Previous tenant left unpaid bills

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  • Previous tenant left unpaid bills

    My previous tenant left my flat last month without paying any of his utilty bills during his entire stay. I have a feeling he didnt even call the utility co's to confirm he had moved into the flat as my new tenant has received a letter from a debt collection agency addressed to me (I know I did call them to give the previous tenants name when he moved in however).

    I still haven't authorised the return of his deposit with the DPS. My question is, should I settle these debts myself and claim back from the DPS. I have concerns that the claim might get disputed however. What are the pitfalls of paying / not paying them myself?

    There is of course a chance that other debts might come out of the woodwork over the coming months. How long can I hold on to the deposit on this basis?

  • #2
    Never leave it to the tenant to confirm that they have moved in! You as LL must ring each utility and the Counci Tax and advise them of the meter reading the day your tenant takes over.

    Ring them all now, give them the details of your tenant and they may ask for a copy of the tenancy agreement as proof of the dates the tenant was responsible for the bills.

    As you have a new tenant, you should have done a check out reading for the old one, and a check-in reading for the new one - as you didn't hence the reason the new tenant has got the debt bill.

    Do not settle the debts yourself - provided the utilities/Counci tax accept the details your provide for the ex-tenant, they have large debt collection services who will trace them.

    Being a lazy landlord and not doing the readings before and after tenant has brought this on you - do it yourself, never trust a tenant to do it for you! I even write the "move-in" and "move-out" readings on my inventory and get the tenant to sign to accept them, so we are both in agreement at the start and end of the tenancy.

    Comment


    • #3
      LesleyAnne

      I have all meter readings for all moving in/out dates and have provided these to the utility companies. so thats not the problem. I did call the utility co's to inform them but I still got the letter in my name.

      Comment


      • #4
        Contact the debt collection service and send them the same information. The debt services will chase anyone connected with the property to recover the debt owed, so unless you prove otherwise, they will contact you. Just tell them the tenants details and confirm everything in writing.

        Make sure you also put the new tenants name on the accounts from the date they moved in.

        Comment


        • #5
          Do you have the tenants forwarding address?

          If so, I would return the deposit and provide the utility companies with the address,
          If not, I would have a look at the tenancy agreement, and see what it says in regards to paying the bills. If it says they must be paid, I would tell the tewnant that this is where the money is going.
          Allow tenants to protect their own deposits. I want free money when they do it wrong

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by thesaint View Post
            If it says they must be paid, I would tell the tewnant that this is where the money is going.
            Landlord has no business interfering in the relation between ex-tenant and utilities companies.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by jjlandlord View Post
              Landlord has no business interfering in the relation between ex-tenant and utilities companies.
              I have said it before, and I will say it again.
              Utility companies can, and do restrict properties where the bill payer does a bunk by the way of requiring a deposit to be paid by the next occupier/landlord.

              If the ex tenant doesn't like it, then they can take legal action.

              The judge will then make a decision as to why the tenant didn't want to pay the utility company what is due to them.

              That would be a fun hearing.
              Allow tenants to protect their own deposits. I want free money when they do it wrong

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by thesaint View Post
                If the ex tenant doesn't like it, then they can take legal action.
                They can just file a dispute with the deposit protection scheme.

                From the new guide published by the 3 schemes:
                Where these bills are unpaid at the end of the tenancy, the adjudicator is likely to take the view that the liability for the outstanding accounts is between the tenant and the local authority/utility provider, rather than with the landlord. Therefore, unless the landlord can show that the bills were not transferred into the tenant‟s name, or that the landlord has been required to pay any outstanding accounts, the adjudicator is unlikely to make an award to the landlord.
                If landlord refuses adjudication, what make you think courts will not think the same?

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by jjlandlord View Post


                  If landlord refuses adjudication, what make you think courts will not think the same?
                  Common sense? Like I said, it would be a hearing that would be fun to attend.
                  If the judge doesn't agree that the tenant should pay their bill, then fair enough.

                  I think it's a good thing if landlords do this, as bad debt costs me money.
                  Allow tenants to protect their own deposits. I want free money when they do it wrong

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by jjlandlord View Post
                    From the new guide published by the 3 schemes:
                    ...unless the landlord can show that the bills were not transferred into the tenant‟s name, or that the landlord has been required to pay any outstanding accounts, the adjudicator is unlikely to make an award to the landlord."
                    Well, the current situation appears to be that the OP is being asked to pay these bills, regardless of having apparently correctly transferred the account into the tenant's name.

                    If landlord refuses adjudication, what make you think courts will not think the same?
                    From what I've read in this forum and elsewhere, the adjudicators seem to take the side of the tenant more often than not; or at least place a very high burden of proof upon a landlord before agreeing with him/her; and that a landlord's best interests are more likely to be served by going to court rather than submit to adjudication.

                    I suspect that in this case a dodgy tenant has reinstated the OP's name as account holder; and that if he's got all the relevant meter readings and dates recorded, then together with a copy of the AST if need be he ought to be able to get to the bottom of what's happened with the utility companies, and to get the oustanding debt correctly reinstated in the tenant's name. Then there will be no need for him to consider paying the debt himself anyway.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by thesaint View Post
                      If the judge doesn't agree that the tenant should pay their bill, then fair enough.
                      I'm sure everyone agrees to that. But that's not the point.

                      The point is that this has nothing to do with the landlord, who has no right to dispose of the tenant's money (the deposit) as he pleases.

                      Originally posted by Ericthelobster View Post
                      that a landlord's best interests are more likely to be served by going to court rather than submit to adjudication.
                      Well, here the point is that the landlord has no interest at all in the issue...

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by jjlandlord View Post
                        Well, here the point is that the landlord has no interest at all in the issue...
                        Yes, but he does:
                        Originally posted by thesaint View Post
                        Utility companies can, and do restrict properties where the bill payer does a bunk by the way of requiring a deposit to be paid by the next occupier/landlord.
                        Or do you disgree with the above? I've certainly heard of it happening before; not to me personally, but I can tell you that a few years ago I had two consecutive non-paying tenants in one of my properties, and I had quite a job on my hands preventing at least one of the utility cos from installing pre-payment meters in the property after that - something which would definitely have been detrimental to me, given my target market. I didn't try to pay those utility bills myself out of the deposits on those occasions (they were in the tenants' names) because (a) I wasn't aware of the potential ramifications and (b) the deposits had been earmarked for rent arrears anyway. However, my AST agreement states that I require evidence of bill payment before I refund the deposit, which is how I operate and will defend my right to do so.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Ericthelobster View Post
                          Yes, but he does:
                          Or do you disgree with the above?
                          I don't disagree. They might try do do this, and apparently they could not in your case...

                          Originally posted by Ericthelobster View Post
                          However, my AST agreement states that I require evidence of bill payment before I refund the deposit, which is how I operate and will defend my right to do so.
                          You can ask them, but I believe that you have no backing whatsoever this your 'right'... I highly doubt you have any way to enforce this.
                          In addition, considering how long it could take for utility companies to send confirmation of the account being settled you would probably fall foul of deposit schemes' deadlines to propose a deduction or return the deposit.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by jjlandlord View Post
                            Landlord has no business interfering in the relation between ex-tenant and utilities companies.
                            Correct.

                            The account is between the Tenant and utilities companies and Not a LL.
                            Thunderbirds are go

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by 45002 View Post
                              Correct.

                              The account is between the Tenant and utilities companies and Not a LL.
                              even when I received a letter from a Debt Recovery Agency in my name?

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