Tenant’s late paying the rent, what are my rights?

by Ed Firmin

Posted on Friday, November 13th, 2015 at 10:00

A tenant paying late, or missing their rent payment altogether could have a massive impact on you, for example, it could mean that you are late paying your mortgage or other bills (including your letting agent!) which may adversely affect your credit rating.

So how should you handle a tenant that pays their rent late? You have to remember that there may be a valid reason for the late payment, and that you still have to retain a relationship with them, so it’s best not to go steaming in, all guns blazing, threatening to fine them.

The vast majority of tenants, when it’s pointed out to them that their rent is late will be hugely apologetic, it probably was an oversight, and they’ll immediately rectify the problem.

If there is a genuine issue with your tenant being unable to pay the bill, then it’s best to work with them to try and resolve the problem. For example, if they are a student, and are suffering hardship, then it’s worth advising them to speak to the university, there are hardship grants available, which may help them out. You could also help them get in touch with the right people to possibly make a Housing Benefit claim.

You may also offer to work out a repayment schedule which works for you and is affordable for the tenant too.

Keeping the lines of communication open and honest will benefit you both in this situation. However, it still is a professional relationship between you, so you will need to still send a record of the fact that the rent is in arrears. In fact, document everything, all phone calls, keep emails etc.

If the situation looks like it’s going to remain long-term and the tenant really can’t afford to keep up their rent payments, then you may, unfortunately have to consider starting the process to take possession of your property.

I would have a frank discussion with them to talk about options, they may well agree to leave their tenancy early, or pay you what you’re owed and then move out, this would be advisable rather than beginning official proceedings which could end up being very costly. You could even consider offering your tenant a financial incentive to leave, or agree to wipe the debt they owe you in order to get them to vacate the property.

Issuing a Section 21 notice (notice to seek possession) should really be the last resort, it’s not pleasant for either the landlord or the tenant, but talking and liaising with your tenant to resolve the situation amicably and openly will hopefully mean that you don’t have to reach this point.

If you would like any information about how to deal with tenants who pay their rent late, then please get in touch, and I can help talk through your options.

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