With news out this week that the number of tenant evictions has risen by 9% last year, now is the time to talk about what to do when a tenant is not paying their rent. One of the key things in dealing with tenants is to try and remain calm and keep emotion out of it. ( Even though they can test your patience to the very limits of endurance!)
When people get riled they tend to want to be vindictive and lash out which could then lead to accusations of harassment- which you want to avoid at all costs.Those tenants who are more savvy may try for an ‘unlawful eviction’ angle if pushed into a corner. Both of these are legal terms and can cost you dearly if you get caught up in them.
Remember, this is business, not personal.
Whilst it’s easy to get annoyed when a tenant break things or stops paying their rent, there is a proper process and you must go through those channels no matter how frustrating it is. Never be tempted to change locks, try to forcibly evict, cut of services or threaten them because you could be accused legally of harassment. Always remember, in this technological age, how easy it is to get information on legal matters.
What Is the Process For A Tenant Who Stops Paying Rent?
The best way to deal with them when they stop paying rent is to go through the proper legal notice serving process. Even better, is if you can come to an agreement about sorting out arrears perhaps. Make sure that you have checks or alarms in place which alert you the day a rent does not arrive as scheduled.
On Assured Short Hold tenancies rent is already taken in advance, so the rent is officially a month late already if it does not arrive. Always follow up lack of payment requests by letter so you are armed in case you need to go to court. If you cannot come to an agreement then you will need to start the process. Even if you come to an agreement, it’s still better to serve the correct notice, you can always withdraw it if they stick to the agreed payment schedule.
Don’t forget to keep sending follow up letters every 7 days or so. Written evidence is very important in court cases. Hopefully it won’t get that far. Most tenants leave long before a court date.
If you had a guarantor on the lease you must contact them re lack of payment at the second letter stage. Inform them of court action etc. After 21 days in arrears you should repeat the whole letter and contact for payment process.
Start Legal Proceedings
Now, at the second month stage, the rent is effectively 2 months in arrears and you can start the legal process. Issue a section 8 notice, which tells the tenant that legal proceedings are starting in 14 days. The notice will need to include the grounds of the housing act they have broken-normally sections 8/10 &11. Wait 16 days before applying to court for a possession order and rent arrears recovery.
Once the process has started you must follow through. When a tenant stops paying their rent do not let them off the hook until they have paid or the due process is finished. You must stand firm and remain polite,professional and calm. Do not give them any reason to get a case against you. If you need to visit them during the process always try and take someone along to act as a witness.