Deposit nightmares: advice desperately sought

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    Deposit nightmares: advice desperately sought

    Hi,
    I am hoping you can help me. I’m at my wit’s end.

    My boyfriend lived in a property with another tenant. The deposit was paid pre-2007 and never put into a deposit scheme. The deposit was paid to Foxtons but at the end of the contract, they said they had given the deposit to the landlord. The landlord paid back some of the deposit but not all of it – he still owes £1000. Unfortunately, the landlord has since sold that flat and we have no address for him. He does not answer his calls or reply to emails. We believe he may be unemployed at the moment although he may still have other property he is getting money from.

    Am I right in thinking that it is not worth taking to the small claims court since we do not have an address for him but also we do not know if he is employed/declared bankrupt and therefore he may not have to pay (even though we know he has the money since he’s been going on holiday and sold that flat). Also, would it be worth pursuing this way anyway given the cost of court fees? And what power does the court have to enforce him to pay even if they decided he should?

    Would it be worth instead passing it on to a debt collection agency?

    If anyone can direct me to any relevant legislation, that would also be very much appreciated (I’m trying to get my head around it).

    If anyone has any advice on how to proceed with this, I’d be extremely grateful. It’s the injustice of him stealing £1000 which is most driving me mad, and I know my boyfriend needs the money. The landlord is an awful and arrogant man and I’d hate for him to get away with it!

    Many thanks
    Jo

    #2
    Originally posted by floral_jo View Post

    Am I right in thinking that it is not worth taking to the small claims court since we do not have an address for him but also we do not know if he is employed/declared bankrupt and therefore he may not have to pay (even though we know he has the money since he’s been going on holiday and sold that flat). Also, would it be worth pursuing this way anyway given the cost of court fees? And what power does the court have to enforce him to pay even if they decided he should?

    Would it be worth instead passing it on to a debt collection agency?
    You would need the LL's residential address to claim against him (or company address if LL is a limited company). Try a tracing agent, e.g.
    http://www.findermonkey.co.uk/

    You can check his bankruptcy status here:
    http://www.insolvency.gov.uk/bankrup...ptcysearch.htm

    Court fees for a claim for £1,000 would be £60 (for issuing via Moneyclaim Online), plus £75 (hearing fee). These would be added to the claim if you won.
    https://www.moneyclaim.gov.uk/web/mcol/welcome
    (You don't need to refer to any statutes in your claim; the deposit is your money, and you are entitled to get it back).

    The court doesn't enforce the judgment, you do. See:
    http://www.hmcourts-service.gov.uk/i...ment/index.htm

    Personally, I think debt collectors are a rip off.

    Comment


      #3
      Although the deposit was taken prior to April '07, can you let us know if the contract was ever renewed since then, or has BF been on a monthly tenancy since?

      You can serve court documents on the landlord at his last known address, or you could use a service like www.findermonkey.co.uk who charge £30 to trace someone.

      You commence proceedings at http://moneyclaim.gov.uk. There are fees, but if you are on a low income, you may be able to reclaim them. HOWEVER, if you are entitled to have your court fees waived, moneyclaim will charge you and then expect you to claim it back. If you do it off-line and fill in a form N1 and an EX160 (both from http://www.hmcourts-service.gov.uk/) and send them by mail, you won't have to pay any fees upfront. If you do have to pay, presuming you win your case, the landlord will be ordered to refund any fees you have paid.

      The small claims process is quite simple and doesn't require the services of a solicitor. However, you might find it useful to obtain a book on the process - a number are available from your local library or Amazon.

      If the landlord doesn't pay, it is not up to the court to enforce the judgement, you may have to take enforcement action which could include freezing his bank account (you have details of where you paid the rent?) or having a charge put on one of his other properties.

      EDIT: Westminster beat me to it!!

      Comment


        #4
        Thank you both very much for that – it looks very helpful. I'll check out that book as well.

        My boyfriend signed up on three year contract (madness!).

        My concern is that the deposit is split between my boyfriend and the other tenant, so my boyfriend is entitled to £500. Given the other tenant can’t be bothered to chase up the rent, we’d have to pay the court fees, hearing fees and then any fees to get the judgement enforced before we saw any money. My bf feels resigned that there's no point as it will be expensive and whereas I am keen to get something back soon, if not everything.

        I was thinking that a debt collection agency which takes a percentage of the profit (I’ve found a couple which take 9%) might be more worthwhile as we’d only lose £15 if they didn’t get the money back but would gain £455 of the £500 if they did. It also appeals to me as being a potentially quicker solution and less hassle for us. MHowever, I’m not sure how reliable they are – any views on reliability?

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by floral_jo View Post
          Thank you both very much for that – it looks very helpful. I'll check out that book as well.

          My boyfriend signed up on three year contract (madness!).

          My concern is that the deposit is split between my boyfriend and the other tenant, so my boyfriend is entitled to £500. Given the other tenant can’t be bothered to chase up the rent, we’d have to pay the court fees, hearing fees and then any fees to get the judgement enforced before we saw any money. My bf feels resigned that there's no point as it will be expensive and whereas I am keen to get something back soon, if not everything.

          I was thinking that a debt collection agency which takes a percentage of the profit (I’ve found a couple which take 9%) might be more worthwhile as we’d only lose £15 if they didn’t get the money back but would gain £455 of the £500 if they did. It also appeals to me as being a potentially quicker solution and less hassle for us. MHowever, I’m not sure how reliable they are – any views on reliability?
          Debt collection agencies only offer low rates on debts they KNOW they can recover easily. I'd be surprised if you could get one involved at any price.

          If you are only seeking £500 the court fees would be lower - £35 & £50.

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by floral_jo View Post
            My concern is that the deposit is split between my boyfriend and the other tenant, so my boyfriend is entitled to £500. Given the other tenant can’t be bothered to chase up the rent, we’d have to pay the court fees, hearing fees and then any fees to get the judgement enforced before we saw any money.
            It would be better, and more cost effective, if both joint tenants pursued the claim. The claim might be thrown out if only one joint tenant pursued it - because even though there were physically two tenants, legally they are both "the Tenant" (singular), and the same applies to rent and deposit - the agreement to 'share' the rent/deposit is a matter between the tenants, but in legal terms there is no 'share'.

            If you employed a debt collector, then they might require the other joint tenant to agree to it.

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by floral_jo View Post
              only lose £15 if they didn’t get the money back but would gain £455 of the £500 if they did. It also appeals to me as being a potentially quicker solution and less hassle for us. MHowever, I’m not sure how reliable they are – any views on reliability?
              I know some forum members use debt collectors and get the results they want.

              My experience of them is very different. In my early days as LL, before I knew about small claims, I had a T who left owing rent/extensive damage, to the tune of around £3K. A supposedly reputable eviction service company recommended a debt collector. I was encouraged to fork out about £400 in fees of various kinds to the debt collector, with zero results, until I figured out I could pursue the claim myself (which I did, and was awarded over £3K).

              Basically, the debt collector ripped me off and exploited my ignorance. So be very cautious. Don't fall into the same trap as I did.

              Comment

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