What To Do When a Tenant Doesn’t Pay Their Rent
If your tenant has failed to pay their rent then you need to take action to deal with the issue. What action is appropriate will depend on how overdue the rent is and how many payments have been missed.
If possible you want the tenant to quickly pay the overdue rent and stick to paying it on time in the future.
If the rent is over two months overdue then you may want to consider giving the tenant notice to vacate the property. This needs to be done in a specific way.
The Rent is Under Two Months Overdue
You may be asking yourself how much rent arrears is needed before you can take eviction action. You cannot give a tenant a notice that you want to take back possession of the property until a rent payment is at least two months overdue.
Ideally you are dealing with non payment very quickly after the rent has become due and not paid, and eviction isn’t what you have in mind at the moment. Send the tenant a formal demand in the form of a letter. The letter should take a friendly yet firm tone. Non payment could be an oversight and now is an opportunity to ensure that the tenant deals with ensuring that the rent is paid on time going forward.
Our Rent overdue Letter template sets out all that you need to say to the tenant. We recommend sending this within three to seven days of the rent becoming overdue.
If the tenant has a guarantor it is a good idea to send them notice of the fact that the tenant has failed to pay their rent and that if payment remains outstanding that they are on notice of your right to recover the rent from them.
If payment reaches one month overdue send them a final demand for payment. This letter takes a much more formal tone and notifies the tenant that non payment is a ground for recovering possession of the property is needed.
The Rent Is Over Two Months Overdue
If the rent has become two or more months overdue then you should already have sent a letter demanding payment to the tenant. If you haven’t then do so now. If the tenant has a guarantor then request payment of the rent arrears from them. If that doesn’t bring about payment then you’ll need to consider the subsequent steps in this guide.
If There Is A Guarantor
If there is a guarantor and you have requested payment but they have not paid and neither has the tenant then you could issue debt recovery proceedings against the guarantor. However, if you are in this possession then it is unlikely that you want to keep the tenant in question and so you may prefer to consider issuing proceedings for payment of the rent by the guarantor alongside giving notice to the tenant to repossess the property.
If There Is No Guarantor
If there is no guarantor then you should consider taking action to evict the tenant and regain possession of the property.
Once the rent is more than two months overdue you have a right under the Housing Act 1988 to serve notice on the tenant to end the tenancy. You can send the tenant a section 8 notice to end the tenancy.
If the tenant does not then vacate at the expiry of the notice period set out in the section 8 then you can commence possession proceedings.
Non payment of rent is one of the ‘mandatory’ grounds covered by the section 8 notice which if you find yourself having to issue possession proceedings then the notice you have previously served requires the court to then issue a possession order. Assuming the notice has been correctly served.
If you do find yourself with a tenant that will not leave the property at the expiry of the notice to vacate then you’ll need to take eviction proceedings. Read our guide to Evicting Tenants if that applies to you.