How Long is ‘2 Months In Rent Arrears’, Really?

Two months Rent Arrears

How long is 2 months rent arrears? Seems like a stupid question because the answer is in the question, right? Well, kinda’

I’ve realised there is apparent confusion over the matter because over a relatively short period of time, I’ve seen multiple people ask how to calculate rent arrears, over in the Landlord Forum (usually because landlords are trying to workout when they can start the eviction process).

Most landlords know that they’re allowed to serve a section 8 eviction notice to a tenant if their tenant is two months in arrears.

The “two months” is usually calculated in one of two ways, but there is actually only one correct way!

Many folks seem to do it the wrong way, and the unfortunate consequence of that can be expensive and unnecessarily frustrating. Fortunately, the wrong way of calculating the calendar schedule of arrears doesn’t make the notice invalid, only delayed.

The confusion occurs when people misunderstand what constitutes as “one month in arrears” The wrong method is to assume that a tenant is one month in arrears when they’re 29-31 days (depending on month) late on paying rent. So in theory, based on that formula, if a tenant hasn’t paid rent in two calendar months and one day, they could owe three months rent, which actually makes them “three months” in arrears. Go figure.

For example, if rent is due on the 1st of January, you assume that a tenant is only 1 month in arrears if they haven’t paid January’s rent by the 1st of February, and two months in arrears if they haven’t paid by the 1st of March. In that scenario, only two months and one day has passed, but three months rent is now actually owed. Something doesn’t add up, does it?

The correct way to calculate rent arrears

Rent is typically paid one month in advance, so if the tenant doesn’t pay on the date the rent is due, they are in arrears. For example, if the rent is due on the first day of the month, then on the second day of the month the tenant will be in rent arrears by one month (if they haven’t made payment). So if the tenant hasn’t paid rent in one month and one day, they are two months in arrears.

“2 months in arrears” means exactly that- tenants owe 2 months worth of rent, it doesn’t mean “2 months has passed since they paid rent”

So if you thought the wrong way was the right way, perhaps landlord law got slightly more tolerable.

10 Join the Conversation...

Guest Avatar
John Chadwick 13th November, 2012 @ 14:38

My tenant owed me between £400 and £1000 over a period of 18 months, she kept paying extra payments to me to clear off her debt and then one month the payment stopped, she said the DWP had made an error and it would all sort its self out, bollocks!. The bitch had spent the money on a holiday to Spain. but because the amount was never 2 months worth of rent money (£1200) they would not pay me direct.

In the end she served me notice to vacate claiming i was harassing her for the money she had in effect stolen from the DWP, the DWP didn't seem to care about that when i told them.

The whole system is really fucked up, i will never let my house to a DWP tenant again.

She left my house having an electric and gas prepayment meter because she had fallen into arrears with them as well, i knew nothing about it until the day i went to see her go and collect keys etc- and guess what-the fucking bitch had done a runner.

I had to paint the house and put new carpets down as there was dog piss and shit everywhere despite there being a no pets in house in tenancy agreement.

I'm not having a go at other DWP people its just I had such a shitty experience, i hope the bitch gets what she deserves.

Guest Avatar
Benji 13th November, 2012 @ 15:30

Sorry you've had a bad time.

A lot of your problems could have been avoided with;

1. Thorough referencing
2. Credit check
3. Home Owning Guarantor (with referencing/credit check)
4. Deposit
5. Rent in advance
6. Rent Guarantee Insurance
7. Section 21
8. Regular inspections
9. Insisting on direct payment if it goes wrong.
10. Getting the council to work with you and having the tenants permission to discuss the claim. (I know, I know! very, very difficult and vexing but it is possible)

I've stopped at 10 for a nice round number, any additions welcome.

Not having a go John but this comes up time and time again. At least you've come out of it better than many.

DWP, DSS, HB, Welfare whatever etc can make excellent tenants but you need to get it right from the start and know exactly what youre getting into.

As for the pre payment meters, the utility companies have to replace with normal contract payment- as long as the next occupant is creditworthy, or if it bothers you that much, get it swapped over when you are the bill payer when its empty.

Guest Avatar
Smithy 13th November, 2012 @ 15:38

One of my tenants lost his job last year. Up until then he paid his rent promptly, in advance every month.

As soon as he was relying on Housing Benefit, two things happened.

Firstly there was the inevitable delay while they sorted out his entitlement. Then the fact that his rent is now paid (three weeks) in arrears, although he did sign for it to be paid directly to me.

So I would have been within my rights to have evicted him for arrears as described in your excellent (as always) article. I think some landlords do just that as soon as a tenant becomes unemployed.

It's only because I have a kind, sympathetic* (and modest) nature, and he is generally a good tenant that I let him stay.

* I also wrote him a character reference for the Court when he was up on an assault charge. I do get a bit cross with posters who seem to think every landlord is a money grasping git.

Guest Avatar
arpit 22nd November, 2012 @ 08:14

John Chadwick. I have just had to deal with a dss single mum skank who was constantly in 2 to 3 months arrears. I have managed to get her out two weeks ahead of her contract end date as the heating conveniently broke and i refused to fix it. I have to get the house fumigated for fleas and redecorated. I could have got her out sooner, but i was always misinformed by the letting agent as to what constituted arrears. if u want a job done properly, best do it yourself. as for benjis comments: everyone can look good on paper, it until they are in your house that they become a c*nt.

Guest Avatar
Benji 22nd November, 2012 @ 20:57

"as for benjis comments: everyone can look good on paper, it until they are in your house that they become a c*nt."-Arpit

I disagree with that but even assuming they managed to look good on paper and your thorough checking came up with nothing, you would still have a home owning guarantor and rent guarantee insurance and deposit to cover your losses.

"the heating conveniently broke and i refused to fix it."-Arpit

Mate, even if you don't watch daytime TV, your ex-tenant probably does and Jeremy Kyle etc is filled with adverts from ClaimFUupGoodLawyers.

They would cream themselves to get a case of an 'evil' landlord refusing to fix the heating and forcing an innocent Mother and her child out of their home just before Christmas.

Even if you managed to convince a mad Judge that the arrears, fumigation and redecoration should offset the compensation, ClaimFUupGoodLawyers aren't bothered because they don't care if the tenant gets to keep every penny of f*ck all of the compensation thats left.
They are licking their lips over the thousands in legal fees you will pay because you own a property and cant hide it from them.

Guest Avatar
Tom 12th August, 2014 @ 00:41

Sorry this calculation is WRONG.
Since the new EU regulations he is after 30 days one month in arrear. Even payment upfront does makes him in arrear because he has not received the "service".

@Smithy: Well that problems comes because rent is not paid upfront by the council.

it is nice the discussion of "referencing". The quality of all of this referencing agencies is poor. Data are massivly wrong.
Do your own referencing. Let them bring their own creditscoring, call the employers. AND don't trust agencies. meet your tenants and trust your feeling.

I had properties in different countries in Europe. And have to say here it is easy to kick out a tenant. In other countries you are lucky if you get after a year the first meeting in court. For social reasons they will stay and they will not pay you. or you need a very good reason to take back posession.
The main disadvantage in the UK system are the creepy agents. The agents do not provide any benefit they want to make money on the costs of landlords and tenants.
The life is easier without them.

Guest Avatar
Gordon 8th January, 2015 @ 12:15

Thanks for the glowing reference Tom

However if you do use a "creepy agent" these matters are dealt with a lot more efficiently. Tenants take advantage of their relationship with the landlord and in my experience most of these problems lie with landlords who don't use agents. They also tend to be used by rogue tenants that are known to the agents in the area who know that an agent will no longer take them on.

Not all agents are creepy Tom. Surprisingly some of us are quite nice people who try and help the landlords. After all a happy landlord is good for business!

Guest Avatar
Lara 21st March, 2016 @ 10:01

So how do you figure out arrears if there was a month I was short paying rent on 6 months ago? And then late paying rent for current month? How would I figure that out if I'm worried about being evicted?
Currently I owe for this month,but was on time and paid in full the other 34 months I've leased. The landlord is threatening me now to evict, even went as far as trying to get in to my condo at 9pm scaring my 1 year old son and myself!

Guest Avatar
Craig 6th January, 2017 @ 10:53

Do you think it would be easier to offer an early break option for tenants to vacate, when there`s no reality that they can pay the outstanding rent. I am just looking at damage limitation in the difference with losing £1100 for 2 months rent, but retaining the deposit and offsetting any legal costs. I would rather take a relatively small loss, and move on to something more fruitful. I certainly don`t want part payment as a token gesture just to buy more time and game playing. I find it appalling that so called `advice` organisations actually encourage tenants into delay tactics, when they know who the real problem is.

Guest Avatar
Pauline 26th September, 2017 @ 18:15

Always thought I had good judgement of character, recently trusted young couple , didnt get references, silly silly me!! they said they hadn't rented previously, only lived at home with parents. Got a deposit, and usual 1 months rent in advance, then they defaulted. Been playing 'cat & mouse' with me, can't even access the house. Lie Lie Lie, when I manged to approach them in street they accused me of harrassment. Haven't yet issued section 8 notice as like others unsure of getting the arrears date right. Have found these comments very helpful and now the devious couple have defaulted on the 2nd month I shall issue it.
To summarise, it seems that Tenants can sit back, do what they want and are in control when they break the contract and the good landlords don't.

















Your personal information will *never* be sold or shared to a 3rd party. By submitting your details, you agree to our Privacy Policy.

I want more info on...