Q. My tenants have just absconded after running up six months’ worth of rent arrears. I am not at all happy as it seems that both of them had existing CCJs when they moved in. Surely my agents should have checked this? Do I have any comeback against them?
A. If your agents were employed to find tenants for you then you first need to check your agency agreement to see what they were contracted to do. However, agents are also bound by the Consumer Rights Act 2015, which implies into all contracts for the supply of services, the obligation to carry out those services with reasonable care and skill.
Your agents should have found out about the CCJs’ as this is normally shown up by a standard credit reference. Unless there was some specific reason why they were minded to overlook this (which should have been told to you at the time) they should not have agreed to taking them as tenants without your approval - as tenants with CCJ’s are always a potential risk.
You may well have grounds to complain about your agents therefore and to claim compensation of at least a proportion of your loss.
If they are unwilling to do this, you could try complaining to their Property Redress Scheme or bringing a claim at the County Court. Landlords in the past who have gone to Court have obtained orders for most or all of the arrears where the agent has been found to be negligent when checking prospective tenants.
For example, see my article about a similar case here: https://landlordlawblog.co.uk/ 2016/02/15/claims-against-letting-agents-who-let-to-unsuitable-tenants
Q. My tenant fell into arrears four months ago and has now moved out leaving no forwarding address. I can ill afford to lose four months’ worth of rent – what can I do about claiming this money off them? Can I bring a claim in the Small Claims Court?