When a tenant falls into rent arrears it can be stressful, time consuming and demanding for each and every one involved. It is important that you remain calm throughout the process and retain a record of your correspondence in attempt to ensure the situation is resolved smoothly.
Be open and reasonable with your tenant
If you notice that your tenant has not paid their rent and it is unlike them, get in touch with them. A phone call or a text followed by an email to remind them will suffice, however remember to document all of the communication between you and your tenant incase things escalate.
When talking to your tenant be reasonable and polite, issues such as this can be a sensitive topic for some and any unreasonable behaviour could affect your position, if arrears go to court. If the tenant is having money troubles, you may want to arrange a payment plan to ensure they can pay back what they can afford for the short-term. For a long-term arrangement you could suggest that your tenant applies for Universal Credit.
The end of tenancy
If it reaches the end of your tenancy agreement and you still haven't received your rent money, don’t worry, landlord insurance covers any unpaid rent so your income is covered if your tenant falls into rent arrears. If you’re unsure of what landlord insurance covers, or which to purchase read our Landlord Insurance Guide.
If the tenancy ends with rent payments outstanding, you can request to deduct any unpaid rent from the tenant’s deposit.
Eviction is a legal process and can take up a large portion of a landlord's time. However, consider it as a last resort, if all else fails.
There are 3 stages to eviction:
Eviction By Bailiffs
You are able to evict tenants if they have assured shorthold tenancy using either Section 8 or Section 21 or if it is appropriate to use both, then you may.
You may wish to use a Section 8 notice if your tenants have broken the terms of the tenancy.
A section 21
A section 21 notice starts the legal process to end an assured shorthold tenancy.
Fixed term tenancies tend to run on a six- or twelve-month periods. During the fixed term, tenants are protected from “no fault” evictions. This includes a section 21 eviction. However, as a landlord you can still serve a notice to quit, but it must respect the fixed term until it has expired. The start date is of little importance, but the end date must fall no sooner than the last day of the fixed period. In addition, the notice to quit must still respect the two-month period required by the law.
If nothing seems to be working with your tenant and you’ve continually asked them about their rent and they’re yet to pay, it is a good idea to take court action. Every correspondence you’ve had is a great way to form a case against your tenant providing you’ve been reasonable and understanding regarding your tenants' problems and responses. If any unreasonable behaviour occurs it may effect your position in court.
Eviction by Bailiffs
A landlord can’t use any bailiff. It must be a court bailiff. If a tenant fails to vacate by the Possession Date, the landlord can apply for a Warrant of Possession.
The Bailiff requires the landlord to complete a risk assessment form, so that any risks that may be encountered at the eviction can be highlighted in advance. The eviction will only go ahead if the risk assessment form is submitted to court in advance of the eviction date. Landlord Action sends the form to landlords well in advance to enable a return to court in good time.