Financial dispute regarding a property I rent out - how will it affect my tenants?

OK bit of an odd one that my google skills haven't found an answer to.

I don't want to give specifics at this time and people will likely be curious. The short version is, with an impending overseas posting, I had work done on a house I own and was living in, to bring it up to standard to rent out.

One firm doing work, had a workman considerably damage the outside house. I have refused to pay for the work in the face of a risible offer of compensation and a whole load of other problems with the company.

I am now overseas and have some nice tenants in who I don't want to inconvenience. The firm has now made a 'final offer' and is threatening to pass to 'collections'.

Questions:

Can any debt collectors do anything against the property given I'm not there?
How will any CCJs affect the credit rating of the people in the property?
Should I tell the tenants and/or the letting agents, in case any legal correspondence is sent to the address?

If I was still in the house I'd tell these bastards to crack on and be damned but I like my tenants.
 

philc

LE
Debt collectors cant take other peoples goods, only goods belonging to the person owing the debt. I would inform your letting agents, I had a debt collection agency chase after me for unpaid gas/elec in a property I rent, the new tenant just passed the letters to the agents, I called them up and told the to chase down the former tenant, nothing to do with me. Last I heard, however prewarned is best.
 
Doesn’t there have to be a CCJ made against you for a debt before any bailiffs can rock up?
 
OK bit of an odd one that my google skills haven't found an answer to.

I don't want to give specifics at this time and people will likely be curious. The short version is, with an impending overseas posting, I had work done on a house I own and was living in, to bring it up to standard to rent out.

One firm doing work, had a workman considerably damage the outside house. I have refused to pay for the work in the face of a risible offer of compensation and a whole load of other problems with the company.

I am now overseas and have some nice tenants in who I don't want to inconvenience. The firm has now made a 'final offer' and is threatening to pass to 'collections'.

Questions:

Can any debt collectors do anything against the property given I'm not there?
How will any CCJs affect the credit rating of the people in the property?
Should I tell the tenants and/or the letting agents, in case any legal correspondence is sent to the address?

If I was still in the house I'd tell these bastards to crack on and be damned but I like my tenants.
I'm a landlord but not a lawyer. The following is therefore a personal view only and not legal advice etc. But seems to me that:

- tenants are not a party to the dispute
- therefore no reason for the company to take any action against them and probably unlawful if it happens
- AIUI, debt collectors can, with a court order etc, seize assets that belong to you but not anything that belongs to the tenants. But it's a complex area and there are others here who understand this area much better than I do.
- nothing should have any impact on the tenants' credit rating as they are presumably not liable for any payment.
- probably best to tell the tenants so that they can forward any mail to you (or file it in the bin in accordance with your instructions - whichever)
- if you have decent tenants, do what it takes to look after them and keep them!! People banging on the door demanding money tends to cause upset.

But that's just my view: a lawyer or property specialist can give you a much better answer.
 
Doesn’t there have to be a CCJ made against you for a debt before any bailiffs can rock up?
@Vladimir_Ilyich_Crab
(in reply to quoted post).
Yes.
A CCJ should only impact the person named, not the address.
If the OP is abroad, he may want to ask his tenants to open anything that arrives at the address, marked for him (unless the builders have his overseas address). A Claimant can request judgment by default if a defence to a claim is not received within 14 days, hence that being important. By the way, court envelopes don't show a court crest or address, so best to open everything.
Once your defence form is lodged, the case will either be resolved at a court hearing, or through mediation arranged by the court.
 
It will it impact by a bloke in a black jacket knocking on the door at early o'clock.
Tennant shows proof they live there not yourself. No further action.
 
I would imagine the bill was disputed before payment and now that they have made an offer they want the balance owed to them

Yes. The DD for the bill (dealing with big company) only starts when I sign accepting the work. I'm refusing to sign anything thus payment won't start. As well as the damage there was delays and missed appointments prior to installation, missed appointments and delays requiring more days off waiting for response to my complaint, not returning calls when they satetd they would, me having to make international calls.

This is a breakdown of what I want compensation for:

- Failure to carry out the the service with reasonable care and skill - a breach of the Consumer Rights Act 2015, S49.
- The entire cost of rectification works to make the damage good on a like for like basis, by a builder chosen by myself.
- For every day I have had to take leave to be present at the property, reimbursement at my gross daily rate of pay worked out by annual wage divided by 365.
- For every telephone call or email correspondence, compensation for every hour or part thereof making/writing them, based on an hourly rate of 1/8 of my daily pay.
- reimbursement for every international call I have made.
- The fact their employee tried to hide the damage by binning the rubble and going off site without telling us.
 

Aphra

Old-Salt
@Vladimir_Ilyich_Crab
(in reply to quoted post).
Yes.
A CCJ should only impact the person named, not the address.
If the OP is abroad, he may want to ask his tenants to open anything that arrives at the address, marked for him (unless the builders have his overseas address). A Claimant can request judgment by default if a defence to a claim is not received within 14 days, hence that being important. By the way, court envelopes don't show a court crest or address, so best to open everything.
Once your defence form is lodged, the case will either be resolved at a court hearing, or through mediation arranged by the court.
This advice re: CCJ's is spot on. Prior to receiving a claim you must be sent a Letter Before Action so if you haven't received that yet, I'd expect that to be the builder's next step, assuming they know what they're doing. I'd add that, if it goes to Court and you are ordered to pay, even a reduced amount, you will have 28 days to pay in full, to the creditor (copy to the Court), without the CCJ showing on your credit report. If you're ordered to pay, don't leave it to the last minute to pay as it could end up damaging your credit report for six years, even if you pay in full a day late. Courts are well aware of late payment being used to mess creditors about and won't withdraw the CCJ recording from your credit report.

Also to clarify, anyone can employ a debt collector, you don't need a Court Order to do so, just an unpaid invoice. Debt collectors have no power to enter property nor remove goods, all they can do is pester for payment. Neither you nor your tenants need engage with debt collectors but it would probably be easier on the tenants if they do as @Chalky101 says and keep proof of tenancy to hand just in case.

Bailiffs are authorised by the Court to recover debts but they do not have the right of entry to do so. It's important to note that bailiffs cannot force entry, except in specific circumstances which don't seem to apply here. They can enter via unlocked doors or Windows so if it comes to it, the tenants should keep everything locked and NEVER let the bailiffs come in, for any reason. Bailiffs can't remove your tenants belongings but why take the chance? High Court Enforcement is a possibility for creditors and they DO have rights of forced entry although they tend to get Police to attend to avoid unnecessary damage to doors, etc. You (the debtor) would not be given notice of Bailiff or HCEO attending, they just turn up.

As to the damages you would counterclaim if they or you institute proceedings, I'd advise that you'll need proof that your pay was docked for the days you took off. You are very unlikely to be able to charge for your time drafting letters etc. In a 30 year career I only saw judges award costs specifically for the claimant's time a handful of times. A couple of cases I recall, one was a surgeon in private practice and one a solicitor, in both cases the judge's view was that their work was charged by the hour, so they could claim it. I've never seen it awarded to a lay person. That's not to say you won't be compensated but probably not to the extent you'd hope.

Unless the builder is a large company, it's unlikely they have a collections department. It's far more likely that they'll pass the matter to a debt collector or, depending on the amount owed, get a solicitor to write to you.

Finally, and apologies for the long post, I've no doubt you will be complying with all the regulations on letting your house, including declaring for tax as a landlord living abroad? You'll know that, if you fail to do so, your tenants become responsible for deducting the tax from the rent and paying HMRC.
 
This advice re: CCJ's is spot on. Prior to receiving a claim you must be sent a Letter Before Action so if you haven't received that yet, I'd expect that to be the builder's next step, assuming they know what they're doing. I'd add that, if it goes to Court and you are ordered to pay, even a reduced amount, you will have 28 days to pay in full, to the creditor (copy to the Court), without the CCJ showing on your credit report. If you're ordered to pay, don't leave it to the last minute to pay as it could end up damaging your credit report for six years, even if you pay in full a day late. Courts are well aware of late payment being used to mess creditors about and won't withdraw the CCJ recording from your credit report.

Also to clarify, anyone can employ a debt collector, you don't need a Court Order to do so, just an unpaid invoice. Debt collectors have no power to enter property nor remove goods, all they can do is pester for payment. Neither you nor your tenants need engage with debt collectors but it would probably be easier on the tenants if they do as @Chalky101 says and keep proof of tenancy to hand just in case.

Bailiffs are authorised by the Court to recover debts but they do not have the right of entry to do so. It's important to note that bailiffs cannot force entry, except in specific circumstances which don't seem to apply here. They can enter via unlocked doors or Windows so if it comes to it, the tenants should keep everything locked and NEVER let the bailiffs come in, for any reason. Bailiffs can't remove your tenants belongings but why take the chance? High Court Enforcement is a possibility for creditors and they DO have rights of forced entry although they tend to get Police to attend to avoid unnecessary damage to doors, etc. You (the debtor) would not be given notice of Bailiff or HCEO attending, they just turn up.

As to the damages you would counterclaim if they or you institute proceedings, I'd advise that you'll need proof that your pay was docked for the days you took off. You are very unlikely to be able to charge for your time drafting letters etc. In a 30 year career I only saw judges award costs specifically for the claimant's time a handful of times. A couple of cases I recall, one was a surgeon in private practice and one a solicitor, in both cases the judge's view was that their work was charged by the hour, so they could claim it. I've never seen it awarded to a lay person. That's not to say you won't be compensated but probably not to the extent you'd hope.

Unless the builder is a large company, it's unlikely they have a collections department. It's far more likely that they'll pass the matter to a debt collector or, depending on the amount owed, get a solicitor to write to you.

Finally, and apologies for the long post, I've no doubt you will be complying with all the regulations on letting your house, including declaring for tax as a landlord living abroad? You'll know that, if you fail to do so, your tenants become responsible for deducting the tax from the rent and paying HMRC.
Excellent post
 
This advice re: CCJ's is spot on. Prior to receiving a claim you must be sent a Letter Before Action so if you haven't received that yet, I'd expect that to be the builder's next step, assuming they know what they're doing. I'd add that, if it goes to Court and you are ordered to pay, even a reduced amount, you will have 28 days to pay in full, to the creditor (copy to the Court), without the CCJ showing on your credit report. If you're ordered to pay, don't leave it to the last minute to pay as it could end up damaging your credit report for six years, even if you pay in full a day late. Courts are well aware of late payment being used to mess creditors about and won't withdraw the CCJ recording from your credit report.

Also to clarify, anyone can employ a debt collector, you don't need a Court Order to do so, just an unpaid invoice. Debt collectors have no power to enter property nor remove goods, all they can do is pester for payment. Neither you nor your tenants need engage with debt collectors but it would probably be easier on the tenants if they do as @Chalky101 says and keep proof of tenancy to hand just in case.

Bailiffs are authorised by the Court to recover debts but they do not have the right of entry to do so. It's important to note that bailiffs cannot force entry, except in specific circumstances which don't seem to apply here. They can enter via unlocked doors or Windows so if it comes to it, the tenants should keep everything locked and NEVER let the bailiffs come in, for any reason. Bailiffs can't remove your tenants belongings but why take the chance? High Court Enforcement is a possibility for creditors and they DO have rights of forced entry although they tend to get Police to attend to avoid unnecessary damage to doors, etc. You (the debtor) would not be given notice of Bailiff or HCEO attending, they just turn up.

As to the damages you would counterclaim if they or you institute proceedings, I'd advise that you'll need proof that your pay was docked for the days you took off. You are very unlikely to be able to charge for your time drafting letters etc. In a 30 year career I only saw judges award costs specifically for the claimant's time a handful of times. A couple of cases I recall, one was a surgeon in private practice and one a solicitor, in both cases the judge's view was that their work was charged by the hour, so they could claim it. I've never seen it awarded to a lay person. That's not to say you won't be compensated but probably not to the extent you'd hope.

Unless the builder is a large company, it's unlikely they have a collections department. It's far more likely that they'll pass the matter to a debt collector or, depending on the amount owed, get a solicitor to write to you.

Finally, and apologies for the long post, I've no doubt you will be complying with all the regulations on letting your house, including declaring for tax as a landlord living abroad? You'll know that, if you fail to do so, your tenants become responsible for deducting the tax from the rent and paying HMRC.
The above is spot on also. All good advice.
 
This advice re: CCJ's is spot on. Prior to receiving a claim you must be sent a Letter Before Action so if you haven't received that yet, I'd expect that to be the builder's next step, assuming they know what they're doing. I'd add that, if it goes to Court and you are ordered to pay, even a reduced amount, you will have 28 days to pay in full, to the creditor (copy to the Court), without the CCJ showing on your credit report. If you're ordered to pay, don't leave it to the last minute to pay as it could end up damaging your credit report for six years, even if you pay in full a day late. Courts are well aware of late payment being used to mess creditors about and won't withdraw the CCJ recording from your credit report.

Also to clarify, anyone can employ a debt collector, you don't need a Court Order to do so, just an unpaid invoice. Debt collectors have no power to enter property nor remove goods, all they can do is pester for payment. Neither you nor your tenants need engage with debt collectors but it would probably be easier on the tenants if they do as @Chalky101 says and keep proof of tenancy to hand just in case.

Bailiffs are authorised by the Court to recover debts but they do not have the right of entry to do so. It's important to note that bailiffs cannot force entry, except in specific circumstances which don't seem to apply here. They can enter via unlocked doors or Windows so if it comes to it, the tenants should keep everything locked and NEVER let the bailiffs come in, for any reason. Bailiffs can't remove your tenants belongings but why take the chance? High Court Enforcement is a possibility for creditors and they DO have rights of forced entry although they tend to get Police to attend to avoid unnecessary damage to doors, etc. You (the debtor) would not be given notice of Bailiff or HCEO attending, they just turn up.

As to the damages you would counterclaim if they or you institute proceedings, I'd advise that you'll need proof that your pay was docked for the days you took off. You are very unlikely to be able to charge for your time drafting letters etc. In a 30 year career I only saw judges award costs specifically for the claimant's time a handful of times. A couple of cases I recall, one was a surgeon in private practice and one a solicitor, in both cases the judge's view was that their work was charged by the hour, so they could claim it. I've never seen it awarded to a lay person. That's not to say you won't be compensated but probably not to the extent you'd hope.

Unless the builder is a large company, it's unlikely they have a collections department. It's far more likely that they'll pass the matter to a debt collector or, depending on the amount owed, get a solicitor to write to you.

Finally, and apologies for the long post, I've no doubt you will be complying with all the regulations on letting your house, including declaring for tax as a landlord living abroad? You'll know that, if you fail to do so, your tenants become responsible for deducting the tax from the rent and paying HMRC.
All really useful thanks, yes as best we know we are complying with all tax and other regulations guided by a quite reputable letting agent. NRL1s etc.
 
A couple of observations.

If you are not resident in the UK, EU, Switzerland and Norway, then there are limitations on jurisdiction of the court.

Basically, they only have jurisdiction if the papers can legally be served to you in the UK. If the claimant knows you are not resident in the house and that a tenant is resident, they cannot serve to that address. If you instruct the company to communicate with you at an address outside the UK, then the court will be very unlikely to serve. I challenged a CCJ on the grounds that the papers had been served to a house I own but in which I had never been resident and got the judgment set aside.

Second one; you have a claim against the contractor. Enter a claim in the Small Claims Court before they go to court. They’ll probably settle.
 

Aphra

Old-Salt
A couple of observations.

If you are not resident in the UK, EU, Switzerland and Norway, then there are limitations on jurisdiction of the court.

Basically, they only have jurisdiction if the papers can legally be served to you in the UK. If the claimant knows you are not resident in the house and that a tenant is resident, they cannot serve to that address. If you instruct the company to communicate with you at an address outside the UK, then the court will be very unlikely to serve. I challenged a CCJ on the grounds that the papers had been served to a house I own but in which I had never been resident and got the judgment set aside.

Second one; you have a claim against the contractor. Enter a claim in the Small Claims Court before they go to court. They’ll probably settle.
I understand your experience regarding service but I'd caution against relying on the other side not being able to effect good service because the respondent resides outside the UK.

In this case, an address in England (assuming the tenanted property is in England/Wales) for good service must exist and be specified in writing as a requirement of a lawful tenancy agreement. I'd argue that, if good service can be effected at that address for, say, Landlord and Tenant matters, then good service can be effected at that address for Small Claims. That is to say that you can't decide to accept service of some matters but not others at the same address. The fact that the address for service set out in the Tenancy Agreement might be, for example, the tenanted property itself or the address of a managing agent and not in fact the residential address of the respondent is irrelevant. If an address for service exists, and it must, then it follows that service at that address is good service.

As you'll be aware, service by post is deemed good service in most cases, with 'in person' service not required as a matter of course. In most cases, service by post to the last known address in the UK would be considered good service if it could be established that the claimant had no reason to know the respondent was no longer resident. In practice, creditors are only required to make reasonable efforts to effect good service, and what is reasonable does not, generally, involve very much digging at all.
 
I understand your experience regarding service but I'd caution against relying on the other side not being able to effect good service because the respondent resides outside the UK.

In this case, an address in England (assuming the tenanted property is in England/Wales) for good service must exist and be specified in writing as a requirement of a lawful tenancy agreement. I'd argue that, if good service can be effected at that address for, say, Landlord and Tenant matters, then good service can be effected at that address for Small Claims. That is to say that you can't decide to accept service of some matters but not others at the same address. The fact that the address for service set out in the Tenancy Agreement might be, for example, the tenanted property itself or the address of a managing agent and not in fact the residential address of the respondent is irrelevant. If an address for service exists, and it must, then it follows that service at that address is good service.

As you'll be aware, service by post is deemed good service in most cases, with 'in person' service not required as a matter of course. In most cases, service by post to the last known address in the UK would be considered good service if it could be established that the claimant had no reason to know the respondent was no longer resident. In practice, creditors are only required to make reasonable efforts to effect good service, and what is reasonable does not, generally, involve very much digging at all.
I wouldn’t disagree with any of that. All I am saying is that there are specific rules regarding court jurisdiction for people who are normally resident outside of the UK.

As I said, I had a CCJ set aside specifically because the service was deemed bad. In my case, I had communicated with the claimant company over the dispute after leaving the UK and provided them with my overseas address. They had written to me at that overseas address. But they chose to serve to an address at a tenanted house in which I had an interest in (as a party in a B2L mortgage and had never lived in). The evidence they used to obtain service was a one line letter from a finding agency that simply said “bobthebuilder lives at this address:”, which was blatantly untrue and deliberately misleading to the court. The judge described the service as vexatious.

There are numerous examples of expats getting judgements set aside for bad service, usually where the claimant has been informed that the defendant is no longer resident at the address.

All the more reason for expats to have rental contracts that show either their solicitor or agent as the address for service. I’ve never had a contract that doesn’t.

As for the OPs issue, with more thought. If he has a contract with the builder and he has a claim for breaches of specific clauses of the contract, a good strategy would be to enter a counter claim and offer to go to arbitration. If there is no written contract, then he has implicitly accepted the builders Ts&Cs; he can take a similar approach but will probably have less rights. If there’s no written contract and no Ts&Cs, just a quote and the work is incomplete…..
 

Aphra

Old-Salt
In your case @bobthebuilder it's quite clear that the Court was not persuaded good service had been effected by the claimant, and it was probably the fact you could prove you had notified the claimant of your new address that swung it your way. In the OP's case, they mention a posting abroad and a property rented to tenants. These are, I would suggest, they key factors to consider here.

As you'll know, for a Tenancy Agreement to be, for want of a better word, valid, it must contain certain information, not least the Landlords name and address in the UK for service of notices. Usually these notices will relate to Landlord and Tenant matters, repairs and so forth, but the key point here is that, as the address (probably the Letting Agents address or that of a solicitor or family member, or friend) is valid for service, the OP can be served there. It does not have to be a residential address, simply a valid one. OP could not, for example, give an address such as 'fourth park bench past the war memorial' but giving the Letting Agents address is very common, particularly for absentee landlords. Posting a letter or notice by first class post, obtaining a certificate of posting (free at any post office) will be deemed good service. The letter or notice will be deemed to have been received at the address the OP uses for legal matters in the UK. It would be the OP's responsibility to ensure he is aware of any post sent to that address as the use of that address is his choice. I can assure you, I've served literally thousands of documents in that way over a 30 year career, including on armed service personnel serving abroad and via the Pay Office in Glasgow so I do have experience of how Courts view service in unusual circumstances. That said, anyone guaranteeing how a Court will decide a case has clearly never met a Judge!

The OP has not emigrated and, at this point, seems certain to return to the UK at some point. That likely return means I would argue that the OP's main residence is in the UK. That being the case, if good service is effected as set out above, and the OP's main residence is in the UK, the Court might be minded to issue judgment for the creditor which as you know, can be pursued for at least six years following judgment.

Of course, I'm making a massive assumption that the builder in this case has the first clue or has a solicitor who does. In my experience, it's not likely but you never know. If OP has made the builder aware that he is now abroad, and the builder serves proceedings at the UK address, yes it could be set aside but frankly, it's all further hassle the OP could do without.

I wouldn't advise the OP to issue proceedings. There's a fee and, if he can't get back to appear at the hearing, he's likely to lose, assuming the case can't be adjourned until he returns to the UK. He could employ a solicitor to appear and grant Power of Attorney but again, additional costs. Depending on the sums involved, it could be worth the OP paying a proportion of the invoice, making clear in writing (heading the letter Without Prejudice) that he does so under duress and as a gesture of good will. Then set out his issues with their work and the likely cost of remediation. I'd advise two or three quotes to get a fair idea. If it ever goes before a judge, or even to mediation, OP will have demonstrated good faith.

To be frank, I'd be surprised if the builder can get mediation or a hearing within several months, given the backlog the Courts are ploughing through. My local Court is sitting until 1900 Monday to Friday and until 1600 on Saturdays and they still aren't making much headway, with people who held off submitting claims now going ahead, plus all the new matters. Other Courts may be doing better, but the backlog nationwide is huge.
 

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