A common method of enforcing a debt that an ex-tenant may have to their landlord is to request an attachment of earnings order. Therefore, allowing a deduction to be made from the tenant’s wage.
Courts tend to make such orders suspended allowing the tenants the opportunity to pay a certain amount each month. Should they default, then a mandatory amount will be taken from their wage.
Occasionally tenants apply for a review of the amount they must pay monthly. A similar situation occurred in a recent case of mine. The tenant applied for review claiming the monthly deductions were too high. But they did not file a recent income and expenditure form explaining their finances. Nor did they provide any reason for why the payment was too high.
We attended court vehemently defending this review on the basis of the following:
- The tenant and their spouse were both the debtors and hence equally responsible for making payments towards clearing the debt.
- The tenant had failed to evidence their inability to make payments.
- The tenants’ purchases during the term of the tenancy with the landlord suggested they could afford the rent at the time, and the current repayments.
- The debt outstanding was in excess of £30,000 and was only enforceable for 6 years. A reduction in the amount payable per month would mean that the landlord would not get a decent amount of the debt owed back, let alone the full sum within these 6 years.
- The tenant having been evicted from the landlord’s property entered into a subsequent tenancy with advance payment of rent, again suggesting an ability to repay the debt owed.
Evidence of Circumstances Must Be Shown In Court
In such instances, many tenants attempt to come to court claiming that they are now divorced but are unable to evidence this. We make our landlords aware that such statements need to be placed before the court with evidence. If there is a genuine situation then the court will consider this. But we will press that evidence of such circumstances is necessary because the debt is significant.
Furthermore, many landlords wish for us to use such review hearings to request that orders are no longer suspended. And, that mandatory payments are deducted from the tenant’s wage. This is something which we are transparent with landlords about. Although such applications can be made, judges will give tenants the opportunity to pay before placing such requirements on them.
At Woodstock Legal Services we take a very thorough but honest approach with landlords in such circumstances. This generally works well in the landlord’s favour.
If you have any queries in respect of an attachment of earnings order, please do not hesitate to get in touch. Woodstock Legal Services would be happy to help.
Written by Sharfaa Kerkache