We know that eviction is a last resort for landlords and is often expensive and stressful. This online tool can help you with some advice about alternatives courses of action that you can try before you go down the eviction route.
We’ve taken some common problems that you might encounter during a tenancy and given some solutions that you can follow to resolve those problems.
Above all, it’s important that you keep open communication with your tenant when there are problems.
If a tenant is regularly behind with their rent and arrears, keep building up. Sometimes a tenant has gone through a change in their circumstances which has caused them to be in arrears at a particular time, but they currently pay their rent on time and in full – where this is the case, call this “static arrears”.
If your tenant is already behind with their rent, you can agree on a repayment plan to repay the arrears over time. This should be at an amount that they can afford and that you’re happy with. Agree on a written repayment schedule and share this with your tenant so that the amount they should repay each month is clear. This works particularly well where the arrears are static (no longer increasing).
If your tenant has contacted you to tell you that they can no longer afford their rent but are not in arrears yet, discuss why they can no longer afford the rent with them and ascertain whether they can afford it. Their drop-in income may have been caused by a temporary change in their personal circumstances such as changing jobs or a relationship breakdown. In this case, you can come to an agreement with them about bridging the gap until they are able to pay the total rent again. You can put a repayment plan in place for any arrears when their income stabilises.
Your tenant may need to claim Universal Credit or Housing Benefits to help them to afford their rent. Universal Credit has a minimum wait time for payment of 5 weeks. Still, the first payment will be a backdated payment covering those five weeks, and your tenant should be able to pay their rent when their first Universal Credit payment comes through.
If your tenant is in rent arrears, you can request that Universal Credit or Housing Benefit be paid directly.
Many agencies can help when someone is experiencing financial struggles, and these can be accessed easily online or by phone.
- Visit: Welfare Rights
- Visit: Citizens Advice Bureau
- Visit: Step Change Debt Advice
- Visit: Money Advice Service
- Visit: Universal Credit Advice for Landlords
If your tenant is claiming Housing Benefits, which have stopped or been reduced, you can contact the Housing Benefit Landlord Liaison line at 0115 7184444, and they can help.
The majority of mortgage lenders have now removed this clause from their buy to let mortgages, and you can find information about the reasons for this here.
- Nationwide is the latest lender to remove restriction - Read Article my visiting: Landlordtoday
Many insurance brokers are now offering insurance for landlords letting DSS tenants. It may be a good opportunity to shop around for a better deal rather than go through the costly and stressful eviction process. You can use consumer comparison sites to do this.
It’s worth noting that it is now considered discriminatory to post an advert for a property to let, which explicitly excludes tenants on benefits. There have been recent test cases in court where tenants have succeeded in winning significant out-of-court settlements on these grounds.
- Renters win out of court settlements from letting agents in 'No DSS' cases backed by Shelter - Read the article by visiting Property Industry Eye
You could sell your property to another landlord with your tenant in situ. Ask your estate agent about this, as they may be able to put you in touch with landlords who are purchasing properties.
Consider the benefits of keeping the property for a more extended period. Its value will rise in the long term. If you are selling because of issues in the tenancy, you may want to try to resolve these before selling.
There are special rules that set out how to increase rent, and a notice containing specified information needs to be served.
- You can find more information about this here on Gov. uk - Visit.Private renting: Rent increases - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
Have a look at market rents for similar properties in the area.
Letting Agencies will often quote a higher achievable rent for your property but be aware that their quote for achievable rent will include their fees, so the increase may not be as profitable as it first appears.
Consider the cost of reletting your property should you have to evict your current tenant and find a new tenant who can afford your increased rent. You may have to factor in -
- The cost of evicting your current tenant
- Agency reletting fees
- Lost rent whilst the property is empty
- Cost of improvements that you may need to make in order to achieve a higher rent
You may be better off increasing your rent by a lower amount than your current tenant can afford or retaining the current rent but retaining a more stable long-term tenancy.
Your tenant may contact you about disrepair at your property. It is a legal requirement that a property let as someone’s home is fit for human habitation. This means keeping it in good repair without safety hazards.
- If you would like more information about minimum safety standards for rented homes, you can find guidance about the HHSRS Standard by visiting: The Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) - House of Commons Library (parliament. UK)
A home could be unfit for habitation for several reasons, and if this is the case, your tenant may be entitled to compensation under the Fitness for Human Habitation Act 2018.
- More details of this legislation can be found by Visiting: Guide for Tenants: Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
It can be upsetting to hear from Environmental Health that disrepair has been reported to the Council. However, keeping open communication with the Council and your tenant is important during the process of completing repairs.
If you want to complete improvement work or repairs, consider whether you could complete the work around your tenant rather than evicting them to make the repair easier as an empty property.
Sometimes a tenant will request that you serve notice because they believe that they will be able to obtain a tenancy with a different landlord on the grounds that you have evicted them.
We would ask for your assistance in these circumstances. There is significant pressure on homelessness services, and we have a shortage of accommodation for homeless families. If your tenant does this, please do all you can to confirm that they have found a permanent home to move into. This could mean having sight of a letter with an offer of accommodation on it. If they have not secured permanent accommodation to move into, and they intend to approach the Council as Homeless, we may not be able to assist them with rehousing as we may consider that they have deliberately contrived their own homelessness.
If your tenant has requested the notice because of other issues in the tenancy, you can try to resolve these issues according to the advice in this tool rather than serve notice.
If your property is in the Nottingham City area, the NPRAS Team at Housing Aid offers practical help and support to landlords to maintain tenancies in Nottingham City.
You can contact us for help and advice on any of the issues outlined in this guide or at any other time your tenant is at risk of eviction.