Arrears - frequency of communication

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    Arrears - frequency of communication

    Hi All

    I have tenants in one of my BTLs that have generally been fine in terms of paying their rent each month, up until last year. They went quiet on me, infrequent or no replies to text messages etc ... except when they wanted something of me! Eventually I wrote to them (signed for delivery) and this prompted them to engage with me. We agreed an arrears repayment plan and all was fine.

    Recently they've gone quiet on me again and missed last months rent payment. Tbh I'm at the stage where I'd be happy enough if they vacate. On my most recent property inspection the property wasn't great cleanliness wise although material building issues seemed minimal.

    Here's my question. Between the time a tenant stops paying rent to the time a LL commences the eviction process (for rent arrears) what would you say is a reasonable frequency of communication from the LL to the tenant in an attempt to get them to pay, discuss repayment options etc? If it transpires they're not going to pay rent for the coming months, I'm happy to get them out asap. However I don't want them to have leverage if it gets to the eviction process stage by saying 'our LL hardly communicated with us on this.'

    I appreciate there's no definitive answer to this sort of question (all situations are different) but I'm thinking I'll text once every fortnight and send a signed for letter once a month. In these comms I'll be asking (politely and professionally) what's happening re rent payment/arrears and offering some advice that might assist them e.g. speak to Citizens Advice etc.

    Do you think my proposed frequency of communication will suffice in the eyes of a tribunal should this end up getting to the eviction process stage?

    #2
    try to engage your tenants. ring them from another number, explain to them that unless some money is paid on account, you will be forced into litigation which will affect their credit rating. If people say we cant pay I say well what could you pay, better to try to keep the relationship going than get to a point of no interchange

    Comment


      #3
      How would the tenants be able to leverage the frequency of communication to stop an eviction unless they were going for harassment which is a criminal offence?

      Stop texting and send (by letter, 1st class, get proof of postage) a rent statement showing how much is outstanding. Issue a Section 21 notice at the same time.

      Comment


        #4
        Originally posted by flyingfreehold View Post
        try to engage your tenants. ring them from another number, explain to them that unless some money is paid on account, you will be forced into litigation which will affect their credit rating. If people say we cant pay I say well what could you pay, better to try to keep the relationship going than get to a point of no interchange
        I’m not sure I agree with this advice. Calling from another number is a bit creepy not to mention that taking and winning in court for arrears does not necessarily lead to it being reported on their credit files so it is a misleading threat.

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by DoricPixie View Post
          How would the tenants be able to leverage the frequency of communication to stop an eviction unless they were going for harassment which is a criminal offence?

          Stop texting and send (by letter, 1st class, get proof of postage) a rent statement showing how much is outstanding. Issue a Section 21 notice at the same time.
          Sorry should have stated I'm in Scotland, however I'm hoping the mods will leave my topic in this section as it's a more general request for people's thoughts on the frequency of communication.

          I always ensure my comms (whether letter or text) are polite and on text messages I always leave at least a few days between so as not to come across as harassing, which would never be my intention.

          Are you suggesting instead of referring to the arrears in text message I switch to recorded/signed for letters only? If yes, I wouldn't be looking to do this any more frequently than once a month up until the point I engage with the eviction/tribunal process. Does monthly seem a reasonable balance to you?

          Comment


            #6
            I didn’t suggest sending letters recorded or signed for. I said you should send them first class with proof of postage and yes it would have been useful if you had said you were in Scotland.

            The tenants aren’t responding to your calls so why bother continuing to contact them by text message? I doubt the private rental tenancy agreement states that text messages are an acceptable way of sending notices anyway.

            I’d say monthly rent statements seem reasonable and don’t forget about the other pre-action requirements before you start any eviction action plus you’ll need to wait until 3 months rent is owed before you can serve notice using ground 12.

            Comment


              #7
              This is something else I need to seek clarification on. Within the tenancy agreement (drawn up by one of the larger sales/letting agents so 'hopefully' accurate) it seems to indicate only 1 x months worth of arrears is required before eviction process can commence:

              The tenant is in rent arrears (this ground is mandatory if, for three or more months, the tenant has been continuously in arrears of rent and on the day the tribunal considers the case, the arrears are at least one months rent. This ground is discretionary if the tenant has been in arrears of rent for three or more months, and on the first day of the tribunal, the arrears are less than one months rent ...

              However on the Scottish Government website, it seems to indicate 3 x months worth of arrears is required:

              If you have three months or more of rent arrears (unpaid rent), your landlord can ask the Tribunal to evict you. If you still have three months of arrears on the day you go to court, the Tribunal automatically has to order to have you evicted, unless you can prove that the debt is due to a delay in your housing benefit being paid. If you can reduce your rent arrears to less than three months by the time you go to the Tribunal, it does not have to evict you and can decide not to if they think you're trying to clear the debt.

              I'm going to seek clarity on this from the Scottish Landlord Association which I intend to join.

              Thanks again.

              Comment


                #8
                Suggest you follow the pre-action protocol for arrears see..
                https://scotland.shelter.org.uk/hous...enancy_tenants
                .. followed by serving "Notice to leave" for grounds 11 & 12 (If I remember them correctly..)
                - or have you done that already??

                And 'phone SaL for advice: Are you a member??

                Can we be confident there will be no reference or only a full, honest one please?

                Should be in the Scottish forum...

                Slàinte mhath!
                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


                  #9
                  theartfullodger,

                  You can’t use 11 when the breach is rent arrears so only 12 would apply.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    theartfullodger,

                    Thanks for the advice and link. I'd come across the Shelter Scotland guidelines previously and ensured I followed them last time round when they stopped paying rent. Good thing is they seem to confirm the arrears only need to equal one months rent.

                    Re reference, not sure what you mean? The tenants were sourced through a letting agent tenant find service, so I'm assuming references will/should have been sought.

                    Yeah I know re Scottish forum but it often seems to get a lot less traffic than this section and my original point was more to do with seeking folks general opinion on frequency of comms.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Don't harass just ACT

                      day 0 Letter 1 - nice request
                      day 7 Letter 2 - Firm request
                      day 9 Letter 3 - Letter before action
                      day 23 - Submit money claim online and start court process

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by BTL_Landlord View Post
                        Here's my question. Between the time a tenant stops paying rent to the time a LL commences the eviction process (for rent arrears) what would you say is a reasonable frequency of communication from the LL to the tenant in an attempt to get them to pay, discuss repayment options etc?
                        Fortnightly.

                        When I had a lot of DSS tenants (paying fortnightly), chasing 'top ups' was a daily routine.
                        -Although it was only £5.20 or whatever, if it wasn't clamped down on promptly, it would escalate into a much bigger problem.

                        I doubt the ambulance chasers would have missed that one if it had been harassment.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Originally posted by BTL_Landlord View Post

                          ................
                          Re reference, not sure what you mean? The tenants were sourced through a letting agent tenant find service, so I'm assuming references will/should have been sought.

                          ............
                          I mean can we be confident YOU or your agent will provide either no reference or only a full, honest one please?

                          It's surprising (well, to ne at least) how many landlords/agents with "not perfect" tenants give them wonderful references so they may dump them on some other unsuspecting landlord.

                          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


                            #14
                            Originally posted by theartfullodger View Post

                            It's surprising (well, to me at least) how many landlords/agents with "not perfect" tenants give them wonderful references so they may dump them on some other unsuspecting landlord.
                            How many times has that actually happened to you?

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Originally posted by theartfullodger View Post
                              I mean can we be confident YOU or your agent will provide either no reference or only a full, honest one please?

                              It's surprising (well, to ne at least) how many landlords/agents with "not perfect" tenants give them wonderful references so they may dump them on some other unsuspecting landlord.
                              Ah, I see what you mean. Any references requested would be honest. And AndrewDod I would never harass, not my nature.

                              It's a shame and tbh I hope it can still be turned around. Recently, I had to get the entrance door replaced and repainted which necessitated me going round to the property. They were nice as nice can be and during a property inspection a few weeks earlier, I had reiterated the importance of good communication and they had been fine re replying to messages about tradespeople visiting etc. However the girl mentioned something about the guy going for a job interview which set alarms on a slight ring.

                              Sure enough, the comms from them started to decrease shortly after the door was done, rent not paid, no response to texts.

                              I suspect it's a case of burying their heads in the sand and hoping it'll go away. I just want to get my ducks in a row or whatever the saying is to ensure I'm doing things correctly on the run up to any eviction process just in case I need to instigate it.

                              Comment

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