Evicting tenants who have stopped paying rent by Fariz Uvais
A common feature among quite a few landlords who approach me for advice relating to tenants who have stopped paying rent is that they tend to wait for several months before taking action. It is not unusual for landlords to have waited 4 to 6 months or longer before seeking advice.
The process of evicting tenants can be fraught with difficulties, so adopting a disciplined approach would minimise these difficulties, although it is impossible to completely eliminate all risks.
Chase unpaid rent immediately. If the rent is fourteen days late, send the tenant a Rent demand letter. After one month, if the rent is still not paid, send the tenant a Final rent demand letter confirming your intention to take legal action and repossess the property if the rent is not paid.
If rent is paid monthly and a tenant is at least two months in rent arrears you have the right to take action to evict your tenants by serving a Section 8 (of the Housing Act 1988) notice. Two months' rent arrears is one the Section 8 mandatory grounds for repossession, which means that so long as the tenant was at least two months (8 weeks if rent is paid weekly) in arrears of rent on the date the notice was served and remains to be so on the date of the Court hearing, then the order for possession must be granted.
However, landlords should be aware of two common ways in which tenants attempt to avoid the mandatory grounds. First, if by the date of the Court hearing the rent arrears are brought below the two months requirement, then it becomes discretionary to the Judge as to whether or not to grant the order for possession. The second way in which tenants seek to overcome the mandatory basis is by making a counterclaim against the landlord on claims for disrepair, or if the deposit has not been protected under an approved Tenancy Deposit Scheme, then by making a claim for statutory penalties (of up to 3 times the deposit) against the landlord.
Evicting tenants can be emotionally stressful for all parties concerned and requires navigating through complex legal provisions. So it is advisable to act promptly and to seek professional help.
Fariz Uvais is a Consultant Solicitor at Fahri LLP based in Whetstone North London. Write in and ask your legal questions. Fariz will try and answer your questions in Palmers Green LIFE each month. Send your questions to Fahri LLP, 1268a High Road Whetstone, London N20 9HH or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Tel: 0203 813 8457
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article should not be construed as legal advice and the information is offered for information purposes only. You should always seek advice from an appropriately qualified solicitor on any specific legal enquiry.