Problems with my tenant paying rent

by Readers Question

4 years ago

Problems with my tenant paying rent

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Problems with my tenant paying rent

I am a private landlord (only one property which I rented out reluctantly when I relocated). My tenant has been in the house for nearly four years. It started as a one year tenancy which we then mutually extended by a number of one year periods but I must admit I was lax and did not confirm in writing these extensions. I also failed to protect the deposit (for a number of reasons) but have recently done this. Problems with my tenant paying rent

The tenant has been problematic although always paid rent on time. We decided to end the tenancy due to the demands she keeps making and so I wrote to her giving just over 2 months notice to end the tenancy at the end of this agreed one year period. I modelled this on a formal section 21 notice. I have now found out that she has not paid the rent. She is stating that she needs money for a months rent up front and a deposit on a new place when she finds one and believes we owe her a deposit and a months rent. I have tried to explain the deposit is repayable at the end of her tenancy and she paid a month in advance for the first month when she moved in so owes rent until one month before she leaves in October (so still has to pay until September) but to no avail and now she has ceased contact.

I just don’t know what to do now. She won’t engage in any conversation about the rent, has apparently confirmed on writing she will not pay her rent for the next 2 months (I’ve not seen the letter yet I’m on holiday) but I’m worried that only just projecting the deposit means I can’t take action.

Any advice on what I should do? I should mention she is supposedly on benefits so I don’t understand why the benefits agency can’t help her as she reckons she will be homeless if we don’t let her do this?

Many thanks

Nikki



Comments

Mark Alexander

4 years ago

Hi Nikki

This is a classic scenario when two wrongs do not make a right.

Your tenant is wrong to withhold the last two months rent but you are wrong not to have protected the deposit.

You could take the tenant to Court for the last two months rent and any damages but your tenant could take you to Court for return of deposit plus compensation of up to three times the deposit for each tenancy you have created.

Your risk is far greater than the tenants.

Also, there is a very good chance that your section 21 notice will not be valid in the circumstances.

How confident are you that your tenant is actually going to move out?

You need to reach an amicable compromise and then get it documented because if you don't, and if the property is in England or Wales, then you will have this potential claim hanging over your head for the next 6 years!

I can help you to put a compromise agreement together which will protect you but only if you can agree something with your tenant. My suggestion would be last two months rent free PLUS refund of deposit.
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Rob Crawford

4 years ago

Hi Nikki, as Mark suggests your in a difficult position and everything is in the favour of your tenant. The problem with a compromise letter is that you will expose your position. Once exposed she is likely to want something in exchange for her agreement to the letter. Mark has asked the question, "how confident are you that your tenant is actually going to move out?" If you are sure she will move out within an acceptable period it may be worth waiting for her to check out and just retain her deposit to cover her arrears. If she does not move out and you threaten court action I am sure you will be rumbled, if not by her solicitor by the courts. So instead of Court action you may wish to take up Mark's offer and table the suggested compromise letter. But as I said, why would she want to sign it without some incentive?

Mark Alexander

4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Rob Crawford" at "24/08/2014 - 18:39":

The "incentive" would be the suggested additional months rent. There is no guarantee that a judge would award any more than that and if the tenant sues and win then legal fees will be deducted from the award anyway, especially by a no-win-no-fee solicitor. The tenant probably won't want the hassle either.
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Sally T

4 years ago

If she's if in receipt of housing benefit the outlook is bleak. As soon as she asks the council for help they will advise her she doesn't have to leave and from our experience they usually don't.
Firstly you want to go to the council with her letter saying she's refusing to pay rent, in exceptional circumstances they can pay the rent direct before they are 8 weeks in arrears. If she's already missed a month she'll most likely be a 8 weeks on arrears before her next payment, so they'll most likely award it directly to you immediately anyway.
Then to reduce the risk of it dragging on forever you may want to refund her deposit with a valid section 21. I know this leaves you open to legal action in the future but nothing an change that now.
I don't know where your from, in Lincolnshire the courts were very quick (all paper work responded to in 48hrs), but I know in London it can take up to 2 months for things you think should be instant, making eviction last a lot longer. I wouldn't take the risk of dodgy paperwork, the sooner she's out the better.


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