Debt collection agency tracking down previous tenant

Discussion in 'Finance, Property, Law' started by jim30, May 24, 2009.

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  1. Hi guys,

    Quick legal type question for you. I received a letter addressed to a previous tenant in my flat (he moved out almost 2 years ago), which I opened in error. Looking at it, it is a demand for £1300 from a debt collection agency for a debt owed to a firm, looking like one which has bought out some T mobile debts.

    I don’t know the location of the individual (never even spoken to him), and don’t want to become embroiled in a long running dispute – particularly with a firm which appears to have a very dubious reputation according to some google fu.

    My proposed COA is to send the letter plus envelope back using recorded delivery, and add a cover note stating “Addressee not known at this address since at least Jul 07, no knowledge of his onward locations”.

    To those with experience of this sort of situation, any advice on following would be appreciated.
    a). Is my COA correct? Will it incur more problems than solutions - I do not intend to provide any contact details to them.
    b). If I write to them with this, what comeback does the firm have to find said individual? Will I find Baliffs knocking on my door to recover the monies owed?
    c). Could the firm transfer the debt onto myself as current owner of the flat?
    d). Will this impact on my credit rating as a debt against the address?

    Cheers in advance,

  2. samm1551

    samm1551 Old-Salt Book Reviewer


    Do as you have been told. As you do not have any details of this person I do not see how you could provide further information to them. The bailiffs may come, but I should imagine that they would only want to check ID etc, they have many means of tracing people (including credit search's which reveal far more information than you would believe). The debt cannot be transferred into your name, it is a myth that a debt is linked to the property. It is always linked to a named person which will also link to their date of birth, voters roll, etc. It will not impact your credit rating, but if you are worried get a copy of your credit rating off of the experian website (cost £2), if there is something untoward you can contact the agency to have it removed, or add a notice of correction to your credit file.

    If you have any problems let me know, I used to work in sub prime mortgages and I know all the tricks!

    Sam x

    *Edited to add: Debt collectors cannot take anything that belongs to you either as it is not your debt. (Only know this because ex hubby is a county court bailiff.
  3. jim30,

    don't do anything mate, just make sure you have decent ID with you when the Bailiffs turn up, once they are satisfied you are not who they're searching for they'll follow their own channels to locate the defaulter, I've had about 4 baillifs round my new address searching for the previous tenant. I just made sure I had my driving licence and council tax paperwork ready, you should have no dramas mate.
  4. Very poor advice.

    Save yourself the hassle and the twitching curtains and go to them before they go to you. Just phone up the Debt collection agency. Prove who you are, tell them when you moved into said property, that you dont know any further details in regard to the debtor and thats it. If they require proof of residency they can make an appointment with you to verify.
  5. A previous owner of my house had a lot of people after him, I found that explaining that he'd moved out was all I needed to do. It was funny how the attitude of the person I was talking to changed once they found out. They turned into human beings, asked if I had a forwarding address (I did and handed it over) then assured me I wouldn't be bothered again.

    Just remember that it's his debt, it's nothing to do with the property (although the advice to check the credit rating agencies is good), and all you need to do is be reasonable and tell them that he's moved. I'd be very surprised if you get any hassle at all, the penalties for one of these companies getting it wrong are quite severe and it's waste of their time to do it anyway.
  6. Sorry to disagree mate,

    I tried the over the phone bit, it never worked. I was still visited AFTER I verified over the phone who I was and also scanned the Council Tax bill and emailed it to them. It's not bad advice, it's from recent experience.
  7. Thanks for the advice all.

    The firm is called "Buchanan Clark and Wells", which appears to have an exceptionally poor reputation, and one that appears to harass people, even when they don't owe money.

    I am exceptionally reluctant to talk to them, as it is clear that they are not particularly pleasant or competent people. I think calling them would see me sucked into a web, rather than getting out of it. I think I'll stick with the letter, and then evidence as required.

    Living alone, and not having a very long greek surname (as the debtor in question does) should make life a lot easier to sort this out.
  8. maninblack

    maninblack LE Book Reviewer

    Contact them, advise them of your identity and lack of contact with the previous tenant.

    Should they contact you again after that then write to them advising that further contact will be regarded as illegal harassment.....copy the letter to the chief executive of whoever the previous tenant owed money too and advise them that they are both liable for further costs in resolving the issue.

    Should you hear from then again then contact a solicitor.

    If that fails start posting pieces of excrement in an envelope.
  9. The company you dealt with is a bit tinpot then my friend. What you did satisfies myself and the company I work for.
  10. BC & W are very nasty pieces of work. Best thing to do is put in writing that you are not the individual concerned and are prepared to provide evidence. Do everything by special delivery, BC & W have a nasty tendency to break the OFT guidelines on debt collection and their are very aggresive and unhelpful.
    Also be prepared to make a complaint to the OFT about BC &W if they continue to harass you. Only if enough people complain to the OFT about there methods will they lose their ability to collect debts.
    Do all your communication with them by post and send it by special delivery!
  11. When you are being pursued by a debt collector it is important to know your rights. They are not allowed to make your life a misery and cannot demand money you haven’t got.

    Other rules that they should follow include:

    A debt collector should not contact you at unreasonable times. (e.g. at 7.00am)
    They cannot embarrass you in front of friends / family or discuss your debts with them.
    They cannot threaten to take your goods or send letters that look like court orders.
    Debt collectors cannot use threatening language or gestures.
    They cannot contact you too many times. If they call you more than twice a day this could be regarded as harassment.
    They cannot charge excessive fees for letters and calls.
    If a debt collector visits your home they must leave at your request.
    It is important to remember that debt collectors are regulated by the Office of Fair Trading and by reporting them they could end up under investigation. There are also other laws (such as the Administration of Justice Act 1970) that can be used to protect you from debt collectors.

    Whether in debt , or not, The Insolvency Helpline lists the Laws here:
  12. It is also very important to remember that Debt collectors, Bailiffs, and High Court Enforcement Officers are very different entities.

    A debt collector has no more powers than joe bloggs in the street.