My tenant is in arrears. What can I do?

When a tenant is in arrears it can put added pressure on a landlord’s financial position. With rent forming part or all of a landlord’s income, the prospect of not receiving any rent can be extremely worrying.

So, what options are available to you as a landlord in the event your tenant falls into arrears?

Options to landlords when a tenant is in arrears

The first step is to contact the tenant as soon as you become aware that the rent has not been paid. Sometimes, there may be a simple explanation why the tenant is in arrears.

If, after making contact with your tenant, the rent is still not paid then you can take formal action against your tenant as follows:

  1. Send a letter before action to the tenant demanding the arrears are paid in full within a set time-frame.
  1. If payment is not received then you can commence court proceedings against the tenant for the arrears. If the arrears are over £5,000.00 then as an alternative you can commence bankruptcy proceedings against the tenant.
    Pursuing the arrears through the courts is not a speedy resolution however. If you are desperate to receive your property then you can seek to negotiate with the tenant an amicable resolution. For example, agree to waive your right to pursue the rent arrears if the tenant gives up possession of your property. If you do consider this option, you should make sure you phrase this correctly so as to protect yourself going forward.
  1. If the tenant pays monthly and falls two months into arrears then you can issue what is known as a Section 8 Notice. This gives your tenant 14 days in which to pay the arrears. If the tenant fails to do so, possession proceedings can be commenced. As part of these proceedings, you can also claim the arrears.
    Arrears of over two months is a mandatory ground for possession. Therefore, a court has very little scope, if any, to refuse a correctly submitted application for possession.

If your tenant refuses to leave upon expiry of a Section 8 Notice at no time should you try and evict your tenant for non-payment of rent without a court order. This could result in you being sued for illegal eviction. Illegal eviction is also a criminal offence.

In summary whilst the thought of recovering rent arrears may fill you with dread, there are options available to you. To discuss this or any other landlord and tenant issue feel free to contact Mark Fagan at Winston Solicitors on 0113 320 500 or email maf@winstonsolicitors.co.uk.

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