A commercial landlord with tenants in arrears on their rent has two options available to recover the sums owed. The first is CRAR - commercial rent arrears recovery - where he instructs a certificated enforcement agent to enter and seize goods. A court order is not required.
However, while CRAR is faster than getting a judgment and transferring it to the High Court for enforcement, there are a number of reasons why this may be the better option in certain circumstances:
- Under CRAR the certificated enforcement agent may only take control of goods at the property in question (the ‘demised’ premises). If there are no goods, assets or stock on site, there may be nothing to seize that belongs to the tenants. With a judgment, if the tenants' goods are located elsewhere, the notice of enforcement can be sent to the alternative address
- If the tenants have left the property, CRAR may not be used, so a judgment would be required
- CRAR only covers rent, not insurance or service charges. If these form a sizeable sum, they can be recovered via a judgment
Once the landlord obtains the judgment, he can transfer it to the High Court to obtain a writ of control (formerly known as a writ if fieri facias or fi-fa) for enforcement by a High Court Enforcement Officer (HCEO).
If the landlord also needs to repossess the property, as well as recover rent arrears, he can save time and money by applying for a combined writ of control and possession. This will allow the HCEO to enforce both simultaneously, leading to a successful repossession and, subject to sufficient assets being seized, recovery of their rent arrears.
David is the former CEO of The Sheriffs Office.