Debt collectors harassing new tenant for previous tenant debts

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    Debt collectors harassing new tenant for previous tenant debts

    Hi

    Back in October 2011 my previous tenant left with unpaid bills for council tax and utilities. I have personally informed all of them that he is no longer residing at the address and confirmed the change of occupancy.

    Despite this, there has been a constant escalation of debt collectors correspondence to the flat, all of which is usually returned unopened and marked ' unknown at this address. Return to sender'.

    A few letters were posted for the attention of the occupier, so my current tenant opened them. He then contacted the debt collectors and informed them the flat's occupancy has changed.
    Nothing changed, the letters and threats keep coming so much so that my current tenant is starting to feel under pressure.

    I know the debts are not mine or the current tenant's responsibility but I am worried the harassment from collectors will put off my current tenant and future ones.
    I don't want to have people moving out every 6 months because they feel harassed in their own home.

    What can be done to help stop the unwanted correspondence? The previous tenant (the one with the unpaid bills) had his mum as a guarantor- shall I forward all the letters to her? He did not leave me a forwarding address and he had no rent arrears so no reason for me to make any deposit deductions.

    I am worried that if I try to contact the debt collectors myself to explain the situation this will only act as encouragement for them to start harassing me.

    Has anyone been in this position? I am interested in all views, orthodox and less so, from people who managed to solve this problem out for their properties.

    Thank you all

    #2
    I find that once the collector is shown id from tenant that he is not that person they go away. Collectors do have a code of conduct to observe.

    Getting mail demanding money stopped is a waiting game. Just tell tenant to return all mail to the debt collection agency - that is all you can do.

    I have had one occasion where a collector/bailiff called at one of my properties and spoke to a neighbour who called me to say bailiff was about to break in. I got the number of this person, called him and he was very understanding and said he would report my info back to his employer that tenant had left - the employer was the City of London Corporation as ex tenant had £8,000 worth of parking fines! He left owing me £5K.

    Subsequent tenants have not complained and the problem has diminished. Give it time and stop worrying.
    Last edited by Interlaken; 28-02-2012, 14:12 PM. Reason: grammar



    Freedom at the point of zero............

    Comment


      #3
      If your tenant owed council tax and utilities, there is a chance he also owed on other credit sources too, so there may be dozens of different debt agencies all chasing money owed. There is little you can do other than be persistent in returning marked "no longer at this address". Make sure your tenant has a copy of their tenancy agreement and advise them to keep it handy, together with some form of ID, as the next step after letters is often a personal call at the property.

      It is inconvenient and possibly distressing for your tenant, but they have nothing to fear. Debt collection agencies are very tenacious and will not give up easily. I actually had one ring my home number, which has no connection to my letting property or my absconding tenant. When I asked why they had phoned me, they said that the investigations had uncovered my number as linked to ownership of the property and they had to follow up all leads to try to find the debtor.

      TBH, I don't think there is anything else you/your tenant can do, other than ride out the storm!

      Comment


        #4
        Throw the letters in the bin.
        Allow tenants to protect their own deposits. I want free money when they do it wrong

        Comment


          #5
          Don't throw the letters in the bin. That's the sort of thing the previous debtor would do, therfore escalating recovery action.
          Put them back in the letterbox marker 'not at this address'.
          Once a DCA recieves enough of these returns, they usually make a visit to confirm, or withdraw the case.
          As for the current tenant, it's unpleasant but nothing to worry about. Before a reputable DCA even considers entering a property, they need a court order and proof that the correct debtor is resident. Even then, they rarely gain entry.
          I may be a housing professional but my views, thoughts, opinions, advice, criticisms or otherwise on this board are mine and are not representative of my company, colleagues, managers. I am here as an independent human being who simply wants to learn new stuff, share ideas and interact with like minded people.

          Comment


            #6
            I find letters addressed in someone else's name demanding money less stressful than ones in mine LOL.

            Keep returning them "not at this address" (you could even print out some labels if you are feeling particularly helpful).
            I'm a good tenant with great landlords
            I'm also a living, breathing, fully cooked female.

            Comment


              #7
              If its Council Tax it wont be a Debt Collector it will be a Certificated Bailiff ring the Local Authority tell them the situation and they will put a stop on the recovery action at the address, This should have happened when the new tenant took occupation of the property as normally when they start paying Council Tax at the address it should update the system to say new occupier etc.

              Tell your tenant to just get rid of the letters they will soon stop, If someone shows up just show them ID and they should disappear.

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by ghelliwell View Post
                Don't throw the letters in the bin. That's the sort of thing the previous debtor would do, therfore escalating recovery action.
                Put them back in the letterbox marker 'not at this address'.
                Erm, sorry, but that is also exactly "the sort of thing the previous debtor would do" - they ignore them completely.

                Even though nothing untoward is going to happen to the current, innocent tenant as a result of debts run up by a previous tenant, it's one thing to know that, and quite another eg when a timid, single young girl gets one of these gorillas knocking on her door on a dark evening. And if nothing else, it's a major irritation to being bombarded with letters and phone calls - it would seriously p**s me off if it happened to me in my home.

                Accordingly as a landlord I feel a duty to new tenants to do whatever I can to help sort this out when it's happened in the past; likewise I take steps to field any such corespondence during any void periods.

                I have certainly found that contacting the agencies concerned, explaining I'm the landlord, has been the only way to stop them - even if occasionally I've been asked to send proof (eg evicition notice of the debtor).

                Comment


                  #9
                  btw in my experience these ill-mannered and badly behaved gorillas do not turn up. I've lived, from time2time,in 3 of my tenanted properties & in all cases there were LOADS & LOADS of threatening letters to previous occupants.. (all the letters "fell open" you understand...).

                  Being not shy, largish, nowt to lose & time to waste in each case I looked forward to some thick numtie turning up, hoping to see how long I could keep him talking on the doorstep as I called for Police for harassment.. Sad to report, nobody ever turned up...

                  Should anyone turn up advise the tenant of ..
                  Administration of Justice Act 1970
                  , s40, ref harassment of debtors
                  (1) A person commits an offence if, with the object of coercing another person to pay money claimed from the other as a debt due under a contract, he—
                  (a) harasses the other with demands for payment which, in respect of their frequency or the manner or occasion of making any such demand, or of any threat or publicity by which any demand is accompanied, are calculated to subject him or members of his family or household to alarm, distress or humiliation;
                  (Criminal!!) and advise immediate calling of the Police & photies of gorillas to be taken...
                  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


                    #10
                    Thank you everyone for the responses- I feel reassured things are not as bad as they look.

                    The current tenant is a very correct and honest guy, if a little too trustworthy, and he did contact a couple of the debt collectors himself (when letters came addressed to the occupier).
                    I did inform the council and utilities when the previous guy moved out but it seems to have made no difference as they are still chasing him at the address.

                    I am trying to learn a lesson from this as well, so it can be managed easier when it happens again (as I have no doubt it will). I am also worried the non-paying guy has left with more debts than I can know about, and that this could affect my property.
                    Is there any way of checking if any of his debts are linked to the property or am I worrying about nothing (a talent of mine...)

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Originally posted by the Optimist View Post
                      Is there any way of checking if any of his debts are linked to the property or am I worrying about nothing (a talent of mine...)
                      Debts belong to people, not properties.
                      At worst a company would blacklist an address, but you would have no way of finding this out.

                      Throw the letters in the bin, and move on.
                      Allow tenants to protect their own deposits. I want free money when they do it wrong

                      Comment


                        #12
                        [QUOTE=thesaint;360797]Debts belong to people, not properties.

                        A property can become blacklisted so I frequently open the letters and see which company is writing to the debtor. Banks and utility companies will blacklist and I usually call them to set the record straight.



                        Freedom at the point of zero............

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Originally posted by Interlaken View Post

                          A property can become blacklisted so I frequently open the letters and see which company is writing to the debtor. Banks and utility companies will blacklist and I usually call them to set the record straight.
                          I'm assuming you didn't mean to edit my reply, and confirm what I said.
                          Allow tenants to protect their own deposits. I want free money when they do it wrong

                          Comment

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