I am a landlord and I rented out a 1 bed apartment to a young man who said he was going to be living at the property by himself, he paid the deposit, his credit checks where fine, he was also in full time employment. For the first 9 months he paid his rent on time, and then all of a sudden he has stopped paying the rent for the last 3 months of the tenancy agreement without any explanation whatsoever. He was on a 12-month tenancy agreement and has now left the property without paying the rent arrears.
I went to check the property and saw that he has left it in a terrible state. So he now owes me three months in rent arrears and also money for property repairs for the damage that he caused. In total I think he owes me just under £3,000 including rent arrears and costs for property damage repairs.
I want to know how I can get the money for the rent arrears from him and also money for the property damage that he has caused, do I have to take him to the small claims court to get the money off of him?
The Answer from Solicitors Online
As a landlord you can make a legal claim against a tenant for rent arrears, property damage and also lost rental income.
When should you make claim against a tenant at the small claims court?
In case that the tenant is no longer living at the property, but still owes you rent arrears or has left the property in a deteriorated condition. You can claim the tenant’s deposit by contacting the tenancy deposit protection service that the deposit is registered with, but this may not be enough to cover the rent arrears or the costs of damage left behind by the tenant.
It is likely that the rent arrears or damage to the property will exceed the tenant’s deposit, if this is the case you should make a claim at the small claims court.
You will be able to bring a claim against the tenant for rent arrears, property damage and lost rental income all in one claim at the small claims court, as long as the total amount of your claim is less than £5,000.
Making a claim for tenant rent arrears at the small claims court
If you decide to bring a claim against a tenant for rent arrears at the small claims court, you should make sure you have as much documental evidence as possible.
In a claim for rent arrears, you will need to submit evidence such as a detailed rent statement, detailing the rent arrears and the dates that they occurred.
If you wish to use witnesses to support your claim, each witness must prepare a written statement that they must also sign and date.
After you make a claim to the small claims court, the tenant will receive a letter from the court informing them of your claim. The tenant will then have the option to accept or reject your claim. If they reject your claim, a hearing date at the court will be arranged.
If your claim has been rejected by the tenant, both you and the tenant will be required to submit to one another and the court all the relevant pieces of evidence. This includes the tenancy agreement, the inventory, rent book, witness statements, emails, letters and copies of text messages between you and the tenant. This evidence must be submitted before a certain date, that will be specified by the court.
Making a claim for tenant property damage at the small claims court
When making a claim to the small claims court against a tenant for rent arrears, you can also claim for property damage caused by the tenant as part of the same claim.
If you decide to claim for property damage, you will have to prove that the damage is the tenant’s fault. If there was a detailed inventory completed when the tenant moved into the property, the tenant will find it difficult to prove that the damage was not their fault.
You should carry out a final inventory check after the tenant moves out of the property, to further prove that the tenant is responsible for the property damage. If an independent company or an estate agent carries out the inventory checks, the court will view this as evidence that is highly credible, since an impartial witness has provided the inventory checks.
You will not be able to bring a claim for damages that are a result of usual wear and tear.
Furthermore Section 18 (1) of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1927 states that a landlord cannot claim more than the decrease in value caused to their property by the tenant’s property damage. However this does not include damage done to contents such as supplied furniture in the property, but just refers to the property itself as a building.
Estimates or invoices for the property repairs should also be submitted as evidence of costs that you have incurred, as a result of the tenant’s property damage. If you do not have any invoices or estimates for the property repair costs, this may affect the chances of success of your claim at the small claims court.
Making a claim for lost rental income at the small claims court
If you have lost rental income by not being able to rent out the property as a result of the damage caused to the property by the tenant. You may also be able to claim for lost rental income, along with your claim for property damage costs and rent arrears.
You will have to figure out how long it would have taken you to rent out the property to a new tenant if the property was in a normal condition, and then demonstrate that as a result of having to carry out repairs on the property, the length of time for getting a new tenant was extended beyond the normal amount of time.
If you win the case the tenant could ask the court to reduce the amount that you are awarded as compensation, as a result of you getting the property into a better condition than you were entitled to expect it to be in, now that you have had the repairs carried out and are also getting compensation for your loss.
If you need legal advice on making a claim at the small claims court against a tenant for rent arrears, property damage or lost rental income you can talk to one of our Solicitors online right now.