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Subtenant trouble

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Hello all,
I let out a HMO to a guy on AST for 6 months who then sublet it to other tenants. Neither of us lived at the property. After the 6 months, he didn’t renew the contract for another fixed term so the letting agent moved him onto a monthly rolling contract. This carried on for a few months till He gave notice a couple of months ago. He didn’t give notice to the tenants in the house nor complying with the check out / transfer the tenants to me properly. He also left the house in a mess with lots of repairs to be done at costs probable in the region of a couple of thousands along with other costs he agreed to pay (gas safety cert, cleaning etc...) the contract said he must hand the property back in the condition he’s taken it on. 

I now have problems getting the tenants to pay me and they had gone to seek the council’s advice who told them the only way I can get rid of them is to serve s21 notice. They claimed they were still paying their old landlord and he still had their deposits when my old tenant / their old landlord denied they have paid him nor he still had any of their deposits. My agent told me I need to serve s48 notice.

I am totally overwhelmed with the potential mess this could turn into. I see that I no longer have a contract with the old tenant / their previous landlord and I have no contract with the existing subtenants that are left in my house. 

I really just want any arrears recovered, the tenants out and headache to end. How can I best do this? Also, which would be my best option to recover repair costs from my old tenant? Would debt collection agency or small claims court be best?

thanks so much in advance for any advice.

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