Is it worth taking a council to the Small Claims Court
Tenancy Types and Management

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26 Posts
2 months ago

I had a tenancy agreement with the council.  My tenant (since 2014) moved out recently.  No definite moving out date was given.  I was told a few days before it'd be the 6th/7th April.  I arranged to meet my contact from the council on 08 04 2024 to see the necessary work required.  The flat was fully furnished. 

I had been in contact with the tenant between Nov 2023 and April 2024 concerning her notice period and moving out day as I'd been told by the council that when Universal Credit offer a new home the process can be very swift.  I was of the understanding that lost rent would be reimbursed by the council, as when I started this tenancy back with them in 2014 I was told there would be no rent voids, as they pay for voids.  When dealing with Universal Credit is seems the moving out date is very fluid as my experience shows.  Unlike a normal AST, which I have with other properties that are fully managed, you get a set moving out date, so have time to schedule in tradesman that are needed to eliminate a significant void.  However with the council and universal credit this has been impossible as I was told she was moving out on the 7th/8th April just a few days before this.  

As the tenant was checked in by a member of the council I had no idea she wasn't being checked out too! Had she been checked out the key problem wouldn't have happened. However yesterday I went to the new address she gave me and got the key back.  She also confirmed by text she wants nothing that's left at the flat.  The council are now happy to confirm the property is back in my possession.

As there is work to be done before the flat can be rented out again or sold and I was hoping to get all the £1k Rent bond money back the council have now told me that the Rent Bond is invalid.  I pointed out I have an email from them stating that in 2019 (when the tenant moved over to Universal Credit paying her rent directly to me) the Rent Bond would remain in place.  I confirmed to them yesterday.  

This morning they told me they'd paid out the £1k to me in 2019 for bathroom refurbishment done at the flat after then tenant caused damage.  I challenged this this morning as the bathroom refurb was fully paid for my me in 2018.  

They told me I'd have to take the former tenant to the small claims court for costs involved in clearing the flat, damage to the front door when the Police Drugs squad ram raided on a class A drugs challenge, which results in a 'positive' claim. 

Looking at the costs involved, house clearance / new front door / new window retainers and window handles / new internal kitchen door / new internal phone to connect with key fob for main entrance door / decorating (although I believe that is a cost I probably can't ask them to pay) and some of the quotations already received, I believe the total to be in the region of £5k.

Having taken legal advice yesterday it was suggested I take the council the the small claims court for direct loss of rent and other costs that will be incurred, due to their lack of duty of care.  

Looking at past experience how likely is it that if I take Basingstoke & Deane council to the small claims court I'm likely to receive any money back please.  

I'd value any feedback, espeically if you've been in this position before.

Thank you.


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