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Pursuing a judgment against an overseas landlord via a UK letting agent

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Hi -

 

I've been involved in a County Court claim against an overseas landlord (via the large-ish UK letting agent managing the property) to reclaim some rent because of extensive disrepair and infestation in our previous rental property when we first moved into it, and both parties' disinterest in remedying it.

 

After a direction hearing where it was confirmed that the claim would be served to the landlord care of his UK address, ie the letting agent, neither party has now responded to the claim. The agreed deadline was almost a month ago. The agent had provided an inaccurate, disingenuous defence when the papers were originally served to them as the sole defendant due to a clerical error at the court, but they have not resubmitted this.

 

I gather I now need to apply for a judgement to be enforced, so I'm gonna speak to a CABureau on the phone today and then try and do this.

 

Given how much the defendants have dragged their heels so far I'm anticipating them trying to have it set aside. Am I right in thinking that I should wait for 28 days after the judgment is granted before trying to enforce it? I've read conflicting things. Also, how does that work - are they told about the judgment when it's made so they can settle, but they can't apply for it to be set aside unless I apply for it to be enforced?

 

There's been a predictable amount of buck-passing and denial of responsibility, and if anyone has any experience of this sort of thing (ie claiming from overseas disinterested landlord via local, incompetent letting agent), I'd be grateful for any forewarnings of any further potential pitfalls at this stage of proceedings, or a prognosis of how likely we are to get any money back any time soon.

 

Also, what type of enforcement options are best given that the landlord is overseas? I think the property is still being let by the same agent. They are a quite large company but I don't anticipate that a judge would be able to make them pay me back the money, even though they were largely responsible for the problems. That said, the judge did make both them and the landlord defendants at the direction hearing, as opposed to just solely the LL care of the agent.

 

Any advice appreciated.

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I think that means you can enforce against the agent in that case.

 

I had a similar case last year, over deposit protection rather than reclaiming rent though. But my overseas LL and UK based LA were both named as defendants and when I won the case I was able to enforce against the LA who eventually paid up.

 

If you do a search for threads I started you will find the details of how I did it and the advice I was given at the time.

 

Good luck!

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It depends on whether the agent was a joint defendent.

 

Sounds like only the LL has been sued, but using the agent's address as an address for service.

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It depends on whether the agent was a joint defendent.

 

Sounds like only the LL has been sued, but using the agent's address as an address for service.

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Pretty sure the judge at the direction hearing ordered for it to be landlord c/o agent AND agent separately, both as defendants.

 

(My understanding had been that the case would have no basis if it was just against a letting agent)

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I have a default judgment form good to go.

 

Can I claim interest on this form if I didn't request it in my original claim?

 

If I just say I want the money to be paid immediately, will the court then decide which of the two defendants should pay it or should I specify one myself for any reason?

 

Thanks for the initial replies by the way.

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I misunderstood the original post. If you get a default judgement against landlord and agent, then enforcing the judgement is a separate stage. You want the judgement to be jointly against both LL and agent. If the judgement is against both LL and agent then you can enforce against either or both. In this case, enforcing against agent sounds easier as LL is overseas - but you decide this later.

 

In a number of cases default judgements seem to get overturned quite easily. I would not be surprised if agent wakes up quick once default judgement is given.

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Yeah, it seems likely. Do I have to tell the agent when/if I get default judgment? Am I supposed to do that and then try to enforce 28 days later if I don't hear back? Any idea how long it takes to get back to the stage of having a court date for a hearing if they do get the default judgment set aside?

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I think the court tell the agent. I presume the suggestion in the sticky to wait 28 days is to *avoid* telling the agent until then!

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Won this btw The agents paid me £2300 in the face ofa default judgment which they had attempted to respond to with characteristic funny uselessness

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Did the judge's comments at any of the hearings, or in the judgement if any, explain his reasons for adding the letting agent as a defendant?

 

It would be very useful to know on what legal basis your success against the agent might be repeatable in another case!


Note

 

This is a self-help forum in which users share their experiences. Assistance is offered informally, without any assumption of liability. Use your own judgement; obtain advice from a qualified and insured professional if you have any doubts.

 

This posting gives general guidance only. It is not an authoritative statement of the law. Consult a Solicitor for specific advice before deciding on any course of action.

 

 

Further information:

 

Assured and Shorthold tenancies - A guide for tenants

 

Renting and Leasehold - Advice from Shelter

 

 

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