14 January 2017
The number of landlord possession claims going to County Court remains high, with a strong trend for using the accelerated procedure. In this article, I highlight some of the pitfalls of obtaining possession and urge landlords to insure for legal expenses and loss of rent.
Non-payment, late or partial payment of rent is the biggest worry for landlords. Good letting agents are increasingly tending to highlight the risks to landlords and are putting strict vetting procedures in place. This can be backed up with rent and legal protection insurance to help protect themselves and the landlord against the non payment of rent.
Late Payers or Non payers
If your tenant pays the rent late or not at all, try to enter and maintain a dialogue with them to gain an understanding of their situation and explain that legal action will follow, if the arrears are not met. 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 If the tenant subsequently pays, the notices can be withdrawn.
Go for possession – how not to do it
In a court case, last year, a judge found against the landlord as he unlawfully evicted the tenant, who was awarded £22,500 in damages. The tenant had returned from a holiday to find the locks had been changed and a new family were now living at the property, leaving her, her husband and three young children homeless.
Go for possession – be careful with serving your notices
In a recent case, Spencer v Taylor, the landlord got the expiration date wrong when serving notice. The judge had to decide whether a fixed date, or a date calculated by a formula, applied in the context of serving a valid Section 21 notice.
If you do have insurance in place – beware of notification deadlines
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 the agent who is working with the tenant to get the rent payments back on track.
We can assist, or take over any issues you are experiencing, with removing your tenant from your property and are at hand to offer initial advice for free, either in person or over the phone.