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Recovering Unpaid Rental Debts And Evicting A Tenant

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The last course of action that many landlords want to take is to force proceedings for the eviction of tenants, but it is a necessary step when a tenant refuses to pay the rent on a property or premises on a long-term basis, leaving a potentially large hole in the landlord’s pocket.

Did you know?

*It takes an average of four months and £900 to bring a tenancy to an end not including the loss of rental income (source: National Landlords Association)*

Want to evict a tenant?

There is a process to follow as a landlord to avoid falling foul of the law and being guilty of harassment or illegal eviction. Below is a guide to the steps that can be taken.

Evicting Tenants From Your Property – Early Stages

The earlier you raise the issue of non-payment of rent to the tenant, the better. It may be a simple oversight on their part, or a short-term issue that you can work together on to resolve quickly and without unnecessary friction. It is also highly likely that your tenant is in financial difficulty, so reacting quickly will give you a better chance of recovering some or all of your money. Make a phone call to the tenant initially, but if this doesn’t get a response, then send a recorded letter or better still, a letter personally served via a process server.

Examples of two letters to send to your tenant:

  1. The first letter should contain the due date of the rent, and state that payment is late.
  2. A second letter should be sent and ideally personally delivered if the first one is ignored. Write a reminder of future rent payments and their due date and state that missed payments could result in court action being taken.

If the letters are ignored, and/or when your tenant hasn’t paid for two months, you can serve a formal notice on your tenant under the mandatory rent arrears ground for possession at this point.Serving a Section 8 notice or a Section 21 notice will inform your tenant that you intend to take them to court if they do not pay within 14 days.

A process serverwill personally serve Section 8 notices and Section 21 notices on your behalf directly to the tenant. The paperwork and process involved can be understandably stressful and confusing and enlisting the help of a professional process server is wise.

Eviction Of Tenants Via The Court

If your tenants have not responded to the Section 8 or Section 21 notice served on them it is time to get support from the courts. Some insurance companies provide cover to tenants for non payment of rent. This and other costs of the eviction of tenants are taken care of by the company if you have insurance cover. If you do not have cover, move on to the next step.

*Section 8 notice:

Served on a tenant by a landlord wishing to gain possession of a property during the fixed term of an assured shorthold tenancy agreement (ast)*

*Section 21 notice:

The notice a landlord can give to a tenant to regain possession of the property at the end of of an assured shorthold tenancy agreement and end of notice period (2 months) .

Shorthold tenancy agreement:

(ast): a binding contract between landlord and tenant usually of a fixed term of 6-12 months*

Once the Section 8 notice has been served and expired (usually after 14 days) the landlord can start legal proceedings via the court. A professional process server will be useful at this point onwards, as it’s important to comply with all the rules and regulations regarding paperwork and timescales – the course of action taken can depend on the start of the tenancy period. The tenant can also request a defence if they disagree with the judgement. If repairs haven’t been carried out as requested, for example, you as the landlord could be liable for the tenant’s legal costs if they are successful in challenging the order.

Did you know?

A section 21 notice is the easiest and most guaranteed route to possession of the property, but it can only be used at the end of the tenancy period and notice period. It does mean that a less expensive and accelerated route of possession can be taken. Note you are unable use a Section 21 accelerated procedure if you are claiming for rent arrears.

What if The Tenant Still Doesn’t Leave?

If the tenant doesn’t leave by the date in the court order, then you can apply to the court for a warrant of possession and the court will assist in evicting the tenant with a bailiff. This is when a Section 8 notice has been served during a tenancy period. It is commonplace for both a Section 8 and Section 21 notice to be served at the same time, but note once again that the 21 can only be used at the end of the tenancy and notice period. Once you have the backing of the courts for bailiff eviction it should be only a matter of time before you have possession of your property back.

*This content from Diem Legal does not constitute legal advice or an authoritative statement of the law. Never rely totally on these notes, which apply primarily to England & Wales. Before taking action or not, always do your own research and/or seek further professional advice with the full facts of your case and all documents to hand*

 

Bio: Lewis Murawski is the marketing and business development manager at Diem Legal and Managing Director of Kahootz Media. Lewis was previously a magazine editor at publishing giant Emap. He has since gained more than 10 years experience in SEO and digital marketing. Lewis helps individuals and businesses worldwide to increase their online profiles and maximise revenues. You can connect with Lewis on LinkedIn