HOW TO TAKE A TENANT TO COURT

Taking a tenant to court is not much fun and it can be an expensive process. This blog post is an extract from our AfterCare pack. Our Aftercare pack is provided with all our in-depth tenant tracingreports.

The blog post has been written by Ryan Shaw one of the UK’s leading experts on tracing ex tenants to their new address…

Taking a Tenant to Court – What to Do First

You should consider a mediation service.  You can find details of a local mediation service through this government website – http://www.civilmediation.justice.gov.uk/
It is easy to dismiss a mediation service out of hand but they can be really useful, they show the courts that you made great efforts to get your money back before taking the person to court. It is worth having a look at the website to see the services that are available.

How to Get Your Money Back

Going to court is the most obvious answer if someone owes you money but is not paying you back, you can take an individual or business to court. You must consider the time, effort and costs involved in taking someone to court and weigh this up against how much they owe you and the likelihood that they will pay.
It is worth looking at this government website – https://www.moneyclaim.gov.uk/web/mcol/welcome

Once you have taken the claim to court, the court will send your ex tenant a letter about your claim. The ex tenant then has 14 days to respond.  If there is no response, you can order the court to make them pay.

This service can be requested directly through the courts or via the MoneyClaim website.  For either service, you will usually have to pay a fee.  Fee comparison details are below:

Claim amount Sending form to court centre Using Money Claim Online
Up to £300 £35 £25
£300.01 to £500 £50 £35
£500.01 to £1,000 £70 £60
£1,000.01 to £1,500 £80 £70
£1,500.01 to £3,000 £95 £80
£3,000.01 to £5,000 £120 £100
£5,000.01 to £15,000 £245 £210
£15,000.01 to £50,000 £395 £340
£50,000.01 to £100,000 £685 £595

Figures correct as of March 2014

Taking a tenant to court is one possibility however, you may not win your case or get your money back.  This is why it can sometimes be better to instruct a debt collection agency to collect the money for you.

What to do if you get paid

Great! If they have paid you within the 14 day time frame or made you a reduced offer you are happy to accept, tell them you are withdrawing your claim against them. You will also need to tell the court centre and if you have used MoneyClaim, you will have to inform them through their online help desk.

Agreeing without going to court

You can still talk to the individual or business, and try to reach an agreement before the court hearing. Use the court’s small claims mediation service if your claim is worth under £5,000 – contact your local county court  for further details. If you settle out of court before the hearing, you may be able to get some of your court fees refunded.
The judge might not award you costs, if they think you’ve made no effort to agree out of court.

Going to court

You may have to go to court if the individual or business denies owing the money and they choose defend the case. If your case is a small claim – under £5,000 – it may be dealt with using written evidence, without a hearing. You can represent yourself in a small claims court or you can instruct a solicitor to do so.

Small claims hearings can be held in the judge’s room or a court-room at the defendant’s local county court. If you’re claiming for more than £5,000, there may be a more formal hearing and you should get legal advice.

After the hearing
The court will send you a letter giving you its decision. If you disagree with the decision, you have 21 days from the date of the decision to appeal. The letter from the court will explain how to do this.

Enforce a judgment

If you win your case, you may have to ask the court to take steps to collect the payment. You will have to pay extra court fees – ordering someone to attend court costs £50, and the other steps cost £100 each.

Thats it for this short blog post, our guide goes into much more detail. If you have any questions then we’re just a phone call away.

Good luck with taking your tenant to court.