Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Rent Arrears Action Plan

In view of the current financial situation, I have added a new members only service to my Landlord-Law site, a Rent Arrears Action Plan. This is in five parts (the first part being preliminary information) and contains detailed guidance to landlords on what they should do from the moment their tenant first falls into arrears, up to considering court action. It contains precedent letters which can be printed off and used, the possession notices, and checklists, so landlords can keep a record of what they have done.

It is important that rent arrears are dealt with promptly, not only for the landlord but also for the tenant. If rent arrears are allowed to build up (and I have seen some horrendous rent arrears in my time) then they will get to such a state that the tenant will never be able to pay them off. Whereas if the tenant starts dealing with them at an early stage, it may be possible for an installment plan to be arranged, which will allow the tenant to stay in the property. The landlord will then not be faced with the expensive of court proceedings, a large rent arrears bill, and all the bother of having to find a new tenant. Often when people fall into debt they will pay the person or company which is shouting the loudest. So if the landlord does not do anything, this will often result in the tenant giving other debts priority.

Even if the tenant cannot afford, long term, to stay in the property, if things are dealt with promptly then it may be possible for things to be kept under control until the landlord can evict the tenant under the cheaper section 21 procedure. This will allow the tenant to apply for local authority housing which, if the tenant has a family, they will be entitled to. However if the tenant is being evicted for serious rent arrears, the tenant may also have lost the right to be re-housed if the Local Authority consider he is responsible for the eviction himself (i.e. because he did not pay rent when he should have done).

Most landlords are reasonably humane people and will want to help their tenants if they can. However, many will not know what to do when tenants fall into arrears, or understand the situation their tenants are in vis a vis Local Authority re-housing. Hopefully this new service will be of assistance.

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