I am often asked "how it is possible to enforce judgments?"
You may get a CCJ against your debtor, but as some of you may know to your cost, obtaining a CCJ is not the end of the story. You still have to get paid! Many judgment debtors will pay voluntarily - but by no means all. What can you do about it if they don’t pay?
The court provides a set of procedure that you can use. However, YOU have to initiate them, and pay a fee first. You can’t expect the court to enforce your judgment for you. Here is a list of the main procedures available:
County Court bailiffs / High Court Sheriffs
This is the first thing most people think about. The Sheriff or bailiff will ‘levy execution’ on various possession of the debtor - if they don’t pay up, these items are then sold at auction to pay the debt. It can be very effective. However. my experience is that for defaulting tenants it is not generally much use. For the service to be successful you need to have a debtor who has possessions which can be seized (and note that not all things can - for example some personal items and things on hire purchase), and who does not want to lose them. Note that the cost of removal and sale at auction can be high - and YOU are responsible for this! If the sale price of the goods is less than the costs, you will be out of pocket.
This procedure is best used for claims against businesses and companies with expensive equipment. However, it is not much good for tenants who have ‘done a runner ’, who don’t have much money and whose address you don’t know. If you are going to use this service, the Sheriffs have a better reputation than the bailiffs.
Attachment Of Earnings
This is the procedure I have found most successful for claims against defaulting tenants. Here the court makes an order that the judgment debt be paid by installments from the judgment debtor ’s wages. The money is taken out at source and then paid to you. The installments are generally less than you would like, and it takes a while to set the system up. However, once it is, you then get the payments automatically. I have known landlords recover all of their claim for unpaid rent with an A/E. Not many mind, but some.
The main problem is if the tenant then loses his job, the payments will stop. And of course you can’t use it if your debtor is self employed.
Third Party Debt Order
This can be rather fun if you get it right. It is an order that a ‘third party’, generally a bank or building society, pay to you money they are holding for the judgment debtor. If the debtors have quite a lot in their account, you could get the whole debt paid off in one go. However, if they have nothing in their account, you will get nothing.
It tends to be a bit hit and miss, and the order will only ‘catch’ the money in the account at the time the order is served. So, if £10,000 is paid in the following day, it will not be affected. This type of procedure used to be known as garnishee proceedings.
A charging order is where the judgment debt is registered as a legal charge against property. It is not normally much good against tenants as by definition they will not own their own home. It is a complex procedure as not only do you have to obtain the order, you also have to register it at the Land Registry. It is therefore something best left to professionals to do for you.