My tenant's in arrears with rent and all utilities too

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    My tenant's in arrears with rent and all utilities too

    I'm sorry if I ask question that have already been answered in here. I'm very new to being a landlord, and a little bit simple!

    I have a tenant in my property - moved in Feb 2006, on a 12 month AST.

    He's been late paying his rent every month, but he missed our July and also has now missed out his rent, due in October. I'm not holding my breath for Novembers!

    We verbally agreed he could pay us back the rent for July in stages, of which he has paid some, but not all.

    He now owes £1100 in rent arrears and I have since discovered he has not been paying ANY of the bills, since moving in. No Council Tax, Water, Electricy, Gas etc.

    When I spoke to the Utility companies, they advised me that I, as the landlord, would be responsible for them if he had not paid. Is this true?

    Secondly, what should I do. Is it worth hanging on to the end of the tenancy to see if he pays any more rent? Do I even have any more options - like eviction?

    I have tried speaking to him on numerous occasions. He never answers his calls, he does not return mine.

    Any help would be really appreciated, thanks so much.

    Elle

    #2
    Originally posted by elle1 View Post
    I'm sorry if I ask question that have already been answered in here. I'm very new to being a landlord, and a little bit simple!

    I have a tenant in my property - moved in Feb 2006, on a 12 month AST.

    He's been late paying his rent every month, but he missed our July and also has now missed out his rent, due in October. I'm not holding my breath for Novembers!

    We verbally agreed he could pay us back the rent for July in stages, of which he has paid some, but not all.

    He now owes £1100 in rent arrears and I have since discovered he has not been paying ANY of the bills, since moving in. No Council Tax, Water, Electricy, Gas etc.

    When I spoke to the Utility companies, they advised me that I, as the landlord, would be responsible for them if he had not paid. Is this true?

    Secondly, what should I do. Is it worth hanging on to the end of the tenancy to see if he pays any more rent? Do I even have any more options - like eviction?

    I have tried speaking to him on numerous occasions. He never answers his calls, he does not return mine.

    Any help would be really appreciated, thanks so much.

    Elle
    In you own interests, perhaps serve him with section 8 notice (grounds 8, 10, and 11). That might stir him into action.
    JEFFREY SHAW, solicitor [and Topic Expert], Nether Edge Law*
    1. Public advice is believed accurate, but I accept no legal responsibility except to direct-paying private clients.
    2. Telephone advice: see http://www.landlordzone.co.uk/forums/showthread.php?t=34638.
    3. For paid advice about conveyancing/leaseholds/L&T, contact me* and become a private client.
    4. *- Contact info: click on my name (blue-highlight link).

    Comment


      #3
      Originally posted by elle1 View Post
      He now owes £1100 in rent arrears and I have since discovered he has not been paying ANY of the bills, since moving in. No Council Tax, Water, Electricy, Gas etc.

      When I spoke to the Utility companies, they advised me that I, as the landlord, would be responsible for them if he had not paid. Is this true?
      If the bills are in his name, then certainly not - it's between the utility co and the tenant. If you didn't do so when he moved in, I would contact each of the above 4 as landlord, and notify them of the moving-in date, and give them his name. A 'professional' tenant might not bother having done so in the hope of escaping paying any of them.

      Originally posted by elle1 View Post
      Secondly, what should I do. Is it worth hanging on to the end of the tenancy to see if he pays any more rent? Do I even have any more options - like eviction?

      I have tried speaking to him on numerous occasions. He never answers his calls, he does not return mine.
      If I were in your shoes - and hey! I am! (see thread "My Section 8 woes") I would absolutely be wanting rid of this tenant ASAP. The fact that he's avoiding you; the arrears are worsening; he's not paying other bills - all these add up to the fact that the problem is going to get worse rather than better.

      You should certainly serve a Section 21 notice, which kicks in at the end of the 12-month AST - you don't have to give a reason for wanting him out, and unless you screw up the S21 notice, then posession is mandatory.

      Other than that, you can serve a Section 8 notice, which is for breach of the tenancy agreement (in your case, non payment of rent.) If he's two months in arrears, that's when you can serve the notice, and again, that's mandatory reposession for you providing he is two months in arrears at the date of the court hearing (and beware he might pay you enough arrears just before that, to get within the the limit, which blows you out of the water and you have to start the process again (and lose your £150 court fee) (or wait until the S21 kicks in after 12 months. There are other 'grounds' you can get reposession under S8, but they are discretionary - there's lots of stuff on all this in the archives of this forum, so have a search.

      Oh, and if you phone the county court (local to the property), they'll be able to tell you what the lead time before the court hearing would be if you were to serve a Section 8 today - it will be most likely many weeks. You can then judge whether its worthwhile to go for S8, or to wait until the end of the tenancy. If you decide NOT to serve S8, and if you haven't already served a S21, then it might be prudent to hold off serving S21 for now - if he knows he's being evicted, then he might be less likely to pay you more rent. Do it no less than 2 months before the end of the tenancy.

      Good luck

      Comment


        #4
        Questions from a new Landlord

        February is quite a long time away. I'd certainly go along with Erics advice to go for a Possession Order via Section 8. Unfortunately it is the Possession Order and not "possession", which is mandatory providing there are 2 months rent arrears. However that will be a start and the best you can do in the circumstances.

        Comment


          #5
          Thank you everybody for all your help.

          Another couple of questions, sorry!

          The tenant in question (grrr, shakes fist) owed for July and for last month - although he has paid just a little less than half of July back to us over the last few months - which would mean that he is not 2 months in arrears, more likely 1.5 months in arrears. Does this mean that I cannot serve a S8?

          If this is the case, and then the tenant does not pay this month, due on the 26th, this would officially make it 2 months in arrears, how long do I have to wait before I can serve a S8?

          Comment


            #6
            From my understanding only, you cannot issue a S8 until the tenant is at least 2 months in arrears at the time of serving the notice and you won't get a judgement unless he is 2 months in arrears at the time of the hearing.

            You say that he is about 1.5. months in arrears already? If he doesn't pay this month's that would make it 2.5 months? so you would be able to serve the notice then and hope that he doesn't pay just enough to take him under the 2 months at the time of the hearing. If he was up on the law and a bit clever, he could get away with paying 3 weeks rent and stay under the 2 months required arrears.

            Have you calculated EXACTLY how much he does owe? I think it would be a useful exercise for you, while we wait for more knowledgable posters to give their views and opinions or indeed correct me if I am wrong.


            Originally posted by elle1 View Post
            Thank you everybody for all your help.

            Another couple of questions, sorry!

            The tenant in question (grrr, shakes fist) owed for July and for last month - although he has paid just a little less than half of July back to us over the last few months - which would mean that he is not 2 months in arrears, more likely 1.5 months in arrears. Does this mean that I cannot serve a S8?

            If this is the case, and then the tenant does not pay this month, due on the 26th, this would officially make it 2 months in arrears, how long do I have to wait before I can serve a S8?
            Any information or opinion given in this post is based only on my personal experience, what I have learned from this, other boards and elsewhere. It is not to be relied on. Definitive advice is only available from a Solicitor or other appropriately qualified person. E&OE

            Comment


              #7
              Irrespective of when or if you decide to serve a section 8 notice, you must also serve a section 21 notice. This has no effect on a section 8 procedure, but is technically the only absolutely certain way of getting a tenant out. This is because a landlord does not have to give a reason for wanting his property back. It would now appear to be possible to do this on line which should speed things up a bit, however the notice period is a minimum of two months, so you need to act as soon as possible so that you can start court action as soon as the fixed period of the AST ends.

              P.P.
              Any information given in this post is based on my personal experience as a landlord, what I have learned from this and other boards and elsewhere. It is not to be relied on. Definitive advice is only available from a Solicitor or other appropriately qualified person.

              Comment


                #8
                Yes, do serve a Section 21 notice, but be very careful that you put the correct dates on your notice, as if you get it wrong you could find yourself with a void notice and a tenant still in place. Search for the following phrase, but without the carriage returns (put in to avoid THIS thread also coming up in searches)
                "Sword
                of
                Damocles"
                You could go blind reading all the threads!

                You should also serve S8 once he's 2 months late, with grounds 8, 10 and 11.

                Note that ISSUING THE NOTICE doesn't cost you anything, so issue both, it's just taking the subsequent court action that costs.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by pippay View Post
                  You say that he is about 1.5. months in arrears already? If he doesn't pay this month's that would make it 2.5 months? so you would be able to serve the notice then and hope that he doesn't pay just enough to take him under the 2 months at the time of the hearing. If he was up on the law and a bit clever, he could get away with paying 3 weeks rent and stay under the 2 months required arrears.
                  This was almost exactly the situation I was in. But the way I saw it, if the tenant was 'clever' enough to reduce the arrears to under 2 months at the time of the hearing, then that was fine by me - at least I would be being paid. Otherwise the arrears would be 4 months (a lot more than the £150 court fee). And it certainly wouldn't stop me from evicting via S21 as soon as I was able.

                  The other point to note about issuing an S8 is that it includes a claim for arrears, so if the court finds in your favour, your tenant gets a court order to pay the arrears and ultimately a CCJ. Via S21, you have to do that separately (as I understand it - but I'm only a month or so further down the line than you in this process!)

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Thanks everyone.

                    Now last question, promise!

                    My other half wants to hang on until the end of the tenancy in Feb. In the vague hope that the tenant will pay something and clear the arrears. We're a bit worried that if we start issuing S8 and S21 notices that he will just do a bunk, after all he has paid some of his rent, if late.

                    If we do this, and let the tenancy run its course, can I just send him a letter saying that his tenancy is up in Feb and he will be unable to renew it?

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Originally posted by elle1 View Post
                      My other half wants to hang on until the end of the tenancy in Feb. In the vague hope that the tenant will pay something and clear the arrears. We're a bit worried that if we start issuing S8 and S21 notices that he will just do a bunk, after all he has paid some of his rent, if late.
                      Well in your own words: "...in the vague hope..." - I think as a business decision, you're making the wrong one, but that's your choice. If you serve the S8, it does at least show you mean business and that you won't be walked over. And if he does quit, TBH consider you might be better off in the long run if he stays indefinitely without paying any more rent: bear in mind that the worst-case scenario is that if he puts his mind to it, he could stay for months to come, rent-free, before the (expensive) legal process gets him out. (When my current errant tenant was approaching 2 months arrears - with no job and no prospect of paying me back - I went round to see her and told her that I'd be serving the S8 next week, OR I'd pay her £500 cash to be out by the weekend, no strings attached. She declined unfortunately, and the way things are going, instead I'm likely to end up 4-5 months rent out of pocket before I finally get her out.)

                      Originally posted by elle1 View Post
                      If we do this, and let the tenancy run its course, can I just send him a letter saying that his tenancy is up in Feb and he will be unable to renew it?
                      No. For it to have legal standing, you must serve an S21 - it's just a simple one-page form (but make sure you get the wording and dates 100% correct!). That needs to be served at least 2 months before the end of the tenancy; if he doesn't move out at the end you can then apply to the courts immediately.

                      I think in your situation it would have been good to have got the S21 served at the start of the tenancy (and you could have decided whether or not to action it later), then it wouldn't be an issue now.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Can I use the downloadable Section 21 & Section 28 forms on this site?

                        Apart from filling them in, is there anything else I need to go?

                        Sorry, it's like a new langugage to me!

                        Comment


                          #13
                          And also when I have issued the S21, does that mean the tenant has 2 months from the date of the letter, to move, or he has to move out at the end of the tenancy?

                          I was going to use this form http://www.landlordzone.co.uk/pdf/Section21Notice.pdf

                          The date of expiry was worrying me, because everybody has said in this thread already make sure you word it correctly and use the right dates!

                          I think I might go for issuing a S8 too. I'm in a legal mood tody

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Questions from a new landlord

                            Elle 1
                            If your 12 month AST commenced say 10 February, 2006, it will end on the 9th February, 2007. You should serve the S21(1)(b) Notice on or before the 19th of December and date it so that it expires "after the 9th February, 2007". You may as well serve the Notice now.
                            Your best course of action is surely to apply maximum legal pressure - so fill in the forms while you're in the mood.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              PLEASE NOTE:: He meant 10th December NOT 19th ..

                              Originally posted by johnjw View Post
                              Elle 1
                              If your 12 month AST commenced say 10 February, 2006, it will end on the 9th February, 2007. You should serve the S21(1)(b) Notice on or before the 19th of December and date it so that it expires "after the 9th February, 2007". You may as well serve the Notice now.
                              Your best course of action is surely to apply maximum legal pressure - so fill in the forms while you're in the mood.
                              Any information or opinion given in this post is based only on my personal experience, what I have learned from this, other boards and elsewhere. It is not to be relied on. Definitive advice is only available from a Solicitor or other appropriately qualified person. E&OE

                              Comment

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