Could you inherit your tenant’s debt?

For those people who decide to rent out properties, it’s taken as part and parcel of the experience that there may be some tidying up to do once your tenants move out. So, it’s fair to say that landlords are probably quite accustomed to their tenants leaving a bit of a mess behind at the end of their lease. It can be a nuisance, it can be a stress and it can cost you something to get it tidied up. It can go a lot further than getting the carpets shampooed though.

When the mess that your ex-tenants leave behind is financial, it’s seldom a quick thing to tidy up. For one lady, an 80 year old landlady from London, the financial mess left by her young tenant nearly turned into serious debt problem. It all started four years ago, when a young French tenant left her rented room in London and returned to France. There was nothing unusual about the circumstances under which the tenant left and shortly after her departure, her mail continued to arrive and was duly forwarded on to her French address. Interspersed with her mail were letters from NatWest. The landlady continued to forward these as normal but as the frequency of the letters increased, she began to return these to sender, using the address on the back of the envelope.

The letters didn’t stop. Anxious about the nature and frequency of these letters from a bank, the landlady decided, mainly out of a mixture of frustration and desperation, to open one of the letters.
As she had suspected, the young French lady had defaulted on a loan and was being chased for the debt. In an attempt to explain the situation and assist NatWest in their efforts, the landlady phoned the bank. She was concerned that, by association, her tenant’s debt might begin to affect her. Could bailiffs turn up, looking for payment?

Rather than having her debt fears put to rest by one of the bank’s advisors, the landlady was instead threatened with the prospect of legal action for opening private mail to their client. Her own financial situation was quite healthy but she was still in a precarious position; retired and supplementing her pension by letting out a room. How would this affect her credit rating? Could she really be held responsible for the financial mess left behind by her tenant?

First of all, your credit report just contains financial information that concerns you. It will show the names of your Financial Associates, anyone that you are financially connected to, but this doesn’t include tenants. Your score will not be affected by anyone who either has lived, or still does live, at your current address unless they are listed as a financial associate on your credit report. Receiving bills, or even a notice of impending debt collection, that are addressed to a previous occupant or tenant have no impact on your credit rating as long as they’re not a Financial Associate.

A dedicated debt advisor at Harrington Brooks will be able to take you through any debt concerns that you might have. So, if the stress of mounting debt is getting to you, visit www.harringtonbrooks.co.uk.