Most articles about problem tenants start off telling you how enjoyable and rewarding being a landlord is but we’re going to guess that you already knew that and what you’ve come to this website for is some proper advice regarding your problem tenants and what you can do about them right now.
We’ve wrote this guide to try and help you. As a company we specialise in tracing tenants when they have absconded owing money or after damaging property but our trace manager Dave Oates is a landlord and he’s helped us put this guide together to help landlords with problem tenants. Of course if your problem is that your tenant has done a runner owing you money then hop over to our tenant tracing page and we’ll get them traced to a new address for you. We work for lots of landlords tracing tenants who have absconded and are known as one of the premier companies for tracing tenants in the UK.
It is estimated that around 10% of tenants in the UK become problem tenants and these are some of the most common problems you will face.
They don’t pay their rent
In the liberal PC world we live in, this one is a big problem as you have to follow lots of procedures to get the tenant out and get your money back, so it is extremely frustrating, you can get done for harassment if you go at the tenant too hard for your money, although chances are the mortgage company will come down hard on you! Best thing is to act quickly and stand your ground. If the tenant has a genuine problem then try to help them, try some negotiation or alternative payment dates, anything to keep it out of the courts, unless of course you want rid of them. If negotiation is not appropriate and you think that the problem is going to get worse not better, if your confidence has gone and when you wake up on a morning you think of your tenant and not your family, evict them as quickly as you can within the boundary of the law.
They do a Moonlight flit on you
This is a common problem and one that is extremely frustrating, especially if they have done it when they owe rent or if they have damaged the property or stolen things. If this has happened to you, have a look at our tenant tracing page, we’d love to help you trace them and in over 90% of cases we can. We also offer our tenant tracing service on a No Trace No Fee basis and the results we supply are guaranteed. Sales pitch over!
They Damage your property
If your tenant has damaged your property contact your insurance company and the police immediately, just don’t put up with it for a single second. Additionally, if you believe your property is being used for any criminal activities (such as drugs, illegal sex, gang bangs, cock fighting etc.) it is imperative that you contact the police immediately. Do not confront the tenants yourself, they might be tougher than you and probably will be!
If you receive reports from neighbours then depending on the problem, you may be able to sort it out by talking to the tenants directly or in writing. Other ideas are to phone the police or commence legal action.
So, how can you get rid of problem tenants?
If you want to quickly remove them from a property for any reason then you are going to have to use the courts, unless you ask them of course and they agree to leave. It is important to say that it is worth getting some legal advice, a good solicitor might cost money but it will save you a lot of hassle and if you are waking up and thinking of your tenant and not your family then it is time to call in the cavalry. Remember that evicting tenants and getting your property back can be a right pain but you have to follow the correct process or you could find yourself in trouble, which is crazy as it is your house, and your next on the line with the mortgage company but that is the law in the UK.
Apply to the court for a notice to quit.
If your tenant owes you more than 2 months’ rent then the court should award possession in your favour, this can be issued at any time during the tenancy.
Once you have issued the tenant has 14 days to respond, if they don’t pay the arrears and refuse to go then you will need to apply to county court for a possession order. If this doesn’t budge them, it is back to court to apply for a bailiff to evict the tenant. All take time and all cost money of course.
If there are grounds other than rent arrears for wishing to gain possession of the property then the s.8 procedure could still apply.
S.21 procedure – notice to quit
This can be used to get the tenant out at the end of the agreement. You can do it at any time stating your intention to obtain possession at the end of the tenancy but you must do so by providing a minimum of two months’ notice.
At this stage if you still haven’t got your rent it might be worth using a debt collection agency, we can recommend one if you wish.
Getting your money back
This is another topic in itself and one that we will be looking at in another article but here are a few pointers for you.
This short list are some of the other options available to you, some of them are effective at getting your money back. You would need a current residential address or the tenants employement to do these things and this is something we can obtain for you. Once you have them we can recommend a Debt Collection agency that will be able to help you get your money back.
- Small Claims Summons
- Attachment of Earnings
- Charging Order
- Bankruptcy Demand
- Winding Up Demand
Every year, around 30,000 people are evicted from rented properties in the UK, and nearly 50% of landlords have asked a tenant to leave on at least one occasion.
Prevention is better than cure
I know we said we wouldn’t rub your nose in it but it is worth taking a few minutes to run through what you can do to prevent a tenant becoming a problem in the first place. This is what we would suggest but obviously nothing is fool proof.
Sometimes problems can be avoided altogether by taking some simple steps at the beginning of the tenancy agreement and also during it too.
- Carefully select your tenants – application form, credit checks and references from previous employers and landlords. Look at previous addresses, how long were they there. Also worth pulling a CCJ report to see if anyone else has had problems getting money out of them
- Visit the property regularly, make sure they have not damaged it and are respecting things.
- Sort out maintenance problems quickly, this shows them that you are dedicated to the property and might help them feel that they have to look after it
- Keep an inventory or just rent it out empty.
- Maintain professional, good and open relations with your tenants, be honest with them.
- Keep accurate, up-to-date written records of issues affecting your property.
- Minimise potential damage by ensuring your decor and contents are durable and can withstand everyday wear and tear.
- Use a letting agent, that way they can deal with most of the above.
- Consider using a rent guarantee scheme.
- Take out appropriate Landlord Insurance including legal expenses insurance.
- Arrange for rent to be paid by standing order so that you don’t have to call round to collect cash.
Whatever situation you are in regarding your tenants remember that it will be sorted out, it might just take a bit of time unfortunately because the odds are stacked in favour of tenants. Confront things and deal with them quickly, do not stick your head up your backside and give the tenant more time, if its worrying you sort it out today, there are companies, websites and organisations that can help you such as the Residential Landlords Association and the National Landlords Association.
Problem tenants are a real pain, we hope that this guide has helped you but don’t treat it as complete information, you would be best served joining the NLA or the RLA to speak with people who are vastly experienced in the area of problem tenants. If right now, today, you have a problem tenant you need to get some legal advice so that you can move forward with the matter as efficiently as possible. Remember, as we keep saying if you woke up this morning thinking of your tenant and not your family you have a problem tenant. Deal with it!
So let’s end where we began and how enjoyable and rewarding being a landlord is but as we said right at the beginning, you already knew that.
Good luck with your problem tenants.