STA, Section 8 and Court delays/Christmas

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    STA, Section 8 and Court delays/Christmas

    Hello, I'm hoping to clarify a few points with landlords who've had experience of non-payment of rent and Section 8 notice. Background: We emigrated in 2007. UK house sale fell through, but we've had good tenants under an STA renewed annually since 2012. In summer 2020, they had difficulties paying the rent, but we communicated and they got back on an even keel in November 2020. The tenants intended to buy the property in spring/summer 2021 but all communication ceased in August and they stopped paying rent in September. Despite repeated attempts to contact them by phone, mail and messaging, they refused to answer. In view of that, and the non-payment of October's rent, we issued a Section 8 notice on 5/10/2021. Some sums of money appeared in our account, still without any contact from the tenants, during November, but not enough to cover the arrears. As the 2 month notice period expires today, normally I would be applying to the court for a possession order next week. This is where it gets complicated! The tenants have finally contacted me, paid a full month's rent (although there are still sums owing from previous months) and asked for more time to find alternative accommodation. Am I right in thinking that if I renew the STA, even on a monthly basis, that would nullify the Section 8 notice, and I would have to start the process all over again in the event of further problems?
    We've had a very good landlord/tenant relationship during the last 9 years and taking steps to re-possess just before Christmas seems particularly harsh, but we rely heavily on the rental income and can't afford to risk further problems. Does anyone know roughly what the timescale is for processing of Court applications, please? Specifically for Northants. We can't get back to UK and certainly don't want to leave the property standing empty during the winter. As we're intending to sell the property, we don't foresee putting new tenants in either.
    Any advice would be most gratefully received!


    Do you have paperwork from HMRC permitting tenants not to deduct 20% rent for taxman? (Required for non-uk-resident landlords)

    Think (hope) you mean AST not STA.

    There's almost always no evictions over Xmas. (Court practice).

    Have you (even though you're getting no replies) communicated with tenants about your plans to sell? (Letter, email, txt.....). Being open when selling property has worked for me with tenants

    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...


      Assuming it's an AST (STA's are Scottish)...
      You don't have to renew the tenancy, just let it become periodic.
      And, you're right, don't renew it.

      To repossess, you'll either have to attend court or pay a solicitor to do so on your behalf.

      If the tenant doesn't owe two month's rent when the court hearing happens (even if they did when you served notice) the only grounds available to you are discretionary and the court is unlikely to evict.
      There are probably going to be no evictions over Christmas, and it's unlikely you'll get a court date until the new year (not based on any particular area).
      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).


        Thank you both very much for your replies. Yes, it's an AST Sorry...I live in the land of back-to-front acronyms.
        @the artfullodger...I didn't think for a moment that the court procedure would be that rapid, or that an eviction would take place within 3 weeks, even at some other time of year, but I was just trying to get some idea of the actual timescale.
        We agreed with the tenants three years ago that they could buy the property, and even during the first 'glitch' we kept in regular touch so were able to resolve things amicably.
        I have a record of every single polite, friendly and concerned attempt to contact them, but had no response to any phone calls, mails, messages or letters. I informed them of our intention to put the property on the open market if they no longer wish to buy it, but had no response to that either.
        @jpkeates....Thank you for your helpful reply. I didn't know that the rent had to be in arrears at the time of the hearing. As it would appear that the tenants are genuinely trying to get back on track, albeit without any contact on their part, we can only rely on the fact that non-payment has happened before, and that despite our attempts to resolve things, they refuse to respond.
        Perhaps a change of grounds is in order, as we surely must be able to dispose of our property as we wish? Especially as they were given first option to buy and have had 3 years to accomplish the purchase.


          Originally posted by Noisette View Post
          Perhaps a change of grounds is in order, as we surely must be able to dispose of our property as we wish? Especially as they were given first option to buy and have had 3 years to accomplish the purchase.
          There is no mechanism in English law to allow a landlord to evict someone to sell the property they're letting with vacant possession, other than the general "no fault/no reason" section 21 notice.

          You can sell the property with the tenant in situ, but might have to compromise on the price to compensate.

          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).


            Presumably, only selling the house to a 'buy-to-let' purchaser would be possible with tenants in situ. I'll do some more research! Many thanks once again.


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