28th April 2018
Q: I am worried that my tenant will not pay the rent, as he is out work at the moment. Do you have any tips or advice?
A: As there has been no actual default of rent as yet, this is a tricky one to answer.
I would suggest that the first thing you do would be to simply contact the tenant, and air your concerns about the next payment of rent. Now that may seem like common sense, however, most people do not like to talk about money, or lack of it.
Non-payment, late or partial payment of rent is the biggest worry for landlords. As agents ourselves, we try to highlight the risks to landlords, and have very strict vetting procedures in place. However, this only gives a snap shot of the tenant’s financial situation at point of referencing, and could change for example due to loss of job, illness or relationship break. You can, if you wish, back this up with rent and legal protection insurance to help protect you against the non-payment of rent.
If your tenant ends up paying the rent late or not at all, just pick up the phone to them to gain an understanding of their situation and explain that legal action may follow, if the arrears are not met. To protect your interest, you will need to serve tenants with the necessary notices to gain possession as soon as possible, whilst keeping the lines of communication open.
If the tenant subsequently pays, the notices can be withdrawn (this part is up to you).
If you go for possession, be very careful to do things correctly. There have been cases where tenants have taken landlords to court (even with 3 months of rent arrears). For example, if they are away on holiday, only to return from their break to find their flat has been emptied out and the locks have been changed by the landlord! Now as much as you might like to do this, it cost one landlord over £22,000 in damages to the tenants, as he was found to have unlawfully evicted them.
If you have insurance in place, be aware of the policy conditions for notifying claims. Many insurance policies have a very short window for notifying claims. This can sometimes work against you if you are working with the tenant to get the rent payments back on track.
At Sow & Reap Properties Ltd, we can assist or take over any issues you are experiencing with removing your tenant from your property. Do get in touch regarding our services, or if you just want some free pointers over the phone.
Just remember, whatever happens keep your cool, and do not make any rash decisions; as there is more free help available for tenants than landlords.