Tenant in rent arrears and re-housed by council

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  • Tenant in rent arrears and re-housed by council

    This is a bit of an unusual situation and I'm not sure what to do... long story short, my tenant stopped paying their rent in June and has given me several reasons why they couldn't pay. I tried my best to be accommodating, as I thought it's best to do that and try to come to an amicable arrangement while they get back on their feet. I was told that they had applied for a DHP from the council to cover two months, they send me a screenshot to show that they had applied for it. The next I heard was that they had received a cheque for the DHP but had been unable to bank it for whatever reason and that they had to go and see the council to get the money paid directly to me. No payment has been received from the council so when I finally managed to speak to them directly I was told that there was no payment to be made to me.
    The next thing that happened was that I was ready to serve a section 8 notice but the council then re-housed my tenant and say that they are not allowed to send me a forwarding address. No formal notice has been received to terminate the agreement and the keys have not been returned so I am unsure what to do because I think that effectively the tenancy is still in place, rent arrears will continue to accrue and I will be unable to re-let the property.
    Has anybody else experienced this type of problem before? My main and most urgent thing is to get the tenancy terminated, but how do I do that if I can't contact them? the next thing is to try and recover the arrears, but I'm not holding my breath on that one really. If they have applied for a DHP and not passed the money on to me, is there any way I can recover that?
    Any advice would be greatly appreciated.


  • #2
    First of all serve notice on the tenant (using the address of your property).
    Ideally hand deliver it, so they won't get it redirected.
    They're unlikely to defend it, so you have a plan B.

    At the same time, post notice that you plan to inspect the condition of the property (minimum 24 hours notice) and, if they can't be there, not to worry, you'll let yourself in.

    Get a witness to both notices being served.

    Turn up to inspect with a witness.
    Should hello a lot and have a look round.

    That will help you decide whether or not to risk retaking possession without a court order.
    When I post, I am expressing an opinion - feel free to disagree, I have been wrong before.
    Please don't act on my suggestions without checking with a grown-up (ideally some kind of expert).

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Sophie.Durrant View Post
      ....my tenant stopped paying their rent in June and has given me several reasons why they couldn't pay. I tried my best to be accommodating, as I thought it's best to do that and try to come to an amicable arrangement while they get back on their feet. I was told that they had applied for a DHP from the council to cover two months, they send me a screenshot to show that they had applied for it. The next I heard was that they had received a cheque for the DHP but had been unable to bank it....
      Your problems started here. June is 2 and a half months ago. The S21 notice and process should have started the very minute the rent was not paid, and certainly when the word "council" was heard. Never deal with Councils. They are not your friend (nor a friend of tenants).

      It's bad enough that they "rehouse" folk, but here they have helped to make someone else homeless by rehousing someone who already had a home, and making it impossible for that home to be released to someone else. And then failed to assist.

      Comment


      • #4
        Serve s8 for all relevant rent arrears.. Ensure council housing dept are aware of rent arrears. They should be assessing the tenant's application as homeless... Clearly if he is a legitimate applicant, fine, but if "intentionally homeless" (rent arrears) perhaps another outcome...
        I am legally unqualified: If you need to rely on advice check it with a suitable authority - eg a solicitor specialising in landlord/tenant law...

        Comment


        • #5
          Thanks for the replies, the tenant actually re-surfaced today and contacted me!

          I have written a letter with a rent statement detailing what is overdue, explained that I need them to give formal written notice that they want to end the agreement early and return the keys so that I can at least re-let to someone else and start getting paid again. I also said that because they have moved out before the term of the agreement has expired, rent and late payment charges will continue to accrue until the agreement has been formally terminated by mutual agreement between both parties, at which point a re-let levy will be charged as stipulated in the contract. I figured that if I go in with high demands, I stand a better chance of getting back what I've already lost and eventually breaking even.

          They told me that they are going to pass this on to the Universal Credit people so that they can make a payment for the arrears, although I'm not holding my breath as I have already been told several times that the housing benefit people are going to pay me- so I'm also including a section 8 just in case, so that if the tenant hasn't given notice or returned the keys, I can get a possession order. I cited grounds 8, 10 and 11 and can show that the rent is in arrears so I think that means I am guaranteed to be granted possession, right?

          I'm not sure if I need to do a section 21 as well, I think not as it looks pretty much exactly the same as a section 8?

          I'm going to post the letter by recorded delivery tomorrow, so I can show it's been delivered, I think the tenant said they were going to get their post re-directed but I'll email a copy too, just to be sure.

          Is there anything else I need to do?

          Thanks again

          Comment


          • #6
            Don't use recorded delivery - the tenant can decline to sign for it and the notice won't be served.
            Use first class post from a post office with the royal mail free proof of posting.

            Serve s21 separately (and make very sure it's valid).
            You might need it.

            You s8 notice should work if the tenant owes two month's rent (i.e. ground 8).
            The other grounds probably won't succeed without ground 8 (you're asking a court to make someone homeless because they owe you less than two month's rent, eviction is disproportionate).
            When I post, I am expressing an opinion - feel free to disagree, I have been wrong before.
            Please don't act on my suggestions without checking with a grown-up (ideally some kind of expert).

            Comment


            • #7
              IMO late payment fees are not allowed, but you can charge 8%pa interest on accrued debt.

              Comment


              • #8
                Thanks again, just wondering why I also need to serve a section 21- I thought that I needed a section 8 with the tenant being in breach of contract?

                Late payment fees are stipulated in the contract as 5% of the rent amount so I'm pretty sure that they are allowed. There is noting in there about interest though, can I charge this if it's not in the contract?

                Comment


                • #9
                  You don't have to serve a s21 notice, but if the tenant were to try to defend the s8 notice (which can be defended) you might want a s21 notice that has expired to use that instead - but it is belt and braces.
                  When I post, I am expressing an opinion - feel free to disagree, I have been wrong before.
                  Please don't act on my suggestions without checking with a grown-up (ideally some kind of expert).

                  Comment

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