I don't use an agent so my tenant pays their rent directly to me - what can I do if they don't pay?
Recovering rental arrears from a non-paying tenant is one of the biggest challenges that faces letting agents and landlords. If your tenants pay their rent directly to you rather than going through an agency you should be aware of how to go about pursuing missed payments without getting in trouble with the law.
- Initially you need to try and find out what's gone wrong and why the tenants aren't paying the rent- there may be understandable reasons such as the tenant losing their job that you are able to accommodate- but you need to strike the balance by helping the tenants out without them taking advantage.
- Ensure you record the details of conversations you have with the tenants including the date and time you spoke with them. Try and send letters via recorded delivery and always keep a copy of letters for your records.
- If you are going to visit the property make sure that you give the required notice before attending. Reasonable notice is usually defined as 48 hours- but its best to check what the tenancy agreement states. Remember that tenants are entitled to 'quiet enjoyment' of their property regardless of whether the rent is being paid and turning up unannounced could be deemed to be harrassment.
- Try and get a grasp of the tenant's financial situation- it's a reasonable request to ask for the tenant's incomings and outgoings to find out whether the rent is affordable for them.
- Finally, you should recognise when it might be the right time to take legal action against the tenant; if you've followed the above steps and payments are still outstanding you may have grounds to start legal proceedings. At this point you should speak to your managing agent if you use one or seek independent legal advice.
31st January 2017
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