What Happens if My Tenant Fails to Pay Their Rent?

Posted on Wednesday, September 7, 2016

When your tenant fails to pay rent it can be frustrating and worrying. Many of us rely on the rental income to pay the mortgage, so a late rental payment should be dealt with quickly. We are assuming you have an Assured Shorthold Tenancy agreement signed by your tenant. We are also assuming that you’ve just one tenant in occupation, but if you have several sharing as joint tenants, then they are all jointly liable for any one party’s unpaid rent. Make this clear to them at the outset.

The first thing to do is speak with your tenant. It may be a simple administrative issue with the bank. If so, there is no need to fall out. Maintaining a civil atmosphere is critical to a successful landlord / tenant relationship. But don’t let things slide. If the problem persists for more than a couple of days, you need to formalise things.

If no progress is made after a week then;

  1. Write to your tenant. Send them a formal demand for the outstanding rent. If, after 14 days, you have still to receive it, write to your tenant’s surety (if they have one) informing them that the tenant hasn’t paid their rent. These letters should be sent by first class mail and keep a receipt of postage from the post office.
  2. If after 21 days from the rent due date you are still waiting for rent, write again, this time pointing out that if unpaid rent remains unpaid court action will be taken and that if more than two months rent remains unpaid, you will also be applying for possession of your property under the provisions of the Housing Act. Copy this letter to your tenant’s and make sure they are aware that they are responsible for these costs if the tenant does not pay.
  3. If the next month’s rent becomes due and you still have no rent, then your tenant is probably two months in arrears. This means you are likely to have the right under the Housing Act 1988 to take action to claim possession of the property. This notice allows the tenant 14 days to pay before you take him to court. If he does not respond, you may go to court to pursue your tenant for unpaid rent and possession.
  4. If you are successful in obtaining a possession order and a judgment against the tenant then you have up to 6 years to enforce that judgement.

Of course, this all assumes that you are able to swiftly obtain a judgement in your favour and that the tenant complies. In any event, you are incurring court costs and the costs associated with taking back possession. This, coupled with the loss of rent and the need to pay a mortgage, makes losing a tenant a very expensive experience. For this reason, we offer landlords insurance to cover missed rent payments and to mitigate against these costs.

The best way to avoid unpaid rent is to properly reference and credit check your tenant before they take the tenancy. Take up personal and previous landlord’s references and take a rent deposit, which must by law be registered and if necessary lodged with one of the Government’s approved deposit schemes.

At Duncan Yeardley we can let your property, undertake thorough tenant vetting and manage rent collection on your behalf. Contact us on 01344 860121 today for a chat.

You can download our Landlords Fact Sheet here.