I have an interesting situation. I had a tenant who wanted to be released from their tenancy early, which I agreed to. I put the house on the market with the tenant’s consent and obtained an offer back in March 2018. When it came to exchange, the tenant refused to move out. I issued a S21 on my agent’s advice, but had to re-issue as I learned that the two months notice period must expire an a date after the end of the fixed term tenancy. This delay resulted in the loss of the sale. Due to Brexit and market pressure, it has fallen in value and I can no longer sell. Eventually the S21 notice expired in July.
At that point, the tenant stopped paying rent, and asked to be paid the deposit early, so that they could move out. i took them to court, obtained a possession order in August, and a CCJ for a portion of the costs. They still didn’t move out, so I had to get bailiffs (another 8 weeks delay and more costs). The tenant left in November on the day that the bailiffs showed up (tenant wasn’t there), but didn’t return the keys. At this point they owed £4K rent, plus costs for property damage, locks, legal, bailiffs, etc. Bear in mind that this was a tenant who passed reference checks, had a full time job when starting the tenancy, and was being managed by a reputable letting agent.
In January I managed to get the ex-tenant’s new address, in emergency accommodation (provided rent free) provided by the council. I tried to agree a repayment plan and whilst they said that they could pay £100 a month, they never made any payments, so I started a small claims court claim. They disputed all costs other than the rent arrears, and to make it easier and to expedite payment, I agreed to their response, thereby halving the debt. They still didn’t make any offer of repayment when they responded to the court papers, so I have made a request to the court that they pay £200 per month. Now they says they have no money to pay anything (despite having no rent to pay to anyone). Their council tax is up to date, as are their other bills (they had to provide financial details to the court), yet they say that they are going deeper into debt each month and have no savings.
They have now told me that they’re planning to have the debt written off, using a debt relief order. They were supposed to return to work full time in July, but has no incentive to do so as it will only serve to increase their earnings, making them more able to repay the debt. So as far as I can tell, there is no point in chasing for what they owe, as even if I get an Attachment of Earnings Order or a bailiff, this is overturned by a DRO.
I am wondering if anyone has any experience of Debt Relief Orders? It seems like they allow people to write off £20000 of debt owed within a year, not paying their creditors a penny, and the only impact on credit history is the equivalent of a CCJ which they already have. If this is truly the case, I wonder how anyone is able to get a person in arrears to repay a debt.
Thanks for your advice.