Here is a question to the blog clinic from Jo who is a landlord
I have a long term tenant that has looked after the property and has been very happy living there for the last 9 years.
My financial situation has changed and I’m unable to keep the property and so I am selling the property, I advised the tenant of this situation 3 months prior to end of our tenancy agreement. It was then put on sale as an investment property with tenant. I allowed the tenant to stay on a periodic lease after the end of tenancy agreement however 3 months later he has gone into 2 1/2 months of rent arrears.
The tenant had an injury at work and suffers ongoing issues from this and so for the past 3 years has not worked and is using housing benefit he receives to pay me.
He says the reason for late payment is that he is saving up for a new place so he can move out??? I have given him a letter that gave him 2 months notice to leave, he is still living there, not paying me, not answering calls or texts….
Have contacted the local council that say if he has been paid the benefit they can’t do anything… I can phone the housing dept and they can stop his benefits and pay me but the lease is to end soon so I’m a little confused.
There is actually no need to inform the tenant that you are selling the property and it looks as if in this case informing the tenant was unwise.
He is obviously under the impression that if you sell this means he will have to move out, whereas as you are selling it as an investment property this is not the case and his rights will remain intact.
However the damage is done now and the rent arrears are mounting. This will affect your ability to sell the property as it may be more difficult to sell with a non-paying tenant in situ. So you will either need to evict the tenant so you can sell with vacant possession or accept that you will have to take a drop in price.
You say you have sent a letter giving him two months to leave. Unless this is a properly drafted section 21 notice, it will be of no legal effect. I suggest you check this and if your letter is not compliant, serve a proper notice.
Note that there are a number of pre-requisites for service of a valid section 21 notice, one of which is that any deposit paid has been properly protected. If you are not sure about the rules you should take advice, or use my Landlord Law service which has a section 21 guide you can use to check your position.
Once the notice has expired you can bring eviction proceedings through the courts.
Note that your tenant does not have to move out at the expiry of the notice period, he is perfectly entitled to stay in the property and wait for you to get a court order for possession and then a bailiffs appointment before he goes.
So far as the payments from the Council are concerned, if this is not being paid over to you, you should write and let them know. Once the rent arrears reach eight weeks or more they are required to make payments direct to you, provided you have notified them. This will, at least stop the arrears increasing.
To answer the last point in your question – the tenancy will only end when the tenant moves out. If he refuses to move out forcing you to go to court for an eviction order, he could be there for a further six months or more.