How to deal with absconding tenants that owe you money

Having tenants abandon (or abscond) your properties is an inevitable part of being a landlord. Because of this, it’s important that you understand what to do when you’ve discovered one of your properties abandoned.

If you have issues with absconding tenants, it’s important to get them resolved. At Vilcol, our expert team of private detectives can locate the absconded tenant in little-to-no-time. Our tenant debtor tracing service is affordable and reliable, with a success rate of over 98%.

Here are the key points you need to know about absconding tenants:

  • It’s bound to happen to any landlord
  • Absconding tenants, like all tenants, must be evicted legally
  • Landlords can be sent to jail if tenants aren’t evicted legally
  • It’s important to act quickly if a tenant has abandoned your property


Our tenant tracing service

Having a tenant leave your property without giving you notice can cause a few problems for you as a landlord. You need to trace down your tenant before you begin to lose too much income. The sooner you regain contact with your tenant, the sooner you can recover your losses.

This is where our tenant tracing service comes in. Our team of experts can locate and identify your absconded tenant quickly and reliably. We cut all the stress out of having to tack down your tenant after they abandon your property. Once you have contact with your tenant, you can collect any due payments or choose to take them to court.

We keep you updated on our progress, keep a complete log and audit of all steps we've taken, and only use our own fully qualified investigators who are managed in a safe and regulated environment.

By hiring us to put you in contact with your tenant, you can get paid what’s owed to you and start re-letting your property.


What is tenant abandonment?

Tenant abandonment happens when a tenant leaves their rented property without serving notice of their intent to leave. This is a breach of their Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST). The requirements of tenants are outlined in all ASTs, usually, they have too either:

  • Arrange for another tenant to replace them; or
  • Pay the remainder of their rent

A lot of absconding tenants are what are known as ‘professional tenants’. A professional tenant is someone who breaks the law by providing false information to the landlord to get tenancy with the intention of abandoning the property without paying. Professional tenants often change their address frequently, which makes tracing them more difficult. If you’ve been affected by a professional tenant, we can help you track them down and bring them to justice.


Theft by an absconded tenant

If a tenant of yours has abandoned your property and you notice that items have been stolen, you should immediately write a record of what has been taken. This record should include your overall inventory, which is something you should have agreed to with your tenant at the start of their tenancy. Once completed, you should report the record to the police.

In the meantime, we can trace the tenant who has stolen from you through our tenant tracing service. This way, you can recover your stolen items, receive compensation for them, and bring them to court.


What can you do when tenants abandon your property?

It is important that you never break the law by evicting your tenant without a court order, or by harassing a tenant over mere suspicion. Therefore, you need to quickly determine if your tenant has truly absconded. They might be on holiday or had just missed rent one month.

Once the abandonment has been confirmed, you need to lawfully evict your tenant.

Before the eviction:

  1. Track the tenant using our tenant tracing service
  2. Confirm that they have absconded
  3. Notify the police if there has been any theft from your property
  4. Contact your insurance provider to see if you can make a claim against your content’s insurance
  5. Serve notice to your tenant to end their tenancy in accordance with the law


After the eviction:

  1. Change all the locks and alarm codes
  2. Bring your tenant to a small-claims court to recover any outstanding debt; or
  3. Use our recovery service to get your money back

In order to get any of this done efficiently, your tenant should be traced throughout the entire process.


How do you lawfully end a tenancy?

The lawful way to end an AST is serving the tenant with a section 21 and/or section 8 AST notice explaining the reasons why you seek possession. There is a strict procedure all landlords in the UK have to follow when ending an AST to ensure they regain possession of their property.

You need the approval of the county court to properly evict your absconded tenant. Once the court has granted the eviction, it is recommended that you immediately change your property’s locks and alarm codes so you can begin to let it again.


How can you claim lost income back from the absconded tenant?

There are two choices you can make if an absconded tenant has caused you to lose income.


1. Take them to court

Firstly, you could bring this case through the county court. The county court can issue a County Court Judgement (CCJ) against the tenant.

A CCJ makes it difficult for the tenant to get credit or other future tenancies. Furthermore, the county court can set aside a certain amount of the tenant’s monthly income that is used to repay their debt to you.

Court cases are usually extremely time consuming and legal fees can stack up against you. You really need to commit yourself if you’d like to make an appeal to the county court.


2. Use our recovery service

If you’d like to avoid the hassle of having to go through court, then you can use our recovery service once you’ve evicted the tenant.

If you hire us for our tenant tracing service, you also have the option to recover any debts the tenant owes you through us. This whole process is usually a lot quicker and easier than going through county court, and we’d be happy to help you get your money back.