The Landlord Law Rent Arrears Action Plan

What would you do if your tenant failed to pay rent?

This is landlords number one worry. After all, you have expenses that need paying whether the tenants pay their rent or not – your mortgage, insurance premiums, perhaps the Council tax and other bills.

Or maybe the rent forms a large part of your income – many pensioners are almost completely dependent on the income from rented property.

All too often though nowadays, tenants are not paying rent:

  • Because they have lost their job
  • Because they have had to take a cut in wages, or
  • Just because things are so expensive nowadays their rent is less affordable, or maybe
  • Because one of joint tenants has moved out – because of matrimonial break up or because they don’t get on any more

How to deal with rent arrears quickly and minimise loss

Often when tenants stop paying, landlords have no idea what to do. So they left things drift.

However this generally just means things get worse.  And worse.  And then worse.

The best, and sometimes the only, way to deal with non payment of rent effectively is to catch it right at the start. Make tenants aware of the seriousness of the problem – the risk that they will lose their home – and sort something out.

Tenants with limited money are going to pay the creditor who shouts loudest. Its human nature. If you do nothing, then you will probably get nothing.

However if you contact them right at the start, and don’t let up, if you point out to them all the problems that can arise if they don’t pay their rent and lose their home, if you offer them a helping hand and make it easier for them to pay, then YOU are the one who is more likely to get paid out of those limited resources.

And if your tenants still don’t pay – or if they are a ‘won’t pay’ rather than a ‘can’t pay’ tenant, then the plan can help too.

How can the Landlord Law Action Plan help YOU?

By giving you all the information, letters and forms you need to deal with the problem yourself (up to the issue of court proceedings), rather than using expensive professionals.

After all, nobody cares about getting your tenants to pay their rent as much as you do! Most landlords are perfectly capable to dealing with this situation themselves, so long as they know what to do. This is what the plan can do for you.

We start of by giving you the background information you need to know –

  • How to deal with your paperwork
  • How to approach things if your tenant wants to be re-housed by the Council
  • What to do if one of several tenants wants to move out
  • What you need to do to make sure that YOU are complying with all the necessary regulations

Then we take you through the different stages of dealing with non paying tenants

  • Stage one

This looks at what you do right at the start. Suggestions on how best to approach your tenant to discuss matters when they first fall into arrears of rent, and guidance on negotiating a settlement.

We also have standard letters you can use or adapt to your own situation, and checklists for you to keep on your file so you know where you are.

  • Stage two

This is when your tenant’s rent arrears reach two months worth. This is a significant moment, as you can then serve formal notice on your tenant under the ‘mandatory’ rent arrears ground for possession.

Plus, if your tenant is on benefit, you can seek payment from the benefit office. We have a letter for that.

This section will help you prepare the correct eviction notice to serve on your tenant, generally a good idea even if you don’t actually want to go to court – often it can form the ‘wake up call’ that the tenant needs to take the situation seriously. However you need to make sure that the notices are drafted properly otherwise your tenant may just ignore them.

This section also has detailed guidance on how to prepare a proper schedule of arrears – in the format you will need if you ever have to go to court.  It is important that you get this correct, right from the start.

  • Stage three

This is all about bringing a claim for possession – realistically the only way you can deal with a tenant who is obviously never going to be able to pay his rent. Hopefully the previous stages will have done their job and you will never need this stage.

However if the arrears continue to go up you may have no alternative but to consider eviction. This section will help you decide the correct type of claim to use for your particular circumstances, and gives preliminary guidance on what to do.

  • Stage four

Sometimes you won’t actually want to evict your tenant. Maybe they have started paying their rent and you are just left with some residual arrears. This section looks at going to court just for the arrears.

If you decide that this is what you need to do, we have links to places where you can get help.

Knowledge is power

if you know the correct thing to do if the worst happens, often this is sufficient to prevent it happening in the first place! Because you will know how to approach the situation in the right way AND have the proper forms.

BUT if your question is not answered here – you can always ask a question in the members discussion forum.  Tessa Shepperson checks this most days and will answer questions for members as soon as she can. 

The Rent Arrears Action Plan can be used by all landlord members of Landlord Law.

If you join as a Business Level member though it gets even better!

If you are a Business Level member you can also view our video help and use the unique ‘do it yourself’ repossession kit.  The kit covers the accelerated procedure, the for possession claims based on rent arrears, and common law repossessions based on notice to quit and forfeiture for non-payment of rent.  

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