Of all the things that landlords worry about, tenants failing to pay the rent is one of their biggest concerns. This is the situation that no landlord wants to find themselves in. You may have mortgage payments to meet, insurance premiums to pay and many other expenses to meet.
So what should you do if it happens to you? The one thing you should not do is try to evict them without going through the correct process. Instead, here's a guide to the steps you should take.
Find Out the Facts
If your tenant stops paying the rent, there will probably be a reason for it. For example, they may have lost their job. But whatever the reason, you still need your rent.
Try to get in touch with them as soon as the due date passes to ask them why they have not paid. If they have always paid in the past, and they confirm that they will be paying slightly late this month, it may be nothing to worry about.
Don't be threatening, but do explain clearly how important it is that they pay on the due date. You could also quickly explain the possible consequences of failing to pay.
Write a Formal Demand
If you cannot contact them, or they are still not paying after a week, it's time to write to them. You can do this by sending a formal demand, which you can deliver by hand or send by post (Which? provides a letter template that you can use for this).
In the letter, ask them to pay what is owed immediately, and also ask that future payments are made on time. You can also mention the possibility of future court action if they fail to pay.
Write to the Guarantor After Two Weeks
Most tenants will have provided a guarantor, and if you are not getting anywhere with your rent collection, write to the guarantor after 14 days. Explain the situation, and this will add some more pressure on the tenant. Often this can solve the problem very quickly.
Write Again After 21 Days
Once 21 days have passed without any rent being paid, send your tenant another formal letter. This is the final step before taking legal action, so make it clear that you will be taking legal action if no rent is paid. However, stay professional and avoid using any threatening language.
Send a Section 8 Notice
Once the tenant has gone a month without paying rent, and the next payment is due, they can be classed as being two months in arrears, so now you can start legal action to claim possession.
This involves serving a Section 8 notice. In this, you can make the tenant aware that you will take them to court if you receive no payment in 14 days.
Take Court Action
If you still do not receive your payment, you can now take court action. You may also want the court to help you claim rent arrears and any other costs. Once you have a possession order, you can apply for a warrant for eviction, and this will allow bailiffs to remove the tenant.
Stick to the Rules
It can be incredibly frustrating when a tenant does not pay the rent, but there are certain steps that you must follow. Do not attempt to evict your tenant on your own, and do not harass the tenant, otherwise you could find yourself in difficulties.
Always go through the correct process, and often you will find that it does not result in court action. Also, remember that this is just a general guide, and that details of the rules for different types of tenancies can be found at the Gov.uk site.