Landlord Action founding Director – Paul Shamplina – gives free seminars all over the country advising landlords on How To Avoid Problem Tenants. Here are his Top 5 Tips for avoiding rent arrears:
At Landlord Action, we are the market leaders in tenant evictions. In our ten years of trading, we have evicted over 15,000 bad tenants. When it comes to the ugly job of evicting bad tenants we have some invaluable advice: ACT FAST!
We find that, all too often, landlords do not act quickly enough when they begin to have tenant problems. Every day, we receive calls from distressed landlords whose tenants are in arrears by several months.
How long does a Landlord have to wait before he can start taking action against his tenant for rent arrears? The answer is two month’s rent arrears – this is the time to start taking action!
For example, if rent was due on 1st October, you can instruct us to serve your tenant with notices on 2nd November since rent is payable in advance (and at this point, technically, your tenant will be in two months rent arrears).
Recently, we took on a case where a tenant is in rent arrears of 12 months. The landlord has only just decided to instruct Landlord Action to serve eviction notices. But, why would the tenant pay after a year if they didn’t pay when they were in rent arrears of three or four months? The landlord has extremely little chance of collecting the unpaid rent.
Further, the landlord did not make any tenant references before allowing the tenant to rent his property. He wasn’t even aware where the tenant was employed. This makes it even more difficult to recoup his outstanding debt. Landlord Action’s debt recovery services have tripled in 2009: however, the chances of recovering debt are made a lot harder when the landlord has not undergone any previous referencing of their tenant.
It reinforces our message that tenant referencing is vital. As a result, we have also seen a major growth in the number of landlord’s instructing us to thoroughly reference their tenants as to avoid any future problems.
For all of your rented properties, on the day that the tenant is due to pay rent, landlords should check their bank accounts to ensure that the rent has been paid on time and in full. This sort of credit control is vital – especially if landlords take responsibility for managing their own properties.
COMMUNICATION WITH TENANT
Communication with your tenant is paramount. Landlords should always be aware of what your tenants situation is: perhaps your tenant has lost their job? Perhaps, the couple has split up?
If the tenant is in rent arrears, landlords should call the tenant to find out why they haven’t paid the rent. You should call a few times and send them a few letters before you instruct a company like Landlord Action to serve notices and start the eviction procedure. This is to demonstrate to the courts that you have given your tenant sufficient time to pay their outstanding arrears.
Whatever the specifics, it is only through clear communication with your tenant that you will be able to take action to either help them and give them extra time to pay their outstanding rent; or, to evict them. If you start checking up why they’re in rent arrears straight away, you can then serve notices quicker than if you waited. This then gives you a better chance of evicting the tenants quickly and preventing rent arrears from building up.
KNOW YOUR RIGHTS
It is only when you are fully aware of what your rights are as a landlord that you can start taking decisive action.
Landlord Action has set up a free advice line for landlords who are having trouble with their tenants. Call us today and find out how we can help you: 020 8906 3838
Paul Shamplina set up Landlord Action in 1999. He has been featured on BBC1’s War at The Door, and; Inside Out; ITV’s Tenants From Hell. He is a regular commentator on landlord related issues and is currently campaigning against Local Housing Allowances.