My Tenant’s Rent Is Late, What Should I Do?

If you ever happen to capture the grey mood of a hunched over landlord; strolling around aimlessly and depleted of life, like his world has fallen apart- the law of averages says he’s dealing with a tenant in arrears. Because, sadly, we don’t really care or get saddened by much else. It’s totally pathetic, but it’s true.

If my blog has unearthed anything, it’s how desperate, irrational and saddened a landlord can truly become when someone stands in between them and their rent. While it’s a deeply gloomy state of affairs for the suicidal landlord, the neurochemical reactions make for great entertainment for everyone else, because the true nature of how psychotic someone can truly be is unravelled. And let’s face it, there’s something fascinating about watching someone go nuts.

Unfortunately, dealing with late rent/tenant arrears is one of the most common problems faced by landlords, and sooner or later it’s something you’ll most likely have to deal with if you haven’t done so already. It happens to thousands of landlords on a daily basis, so if it’s happening to you, fear not, you’re not alone. Of course, that’s never really any consolation, because you don’t give a shit if it’s happening to anyone else- the point is, it’s happening to you. So fuck everyone else and their problems!

Incidentally, while rent arrears and late payments is so incredibly common, it’s pretty odd how so many new landlords completely neglect the prospect of it ever happening to them, consequently, they’re left dazed and confused when it becomes their reality. Dealing with the situation is part of the job, there’s no escaping it, and I don’t even know why anyone would contemplate becoming a landlord without knowing it’s eventually going to happen to them. It’s not a question of “if”, but “when”

However, being aware of the risks is one aspect, knowing how to deal with it when it occurs is another. It’s when I read comments/questions like the following, when I start to realise how so many have no idea…

Can I change the locks when my tenant is out?

Can I move my tenants stuff out when they’re at work?

Is it illegal to throw my tenants out if they haven’t paid rent?

My tenant hasn’t responded to all 30 of my phonecalls, what should I do?

No, no, bloody yes, and stop calling… immediately.

And believe me, I read a couple of landlords asking those questions on a daily basis. That’s a lot of prospective lawsuits.

Rightly or wrongly so, there is a legal/proper procedure that should be followed when dealing with rogue tenants, and until a tenant surrenders their tenancy or is legally evicted, your property is still their home. More specifically, when you’re dealing with late rent issues, consider the following…

Page contents:

1) Late Rent Vs No Rent

Is your tenant late paying rent or have they completely stopped paying? There’s an important difference, and how you deal with the situation will vary depending on what stage you’re at!

If your tenant is simply late there’s still time and plenty of opportunity to salvage the situation, and this blog post will cover key areas to assist. However, if that ship has sailed and your tenant has completely shut down communication and/or completely stopped paying rent, you’d be better off jumping over to the My Tenant Has Stopped Paying Rent blog post. Yup, it’s definitely colder over there, but it’s more targeted to your situation.

2) Stay calm, don’t act on your ludicrous impulses

It’s unlikely you’re your normal self right now, you’re probably unhinged and emotional. That means you’re dangerous, and not in a good way. A very stupid way.

Seriously, don’t lose your shit and act like an idiot. Be cool.

It’s so easy to let frustration take over when you’re dealing with bottom-of-the-barrel tenants. The first few times I dealt with late payers/arrears I was overcome with rage, and that was the driving force behind some pretty morbid fantasies about what I wanted to do to my tenants and their limbs.

My Tenant's Rent Is Late

At certain points it stopped being about the money, but more so about the fact that some dickhead was taking the absolute piss. I honoured my end of the deal- I followed all my legal obligations as a landlord, and provided a clean and safe living environment, so I just wanted the same mutual respect in return from the A-HOLE in question.

Naturally, it doesn’t help that I’m the most impatient person in the world- I want all my problems resolved immediately. But, really, patience is key. You need to realise that you’re already in a bad situation, but it’s extremely easy to make the situation 10 times worse by acting irrationally (which is usually unlawful).

Your first port of call is to remain calm and fight all your urges to do anything stupid, that includes rounding up ‘the boys’ and paying a visit to your tenants. You and your ugly mates may shake up the tenants, and your menacing tactics may even force them to vacate, but if they have an ounce of intelligence or receive advice from someone with an ounce of intelligence, they’ll prosecute your dumb-ass and take you to the cleaners, and rightly so. Eventually, you’ll be just as ugly, but poorer than if you had followed the frustratingly tedious, yet correct procedure in the first place.

Just be cool.

Failing that, remain rational and patient, and accept that justice will prevail if the correct procedures are followed. If you allow yourself to get thrown off course, you can easily start becoming prone to prosecution, further delays and costs.

3) Accept the realities of the situation

Once you’re calm and removed the idea of strapping your tie around your mouldy forehead and kicking the front door down, you need to accept the realities of the situation (which could easily reignite your urge to be irrational). This is easier said than done because the realities can be sickening and difficult to accept. You’ll probably question life/the legal system and contemplate taking your own life when you truly familiarise yourself with ‘how unfair the system is’- because that’s the fate of every landlord that encounters rent arrears and the legal system for the first time. But you need to ignore the injustice and accept the law as it stands and follow accordingly. The legal system won’t change for you, so you need to adapt.

  • It’s emotional: I’ve read several articles on how to deal with rent arrears/late rent, and none of them mention the emotional stress it causes the landlord, which I feel make them utterly incomplete. I’m not saying what I’ve written here today is going to be any more practical or useful, but I do recognise the severe impact the situation can have emotionally. It’s one of the biggest adverse affects, besides from the crippled cashflow.

    You’ll probably lose sleep over this (if you aren’t already)- you’ll lay awake with overwhelming frustration and worry. I’ve done it, and it’s horrible. There’s nothing I can do or say to relieve you from the pain, all I can say is that it’s normal, and the situation WILL get resolved, just not as quickly as you would like.

    Allow your emotions to flow, but do not allow them to control your actions.

  • Tenants rights: tenants do NOT lose their statutory rights if they fall into arrears or breach any other term of their tenancy. They simply don’t. Your naive and brittle mind may think otherwise, and you may even believe that stripping someone of their rights because they aren’t paying their way is the ‘normal’ procedure. Regrettably, your wet-dream is only that, a wet-dream. Back in reality, you CANONT just “kick the tenant out”- rogue tenants are still entitled to live in quiet enjoyment, which means you can’t “harass” them in any shape or form, which includes making unannounced cameo appearances, flooding them with phonecalls, text messages or letters.
  • Slow process: late payments and arrears rarely get resolved quickly, so accept that this could take time to resolve. You’ll mostly be waiting around and waiting on your tenant. Truly frustrating.
  • You’ll lose money: there’s a good possibility that by the time this is over, you’ll be out of pocket in some shape or form. And even if you chase after your losses, you’ll probably question whether the chase was even worth it, because trying to squeeze money out of someone that allegedly doesn’t have any is brutal and fruitless.
  • Plan your finances: the biggest fear is almost always the worry of having to pay the mortgage- most landlords rely on the rent to pay the mortgage.

    You need to ensure that you can make the payments in case the late payments continue. Plan your next few months, and if needs be, make changes to your lifestyle to accommodate the situation. You could also try contacting your mortgage lender and see if they’re prepared to cut you some slack, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

    Needless to say, every landlord should have a contingency pot they can dip into so these situations can be absorbed, but yeah, let’s be real. Do whatever you can to gather some disposable cash to keep afloat.

    Even if your tenant assures you that “they will resolve the problem shortly”- still make arrangements, which leads me onto my next point…

  • The lies and excuses: It’s not unheard of for tenants to suddenly transform into the biggest bullshit artists on the planet when they’re in arrears- in fact, that’s horrifically normal. They’ll pretty much say and do anything just for some breathing space, and you can’t really blame them for that. We’re all just trying to survive.

    If they suddenly start breaking down in tears like a little bitch over the phone or elsewhere, you’ll need to be compassionate, but simultaneously, and more importantly, you’ll need to remain focused on the situation without allowing your compassion to take control. At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter if they’re being genuine, nor does it matter if you believe what they’re saying or not… because they still owe you cheese.

  • Your tenant has the upper hand: the ball is in their court, and that will be the hardest part to accept, because you’ll have to bow down to someone that’s in the wrong- and despite that, being protected by the law.

    They can either make this extremely quick and easy for you, or excruciatingly painful and long for you. However, in many cases, you can control how they play it by how you manage the situation.

  • Two wrongs don’t make a right: it doesn’t matter how much wrong and pain your tenant is inflicted on you, you still need to stick to the proper procedures. That’s one hard muther-fudging pill to swallow, but you’re a professional, so you’re going to swallow that fat penis of a pill like a man… or a whimpering little girl. Either way, swallow it.
  • Eviction: if the tenant falls 2 months in arrears, the process of eviction can commence, but only then. That may seem like a life sentence, but that’s because it is.

    I’ll be the first to say that having to wait for some useless tossor to fall 2 months into arrears before being able to kick-start the eviction process is scandalous. But it is what it is. Patience.

    On a sidenote, you might be able to evict on other grounds that may allow for a quicker eviction, or repossess your property with a Section 21 notice if your tenant is approaching or is out of the fixed date period.

  • Landlord Vs Tenant: it’s extremely difficult to bounce back to a healthy relationship once a tenant falls into arrears, even if the debt is paid. Of course, this largely depends on “why” the tenant fell into the situation and how quickly it was rectified, but generally, there’s just too much uncertainty and fear looming afterwards. It’s like when someone cheats in a relationship, things are never the same afterwards.

    In most cases, the landlord will want to find new tenants because rebuilding the trust is a tall order, and there’s always that undercurrent of detestation that will never quite escape. You may need to accept that the relationship is over, which means you’ll need to find suitable replacements shortly. However, I don’t necessarily believe that to be a bad thing, just something to be aware of.

4) Communication is imperative

At the early stages, communication is vital.

Once it’s been established that rent will be late, or is late, refrain from allowing your muggy mood to surface when communicating with your tenant. Bite your tongue if you must, and dump your frustrations elsewhere. I have this blog, this is my therapy, feel free to also unload. Permission granted.

As said, it’s better to try and work with your tenants than against, so try to keep them on your side, or at least on neutral territory.

Be understanding, and recognise that this can be resolved amicably and quickly if it’s handled rationally. The source of the problem might just be an abnormal, unforeseen circumstance, which won’t take a miracle to resolve. Don’t act prematurely before truly understanding the situation. Try to resolve the situation.

Enquire why the rent is late, when it will be paid, and if there is anything you can do to help. It’s important to focus on your primary goal, which is to collect rent, so you need to be accommodating and helpful, despite how aggravated you are. Yes, it’s two-faced, but so what, really?

Finally, remember, it’s important to use traceable means of communication e.g. recorded delivery letters and emails with receipt confirmation. If this ends up going to court, you will need all the evidence you can get your grubby little mitts on, especially ones that will prove that you tried to resolve the problem professionally, legally and fairly.

“He said this”, “she said that”, “he tried to poke it in me” will get you nowhere.

5) Try offering solutions

Realise that it is unlikely your tenant will maliciously pull the rent from out of their arse, so trying to ‘force’ it out of them will be futile. If they could pay, they would. Your time is better spent thinking of how you can come to a solution together that will work for both parties.

If you can, offer a solution. Again, this will largely dependent on “why” the tenant is arrears in the first place. But creating a fair and realistic repayment plan can be effective. You may not retrieve the total amount owed any time soon, but knowing the debt is slowly being reduced is better than nothing. If you’re as liberal and hippy-dippy as I am, you may even accept payment in the form of sex.

6) Send ‘late rent’ notices

If my tenant is 3 days late on rent, I send them a text and wait to hear “why”, and once I receive the response (and crucially have it captured), I give them a call to discuss the situation. While it’s always best to communicate via letters/emails, in practical senses, it’s always easier to discuss these situations over the phone. Plus, it means my gentle and kind “tone” isn’t misconstrued as violent and aggressive, and that’s important during these times, especially when it’s so easily done.

If rent hasn’t been paid with in 5 days, irrespective of what was discussed on the phone (assuming they picked up), I send them a rent arrears reminder notification in the post. During the initial phone call, I kindly inform them that I plan on sending the notification “just for my records” so it doesn’t come as an alarming shock or a kick in the face when they receive it.

If rent is still unpaid after 14 days, I send them a follow-up rent arrears reminder notification. Both notifications I send are downloadable from the links I have provided.

As already discussed, tenants behind on rent generally have one common trait- they will promise you shit just to get you off their back. So disregard everything they have promised, it means nothing, send the notifications regardless. Don’t delay based on promises- that’s a good way of wasting time.

7) ‘Late Rent’ penalty fees

I’ve written about tenant late rent penalty fees in detail before, and I’m definitely not a fan of using them, purely because I think they’re massively counter-intuitive.

If your tenancy agreement is riddled with “Late rent penalty fees” clauses, you might be tempted to start reminding your tenant of the financial sanctions they’re liable for at this point. Of course, that’s your right, but I’d be cautious before adding fuel to an already difficult situation.

  • While it won’t be always the case, it’s mostly safe to assume that if a tenant is late paying rent, they’re going through financial difficulties. So if they’re struggling to pay rent, they sure as hell won’t be able to pay the late payment fees.
  • Enforcing late payment fees will most likely terminally sour the relationship with your tenant. Moreover, a irritated tenant is much more difficult to handle. The primary aim should be to get the rent, and the best way to do that is to make it easy for the tenant, not more difficult.

8) Admit defeat when it’s time / Use an Eviction Specialist

You’ve remained calm, you’ve tried to resolve the problem rationally, but your tenant isn’t playing ball. 3 weeks has passed, and you don’t see any light at the end of the tunnel; your tenant has only delivered broken promises and/or assurances that you have no confidence in.

It’s time to admit defeat and start gearing yourself up to start the eviction process/repossession. In reality, this is where it often ends up. I’m sorry, but it’s true. Brace yourself, but continue to remain calm.

A big mistake many landlords make is prolonging this step, especially based on promises made by tenants. It’s so easy for landlords to get sucked into promises and guarantees and keep delaying this (usually inevitable) step. You need to be professional by detaching yourself from everything but the underlying facts: your tenant is significantly late on paying rent and you’re losing money- so you need to take action, not sit back and rely on hope. ‘Hope’ will get you killed.. or leave you disappointed. Most likely the latter, but “killed” just sounds cooler/more dramatic, thus better.

In most cases, you will need to serve the relevant notice, whether it be a Section 8 or Section 21, that’s usually enough to scare them into paying what is owed and/or vacating the property. Best case scenario is having both those wishes fulfilled. If the tenant eventually pays and you want them to remain in the property, then that notice can be forgotten, so it’s better to always serve notice.

Once a notice is served, and you’re sure it has been received, don’t communicate with the tenant unless it’s necessary, or they contact you first. It’s a waiting game now. It’s tough and extremely frustrating, but you’ve done your part for now. The next step is eviction/repossession…

I’m not going to discuss the eviction/repossession process here, because I’ve already discussed how to evict a tenant, which includes seeking advice/help from professional eviction services for those that want it.

If at any point you feel out of your depth, don’t be afraid to seek professional help.

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9) Sometimes a loss is a victory

You may need to cut your losses and consider it a victory. Your pride/ego may take a battering, but that’s something you’ll eventually overcome with excessive alcohol and drugs.

If your tenant says “Hey, look brother, I can’t pay the rent, I don’t have the money, but I’m going to move out ASAP”, that’s pretty much a victory in my eyes. Allow the tenant to surrender the tenancy. And trust me, the sense of relief you’ll feel when a tenant in arrears vacates, despite the fact they owe you money, is mind-blowing. It can be a euphoric high if you allow it to be.

The last thing you want to do is try and keep a tenant like that shackled down so they’re forced to honour the fixed dates in the tenancy areement- you’ll be cutting your nose off to spite your face. You’ll effectively be trying to cage a beast. It’s healthier and easier to start over with hopefully better tenants that can keep the cash flowing. A fresh start.

Be realistic about what you can and can’t achieve, and salvage whatever victory you can. By all means, feel free to chase the owed rent (if there is any) through the legal system, because you’re absolutely entitled to that. But again, you need to be realistic about the achievable gains. Needless to say, you should be getting some comfort from the tenant’s security deposit.

10) Once it’s over

This may seem a far cry away, but despite how low, horny and hopeless you feel right now, it WILL be over, and you owe it to yourself to learn from the situation when that glorious day approaches.

Try to understand “why” your tenant fell into arrears, and learn from it. Was there anything you could have done differently to prevent the situation from occurring in the first place? Was it a case of not having a stringent enough screening process when you were sifting through the tenant applicants? Takeaway whatever you can from the experience and use it to your advantage.


Unfortunately, there’s no silver-bullet solution that will make any landlord immune to this kind of attack, because we’re dealing with humans in a world where “shit happens”- even to the best of us. However, the following will make life easier…

  • Limit the risks: the best and only place to start is from the tenant referencing stage. Choose wisely, and be annoyingly diligent. Finding good tenants is one of the most crucial parts of being a landlord.
  • Be prepared: understand you’re not immune to rent arrears, so always be prepared for when it happens. Rent insurance policies, tenant guarantors and short tenancies are useful and good ways of limiting damage. But also, keeping an emergency pot of cash aside to help absorb these unforeseen circumstances is good business.

If there’s one single piece of advice you should takeaway from my malandering dribble, it’s that you should ALWAYS follow the legal/proper procedures, even if that means fighting every last urge in that bangable body of yours. I mean that respectfully.

Finally, good luck.

If anyone else has any other tips, advice and experiences, please share!

43 Comments- Join The Conversation...

Guest Avatar
Benji 28th May, 2014 @ 15:14

Insisting on a home owning guarantor and/or rent guarantee insurance helps.

Your bit about eviction, 2 months arrears etc is misleading/inaccurate. Better just to link to "the process of eviction" and leave it at that.

The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 28th May, 2014 @ 15:25

I'm sure I'll regret asking Benji, but why is it misleading/inaccurate? I'll update accordingly if necessary :)

Guest Avatar
Benji 28th May, 2014 @ 15:48

First off, it is rent owing not arrears.
Secondly, it depends on the frequency of the rent payment.
Thirdly, it is only 2 months if you use the mandatory ground.
Fourthly, you can use the section 21 procedure straightaway if out of the fixed term and it has already been served previously.

Off the top of my head without double checking but sufficient to be misleading/inaccurate and spoils an otherwise moderately OK article :)

The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 28th May, 2014 @ 15:54

Oh yeah, meh, I didn't want to over-complicate with all the mandatory grounds, section 8/21 malarkey, so I used the most general/generic situations, and linked to the other relative resources. This isn't about eviction/repossession, but more so the steps before starting anything like that.

An OK from you is beautiful. Thanks Benji, means a lot!

The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 28th May, 2014 @ 16:04

Ok, I made some changes based on your feedback :)

Guest Avatar
Allybops 28th May, 2014 @ 18:47

Hi, i had a none paying tenant once. One trick she used was to pay 100quid in part payment so she was not quite 2 months in arrears after 2 months had passed. Could you refuse the part payment and just demand a full months rent to stop this trick?

Guest Avatar
pat 29th May, 2014 @ 06:18

its a pity you cannot give advise without the foul language your advise is good but do you really need to zip the disgusting language

Guest Avatar
boboff 29th May, 2014 @ 06:54

I like the language.

It's a narrative style.

The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 29th May, 2014 @ 07:15


Yeah, that's the unfortunate thing, when a tenant pays even a fraction of the rent, they're no longer in arrears, they're just 'late payers'.

I don't think it's practical to refuse the payment, because if it goes to court, the Judge will look at that and may think, "the tenant tried to pay you, at least some of it, and you refused it", and that may do you more harm than good.

In my opinion, keeping tenancies short and periodic is usually the best way to avoid that situation because you can serve a Section 21 more freely.

The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 29th May, 2014 @ 07:29

When I write/blog, I try my best to write like I speak in my head, and not how I'm 'supposed' to write.

You need to take this place for what it is, and not for what it isn't. This isn't a tabloid newspaper or an editorial magazine, there are plenty of those landlord websites out there, which do a fine job. However, this is a personal blog- not just mine, but for anyone that wants to comment/network in this capacity.

My main objective is to help others through my own experiences, and the only way I know how to do that is by sharing my real thoughts/feelings, which includes every little morbid niggle of mine.

Like you said, the advise is good, which means someone may benefit from it in the future (despite the language), so I'm pleased.

I know what you're saying though. I know I'm not everyone's cup-of-tea. I'm an acquired taste.

Guest Avatar
Mandy Thomson 29th May, 2014 @ 08:49

Being a landlord is an enormous responsibility; HMRC doesn't view a landlord as a business but as a private investor. However, we all know that in reality this IS a business, but unlike someone running say, a grocery store, we are offering a much more vital service - we're responsible for someone's home (this runs the gamut from renting out a room in your own home to a big portfolio landlord). If the grocery store isn't open, the customer can shop elsewhere. If the landlord doesn't adequately maintain his rental property, his tenants are forced to live with it, and are paying much more for this service than the grocery store customer. As landlord, I've thankfully never been in the situation where my tenants have been in arrears (I let to young professional couples in London) but I have had property maintenance issues - and this can be worrying enough! We all need to be able relax and look at our situation with humour from time to time - not only do we have the responsibility, we also have certain media figures (e.g. Phillip Inman AKA Phil Space, no 2 writer for the Guardian...), politicians and members of the public taking pot shots at us - this is one reason I love this site, and as a frequent visitor to other landlord advice sites, I believe the advice offered is of the same quality and sometimes even surpasses other sites - even the very experienced large portfolio landlords don't have all the answers, and they would be first to admit it.
But back to the subject of this particular blog, I'm lucky insofar as I currently have a pool of first rate tenants to pick from in my market, but having said that, referencing is absolutely crucial - this is one area I would NEVER take a shortcut - it's vital to pay for the best reference you can get - this is the only thing a landlord can do to avoid this situation.

The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 29th May, 2014 @ 09:07

Couldn't agree with you more regarding the importance of referencing and it being the key to prevention!

I have just added a small bit at the end of the post! Thanks for the reminder!!

Guest Avatar
Chris 29th May, 2014 @ 22:08

I like your narrative - its a refreshing honest and personable read and yes we all know that there are other web sites about landlord-ism but I particularly enjoying your articles for the brutal truth / facts of life. Don't change.

I have not had to deal with rent arrears, I feel I have been very lucky and although I feel I let to a decent calibre of tenant (because of course my properties are, god damn it, of a good decent calibre! He so modestly & delusion-ally says) its a question of time until it happens to me.

I am terrified of the inevitable rent arrears situation occurring but articles such as this are hugely beneficial.

However this is my view; I manage my properties, therefore I can build a personal & professional relationship with my tenants - much better than any lettings agency. So I feel I need to invest in my tenants in the same way that I invest in my bricks & mortar. For example, the periodic cheery & casual email to tenants asking if everything is ok, wishing a merry christmas or asking if I can do anything for them, as well as actively seeking their recommendations for work to be done on the property. This is done in order to enhance the value of my investment as well as ensure their time in my property is as good as possible in order that they remain there as long as possible AND THAT THEY PAY THE RENT, each & every time. Its like my RGI, only less expensive! (and less good perhaps!!!!) Anyway that is my 2 pence worth - invest in the tenant.

I would be very interested to hear your views in several other 'hot' landlord / buy to let topics such as off the top of my head, tenancy deposit schemes, landlord licence schemes, Shelter publicity, HTB.

The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 30th May, 2014 @ 11:32


Thanks Chris, appreciated :)

Definitely agree with everything you said regarding investing in tenants. Undervaluing tenants is the last thing landlords should be doing, but so many do. Tenants pay for a "service", and landlords often forget that. This is a business based on people.

Mutual respect is key, and often the best way to avoid many problems.

My previous post was actually about Selective Landlord Licensing, check it out :)

Guest Avatar
Chris 30th May, 2014 @ 11:47

Indeed, I feel being a landlord is about being a people person - perhaps even more so than being a bricks & mortar person. Controversial perhaps, and wouldn't be applicable for a property investor.

Guest Avatar
Nick 30th May, 2014 @ 14:44

I've got a none paying tenant;

*Can I superglue the locks up while they are out?

*Install a massive sign on the side of my house saying 'rent dodgers live here'?

* Get a 2 million candle power lamp and shine it through their bedroom curtains at night?

* Post dog poo and used nappies through the letterbox?

Guest Avatar
David 30th May, 2014 @ 18:11


You can, if you want to be done for harrassment, you can't even talk through the door about arrears.

@The Landlord

Referencing will not help you if a tenant has a change in circumstances, a reference will not tell you if they are reasonable people.

You have to go into this knowing that your tenant may end up on Housing Benefit if they lose their job, if that happens they may not get the full rent paid. The equivalent of the bedroom tax in the private sector means you get the LHA allowance for the accomodation they NEED. So if you rent a 4 bed house to a family with 3 daughters over 13 chances are you will only get paid for 3 or even 2 bedrooms. They can deduct £250 for one bedroom because they look at the LHA rate for 3 bedrooms. Also if your rent is above the LHA rate, the housing benefit will pay the LHA rate not what you charge.

So if the going (LHA) rate is £700 for a 3 bed house and you rent your 4 bed house for £1500, they will get £700 if that is all they need.

You are totally right that you just have to accept the way things are, getting pissed off and angry will not help anyone.

When it comes to evicting, you will get your money back when they are evicted and your costs. Enforcing that judgement may not be straightforward.

Also be aware that if you do not follow the correct procedures, not only will you fail to get possession but you could end up being fined yourself. You can get charged for costs of a failed attempt, just as your tenant can be charged for costs when you take them to Court.

You can also get fined (up to 3 times the deposit) if you fail to protect the deposit and follow the procedures, that fine can be claimed up to 6 years later.

So treat your tenants with respect, be understanding and try to get part payments. Agree to a certain amount of arrears for say 6 months (say the difference between LHA and your rent) you can still get it under section 8.

Keep it friendly, ask the tenant to keep you informed of their progress every two weeks.

There will always be a risk of things going pear shaped, just accept it and you will have a more peaceful life.

This IS a business not a hobby, if you can't take the heat, get out. Get insurance and just accept the risks.

Guest Avatar
Benji 30th May, 2014 @ 18:58


Don't be bloody daft;

'Referencing will not help you if a tenant has a change in circumstances, a reference will not tell you if they are reasonable people.'

Of course it won't tell you if they are reasonable people but it can give you a damn good idea. Which given your obvious knowledge of the subject, I'm sure you already know. Referencing is a cornerstone of tenant selection.
It will also reveal such gems as a Fireman with a lifetime gold plated pension to chase for example.

Your comment was beneath you.

The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 30th May, 2014 @ 19:07

Hi David,

I agree with much of that- I think I did a cover a lot of what you said.

In regards to prevention, as said, there is no silver-bullet solution, and shit does happen. But minimising the risks is still crucial, and referencing is one of the best ways to do that. If a prospective tenant has a good rental history, good employment history, good credit rating etc. the odds are in favour of avoiding arrears. But I do agree, rental insurance is extremely practical- but the excess fees can be annoying!

"When it comes to evicting, you will get your money back when they are evicted and your costs. Enforcing that judgement may not be straightforward"

But it's NEVER as straight forward as that, especially in the case of arrears. It can be an extremely long and tedious process, that's why I said it can be brutal.

If a tenant falls into arrears, the odds are they have little money. In that case, how would the tenant pay the arrears and the legal costs? The Judge will take that into consideration and assess the financial status of the tenant. If the Judge thinks the tenant can only realistically afford to pay back £10 per month, then that's what he will be summoned to do.

Assume the rent is £700pcm, by the time the tenant gets evicted it could be 4 months (that's if the landlord is lucky), that's £2800, and then a couple of hundred pounds for legal costs.

By the time the debt is paid (at £10 per month), I'll be lucky to be alive. That's why it's always better to try and resolve the issue.

Otherwise, good practical comments, so many thanks :)

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Bob@effinglandlord 26th June, 2014 @ 18:51

You're spot on in advising landlords not to allow themselves to get pissed. Blowing your top won't do anyone any good. Better to cultivate an absurdist perspective, especially when it comes to events that go beyond your landlordly control.

One benefit of assuming an absurdist perspective is that you no longer have to take the situation so damned seriously. Another benefit of developing a good solid sense of the absurd is that you no longer have to take the renters so damned seriously. And, perhaps most importantly, you no longer have to take yourself so damned seriously either. It’s like taking the story of Beowulf and reconfiguring it in your mind so as to make turn out more like Don Quixote.

Once you recognize and appreciate the absurdity of your situation, it’s much easier to sustain a reasonable sense of humor, and when you can laugh about a terrible situation, it’s easier to stay loose and go with the flow, to laugh heartily in the dragon’s face, so to speak, and then get on with your life.

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Steffy 8th July, 2014 @ 09:29

Hi Landlord, great blog *feeding the already overinflated ego* :)
I have a tenant who pays weekly. Since January I don't think he's paid on time once. He has, however, always paid eventually, usually within the week of it being due, therefore it's not exactly a big 'he's not paying the rent' problem. Just curious what you would do in this situation? He's in a periodic tenancy now and so I could just Section 21 his ass for the hassle of that one little text I have to send every Tuesday morning! I own HMO's so it's probably that I don't have any problems with any of the other tenants that this one bugs me so much but in the grand scheme of things, it's not like I have an unemployed druggie on my hands 2 months in arrears ...

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David 8th July, 2014 @ 14:14


In this situation this is the text I would send

"Hi Michael, I have been reviewing your tenancy an generally I think you are a great tenant except for one thing; payment of rent on the due date.

I understand that you may have other financial pressures but I really can't permit the current situation to continue. All my other tenants pay their rent on time and without me having to chase them.

So I am writing to you now to give you the chance to rectify this. From next week I would like the rent paid ONTIME and without me having to chase you. This must continue every week.

Unfortunately, I am not a bank, I simply do not have the time to be constantly chasing you. If you are unable to maintain payments then I suggest you find a cheaper place to live.

I need to make you aware that if things do not improve I will be forced to issue a notice of possession.

If you wish to discuss this please call me"

You could issue the S21 and deliver it by hand, you explain what I said above and say that you are giving notice but will not enforce it if he pays on time from now on.

Keep it friendly and if you are serving the S21 do it in person because getting a S21 is a bit of a shock. Also arrange a time to visit, tell him you are doing an inspection or need to provide him with some papers.

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APM 10th July, 2015 @ 16:38

Great information, thanks very much for sharing. I have a question. I'll be as succinct as possible even though it's very complex:

- Tenant serves notice.
- Tenant then asks to extend by another month. I agree because a close family member died and I'm trying to be kind.
- But I also serve a Section 21 just to be safe as I do want the flat back anyway.
- Tenant withholds her rent. Now says she wants to extend for another year.
- I don't want her to stay on. So if I were to say "pay me your rent and I'll consider it", does that in any way invalidate the S.21? I suspect that she won't pay anyway, but it would be worth saying it just to try and get the money I desperately need.

Thank you.

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simmy 27th November, 2015 @ 10:52

I rent have always paid on time. no proof of deposit protected ? I gave this morning my Surrender tenancy in writing clearly stating the rent due is not paid as he can keep the deposit same amount !, to my horror and delight a deposit protection scheme has risen out of the ashes ?? I am standing firm as I only have few miserly boxes and bin bags of clothes to vacate to my girlfriends house ! be out within 7 days so he is not without any money ! now we have to organise the deposit ! I have just had him ranting about missed rent ?? believe he cant do this its harassment ?? have already written he can keep the deposit and I will be out asap !

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David 3rd December, 2015 @ 15:41


Can't understand a word you say

but you are entitled to 2 months notice regardless of tenacy agreement or rent paid or unpaid

it has to be delivered on S21 notice

the deposit must have been protected within 30 days of you giving it or else he can be fined 3x deposit plus return of deposit

you can go to the DPS site and check when it was protected

if he did not serve you with a proper statutory notice (again within 30 days) telling you where deposit was protected he cannot issue S21 or rather it is invalid, you can wait the 2 months and then reject it.

It is illegal for him to change locks and evict you without a court order

it is illegal for him to harass you (big fines)

He cannot come to the property without a mutually agreed appointment except for emergency repairs and that could be a contractor

Nothing says you have to agree a mutually convenient time.

Oh and one thing, PAY YOUR RENT or else he can get you out on a Section 8

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Med 25th April, 2016 @ 05:57

I'm a landlord, I failed to pay the deposit into a scheme due to rent arrears from the same tenant and her ex husband, She was given an email confirmation of receipt of payment. The agent we used has since disappeared with hers and her ex husbands deposit. So it was necessary for me to get another deposit as we started a new agreement and this is the one I did not secure. She has fallen into arrears. What are my liabilities and best way to resolve this.

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David 26th April, 2016 @ 09:53


You asked more or less the same question elsewhere so I answered you there

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Fred 18th May, 2016 @ 22:42

@Landlord, extremely good blog. I have just got a non-paying tenant and your blog has helped me a lot - to calm down. There are all sorts of legal advice lines but few deal with the psychological aspects. Well done and keep it up

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Phil 6th February, 2017 @ 23:40

My new tenant signed a agreement on the first of January 2017 six months.
Deposit secured with the DPS
Monthly payments on the 1st of every month.
Payment received 1st January
As of 6th February no payment made it have chased him up via texts and now emails.
He has promised payment several times and has now gone very quiet.
The unusual thing is that he has moved no furniture in only a tv and washing machine and a few clothes on the floor in the box room .
He's not sleeping there
I know it's early days but I have a bad feeling about him.
What should I do
Best regards phil..

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John 30th April, 2017 @ 10:12

Very Good advice about calming down. It is very easy to see red when you know you are being bullshitted by a tenant in arrears.

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David 30th April, 2017 @ 11:05


So what happened?

Did he pay up?

Has he remained reliable since?

How did you know that he had moved in so few things?

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Lisa 14th May, 2017 @ 22:50

I have just googled my issue and found your blog. Great to find it
I have read previous comments and have a question
I own 3 properties and have had no payment issues with a tenant until now
I use a London agency to manage to my flat in London
My tenant is 5 months into a 1 year tenancy. Unusually no break clause at 6 months which all my other agreements have had. She paid 3 months in advance as she is in the UK studying. Rental period 4 she was nearly 2 weeks late and this month She is now 9 days late
After ignoring emails, calls etc I requested that the agency send her a letter politely but firmly asking her to pay asap
They did and she replied a few days later to say she had been busy with exams but that she will sort it out
The agency didn't forward me a bank standing order form, mentioned as part of the AST agreement and advised me to accept her even though her credit referencing came back fine but with a guarantor recommended. No guarantor was secured.... as I type this I'm seeing bad signs and perhaps bad guidance from the agent here
A previous point mentioned issuing a notice asap late payments are detected to speed things up or to unnerve the tenant into paying
Can I ask the management agency to issue a notice at his point? It's been mentioned also that they have to be two months in arrears
Unlike me not to be on the ball but I've got a bad feeling now about this tenant. I was quite angry she'd been late again so your blog has calmed me. She seems, in my thoughts, (rightly or wrongly) to be developing a pattern that rent can be paid when it's convenient to her. Any advice appreciated

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David 14th May, 2017 @ 23:20


I do not think you have anything to lose in issuing the notices.

I would also put the agent on notice that you will be holding them responsible for any losses and expect them to act as guarantor as they clearly knew their needed to be one as so must have decided in the absence of one to do it themselves.

You would be wise to check the agent protected the deposit and issued PI, Gas Cert, EPC and How to Rent within 30 days. If not you tell them you are holding them liable for any consequential loss caused by their incompetence.

To be honest with no break clause you are in for the year so prepare the S21 after month 8 to expire at the 1 year anniversary.

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Mark 24th October, 2017 @ 15:41

Your blog is wonderfully written.

We too are in an arrears situation with a tenant (very early in the tenancy) who appears to have convinced a Tenant Reference Agency that they had a 'more than ample salary' provided by an 'elevated company position'.

We have now cancelled the order for the chainsaw!

Laughter is good therapy for sure. Roll on eviction day.

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Sophia 4th December, 2017 @ 12:28

Found your blog whilst searching for advice. I have a problem tenants who are now constantly late with the rent. They have been in the property for 20 months and are now on a rolling monthly contract. They were pretty good at paying and did not have much to do with them contact wise. But there seems to be a pattern of when late paying they make out something is wrong with the water pressure. Had plumbers in to check all sorted straight away ..then then just as the tenancy was coming to an end, I contacted them as it was causing me too much stress. I decided to give them another chance (big mistake) as now they are always late or paying £300 and then end of month trying to catch up. It has got to the stage now where he is trying to blame me "Oh, and I am still waiting for the heating to be sorted, it is getting very cold here now ) ..UGH!!! first i have heard the heating is not working - we have hot water but no heating. Also, I have been waiting ages for you to tell me how much we owe. I want them out as cannot deal with the stress of it all ..Can I still issue section 8 or would it be 21 ..Thank you ..

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David 4th December, 2017 @ 14:32


It is important you immediately respond with a message for the record saying that you were concerned to hear them mention a problem with the heating as this is the first you have heard of it.

You then ask them to explain the symptoms of the problem they are experiencing as you have had a plumber check water pressure in the past and it turned out that there was no problem at all according to that plumber. Again this sets the record straight for any paperwork that goes to Court.

You ask them to confirm that they have not made any adjustments to the boiler or radiators.

Then arrange a visit first of all check yourself, check that they have not turn temperature down or changed the pressure.

It is a common trick for tenants to release the pressure on a boiler to make it not work properly then say they have no hot water or heating.

So why do they do this?

The most common reason is that they are seeking eviction so they can get Social Housing (if they are eligible), the rules say that if they do not pay their rent they are intentionally making themselves homeless and so cannot access social housing. So they wish to have a legitimate reason for withholding rent and lack of heating or hot water is the old favourite.

I would seek to get this sorted before you start any eviction process,

You should also check to make sure you complied with deposit protection and if the tenancy started after Oct 2015 that you complied with EPC, How to Rent and Gas Certificate, especially that you have a current Gas Certificate.

If your tenancy started BEFORE Oct 2015 you may be liable if you did not issue a new PI for the deposit protection, if AFTER 2015 as long as the original deposit was protected and PI served within 30 days then the SPT is deemed as protected.

For Section 8 there are mandatory grounds such as being at least 2 months in arrears (see full Grounds S8G8) or Discretionary grounds such as S8G11, for repeated failure over a period of time. These are detailed here:

With S8 you can be chasing your tail if they keep bringing the account back up to date.

Section 21 is a no fault eviction process, however, there are prerequisites, again these vary depending on the date of the tenancy and the Deregulation Act of Oct 2015.

If after, then if they reported repairs to Council and you were
issued with an improvement notice, then that brings in revenge eviction blocker.

In the first place I would have an informal chat with the tenants, I find that it is the breakdown in communication that leads to the stress you are both feeling.

Do this in person if possible, say you are coming to check the boiler, then, keeping it friendly, just say "can I ask you a question?, Are you seeking to end your tenancy?" Do not say anything after that and just let them speak. It should give you an idea of their intention.

Now it might be that they really do just have a problem with the boiler, I remember having one myself where if the heating temperature on the boiler was set too low then the water was always tepid at best.

Once you have an idea of their objective you can say to them that they need to bring the rent account up to date and make future payments on time or else risk losing their tenancy.

You can say to them that you are going to issue an S21 Eviction Notice as a probationary measure but you will not use it if they bring the account up to date and make regular payments.

I appreciate you feel you have lost faith in the tenants but until you have spoken to them and got a real understanding you are working blind.

Tenants can make your life hell so it is always best to keep things amicable. If they say they want you to evict them then at least you know that is their angle and you can easily do it.

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Sophia 5th December, 2017 @ 10:50

Hi David ,
Thank you so much for your reply and advise. The gas cert is up for renewal and I have an engineer calling there Friday. They have no children and always trying to palm me off. I recently had a heart attack and this is all proving too much for me.

I shall give them a call and see how the house is looking .I am wanting to sell it anyway due to my ill health.

Thank you again for your help.

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David 5th December, 2017 @ 12:21


So sorry to hear about your health.

If they have no kids or she is not pregnant then they would have to provide medical evidence of being vulnerable for a Council to have an obligation to them.

So they may just be struggling.

You might want to go along (without telling them) when the Gas Engineer does, it will give you an opportunity to engage with them and see the state of the property.

Sophia, if it is all getting too much you can alway use an agent, you would need to check the All Agents site and choose one who provides a full service.

I would increase the rent to cover your costs, check the LHA rates online for your area for your size of property, it is the 30th percentile so if your rent is below LHA rate it is reasonable.

If dealing with them is too much and you want to evict then you can of course instruct a Solicitor, choose one with experience of housing matters and eviction.

Make sure you protected the deposit as that would give the tenant leverage and may obstruct your S21.

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Sophia 5th December, 2017 @ 15:51

Hi David,
Thank you greatly for such a quick reply and guidance.

After, going through all the agreements and payments etc it seems the Bond has not been registered with the DPS. I thought the agent who found the tenants had done so, but that is not the case. Can I still register the Bond?


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David 5th December, 2017 @ 18:46


Yes you can and must protect it as soon as you become aware and you must serve the Prescribed Information, however, you will still be liable for a sanction. If you do not protect it and serve the appropriate paperwork you will not be able to issue S21 eviction notice.

If the agent told you they would protect or provide a full service that states they will protect it then you can hold them liable for any consequence of your loss.

I can draft you a letter for them if you like.

If your tenancy was post Oct 1 2015 you needed to serve an EPC, a How to Rent Booklet, Gas Safety certificate, the prescribed information (latter not possible if not protected.

If your tenancy expires and the tenant remains a Statutory Period Tenancy is created, you may be liable twice, you are liable for each tenancy agreement, but if you had protected the original deposit you are liable.

It may be that your deposit was protected by agent but expired, either way paperwork should have been sent.

The following links may help

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Sean 6th December, 2017 @ 07:59

I had a suspicion landlords only cared about money. This blog rather confirms it.

I'm a recent graduate renting privately for the first time through a letting agent. My partner and I viewed the property and were promised certain repairs and refurbishments before we signed the contract. Six months in, the Landlord has carried out nothing of what was promised. No decorating, no repairs of front and back doors to seal them from draught, no mould removal, no proper insulation, no heating timer, no replacing rotten window frames, nothing. Our boiler broke two months into the contract and it took them 34 days to have it fixed. Our ceiling partly collapsed during a storm and was leaking water into our bed, and it was three weeks before it was repaired.

We had agreed that the landlord would pay for materials to revamp the decor and that we would receive a short rent-free period for carrying out the labour. Six months later and that hasn't happened either.

We didn't factor in for having to pay that period of rent, and so we are now five days late with it. We warned the landlord in writing, two weeks before today, that we might be in this position, and they didn't even bother to respond. We called today to tell them we'd be paying a fortnight's rent in a few days and the rest at the end of the month, and they acted as though we had committed a crime.

The agency are just as bad, if not worse. And so it occured to me that Landlords and agents are nothing but vampires who will say anything to get you to sign the dotted line, yet do nothing for you in return.

My faith in you is soured completely and I am glad the law favours tenants. Because I intend to take my landlord to court with that firmly in mind.

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Mandy Thomson 6th December, 2017 @ 08:50

I'm in a big hurry and have a really busy day ahead, but I still felt I had to respond to Sean's comment!

"All landlords care about is money"... @Sean, if your employer missed your salary payment date, what would your response be? If your employer were to then turn around and say, "all you employees care about is money - can't you just do one month for free!?" I'm sure your response would not be printable! I could turn your argument around further and paint all tenants as bad based on a small number of disgusting rogues.

Having said that, your so called landlord needs dealing with and as well as suing him, I suggest you report him to Environmental Health at the council and your local Trading Standards - if you've kept all the evidence of attempts you've made to get the landlord to fix the property (emails, letters, even text messages and social media) plus date stamped photos and witness statements. If the evidence is good enough, Trading Standards will hopefully prosecute the landlord. Letting property that is unsafe and unfit to live in is a criminal offence.

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David 6th December, 2017 @ 10:40


There are good and bad tenants as well as good and bad Landlords.

From what you say there is clear breach of Section 11 landlord and tenant act 1985 and probably in breach of your actual agreement which will list their responsibilities.

To any Tenant reading this I would always advice you get any promises in writing, even if you write an email before signing that says "We are interested in the property subject to you carrying out the promised repairs which are summarised below




You need to be very specific in any barter of decorating in return for rent and them buying materials.

"We also confirm that we are prepared to repaint the living room to our own standard in return for one months rent subject to you providing the paint and materials we specify."

To be honest I would not bother, it is a sign of a bad landlord that they try to rent a property that is not at its best.

You need to speak to your local Council and seek an improvement notice,

Once they have that improvement notice they cannot do a revenge eviction.

Having said that, why would you want to stay in such a property, I would be looking to get out.

They are in breach of the agreement, so you have cause to withhold rent until the agreed repairs are carried out. It is important to have documentation, so write to Landlord at their address and list what was agreed and what has been done.

Deduct a month's rent for the 34 days when the property was uninhabitable, basic things are hot water & heating under said act.

Get their details from Land Registry site if you do not have them, will cost you £3.

As I said the consistent thing about sloppy Landlords and agents is that they fail to do the things they need to do.

The easiest of these is deposit protection, if they did not protect the deposit AND give you the Prescribed Information (PI) then they can be subject to a sanction between 1x and 3x the deposit AND YOU GET THE SANCTION.

The PI is not a notice from the deposit company, this link will tell you what it needs to have:

You can check online to see if your deposit was protected within 30 days from them taking your money

If it is not protected I can walk you through getting the sanction, there is no hurry and if you have a second AST that they fail to protect or serve PI for then the sanctions become due on that too, but not on an SPT.


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