Having a buy to let property can be a good way to bring in an extra income stream.
However, what can and should you do if your tenant stops paying their rent?
Telephone the tenant
As a first port of call, give your tenant a call or pop round to the property to speak to them. There may be a good reason for the delay, and keeping good landlord and tenant relations can be very useful in the long run.
A sensible and calm discussion can often bring about a payment of the arrears. Try to keep a note of when you have spoken to your tenant and what was agreed.
Send a written demand
If a conversation does not work, write a letter or email to your tenant, setting out the amount of rent arrears and reminding the tenant of their obligations under the tenancy agreement. Make sure you keep a copy of your letter.
Serve a notice
Rent arrears is a ground for possession for most types of tenancy. Before proceedings can be issued, a notice must be served on a tenant, warning them of your intention. Service of a notice seeking possession, setting out the amount of rent arrears can often encourage a tenant to pay up the arrears to save them from eviction, or to make an arrangement to pay the arrears over time.
Within certain types of possession claim, we can ask the Court to make an order for possession of the property, and a money judgment for the amount of rent arrears.
If your tenant has vacated the property, or you want to recover the arrears without obtaining possession, you can issue a claim for the arrears in the County Court. A County Court Judgment will affect a tenant’s credit rating and could affect their ability to obtain a tenancy with a new landlord.
If the tenant does not pay the amount ordered by the Court, there are various methods open to a landlord to enforce the judgment, which can also be used if your money judgment is obtained alongside a possession order.
How can I avoid this?
Unfortunately, this is the million dollar question. While one cannot predict whether someone will pay their rent, there are a few ways to try to give you the best chance of getting your rent.
- Carry out credit checks;
- Get a reference from the former landlord;
- Take a rent deposit (making sure you follow the DPS guidelines);
- If you are unsure, ask your tenant for a guarantor.