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UK Property Landlord gets back £90,000 owed by rogue tenant

Not very often does one hear a good news story when it comes to Landlords. But I heard one good story recently, one that gives honest Landlords everywhere, the hope that justice will prevail, and that rogue tenants do get their come-uppance.

According to Property Community,  a London landlord assisted by Landlord Action (LA), a Tenant Eviction company, was able to recover about £92,000 worth of rent arrears owed to her by a rogue tenant… that’s some arrears!! It is said to be the largest case that LA have been instructed on since their inception in 1999.

When Vanessa Headley let out her penthouse apartment in the prestigious Putney Wharf Tower in London five years ago, she immediately fell foul of a rogue tenant who failed to pay the rent from the outset, despite being served notice and making numerous promises of payment. When her solicitor failed to assist her case, Headley called in Landlord Action.

‘When the client came to us back in April the rent arrears were already over £40,000 and, although I confirmed I would be able to evict her tenant and regain possession of her property, I felt it unlikely we would be able to collect the money that she was owed, due to the large amount involved,’ said Paul Shamplina, founder of Landlord Action.

However, things took a turn in Headley’s favour when bankruptcy papers were served to the debtor at his residence in Watford the following August. ‘It was at this stage we made a note of a Mercedes and an Aston Martin parked on the drive giving us cause to rethink the situation and suggesting to Headley that she used a High Court sheriff to escalate the case in an attempt to collect the monies owed,’ explained Shamplina.

After several visits by the enforcement officers, the debtor eventually agreed to pay up, only to negate, leaving the officer with no alternative but to clamp the Aston Martin and seize both cars.

David Carter, director at The Sheriffs Office said ‘We are very pleased to have been able to assist Landlord Action on this case. With the seizure of two luxury vehicles, The Sheriffs Office was able to recover the large rent arrears for Landlord Action’s client in full. We find that Sheriffs High Court enforcement is frequently the most effective option for the recovery of rent arrears, as was proven in this case’.

Headley revealed that she feared she would never recover the money owed. ‘Having consulted various solicitors, I found them all completely ineffectual and pessimistic leading me to believe that I would never recover anything. I never thought for a moment I would see a penny from this guy but the perseverance and professionalism of Landlord Action has meant that I have both my property back and the outstanding arrears,’ she said.

‘They have clearly defined fees which made it easy for me as the last thing I wanted was unexpected costs on top of the rent arrears,’ she added.

Paul concluded; ‘Thankfully the enforcement officers I used at The Sheriffs Office did a fantastic and professional job in pursuing the debtor and eventually collecting the £90,000 rent arrears with the client being delighted at the outcome’.

However, he warned that these kind of cases are becoming increasingly common throughout the recession as more armchair landlords enter the market that do not have the knowledge about buy to let and therefore may not have carried out sufficient tenant checks. ‘This exposes them to the risk of finding themselves in a similar situation to Headley and we hope this will be a stark warning to others of the crucial need for sufficient tenant referencing,’ he added.

On that last point is where I might beg to differ. What is sufficient tenant referencing? I will be discussing this issue at a later date.  Even with the best will in the world, “professional rogue tenants” have found their way round the system, which is how they become professional rogue tenants in the first place.  You can do all the referencing you know how, with the tools available today, but it doesn’t stop the determined rogue element.

In this case, well done LA, and just maybe the Law will catch up with Justice one of these days …….

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    Posted in Rent Arrears, Tenant Behaviour.

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