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Getting your money back

So it all goes wrong! The tenant moves out (disappears) and owes you months of rent. They also leave your rental palace like a bombsite. Can you get your money back?
If the answer was a simple one you wouldn’t need any advice. The process in my experience can be long and painful. You seriously might want to appoint a lawyer to do at least some of the work which can be extensive and time consuming.

Tracing your tenant

The first thing you need to do is find where your tenant is living so that you can serve any of the court documents on them or make an online claim through the Money Claims Online website.

Tracing your tenant can be done by you if you fancy doing some ‘private investigation’. You can use electronic surveillance such as Facebook to help trace your ex tenants or even if you want to be a bit old school ‘Friends Reunited” (remember that) to look into what your tenants are up to and what part of the country they might be living in. Alternatively, there are a ‘whole load’ of tracing companies that will promise to find your tenant for a fee. As with any professional service the quality of these services is variable and much will come down to the skill of the individual landlord in selecting the right service.

Getting your money back

Once you have traced the tenant the next thing is to get your money back. If they are employed then this is a good start. This means that you can get an attachment of earning order which if successful will mean you get repaid each month out of the tenants salary. The great thing is that they have no option once you have secured an attachment to earning order of paying you back what they owe as the funds are deducted at source prior to your ex tenant receiving their salary. There are other options to getting the money owed to you back through the Smalls Claims Court.

If your tenant has no job and does not own their own home there is every chance that they may be considered to be a ‘man of straw’. In this case your victory could be a pyrrhic one. So you may successfully have a County Court Judgement (CCJ) awarded against them, but will get none of the money owed to you to offset the hard work and expense you have incurred through the process.

Have a look at some government advice on what happens if your tenant doesn’t pay up following a successful judgement.

As I said at the journey to get your money back is not an easy one and is full of legal complexity ( which the lawyers love obviously). If you have a head for legal stuff and the patience to carry it through there is no reason why a landlord should not be successful in getting their money back. If not….perhaps one for the legal experts.

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