Rent Arrears & Costly Evictions

By:
Madalena Penny

Landlords Warned to Act Quickly

Landlords need to act fast when dealing with tenant arrears, advised Stephen Moss, Senior Partner of landlord legal network, ‘Legal 4 Landlords’.

Mr. Moss added:

“Landlords acting alone and without the protection and support of letting agents can fall victim to thousands of pounds of loss due to defaulting tenants if they fail to act quickly.”

Earlier this year, one landlord in Merseyside racked up a total loss of £33,000 when he let his 5-bedroomed house to a family he took pity on.  Within weeks of the family moving in, he received numerous complaints from neighbours about noise and abusive behaviour relating to the tenants.  Without employing any tenant reference checks or securing any deposit on the property, within 12 weeks he had still not received a penny in rent.

After a notice 8 was issued, a possession order, and an eviction warrant granted, 6 months had elapsed resulting in £7,200 in rent arrears, and a further £17,500 worth of repairs to the damage caused by the tenants.  To add further insult to injury, the tenants began legal proceedings against the landlord, claiming unlawful eviction and the theft of scrap metal from outside the premises, incurring more financial loss, via legal fees for the hapless landlord.

Fortunately, for this landlord, he had acted within the law and the case was dropped.  However many landlords operating solely unconsciously assume that notification of eviction either verbally or by letter will suffice.  Unfortunately, without following the proper legal process, a landlord can find himself in breach of ‘The Protection of Eviction Act 1977’ and be charged with an offence.

A notice 8 can only be served when a tenant has defaulted on rent.  The timescale on arrears relies on the frequency of rental payments agreed as per tenancy agreement.  If paid monthly, 8 weeks arrears must have accrued, if paid quarterly, 3 months must be owed before this notice is served.  This notice informs the tenant that under section 8 of schedule 2 of the Housing Act 1988 you intend to seek a possession hearing from the courts.  Similar to the legal grounds as outlined under a notice 21, if upon expiry of the notice the tenant has still not vacated the property, you can apply to the court for a possession order.  Again if the court is satisfied, an order will be granted.

If the proposed LHA cuts are applied next year, thousands of tenants in the private rented sector could fall into arrears.  It is important that landlords realise that a speedy response to problems arising from this can avert significant financial loss and costly evictions through mediation with tenants.

For further information contact:  Legal 4 Landlords on 0844 567 4001 or visit http://legal4landlords.com

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