or for damages? Or does it not matter?
        I *think* you can go for both...... but wait until someone more knowledgable comes along.

        Failing that, go for both anyway. Can't hurt!

        Comment


        • #5
          Hi thanks for your comments.

          It seems an academic question I suppose. It's just that the deposit is just over £800, which I'm owed in rent anyway. Then there is the ~£2000 damages on top of that. Either way I'll have to go after the G or T for something and claim the deposit for the other. It doesn't seem that there is any difference from what you are all saying.

          Does the fact that T never signed the final inspection report and denies leaving the property in a mess matter? We have a signed (By LA) inspection report, pictures of damage etc. I'm pretty sure it's all water-tight, and since she's refusing to provide a forwarding address we will probably have to go to the G.

          Thanks in advance

          Comment


          • #6
            do you have an inventory taken from the start of the tenancy?

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by littlemisslettings View Post
              do you have an inventory taken from the start of the tenancy?
              Yes we do. And at the end with pictures etc.

              It now seems that T is denying any responsibility for breakages etc, and is denying leaving the property open.

              Comment


              • #8
                It doesn't really matter how you go for it take the deposit for the rent as this can be done through the protection scheme and go for the damages through the county court as the protection scheme can only operate upto the value of the deposit.
                I would serve the summons on both the tenant and the gaurantor as co defendants.
                Have you tried speaking/writing to the gaurantor yet.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by chappers2341 View Post
                  It doesn't really matter how you go for it take the deposit for the rent as this can be done through the protection scheme and go for the damages through the county court as the protection scheme can only operate upto the value of the deposit.
                  I would serve the summons on both the tenant and the gaurantor as co defendants.
                  Have you tried speaking/writing to the gaurantor yet.
                  Hi

                  Thanks for your message. So far we have not contacted the guarantor. T has not supplied a forwarding address. However I have recently been told where T lives, but this is obviously not a confirmed address. Could I use this address to serve papers?

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Yes, you can use the new address for T to serve papers.

                    The Guarantor is there for a reason - to guarantee the T would comply with the AST terms, and "indemnify" the LL against losses due to non-compliance.

                    So, I suggest you write to the Guarantor, with the facts, copy of the evidence you have, and ask them to contact you within 7 days to discuss way forward or pay up. If no reply, then write again, expressing your disappointment at the lack of reply, and lack of payment, and that if you don't hear from them within the next 7 days, you will be taking legal action to recover it all from the G. That's your LBA (letter before action). If G still does not respond, then start the court process.

                    Make sure you send the letters with a certificate of posting. For the first one, you could send two copies, one by recorded delivery, the other by ordinary post, with a free certificate of posting. They are not expecting anything from you, so most likely will sign for and collect it. Works for me.

                    The deposit is for dilapidations, unless the AST clearly states it can be used for unpaid rent.

                    Even then, I'd be inclined to go for dilapidations option, if you have your full evidence (before and after inventory/pictures etc.). Whilst the limit of award is only up to deposit value, its still something, and you can try and claim the rest via the courts.

                    The A should have been on to the G as soon as the rent was missed. If they can't be a***d to do that, or arrange for and be there at checkout (avoiding the property being left unlocked etc. etc.), I'd be inclined to go after them too, for incompetence, breach of their obligation to you, and whatever else you can throw at them.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Am I the only one who thinks this a police issue?

                      Sounds like a clear case of criminal damage. Neighbours must have seen something...

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        OP, it may be that your T knowingly left the property unlocked when he moved out in order to be able to claim later that he was not responsible for the damage - in other words, to claim that he 'forgot' to lock it and that someone else had gained access and trashed the place. That would put him in breach of contract for leaving the property unsecured, but that's less serious legally than a charge of criminal damage.

                        It is theoretically a police matter once you have reported the damage, but it would be unrealistic to expect it to leap to the top of their priority list. Plus, if T contests your allegations, it may be difficult to prove 'beyond reasonable doubt' in a criminal court that he did it. How soon after he vacated was the checkout done?

                        I agree with jeffrey and havensRus that going after the guarantor offers your best hope of any redress, since if it came to a court hearing, it will be decided (I understand) 'on the balance of probabilities'. Good luck.
                        'Pause you who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation fo the first link on one memorable day'. Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by mind the gap View Post
                          .

                          It is theoretically a police matter once you have reported the damage, but it would be unrealistic to expect it to leap to the top of their priority list. Plus, if T contests your allegations, it may be difficult to prove 'beyond reasonable doubt' in a criminal court that he did it. How soon after he vacated was the checkout done?
                          Very true, but most people aren't used to police questioning and many will spill the beans down the station when questioned down the nick...

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by bullybantam View Post
                            Very true, but most people aren't used to police questioning and many will spill the beans down the station when questioned down the nick...
                            Unless you are an police officer with experience in interviewing suspects (are you?), I am struggling to see how we can know that wild generalisation is in fact true and thus how much help in this situation. If OP's tenants have been devious enough to try to make it look as though the damage is someone else's doing, it is logical to assume they will have thought about their responses to police questioning.

                            There is also the possibility (less, likely, I agree, but it would need to be disproved in a criminal court, which is not the same as claiming T was responsible for damages in a civil hearing), that T did leave the property unlocked by accident and that unknown intruders were responsible.
                            'Pause you who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation fo the first link on one memorable day'. Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by mind the gap View Post
                              Unless you are an police officer with experience in interviewing suspects (are you?), I am struggling to see how we can know that wild generalisation is in fact true and thus how much help in this situation. If OP's tenants have been devious enough to try to make it look as though the damage is someone else's doing, it is logical to assume they will have thought about their responses to police questioning.
                              As a matter of fact I have worked for a law enforcement body and have worked on criminal cases so I don't get all my experience by watching The Bill. During a PACE interview you'd be surprised how people do incriminate themselves during questioning.

                              In the case the OP was talking about. If the tenant was one person acting alone, then questioning probably wouldn't get very far. But if it was a couple and one had done the deed and the other wasn't a party to the "accidental" damage then the innocent party might well incriminate the guilty one.

                              All this raises another question - as LL should we insist on a CRB check?

                              Comment

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