If a tenant has ceased paying rent for one of your rented properties, then action will need to be taken. Knowing the appropriate steps to take, as well as your rights and responsibilities, during this period is half the challenge. You will also need to submit a claim to gain vacant possession of the property and retrieve your lost earnings, which can be time-consuming and highly complex. However, a knowledgeable and experienced letting agent will be able to assist with each step of the process and significantly increase the chances of your claim being successful.
Talk to your tenant
It is possible that the lack of rent payment has an explanation, or at least a resolution that does not require a lengthy legal process. A letting agent will contact your tenant promptly to remind them of the rent owed and investigate why it has not been paid. They’ll have the time to dedicate to your case as well as the knowledge to navigate the issue your tenant might be facing that has led them not to pay. Spending this time and effort early on could be a major factor in resolving this issue amicably or without legal action. If the tenant has not resumed rent payments, or a resolution to their issue cannot be reached, then follow-up visits or contact will be arranged. However, it may be time to escalate to the next stage.
Contact your insurance provider
You will need to get in touch with your landlord insurance provider within the claim window. If your policy covers unpaid rent, then you will be able to claim back the lost income from your tenant falling into arrears. This will keep you financially solvent, reducing your stress during this period. However, this can prove to be a hassle in and of itself, on top of trying to deal with your tenant and other legal processes. If you have taken out a rent protection and legal expenses service with your letting agent, they will have followed the correct procedures and timelines to be able to make this claim on your behalf and ensure it is accepted.
File a notice
The next stage of the process begins once the tenant has fallen two months into arrears, which happens on the date the second missed payment was due. If there has not been a resolution, then it is time to file either a Section 8 or Section 21 Notice. While in many cases of rent non-payment, it is appropriate to file both, consult your letting agent to ensure this is the right course of action. Filing the incorrect notice can result in the entire claim being rejected.
Section 8 Notice
To serve a Section 8 Notice, you must provide the grounds you are relying on and use the correct notice period which can vary depending on the grounds used. This must be served before possession proceedings can begin. One of the major advantages of a Section 8 Notice is that it also provides a pathway to recover rent arrears.
Section 21 Notice
A Section 21 Notice is a no-fault eviction meaning there is no breach on the part of the tenant required for the notice to be issued. This must be within the correct time frame and give the correct amount of notice to the tenant. It is often a smoother process with no court hearing, meaning less stress for you. However, recovering arrears is then a separate process.
In the event that your tenant will not comply with your notice and it expires, you can initiate court proceedings. We would always recommend doing this with support from an experienced letting agent and a fully qualified solicitor. The correct paperwork, documentation, and evidence will need to be submitted to the county court. All forms have specific functions and will need to be filled out perfectly, or there is a risk that the entire application will be rejected.
You will have the opportunity to present your case to a hearing in front of a judge, and the tenant will be able to do the same. The evidence will be considered by the judge, and they will come to a decision as to whether possession of the property should be returned to the landlord. In order to achieve the desired outcome, it is essential you have well-documented and clear evidence and have followed all of the proper protocols. An experienced letting agent can help prepare everything to meet stringent legal requirements. They will also provide further advice and support during the proceedings as they develop.
Changes to legislation
The UK government has confirmed that it intends to abolish the Section 21 Notice. This is part of the Renters (Reform) Bill which is yet to be passed completely by parliament or receive royal assent. Therefore, it will likely not come into effect until early 2026. To compensate for the abolition of Section 21, the rules surrounding Section 8 will be changed. We will keep you up to date on this legislation as it progresses and provide top-quality advice on how to navigate any changes to the process.
Ultimately, the best way to respond to a tenant that is not paying rent is to have a professional help you. Pure Lettings provides a personalised service with experienced letting agents taking care of time-consuming and stressful tasks, while ensuring you retain the level of control you want. They’ll be able to contact the tenant on your behalf, coordinate with your insurance provider and a solicitor where relevant to ensure the best result for you. For quality property management from an experienced and reliable team, contact Pure Lettings today by calling 01689 400100 or sending an email to email@example.com.