Rent arrears: What you can do

Missed rental payments can be distressing for both landlords and tenants, which is just one of the reasons why two-thirds of landlords are choosing to use a letting agent to manage their property.

It’s important to think practically if you find yourself dealing with rent in arrears. In this guide, we’ll cover what rights you have as a landlord and what steps you can take if your tenant fails to pay rent.

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What does rent in arrears mean?

If your tenant’s rent is in arrears, this means that rent has gone unpaid past the agreed date, or you have received an underpayment.

The definition of rent arrears will be outlined in your tenancy agreement, therefore, if your tenant has not paid the agreed amount on time, this means that the agreement has been broken.

Can I evict my tenant for not paying rent?

Before you do anything, it’s important to reach out to your tenant to find out why the payment was missed. If you then decide to take matters further, you should take the appropriate steps before serving a Section 8 notice to evict them. Read our guide on how to evict a tenant or keep reading for more information on this.

If a letting agent is managing your property, they can handle rental payments and contact the tenant for you to secure the missing sum.

Related: How to evict a tenant

How to manage rent payments

While rental payments are regulated by the tenancy agreement, there are other important measures which should be taken to prevent rental arrears. For example, many landlords request that a direct debit be set up for rental payments, which can be arranged through a letting agent.

Letting agents will also keep a record of all payments made and send receipts of payments to tenants. This process is integral should any disputes arise regarding rent. Here’s how else a letting agent can help:

Tenant referencing

Screening tenants before signing an agreement with them is one of the best ways to safeguard your investment. Thorough tenant checks can shed light on the tenant’s rental history, their financial situation, and anything else that may need flagging up before accepting their application.

Find out more about Martin & Co’s tenant referencing services

Check your insurance coverage

Make sure your insurance policy covers rent arrears (known as rent guarantee or tenant default insurance) as this will provide you with financial protection if your tenant ceases to pay rent.

How to request that rent arrears be settled

Contact your tenant

You or your letting agent should always contact the tenant first if you have not received the agreed rental payment. There may have been a mistake or technical issue that can be rectified quickly, but if this is not the case, you can write a formal letter requesting that the rent be paid in full.

Contact the guarantor

Your tenant should have provided a guarantor, and this person will be your next point of contact if you fail to reach your tenant, or your tenant fails to pay the remaining rent after you’ve requested it.

It’s important to clearly explain your reasoning for contacting them and state that the terms in the tenancy agreement have been broken.

Related: What does a letting agent do?

Serve a Section 8 notice

If you were unable to receive a payment from the tenant or guarantor after several attempts to contact both, you may serve a Section 8 notice. This notice will inform your tenant that you intend to take them to court if they fail to pay the outstanding rent within a further 14 days from receipt of the notice.

There are several variations in the Section 8 notices depending on the type of tenancy agreement you have in place, so make sure that you have completed the correct version of the form before issuing it. You should also check the details in Schedule 2 of the Housing Act 1998 to ensure that you have legal grounds for serving a Section 8.

It’s essential to specify exactly which terms of your tenancy agreement have been broken and how much notice the tenants have to vacate the property.

Contact Martin & Co

Need help managing your rental property? Contact our dedicated lettings team

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