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What to do if a tenant defaults on their rental payment to you

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

pound-414418_640As a landlord it can be incredibly frustrating when a tenant defaults on their rental payments. Unfortunately, it is one of the most common problems that landlords face yet many landlords have no contingency plans to deal with the situation when it happens.

The first thing to do is to take a step back and try to stay calm. Changing the locks on the house while your tenant is out or calling their mobile phone repeatedly is only going to frustrate the situation and potentially lead to claims of harassment. Instead, the best route is to accept what has happened and begin working on a solution.

If you have a good relationship with your tenant then you should call them to discuss the issue and leave a message, waiting for them to call you back if they do not answer. Try to be accommodating and look at ways that you can make it easy for them to complete their missed payment.

If your tenant is willing to communicate about the problem then you may be able to come to an arrangement whereby you create a payment plan, for example where they add an additional amount on to the end of each month’s payment until the defaulted payment is paid off. Alternatively you may be able to help them find support through services like the Citizens Advice Bureau or The Money Advice Service. At this stage mediation may also work, involving a solicitor to help you find a way forward where both parties are satisfied.

However, if after five days you have no contact from your tenant then you should send them a written letter explaining that they have defaulted and reminding them to make a payment. If after 14 days there is still no response or payment then you should contact them again, this time also contacting their guarantor if they have one. If after 21 days there is no response then you can begin to take legal action, involving a solicitor who will be able to inform your tenant of your intentions to take legal action if no payment is made.

At this point, you will need to either serve a Section 8 notice, which informs the court that you seek to regain possession of the property as the tenant is in breach of contract, or if your tenancy is almost over then it may be a more straight forward process to instead serve a Section 21 notice.

Here at Rollingsons our property litigation team has extensive experience acting for landlords in relation to all manner of property disputes. Contact us on 020 7611 4848 or visit our property litigation page for more information.

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