Enforcing court orders for monies owed

Withe our tenant having been evicted on 24th October 2014, but taking until 23rd January 2015 to collect his belongings, we finally have vacant possession of our property again which is good news. We are, however, now keen to pursue the tenant for what he owes us (we have 2 court orders against him for court costs and unpaid rent totaling just over £4000). We do not have a forwarding address, so we are wondering whether the next step is to enlist the services of a tracing agent to find him (they will also act to retrieve costs, based on a percentage 'no win no fee' basis). Is this the correct step to go down? I was told by someone that if we have his bank details we can get a '3rd party debt order' and this can freeze his bank account and make payments to us? Is this right, and if so how can we find out more about this please. Also, we have just found out he was in possession of housing benefit whilst at our property (altho not using it to pay his final 4 months rent!). Is his financial situation likely to go in his favour, and could this create any legal issues for us being able to recover the debt? Finally, we also have a third court order against him, since he pushed for a hearing to have his Possession Order set aside. As well as this dismissing the application for the judgment to set aside, it also ordered that 'costs for the application shall be paid by the first the defendant to be assessed on a standard basis in default of agreement'. What does this mean - and how much can we claim back? Our barrister drew up costs following the hearing and submitted a letter to the tenant outlining costs incurred (around £1000), to which he didn't reply. Our solicitor says the next step would be to have the costs of the application to set aside assessed by the Court and they have estimated that a Costs Draftsman's fees for drafting the bill of costs would be £200 plus VAT, that Bill of Costs would then be sent to the ex-tenant for agreement and if he didnt agree within 14 days then formal application for assessment of those costs would be made to the Court, with a further Court fee of £325? Can this be right? It will costs us almost as much for the court to agree the costs, as that which we are claiming back (with no guarantee of ever recovering costs from him). Can costs be claimed 'on a standard basis' in some way against the third court order, without going through this process? Many thanks for your help in understanding the next steps. Serena

Jeffrey Shaw

Staff member
1. Yes, use an Enquiry Agent if it's cost-effective to do so.
2. Also, you can ask a County Court for an Order against T. This could:
a. charge any property of which he is the registered proprietor; or
b. attach to his earnings, savings, etc.
3. As to Court fees and your legal costs, you can sometimes recover these too- but not legal fees in the Small Claims Court.

Rebecca may be able to add more information when she's logged-in.