Any excuse to withhold rent!

by Readers Question

15:12 PM, 15th March 2016
About 3 years ago

Any excuse to withhold rent!

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Any excuse to withhold rent!

I have a tenant who has a year lease at £625 per month. He has decided to only pay £500 per month. I always have to chase him to get the other £125. It is always over 2 weeks late. excuses

This time I have been very clear that we are not happy about the late balance and it is creating a black mark against his name for our records. He is now starting to get nasty and making excuses for not paying such as the communal door being stiff!

We are always very quick to deal with things if informed but this being a communal door as with any dripping gutter etc we would need to have quotes and agreement of the other owners, there is also the question of acting as a factor.  Yes we are happy to repair the door, but he could in an old property always find something.

Can he legitimately withhold rent here?

Also can I give him notice to quit for being in arrears of part rent?

Pam



Comments

Neil Patterson

15:15 PM, 15th March 2016
About 3 years ago

The tenant is never in arrears enough from what you have said for a section 8 so you may have to tough it out for the rest of the time left on the tenancy, but remember to issue the section 21 before hand if you are still unhappy.

Monty Bodkin

15:45 PM, 15th March 2016
About 3 years ago

Neil,

That is only for mandatory section 8 ground 8.
Pam would still have the option of discretionary section 8 grounds 10 and/or 11.

As in practice ground 8 is useless against a determined tenant anyway, section 21 is the way to go.

Gary Dully

21:42 PM, 15th March 2016
About 3 years ago

Hello Pam,

There is no legitimate or legal reason for withholding lawfully due rent.
Including repairs not being carried out.

If he or she feels that you have a case to answer, they are supposed to use the CPR for disrepair and / or Environmental Health.

Next, access to the property would normally be allowed by giving a minimum 24 hours written notice of repairs being required to the relevant or all the tenants you require access from. This matter should already form part of your written tenancy agreement, so shouldn't be a problem.

As for further excuses, you should approach the tenant and ask for a written list of works that they feel are currently required.

Set a schedule of works with high priority jobs taking precedent and offer to do further works at a later date.

As for late payments, are they topping up LHA at a different part of the month?
That could explain the persistent delays, if that is the case the Section 8 route for persistent late rents, will more than likely fail in front of a judge.
The Grounds mentioned are at the Discretion of the court and they are highly unlikely to make someone homeless based on a 14 day time lag.

If they are not on LHA or Universal Credit, then as Monty has described, you could issue a Section 8 on grounds 10 and 11 of the Housing Act.

If they qualify for a Section 21, you could issue it and go for another tenant, but remember that if they get an improvement notice via Environmental Health against you, you can't use the section 21 route anyway.

Mrs Loon

22:06 PM, 15th March 2016
About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Gary Dully" at "15/03/2016 - 21:42":

Thank you Gary, he is not on any benefits, just a chancer who sees a lone agent as easy meat.

Sarah Unsworth

15:18 PM, 16th March 2016
About 3 years ago

If your tenant is withholding money, give them two months notice to leave and get them out, then re advertise. Always waiting for the rent is too much hassle and you can do with out it.

Kelly Joanna

15:18 PM, 16th March 2016
About 3 years ago

No he has no grounds to withhold rent.
He is making excuses and is not fulfilling his part of the contract.
If he is persistent in overdue payments, you could risk an eviction using Ground 8 for persistent overdue payments or not paying on time, however, this is not a mandatory possession ground so very much depends on the judge on the day.
You don't state how far into the twelve month contract you are, however, my advice to you is to serve a section 21(b) to end the tenancy (section 21 (a) if you are out of the fixed term).
The dates will very much depend on when your tenancy was executed (i.e before or after October last year!)

Paul Franklin

16:01 PM, 16th March 2016
About 3 years ago

A legitimate defence to claims for rent arrears can be breaches by the landlord of their repairing obligations under s.11 Landlord and Tenant Act 1985. So no they 'can't' withold rent without being in breach of the tenancy agreement but yes they can defend your claim for the rent arrears if you are in breach of your repairing obligations.

The notice you can serve depends on what tenancy they have. If it's an AST (likely to be if it started after 1997 and they have exclusive occupation), then you may be in the position to serve a Section 21 notice (not a 'notice to quit'). But this can only expire at the end of or outside of any fixed term you may have agreed. If the AST agreement is within a fixed term then a Section 8 notice may be served but would probably only be helpful if the tenants was more than 2 months/8 weeks in arrears (Ground 8 which is a mandatory ground for possession).

Bare in mind you will need to obtain a possession order and a bailiff warrant if the tenant doesn't willfully give up the accommodation at the end of a written notice. So you'll need to ensure your notice is valid (there are a few new rules around s.21s for example if the tenancy has been renewed since 1st Oct 15).

Iqbal Ahmed

17:33 PM, 16th March 2016
About 3 years ago

Like all other who has mentioned, there is no lawful reason to withhold your rent and it is worth getting some legal advice if you are unsure on how to act.

This is really once again a situation where we see a need for good referencing to highlight troublesome tenants such as these. It is also a reminder to all Landlords that if you ever get requested for a reference on a previous tenant, make sure you give one!

The next landlord will be more than thankful for warning them if they are a troublesome tenant.

Mrs Loon

17:41 PM, 16th March 2016
About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Iqbal Ahmed" at "16/03/2016 - 17:33":

Thanks Iqbal, I totally agree with giving references and weeding out bad tenants but I do wonder what I will do if a prospective landlord asks me for a reference for him. Given that he needs somewhere else to stay before he is off my hands!

Steam Engine

19:02 PM, 16th March 2016
About 3 years ago

My advice would be try to get references from the last two places they have lived at.

I got caught with a bad tenant who had a glowing reference for the simple reason the landlord found, like me, he was a tenant from hell!

Landlords tell lies just as tenants do, but the smart landlord sees through them after first learning the lesson.

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