When your tenant hasn’t paid his rent it can be extremely frustrating and can cause you an array of problems. So what can you do about it and what should you do to make things easier for you? Here are our rent arrears top tips for residential landlords.
Keep a record
Make sure you keep a record of the rent. In particular, keep a note of when rent is due and when payments have been received. If you decide to issue court proceedings as a result of the rent arrears, this will be useful to prove that the tenant has not paid his rent.
Also keep a copy of any letters or emails you send to your tenant about the rent arrears.
Speak to the tenant
It may be worth popping round or making a quick informal phone call to the tenants. Sometimes there are genuine reasons for late payments, so a sensible and calm discussion can often resolve disputes. It is also helpful to keep a note of what was agreed.
Maintaining a good landlord/tenant relationship can make the process much smoother for both parties.
Write to the tenant
If you have tried talking to the tenant and he was uncooperative, it is advisable to send him a letter. Here you can set out the amount of rent arrears, and explain his obligations under the tenancy agreement. The letter could include a request that the outstanding rent is paid by a certain date.
If there is a guarantor under the lease, you should also send the guarantor a letter advising them of the rent arrears. This should hopefully encourage a payment by the tenant or guarantor.
Make sure you keep copies of any letters that you send.
Use the deposit
It is usually advisable for landlords to take a deposit from their tenants. Most tenancy agreements will allow the landlord to use the deposit to pay off rent arrears. This could reduce the arrears or even clear them completely.
Serve a notice
Having rent arrears is a ground for possession for most types of tenancy agreement. This means that you can apply to court for an order which will lead to the tenant’s eviction as a result of the rent arrears.
Before you can issue possession proceedings, you must first serve a notice warning them of your intent. It is worth writing to the guarantor again at this stage.
If you receive no response or cooperation from the tenant, you can issue possession proceedings at the Court. In some circumstances you can also ask the court to give you judgment for the amount of the arrears. Once made, the possession order will require the tenant to leave the property by a certain date.
County Court Judgment
If you do not want to evict your tenant, an alternative may be to issue a claim for the arrears in the County Court. If your claim is successful, the Court will order that the tenant repays the arrears. A County Court Judgment will affect a tenant’s credit rating and could affect their ability to obtain a tenancy with a new landlord, so the tenant is likely to want to try to avoid this if possible.
If your tenant still does not pay the amount that is ordered by the Court, there are a number of options open to you to enforce that judgment.