rent arrears

What to do if your tenant hasn’t paid rent

A tenant falling into rent arrears can be a distressing time for both landlord and tenant. But there are steps you can follow to ensure the situation is resolved smoothly.

Talk to your tenant

If you notice that rent hasn’t been paid on its due date, then first get in touch with your tenant.  A phone call or text, followed by a letter or email will usually suffice; an email or letter will also be easier to keep a record of, should things escalate. It may be that a tenant has simply forgotten to pay or may have money troubles. If they are having money troubles, you may want to arrange a payment plan with your tenant to ensure they can pay back what they can afford, or guide them towards applying for the housing element of Universal Credit to help them make up for the shortfall in rent.

Remember to be polite and courteous in your correspondence; issues such as this can be sensitive for both parties and any unreasonable behaviour could affect your position if you eventually decide to go to court.

Talk to the guarantor

If the tenant has an agreed guarantor, who has consented to their position as guarantor in writing along with yourself and the tenant, and has also seen a copy of the tenancy agreement, then you can request for them to pay any rent in arrears. If the tenant hasn’t paid rent after 14 days, then contact the tenant again, and the guarantor, requesting payment of the rent. Again, a letter or email is best so that you can keep track of your correspondence.

Begin eviction proceedings


Evictions during Coronavirus

Across the UK, each nation has produced updated guidance on evictions during the coronavirus outbreak.

In all cases this includes an extension of the notice period for evictions.


  • The notice period has been increased to six months.

Scotland and Wales

  • In most cases landlords must now give tenants six months’ notice.
  • In Scotland, a new law has made all grounds for eviction discretionary – allowing any tribunals to consider the impact of coronavirus before issuing an eviction order or not.

Northern Ireland

  • Your landlord must now give you 12 weeks advance notice in writing before the date you have to leave.
  • Your landlord or letting agent cannot force you to leave your rented home during the coronavirus outbreak.

Updated 4 September 2020


If the tenant falls into two months of rent arrears and has made no effort to communicate or remedy the situation, then you may wish to begin the process of legally evicting them.

It may be worth asking if the tenant will willingly surrender the tenancy, to cut your own losses and prevent the situation from escalating to the courts, with further potential costs for both parties.

Otherwise, you may wish to serve a Section 8 notice on the grounds of rent arrears, which usually gives the tenant two weeks’ notice to vacate the property.

At this point, the tenant may pay back their arrears, which would invalidate the Section 8 notice if it went to court.

If the tenant challenges the eviction and the case goes to court, then you will have all evidence of your correspondence with the tenant to show that you made every effort to inform them of their arrears and gave them the opportunity to pay. This will help your case to evict the tenant.

Use your insurance

Some insurance companies will offer landlord insurance that covers unpaid rent. If your tenant falls into arrears and you are covered, then get in touch with your insurance provider to see how to claim back the money you are owed.

Use the tenancy deposit

If the tenancy ends with rent still outstanding, the landlord may be able to deduct any owed rent from the tenant’s deposit. Be sure to contact the tenancy deposit scheme that your tenant’s deposit is held in to find out more.

Talk to your letting agent

If you’re using an ARLA Propertymark Protected agent, then not only will they be professionally qualified in important aspects of lettings, including rent arrears, but they can offer advice on how to claim back your arrears, fairly and legally. In some cases, they may even be able to chase up arrears on your behalf.

You can find an ARLA Propertymark Protected agent near you with our Find an Expert tool.



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