What To Do If Your Tenant Stops Paying The Rent
Every Landlord’s biggest worry is that their tenant will stop paying the rent which is why it’s so important to be very careful and selective with any tenants before letting them move in. However sometimes even if you’ve done everything right tenants circumstances can change and you can find that their rent payments stop. If you find yourself in this unfortunate position then what do you do?
The first thing you need to do is try and get in contact with your tenant so that you can establish what the problem is and when you can expect to receive payment. Whilst you will be unhappy about the non-payment and the potential effect this will have on you, it’s really important that you stay positive with your tenant and don’t have a go at them. You need to make sure that you can communicate regularly with the tenant whilst you are trying to get things sorted out and being negative with them isn’t going to help this even if you are understandably upset that your rent isn’t paid. Also if you are on good terms then you have far more chance of being able to get at least partial payment of the rent even if the tenant can’t afford to pay all of it. In these situations it isn’t uncommon for the tenant to suddenly be very hard to contact so you may need to phone, text, email and even visit the house before you are able to speak to them although this needs to be done in a way that can’t be construed as harassment.
Establish the reason.
The whole point of being able to initially speak to the tenant and then stay in close contact with them is to establish the reason behind the rent not being paid. You need to find out whether this is a short term problem like a change of job that has resulted in a delayed pay day or something more permanent like your tenant having lost their job. Very importantly you also need to clarify that the rent is not being withheld on the basis of any outstanding maintenance jobs. It’s only once you know what the problem is that you can determine the best way to try and resolve it. If it is definitely going to be a problem of non-payment of rent rather than a delay than you need to either come to an agreement for the tenant to voluntarily forfeit their tenancy and leave or you will need to instigate legal action to regain possession of your property.
Make sure that you keep notes of all of your conversations with the tenant, copies of emails and any correspondence that you send them too. This will show that you have chased the tenant for payment but will also demonstrate that you haven’t been over zealous and gone to the point of harassing the tenant for payment.
The Legal Route
Once you have exhausted the above and if you are still in a situation that the tenant can’t or won’t pay the rent then you will need to instigate legal proceedings to resolve this. The first step towards this will be serving a Section 8 Notice on the tenant which can only be done once the second rent payment is missed so that the tenant is at least a full 2 month’s rent in arrears. This is one of those situations where trying to save money can actually work out costing you more so rather than trying to handle this yourself at this point you need to appoint a solicitor or legal specialist. You need to be prepared for the legal process to anything up to 6 months until your tenant is actually evicted dependent on how busy the courts are and whether or not you need to go all the way through to getting a bailiff. You should be able to get a court order against your tenant for your legal costs as well as for the rent that they owe you but given that they presumably are in financial difficulties it may be some time before you ever see any of this money.
In addition to being very careful over who you let move into your property it is also a good idea to take out some rent and legal insurance to offer you some protection in the event that you find yourself in this situation. For any advice on suitable policies or if you are having problems with non-payment from a tenant then please just get in contact with us and we would love to see if we can help.
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