Talk to your tenant
If you notice that the rent has not been paid, you should first get in touch with your tenant. A phone call or text reminder, followed by a letter or email will usually suffice; make sure you keep a record of written correspondence in case things escalate. Remember to be polite and courteous, issues such as this can be sensitive and any unreasonable behaviour could affect your position if you eventually go to court.
If the tenant is having money troubles, you may want to arrange a payment plan to ensure they can pay back what they can afford for the short term. Long-term, you may want to guide them towards applying for the housing element of Universal Credit to help them make up for the shortfall in rent.
Talk to the guarantor
If the tenant has a guarantor listed who has signed the tenancy agreement or a Deed of Guarantee then you can request that they pay the rent arrears. If the rent still has not been paid after 14 days, contact the tenant and guarantor again requesting rent payment. A letter or email is best in this instance so that you can record your correspondence.
Contact your landlord insurance provider or tenancy deposit scheme
Most landlord insurance will cover unpaid rent so your income is covered if your tenant falls into rent arrears. Get in touch with your insurance provider to see how to claim back the money you're owed.
If the tenancy ends with rent payments outstanding, you can request to deduct any unpaid rent from the tenant’s deposit. Contact the tenancy deposit scheme to find out more.
Begin eviction proceedings
If the tenant falls into two months of rent arrears and has made no effort to communicate or remedy the situation, then you can begin the eviction process by serving a Section 8 Notice on the ground of rent arrears. At this point, the tenant may pay back their arrears which would invalidate the Section 8 Notice if it went to court.
There may come a time when eviction is the only and final option so we have compiled this list of what, and what not to do. Don't forget the rules for eviction vary depending on where you are in the UK.
If the tenant challenges the eviction and the case goes to court, you will need to provide evidence of your correspondence with the tenant. You must be able to show that you made every effort to inform them of their arrears and the opportunity to pay. Therefore keeping correspondence is vital to help your case.
Alternatively, to avoid court, it may be worth asking if the tenant will willingly surrender the tenancy. By doing so you cut your losses and prevent the situation from escalating with the potential for further court costs.
Find your local ARLA Propertymark Protected expert for additional support
Propertymark members can give you advice on claiming back your arrears fairly and legally or handle rent arrears on your behalf. By using one of our members you are guaranteed to be consulting with a professional agent who will give you up-to-date advice and guidance.