What do you do if your tenant suddenly stops paying his rent?
This can be a big problem for landlords. A tenant loses his job, or perhaps a couple split up, leaving the partner with no job in the property, and suddenly you have no income.
Here are some tips for you.
1. Take action immediately
This can be a letter, a phone call, or perhaps a visit. The sooner you deal with the problem, the more likely it is that they will pay.
If you let things drift for months, hoping that the tenant will do something, the rent arrears will get so huge that the tenant will never be able to pay them. Also if they know you will be on to them quickly, they are more likely to give their rent payments priority.
2. Try to reach some sort of agreement.
Court action should always be a last resort. Maybe there is something you can do to help, such as let the tenant pay more frequently in smaller payments. Or perhaps, in the case of a good tenant you would be sorry to lose, you can give a small rent reduction.
3. If you reach agreement make sure it is put in writing
A letter is sufficient. It should:
- set out the agreement
- state clearly when the arrangement will end (if it is not permanent), and
- say what will happen if the tenant fails to comply. This will often be court action
4. Serve any relevant possession notices even if you reach agreement
You do not have to use them, and you should make it clear to the tenant that you won’t use them – so long as he keeps to the agreement. But serving them now will save time later, if the tenant does not keep to his agreement. This in itself will be an incentive to the tenant to pay promptly.
5. Don’t keep giving the tenant second chances
I have known landlords left with huge rent arrears through trusting tenants when they say they will pay later, and ‘just want a bit more time’.
You are not running a housing charity. If the tenants are not paying they should be evicted. Some are all to willing to take advantage of their landlords good nature.
If the tenant fails to pay you should serve notice (if you have not done this already) and then move to bringing court action. Tell them that if they pay you will cancel the claim (if you are willing to do this) but not otherwise. If they want to stay they will have to find the money.
The Landlord Law Rent Arrears Action Plan
If you have a tenant who is failing to pay rent, and are uncertain what to do, you need my rent arrears action plan. This is a special section on my main Landlord Law website with help and guidance for landlords whose tenants are not paying rent. As well as information, the plan also has letters, checklists and possession notices.