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Landlord and Tenant Relationships in the Current Climate

31 March 2014

Over the last few years many people have found themselves letting properties which they have not been able to sell.  The government has recently reduced welfare benefits, which has squeezed the budget for many tenants who rely on housing benefit in order to pay their rent.

This means that many tenants are likely to fall into arrears. What are the landlord’s options if the tenant keeps paying the rent each month but pays a reduced amount as a result of a reduction in housing benefit? For example, if the tenant’s rent is £500 per month and the tenant keeps paying £450 per month, it is going to take some 20 months before the tenant is two months in rent arrears.  A landlord is entitled to serve a notice as soon as any rent arrears occur but unless the rent arrears are at a level of two months or greater, the Court is not compelled award a landlord possession; the Court has discretion and will often exercise its discretion in favour of the tenant.  An alternative would be to agree a reduced rent with the tenant thus saving the losses associated with losing one tenant and replacing them with another.  A further option would be for the landlord to agree with the tenant to take the balance of any rent due from any bond or deposit that the landlord holds. If such an agreement is made, it is worth recording it in writing and both landlord and tenant signing it so that there can be no dispute with the tenant deposit scheme at a later date.

If a fixed term tenancy has concluded or is anywhere near conclusion or there is a periodic tenancy, a notice may be to served under Section 21 of the Housing Act to bring the tenancy to an end two to three months from the service of the notice.

If a tenant stops paying rent altogether, once the tenant is two months in arrears the landlord should instruct a solicitor to serve a notice giving the tenant 14 days’ to vacate the property after which the landlord can issue possession proceedings.

Morrish Solicitors charge a fixed fee for any notice which we serve. Good legal advice is essential to ensure that a Section 21 Notice is properly drawn up and served. A defective notice will result in increased legal costs to the landlord as well as lost time and rent.

If you wish to discuss any Landlord and Tenant matters, please do not hesitate to contact Morrish Solicitors on 033 3344 9600 or email info@morrishsolicitors.com.

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