As a landlord, you may need to deal with a difficult situation if your tenant stops paying their rent.
Wherever possible, it is usually advisable to try and speak to your tenant, first of all, to try and ascertain the reason for non-payment before taking formal action.
You should also ensure that your records are up to date and that both you and your tenant know exactly how much has been paid and how much is outstanding.
If your tenant is unwilling to pay and you have not managed to work out a solution informally, then you can start the formal process of either recovering the arrears that you are owed or requiring your tenant to leave the property.
Write a formal letter to the tenant
You should write to your tenant detailing the amount outstanding and asking that they pay this at once. Your letter should also warn them that you could ask the court to order that they leave the property if more than two months’ rent arrears build up.
If you have still not heard from them after 14 days, you should write a second letter, again requiring them to pay and advising them of the risk of court action.
Write a formal letter to the guarantor
At the same time as the first letter to the tenant, you should also write to the guarantor, if there is one. You should notify them that the tenant is in arrears and warn them that the terms of the tenancy agreement have been broken.
Follow up with another letter to both the tenant and guarantor
If payment is still not received after 21 days then you should send letters to both the tenant and the guarantor advising them that you will be taking proceedings to repossess your property because of the arrears.
Serve a legal notice on the tenant
The next step is the service of a Housing Act notice. This will usually be made under section 8 of the Act, giving the tenant 14 days to pay.
It is important that the notice is in the prescribed form, to include the grounds for the notice (rent arrears) and that the previous steps are also followed so that the court will sanction an eviction.
If a tenancy is nearing its end, it may be easier to serve a section 21 notice. This does not require any wrongdoing on the part of the tenant and therefore does not give the tenant any scope for disputing the notice.
Making an application to the court
Following service of the notice, if the rent remains unpaid you can apply to the court for an order for possession of the property. You can also ask for the arrears that you are owed as well as your costs of bringing the case.
If you are a landlord seeking payment of rent arrears or possession of your property, we can advise you on the best course of action and ensure that every step of the process is properly followed. Failure to do this may result in the court refusing to make an order in your favour.
Also, there are temporary restrictions on some of the action which can be taken against tenants during the disruption caused by Covid-19. We can discuss with you what it may still be possible to do and work out the right plan of action for your particular circumstances.
If you would like a free, no-obligation initial consultation, please ring us on 01724 642 842 or email us at [email protected].