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

Late rent/tenant arrears

Unfortunately, dealing with late rent/tenant arrears is one of the most common problems faced by landlords, and it’s largely regarded as the most terrifying situations any landlord can face, particularly if it drags on for long enough (which it often does).

The reality is, every landlord will eventually deal with rent arrears, and knowing that alone is critical and extremely powerful. Thousands of landlords are dealing with the issue on a daily basis, so if it’s something you’re currently experiencing, fear not, you’re not alone. Of course, that never really provides any consolation, because you don’t give a shit if it’s happening to anyone else- the point is, it’s happening to you.

As a seasoned landlord I’m certainly no stranger to rent arrears, and my experience has taught me…

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 become is unravelled. And let’s face it, there’s something fascinating about watching someone go nuts.

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 cash-flow.

    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 CANNOT 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 (vacating & rent recovery)

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.

Either way, 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 agreement- 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 and recover the owed rent (link to guide/services that can assist) (if there is any), 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 meandering 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!

96 Comments- Join The Conversation...

Showing 46 - 96 comments (out of 96)
Guest Avatar
Yehe 5th January, 2018 @ 21:10

Hi and thanks for the reply David. the tenant paid half month rent last Nov then stopped paying anything until now, our rent/legal insurance viewed our claim and declined as the income of this tenant was not high enough to cover the rent(but previous dodgy agent didn’t tell us about it and that she is possibly dss), so what can we do? how to serve the section 8? how to take her to court?how can we make sure we will get all our money back? ps: one month rent deposit was placed into DPS when the new contract was signed by us and the tenant and prescribed info provided to tenant!

Guest Avatar
Sophia 5th January, 2018 @ 23:20

Yehe, I am having much a similar problem and it is a nightmare. It has been going on for sometime. I agree with you David - get it sorted sooner than later and don't believe their excuses. My tenants have been giving me the run around for some time. They fully are aware of what they are doing and feel no shame. I have asked and asked to visit the to discuss issues, they make arrangements and cancel all the time. I have no idea whether they have anyone else living there or growing cannabis etc. I have now sent them a letter basically given them 48 hrs notice of me checking the premises.
They are always late with payments and fobbing me off, so it is now in the hands of my insurance and like you Yehe, looking to go for section 8 ...
I cannot go for section 21 as they have told me they are not going to move until a court order. Here you must be registered and either have a licence or with an agent who is to issue section 21. They want me to evict them to get social housing (in the meantime make my life hell). I think it was all a set up just to get onto the social housing right from the start. I went through an agent and all seem fine, until they settle and start complaining about heating or water etc ...
Once these parasites leave the property - I am selling! and draw a line under renting. There are good and bad tenants same as landlords - I have been told I am a good landlord getting things done straight away. I have had 12 years of misery. Time out for me!

Guest Avatar
Mandy Thomson 6th January, 2018 @ 10:00


You said, "I cannot go for section 21 as they have told me they are not going to move until a court order. Here you must be registered and either have a licence or with an agent who is to issue section 21."

You must have a landlord licence (if property is subject to licensing in England) or be registered and/or licensed with Rent Smart Wales (for whole of Wales) in any case - this is a legal requirement for anyone renting out property under an AST. If you are only registered with Rent Smart Wales but not licensed you must have a licensed agent managing the property on your behalf. Whether you intend to serve s.21 or not is irrelevant.

However, if you are not registered/licensed, in England or Wales, you will be barred from serving s.21 until you apply.

S.21 is the easier option than s.8, even with rent arrears. I would only advise a landlord to use s.8 if the rent arrears are very much in excess of 2 months - many tenants will bring the arrears to slightly under 2 months by the day of the court hearing, meaning you will normally only get a suspended possession order at best. Many local authorities and charities will pay off the arrears on the tenant's behalf.

S.8 is of course the only option if the tenancy is still in the fixed term as in England (for ASTs dating after 1 October 2015) s.21 can't be served until month 4 of the tenancy, and can't be enforced through the court until the fixed term ends. With English ASTs that pre-date 1 October 2015 (and haven't been renewed after that date) and Welsh ASTs, s.21 can still be served anytime but again can only be enforced once fixed term ("the tenancy") expires.

Assuming Rent Smart Wales or landlord licensing requirements have been complied with, the only other requirement for ALL Welsh ASTs and English ASTs that pre-date 1 October 2015 is the deposit must have been protected and the prescribed information served on the tenant.

If the deposit wasn't protected within 30 days and/or prescribed information not served, it is essential to repay the deposit (leaving an audit trail and proof of service if paying by cheque) if the deposit wasn't protected in time, and strongly advisable if it was protected but the prescribed information wasn't served in time.

However, for English ASTs (including renewals) dated on or after 1 October 2015, as well as the above, the following requirements must be met before serving s.21:

-the government How to Rent guide must be served in hard copy format
-gas safety certificate (if property has gas)
-energy performance certificate (unless property is HMO let by the room)
-any written repair request must have been addressed within 14 days and there can't be a local authority improvement order against the property

If these conditions are met, there is no valid defence to s.21 and a possession order is almost certain, usually without a hearing. A court order (for possession) is necessary whether s.21 OR s.8 used, enforced by bailiffs if necessary.

I strongly suggest that anyone looking to evict joins the NLA or one of the other landlord organisations. There you will get advice and support over the phone, plus use of the correct template documents.

Guest Avatar
Mandy Thomson 6th January, 2018 @ 10:07

Please note that from 1 October 2018, ALL English tenancies will be subject to the Deregulation Act 2015, not just those dating from October 2015.

Guest Avatar
Sophia 21st January, 2018 @ 00:16

Mandy Thomson.
Thank you Mandy for your advice .
I registered and carried out the Landlord Licence course. I have to pay out £214 just to issue section 21. I have not changed my mind and still going to see the one property I have. I went to inspect the premises much to the reluctance of the tenants - they tried to cancel again, telling me it was not convenient for each of them. I was polite but firm and told them I will be calling on the time and date the letter stated. A friend came with me as I was not too well. Upon inspection we were greeted by a very annoyed tenant because i had not mentioned I was calling with someone. It was as if she was paranoid that I was going to accuse her of something. I told her to pull her self together and stop being so foolish. Back in August on visiting the property I noticed the down pipe was off the wall. I asked what had happened and they told me the wind had blown it off. I told them I would send someone to fix it. They told me "no it is Ok, I can get some ladders and my son can do it" ..I was not happy for this to go ahead so I had arranged for someone to call. Upon arranging I contacted the tenant to tell him a tradesman would be calling to fix it. "No need it is all done" .. Whilst visiting the property I noticed the drain pipe was still off? Water has been falling down the wall for months. Now I have to arrange for an inspection if any damage caused. Also, the friend that came with me noticed the patio door handle was off on the outside and inside was hanging off. (I was only told this whilst driving back home) .I have tried several times to contact them but not answering. A load of black rubbish bags outside the back door .etc. It is crazy when tenants can get away with all they do. It is so laughable, I just want to cry. Here I am offering tenants a nice clean, tidy home to live in and all they want to do is abuse it. There should be laws too for Tenants .. it is made now so difficult for eviction. If the tenants are allowed only to give a months notice it should be fair that only Landlords give a months notice and not two months for section 21. This problem is now in the hands of my solicitor which is going to cost me no doubt. I would rather do one day in M & S rather than put up with all this nonsense and stress. I cannot wait for the day of the keys - once again clean up from the pigs and sell, sell!!!

Guest Avatar
Sophia 21st January, 2018 @ 00:22

David - is the "Hand Book For Tenants" only for England? as I have asked the agent and they do not hand out booklets. Do I give back the deposit even though it is with the DPS ...

Thank you


Guest Avatar
David 21st January, 2018 @ 05:09


It sounds as if your tenants are creating the conditions that will get a Council to issue an improvement order under Landlord and Tenant Act.

You need to put everything in writing and actually work with the Council by letting them know you have a tenant you suspect is damaging property and then refusing to let you or workmen attend the site.

You need to get that back door fixed immediately, just inform them by all means, and get it done. Same with the pipe.

For a tenancy that started after Oct 2015 (and for all tenancies from Oct 2018) there are strict procedures about revenge evictions concerning repairs.

If a tenant reports repairs you need to respond within 14 days setting out your plans to repair whatever has been reported.

If you fail to do this and the Council inspect your property your S21 can become invalid even after served IF the Council has served an Improvement Notice or an Emergency Remedial Notice. In such cases you are prevented from serving another S21 for 6 months, for as long as those notices are not rescinded.

I am sorry but there IS law for tenants, starting with your tenancy agreement, which is a contract enforceable in Court, a place where you pay to play but you can get your costs for damages against the tenant. Once you have a CCJ you can chase them to the ends of the earth. Their behaviour will catch up with them eventually.

It is not that difficult to evict, it has been made far easier in fact, you really do not know how lucky you are, in other some countries you are only allowed to evict in the warmer months.

Tenants only have to give a months notice on a SPT and you 2 months for good reason, you are a business they are a consumer, but mostly it reflects the market. Tenants need to act quickly because of the competition from other tenants. At the same time other tenants need time to find a property, satisfy referencing etc. Remember, for them, this is their HOME but for you it is an investment asset, two months is not much notice at all, tenants may have kids and losing their home could have dramatic affects on their school and the employment of the tenant.

The simple fact is that you have been a bit slack here, no inspections and I suspect poor referencing in the first place. What struck me was the tenant expecting YOU to tell him what he owed you. This suggests a tenant who seems to think it is OK to get into debt and you should be chasing them for arrears like an energy company does.

The trick from the outset is to make is clear that arrears will not be tolerated under any circumstances. Keep the relationship cordial, be approachable, but keep the relationship authoritative. Inspections are a key part of that.

BTW tenants are allowed to use the property, that means if they want to have some black bags in the back garden they can, obviously if they filled the garden with them that would be a health hazard. For all you know they had some mess in the garden and stuffed it into some black bags because they knew you were coming.

If you had bi-monthly or quarterly inspections then the tenants would be used to it from the beginning. The fact that you just leave them to it is what makes them fear you coming around.

It is right for you to get out of the biz and leave it to others as you have serious health condition. I hate letting agents as a whole but in your case you probably would have been better off using them and paying for a full service. Choosing a decent agent is as important as choosing a decent tenant, it requires referencing, checking them online, avoiding small outfits, checking their cashflow; who do they protect deposits with and do they use custodial or insurance, don't take their word, CHECK. Too many agents use deposits as a cashflow for their business, if it is in custodial you know this is not happening.

Yes it costs money to evict a tenant, if it is no fault eviction which is the path YOU have chosen you can hardly blame the tenant. If you had gone the S8 route you can at least get your costs back.

If your arrears exceed 6 weeks and the tenants are on housing benefit then you can get rent paid direct. Contact the Council and give them tenant name and address asking for their housing benefit to be paid direct as they are in arrears. They may of course say they have no record of a claim, note you can't just ask if there is a claim because of the data protection act, you have to provide them with evidence of arrears.

Most importantly you need to read the DPS documentation, NO you do not give the tenant back their deposit, it is all handled by the scheme. It works like this:

Tenant is referred to scheme by you to get their deposit back

Tenant contacts DPS and asks for deposit back

DPS ask you whether you have any reason for them not to return it in full.

You make any claim if appropriate or else authorise them to return it.

As discussed earlier in this thread, you did not protect the deposit, so you are liable.

It is in your interest to come to a settlement whilst you have leverage, I did post a link to the deposit protection and how to negotiate pages in my previous replies to you. For example there may be damages or deductions for cleaning that you waive as part of settlement. You may even have to offer a positive reference although I am guessing you will choke on that.

Yes the How to rent applies to England only, you did not say you were from Wales or Scotland, each has their own differences in paperwork. You did not say where the property was situated in the first place.

Note for other Landlords, the How to Rent document has been updated by Gov, this means that if the tenant is on a SPT you need to issue them an updated How to Rent document before you issue an S21.

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Sophia 22nd January, 2018 @ 09:01

Good morning David,

Thank you for the much appreciated advice. I went through an agency to find these tenants and all seemed good at first. First five months and then it went all wrong - late payments etc. Your right I should not have been so foolish to trust and it would have been easier if I had allowed for the agency to take all the stress. It was a small percentage of the rental and no doubt they would have had the place in order. They have never mentioned the damage to the down pipe nor the lock. As for the plumbing etc it was months later after the event and tried to tell me they had informed me. In the rental agreement they must inform me by letter or proof of postage sent.
Anyway, the sooner this mess is over the better. I have had a good relationship with the council and have always found them to informative and supportive.

I cannot thank the blog enough for all it's help and advice. A great blog and hope that everyone stays happy and hopefully problem free. I would advise anyone who is not registering the deposit to do so and register and licensed. PS< I always have in the past.

I am quite happy to draw a line under this chapter of my life (12 years) and move onto the next!!

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Ashley 30th January, 2018 @ 21:34

I was wondering if I could get some advice from some of you lovely landlords. I am a tenant, currently renting a property at £500 p/m. This is usually paid on the 5th of each month as I was paid weekly and my partner, fortnightly. I recently got a promotion and took a significant pay rise and am generally very responsible with money, with savings set aside for emergencies. Along with my promotion I got a new contract which states I will now be paid monthly, on the last working day of each month. My partners mother passed away last week and a huge chunk of our savings has gone towards the funeral which has left us with almost nothing (he’s also had to take some unpaid leave) So to some up, 2018 has not been kind to us so far and I would be possibly looking to change my rent payment date from the 5th to the last working day of each month. I have sent a very polite email to my letting agent offering to pay £250 on the 5th and the rest on the £28th then payment in full on the last working day of each month. I’ve even stated I understand if this is not possible and we would look to raise the funds elsewhere if need be... what are the chances of my landlord accepting this? Is this a reasonable request? And what would you do as a landlord in this situation? I’m terribly worried as I’ve never had to deal with money issues before and I don’t want him to think we are bad tenants. Any advice is greatly appreciated

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Benji 30th January, 2018 @ 23:05

"My partners mother passed away last week and a huge chunk of our savings has gone towards the funeral which has left us with almost nothing"

My experience has been that funerals don't happen that quickly and even then, the bill doesn't have to be paid immediately. So I'd be very suspicious. Anyone else interested, check it out online. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

"what are the chances of my landlord accepting this?"

Dunno, pretty good if you haven't dicked them around in the past.

"Is this a reasonable request?"

Sort of. But why should your landlord act as your best mate/mum/dad/funeral insurer/free overdraft?

"And what would you do as a landlord in this situation?"

Personally, in the current anti-landlord climate, I'd get rid.

But if you'd asked "what would most landlords do in this situation?"

I think most landlords would take it on the chin- if you were a perfect tenant, but you'd be playing your last chance card.

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David 31st January, 2018 @ 00:59


What every Landlord wants is their rent paid on time, every time.

Life has it's up's and downs but to be honest your problems are not their problems, many will have a mortgage to pay although to be honest it is a business and they should have reserves.

The risk for you is your reputation, not just with this Landlord but with the Agent and any future Landlord.

In reality there is nothing legally your Landlord can do until 2 months of arrears but if this happens again you give them grounds for eviction under section 8. Having said that, some Landlords have zero tolerance for missed payments and may decide to issue a no fault Section 21 notice.

In reality most will hope it is just a blip BUT what you are asking is totally unreasonable. Your Landlord is not a bank, you moving from 5th to 28th is nearly a month of their cashflow.

What they MIGHT accept is that once you restore the arrears you agree to pay the rent on the 28th day of the previous month, i.e. up to a week early rather than three weeks late.

You may not be able to do this immediately but over the next few months maybe.

In your position I would find another source of money, get yourself a credit card, borrow from family, do whatever you have to do because this is your reputation.

The good news is that you cannot be charged any fee other than the actual cost to the landlord which is going to be around 4% interest or about 20p, it does not matter if your tenancy agreement says you can be charged X, Y or Z, those terms are unfair contract terms and unenforceable.

The other reason a Landlord will not want you to do this is because it is a slippery slope, once you do it once you think it is OK to do it again.

I am sure you have family who you can ask, especially bearing in mind the funeral costs etc.

They are the people you should be turning to, not your Landlord.

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Mandy Thomson 31st January, 2018 @ 03:06

Hi Ashley

The very worst thing you can do is bury your head in the sand and not tell the agent or landlord you have a problem this month and not pay the full rent on the due date.

David is right insofar as the agent and landlord are not legally obliged to grant your request, but in a practical sense most reasonable landlords would rather change the rent payment date than have arrears build up and risk upsetting an otherwise good landlord/tenant relationship. As the rent would be paid nearly a month late, you might be asked to catch up for this month on the 28th as well as pay for the next month or you might be asked to make up for this month by instalments so you're paying an extra portion each month on top of your usual rent.

Having said that, I was recently doing some research on changing rent payment dates and found that agents tend to be more inflexible on this than landlords. If you find this, you might want to approach the landlord directly - you can find their details by searching for the property owner on the Land Registry website.

As a landlord myself, I would be sympathetic to your particular situation strictly as a one off only but if it happened again, I might seriously consider serving notice. As David suggested, another option might be to stop the standing order to the agent for this month, then pay them by credit card - you can use to pay a company (but not a private individual), but note there is a four day delay while the payment clears and they charge a fee. You can also use Paypal in the same way.

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Mandy Thomson 31st January, 2018 @ 03:35

I meant to add - when you make the payment date change request, provide direct evidence of the your changed payday and the funeral expenses.

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Ashley 31st January, 2018 @ 07:12

Thank you for your responses. I feel terrible for asking him to do this now, this is my first home away from my parents and I feel a little dumb for the fact of thinking changing the payment date would not be a big issue. Maybe because we’ve managed to move all our bills across to the 28th fairly easily. I’m not sure a credit card would be a smart idea, purely for the reason that I wouldn’t want to pay debt with debt. We’re usually very prepared for emergencies but with my partner only having his Mum as family it’s also difficult to ask for help. Its fine if he says no, like I said I’ll look to raise the funds another way. My parents could possibly help me, I just thought that instead of getting into debt it was a reasonable request to just simply change the date from now on. I genuinely had no idea how much of an issue this was so thank you for your advice, I only now wish I could retract sending the email about it yesterday. We love our flat and have worked very hard to make it a home, I honestly didn’t ever think we’d be in the position, if only for 23 day’s! I’m terrified he’s going to be offended that I’ve even put this request in and serve us a notice for eviction! Thank you again for your reply’s.

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David 31st January, 2018 @ 10:31


Do not feel bad, it all depends on the type of Landlord you have, I have Landlord and Tenant clients, I try not to judge but rather just help each one in their situation. Some Landlords take the "lord" bit too seriously, some tenants seem to think that they can trash a property, luckily most are middle of the road decent people.

As Mandy said, some agents are the problem, your Landlord's details should be on your tenancy agreement, if they use the agent's address then yes a Land Registry search may provide the address or it may still be listed as the property you live in.

I think most decent Landlords would be happy to consider your request, but they may quite reasonably want you to cover the difference over time.

I had one Landlady client that tolerated many bumps in the road from a family she let her house to, they went into arrears up to £11k over 12 years, they got it down to £7k then wife decided to bail. She decided not to take the tenants to Court, her logic was that she paid £168k for the house and paid mortgage for a year. After that the tenants had paid more than double the mortgage in rent for 12 years and she sold the property for £328k. To her they were good tenants, the husband even came back and painted the property to help it sell.

What many Landlords do not get is that a tenant that will treat their property as a "home" is worth their weight in gold because they will look after it as if their own. You sound like just such a tenant and do not worry about your parents, the bank of mum and dad is what keeps this country running.

Don't worry about the email, I suspect that the Agent will just tell you that you need to pay the rent on time.

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Ashley 1st February, 2018 @ 07:22

I have contacted the bank of Mum and I’m paying the rent on time. Spoke to my letting agent and told them not to bother my landlord with the request. I suppose I saw my rent as any other bill thinking it was so simple to move the date so I’m lucky to have found this thread so thank you. The last thing I’d want is to leave my home :)

The funeral is next week so we have the quote for everything written down and everything is to be paid Monday. So we haven’t already paid for it, just set aside the money we need. I wouldn’t be too cynical, some of us are decent people :)

Thank you again guys

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David 1st February, 2018 @ 11:36


Well done! Do not worry about @Benji I am afraid it is two factors, one is years of experience being a Landlord, dealing with a wide range of tenants from the sublime to downright nasty plus of course something that is best explained by watching this

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Georgina 6th February, 2018 @ 13:41

Problem tenants is an understatement.. tenants left in August with five months rent areas. while I hear I'm going to pay, i will call you back, its just not happening. They obviously have left and moved on leaving a trail of debt, I forgot to register their deposit (yes i know) so in that situation what chances do i have legally of recovering the debt. Their parents are guarantors again, how far can i push this to recover the bill. From beginning i have said to both tenants and parents that i will not add any interest for late payment as that will not help them clear the 5k bill, hoping that would give some incentive to speed things along. I am aware that not having registered the deposit really doesn't help and they are full of the ways to miss and avoid any responsibility for bills.

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David 6th February, 2018 @ 15:58


You are in a better position than most, you have guarantors, but as always with debt you have to make sure they have something to lose before you take enforcement action.

You can go after the guarantors, check their address on Zoopla first to figure out when it was last sold, if it has not been sold since they signed as guarantors. If not then spend £3 to get copy of title from Land Registry site to determine if they are owners, i.e. they have something to lose. If they are local go their house, see if they have cars worth over £2000 plus your debt.

Then you just write them a letter before action saying that your attempts to get payment of arrears from their offspring have failed and you are now putting them on notice that if payment is not made or agreement entered into within 14 days then you will be proceeding to take them to Court.

Your agreement not to charge interest was subject to them servicing the debt, they have not made any attempt to do so, so you can put it in your claim. In these types of claim interest is calculated daily but your tenancy agreement may have stated different.

If I were you I would see the tenancy deposit thing as entirely separate, look at the pages below and the comments I have made, basically if you are a novice Landlord you might get away with a 1x deposit sanction.

If the tenant has the audacity to raise deposit issue comment on the pages below and I will walk you through the negotiation.

In your position I would see them an entirely different things, the fact is that the parents are more likely to have the money or to have leverage. So going after them makes the most sense.

You can raise in the small claims Court as it is under £10k (naming all four of them as defendants or just the parents) , you will not get legal costs but you can ask the Court to consider the interest as it is part of the debt.

Usually the very real threat of a CCJ will scare the parents into paying, if not your tenants, but if not you will have a CCJ which you can enforce, but it is only worth doing so if they have the money.

Sometime sending completed Court papers that you are about to file does the trick, I would send these as a final letter before action. It will show the Court you have them every opportunity to settle.

These are the tenancy deposit issue pages:

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Graham Ireland 29th March, 2018 @ 07:05

Just had a bad experience with a tenant. Seemed like a nice hard working couple renting privately with income sufficient to cover rent comfortably. Reality they upset neighbors with noise, rows and loud music. The police were called several times.They began to pay the rent late and then stopped altogether with excuses and promises after a late payment in January. I issued a late rent notice and suggested that as a young couple a rent arrears eviction would be recorded against them on credit reference agencies which would never be forgotten by computers. I got lucky they decided to leave only owing one month and one week of rent. What they did do was to avoid seeing me on the first day they were supposed to move out even though someone was in they refused to answer the door. Then they moved out very early in the morning and I didn't get there in time to catch them and get a forwarding address or do any of the other things on check out. There was damage as well. Not too bad though. I think they will also have left other debts to utilities. I have let the suppliers know the final readings and they assure me that the debts will not fall on me. I have also started trying to get their deposit paid to me from the DPS although their new website does not really cover the things they need to know. Notified them of these shortcomings. Good news is that the deposit will cover exactly the rent and some of the damage. Bad news is that the tenants are unlikely to want to be found or reply to Email from DPS. Therefore as far as I can see I shall have to make a "single Claim" with a legally witnessed document after about a two week delay and then wait for a month before hopefully getting the deposit paid to me.

My situation now is to find new tenants there are two who enquired about the house 6 months ago but both are DSS claimants. My thoughts are to give one of them a chance but with a much enhanced referencing. What I have in mind is to request a meeting at their present address to see how they live now possibly even talk to their present neighbors then to very carefully and personally go over their financial position including possibly bank statements etc. They could obviously refuse, well so be it, I can also refuse to take them. I believe they are living locally at present and simply want to move to a house rather than a flat. Part of my checks will be to examine the motivation for moving.

Any comments here would be appreciated and I will further update the story when all is complete.

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David 29th March, 2018 @ 09:14

@Graham Ireland

One word of caution, what evidence do you have that they have surrendered their tenancy?

Did they email you something or write you a letter?

A rare but very real trick is to "appear" to have abandoned a property then to return and accuse you of forced eviction, saying they were on holiday or visiting sick relative.

I only mention this in case.

It is very sensible to visit a tenant at their former property if possible, be aware that if they are in a Council property they are delivered in unpainted condition with no flooring, no curtains and no appliances.

I suggest you visit the pages on this site about DSS and the comments which can be quite inflammatory but realistic from both perspectives.

The things I would bring into my decision making are the

LHA rate for my area and how it compares to the rent I am asking. Bear in mind the LHA rate is the 30th percentile, so the majority of private rents may be considerably higher. Expect this to be £250 a month on a house.

The occupancy ratio, if you rent a 4 bed house to a family with 2 boys close in age they will be expected to share a room so the Council will only pay the LHA rate for a 3 bed house, depending on the area that could knock another £250 off their housing benefit.

Request a budget and the tenants last 6 months bank statements, if they baulk at idea, tell them they can redact the descriptions if they provide 12 months worth.

You will then be able to see how they conduct themselves financially. Do they spend ridiculous amounts on Sky or the Gym which are foolish expenditure for anyone on DSS.

Remember that even the most nasty tenants can be charming if they want.

Speak to at least the last three Landlords and ask the simple question, "would to rent to them again".

Personally I think renting DSS is potentially risky in metropolitan areas and generally in the South of England. I am not saying don't to it but get an understanding of the values of the tenant. Again look at the finding tenants articles on this website to get ideas, e.g. stalking their social media!

With regard to the DPS you might well find they crawl out of the woodwork, so get photographic evidence of the damage just in case they invent some dispute about the rent.

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Graham Ireland 29th March, 2018 @ 12:57

Many thanks David got Emails confirming departure date plus photos with date of damage and utility meters, all keys provided returned, could have copied them of course. On good terms with neighbors who would alert me by text if they suddenly appear again. With regard to the DPS the main part of my claim is the rent arrears £842 of £900 deposit tenant acknowledged this by email with promise of payment on a date which was missed.

Thanks for the DSS tips, have taken on board all the comments on your blogs plus all the other landlord and tenant comments to come to a balanced opinion plus my extra effort that will be applied to try to avoid bad tenants. I might also try to have a quick word with the present neighbors to verify their general conduct. My property is low end of the market so only two bed and priced carefully by reference to the locally requested rents on rightmove. Basically I am just above the low end price with one or two premium attractions such as reserved parking.

I have taken on board your advice to retain some capital. At one time I was thinking of buying another property with a BTL mortgage but after much application of worst case scenario spread sheets decided against it. I judged that in the worst case I would have needed to sell that property after 5 years and I really didn't need the extra stress of the BTL mortgage.

Many thanks for your very witty blogs they are very readable and contain a lot of down to earth wisdom.

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David 29th March, 2018 @ 17:21

@Graham Ireland

I am not "the landlord" he is a much funnier guy!

I am just a fan of the site, add comments when I think it may help.

Looks like you have it handled, definitely change keys between tenants, every time.

I was defending a client who turned my stomach (don't always get to choose), it was on a property damage case. I do not think he had washed in weeks, anyway the Landlord alleged he had gone back and trashed the place and the Court believed the Landlord.

It was a clear cut case, he had a history of bad texts with threats made and a neighbour saw him and a several others enter the property after it was left empty.

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Sophia 29th March, 2018 @ 23:15


Very interesting reading. I think the Landlord must be too busy :) as i sent him a message and no reply :(
I have a long standing problem with tenants but this last couple are a total nightmare. I payed an agency to find them £360. All seem well when they moved into the property 2 years this April. They have turned out to be tenants from hell. I think one would call them professional/rogue tenants.

I always register the Bond with DPS, however on this occasion I did not, simply because I thought the agents had done so (my mistake) only found out when I checked the Bank statement.
Over the months payments became late and they paid irregular amounts and not as agreed on the tenancy. I sent messages and phone calls. Then the phone calls about things not working etc.
House checks and to arrange repairs were a nightmare - they would arrange a day/time and there would always be a last minute text message " cannot make it today, we will arrange again" it just kept going on and on. I would send a registered letter every time I wanted to visit. I was always understanding to their hardship (job loss) and illness. Until it became clear it was all lies, especially from him. By Christmas they owed £1345, I was told I could not proceed with Section 21 until I became registered. I applied for registration and then no agency would take these tenants on. so to proceed with the eviction I had to become a licensed Landlord. I did the course. I felt I was going mad as soon as i found something out, something else would crop up or I had been given the wrong advice. I contacted my insurance company and they appointed a solicitor in January. They are taking so much time to sort out the problems. Never call me back, never answer my emails until a week later. I wanted to them to issue Section 8 but no they sent the tenants Section 21.
I have had no rent from the tenants since January 2 .. so now the arrears is over £3000. I was advised by the solicitor to contact the DPS to pay the bond back to the tenants in full. This I did arrange. I received a council tax bill for the property. I contacted the council and they told me the tenants had moved out February 14th //I was shocked and angry. I drove to the house and it appeared empty, no curtains etc. I phoned the tenant and he said "yes, we have been given a council property, and will move the rest of our things by the weekend." Weekend came no call. Monday no call, sent a message asking about the keys. On the 16th March received a message" we have not cleared the house yet and will let you know when it will be." ..Another two weeks went by and still no word from them. I messaged the tenant about progress and he came back with "it will be after the Easter Bank holiday and will be in touch over the weekend. I spoke with the Council and they are sending the demands for council tax to them at their new address. I mentioned to the tenant that they are still liable for rent and council tax. No answer and have sent emails to the solicitor and no answer from them either.

I guess they want me to get angry and change the locks or enter the property - I am not going to, however.if no keys next week taking court action. They are quite nasty vindictive tenants.
The stress of it feels as if in a nightmare. It has affected my health and I must say these are the worst tenants I have ever had. I have the happy thought "NOT" of when I get the keys facing all the hard work putting it right again to sell! sell!

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David 30th March, 2018 @ 09:52


Well I am not a fan of agents so I am not surprised, but in your case where your health is suffering it is worth taking out a fully managed service. Not only does this save you grief but you can sue them if they screw up, just make sure it is clear that they do everything, including legal obligations.

I am a believer in maintaining the normal structure of the Landlord Tenant relationship, not the lording aspect but regular inspections, at least bimonthly. They say familiarity breeds contempt but so does absence. This is something the right agent can do on your behalf without being onerous, some agents are a joke, they have an A4 page of tick boxes but just ask tenants rather than checking anything more than seals on bath. I put this down to the level of staff they employ.

In the world of the entitled and the offended I wonder if we need to have psychometric testing for tenants! It does seem that their goal was what I predicted in my previous messages to you.

With many Landlord clients I see the thing that turned what seemed like a perfectly reasonable day trader into a tenant from hell (e.g. something they were not expecting to pay for), but yours do sound like they have been coached.

Unfortunately it is not over, in my opinion the Solicitor gave you bad advice; you gave up the only leverage you had, unless you did it with a settlement agreement? Otherwise they can still come after you for the sanctions for not protecting the deposit, paying it back does not get you off the hook unless it is part of an explicit settlement agreement that states so.

You can read more about your failure to protect the deposit here:

and here

Rent arrears have to be nipped in the bud and with shock and awe, some little sweeties think their landlords are their parents or their bank and will bail them out.

If they were unemployed and claiming housing benefit then after 6 weeks of arrears you can apply to the Council or the Job Centre (latter for Universal Credit) for their Housing Benefit to be paid direct.

That would have slowed the arrears, if they had got over two months then you have grounds under section 8 but you also have grounds under section 8 for repeated failures over a period of time. The problem with Section 8 is that the tenant can pay back just enough to get below the 2 months and your case is stalled.

You can still go after them for Discretionary grounds rather than Mandatory ground and if you have enough of them then you might find a willing Judge. They are human and they take a dim view of arrears when there have been other grounds, you can read more about Section 8 grounds here:

Now your tenancy agreement was a contract, it will have terms that state how the agreement may be terminated, moving out was not one of those terms. Moreover leaving their stuff in the property just extends their debt. It would be a good idea to remind them that they are still bound by the contract until it is terminated and to give them a statement of what is owing.

You were right not to change the locks, I would not advise that unless you have a written communication from them or the Council. For them to have got a Council property so quickly they must be classed as vulnerable, maybe pregnant or mental health condition, or this illness you mention. Most Councils reach out to Landlords to get an idea of tenant conduct

How you proceed now is going to depend on what is more important to you, getting a new tenant in by reaching an agreement with them where you give them something off the arrears or you bide your time, go after them for breach of contract and damages to the property.

Enforcing a CCJ is not easy if they do not have any money or assets, first you have to find them, then you have to take them to Court which costs money and then you have to win before you can start to enforce it.

An approach I have seen work is to approach them saying you want to make them an offer to settle arrears with a discount, you take a hit on some of the arrears but in the settlement agreement as well as stating the payment schedule for the debt, you include that it settles all and any claims under Housing Act from both parties, you can explicitly include S213.

If they give you written notice to quit the property you can (with notice) put their stuff in storage and go after them for the cost of it, but you need to take photos and video of the condition of their stuff in situ first. You then have to list their possessions and say they will be disposed of within 28 days if not collected from your lock up by arrangement.

I can imagine how stressful this has been, you need to consider your health when you decide on the way forward. Some people want blood, but others see this as a learning experience. They take more care with the next tenant, make sure they follow the processes like deposit protection and serving the prescribed information and documents. They also draw up their own guidelines, for example how they will deal with rent arrears the first time it happens and thereafter.

What is key is to document anything and everything and to sent them a letter informing them of any breach, they also toughen up their tenancy agreements, for example applying a charge for cancelled appointments for Landlord/Tenant obligations. Whilst these need to be reciprocal if the Landlord does not turn up to be valid, they can be taken as a breach and applied against the DPS as a deduction from the deposit, subject to proper documentation of the breach.

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Sophia 30th March, 2018 @ 18:20


Thank you David for your quick reply. I agree, my solicitor has given me bad advise all the way. As I mentioned my solicitor said to pay them back the bond, never mentioned anything about a settlement agreement. It has been nearly three weeks now since I last spoke to my solicitor and still no response to my emails - a complete waste of time and money.

To be honest I don't think they have moved into a council property, more like private again as there seems to be a pattern in their behaviour. When they were due to move into my property they were a few weeks. I did make one big mistake by not registering the bond within 30 days, I always have done.

I just hope with the council sending them demand letters that they come to their senses.

I cannot thank you enough for all your help and guidance. This blog has given me more information than any one, so once again much appreciated David. I shall update as this weekend I should be having a phone call. However, I am not holding my breath :)


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Michelle 4th June, 2018 @ 09:48

Thank goodness I've found this as I was about to get the boys round to intimidate my tenants. Not really, but I have the added complication of the tenants being relatives so there's a massive element of emotional manipulation going on too. So far they are 4 days late with the rent for the first time and the excuses are ridiculous. They are on £40,000 a year and yet they are 'waiting for a cheque to clear' and they don't get paid by cheque (who does nowadays). The first excuse was 'I didn't realise it was the 1st' which they said on the 2nd. I never in a million years thought this would happen haha. Honour amongst family eh......thanks for the rant!

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David 4th June, 2018 @ 16:41


4 days is nothing, wait until you have not had a payment for 4 months!

This is a business, the lesson for you and others is NEVER RENT TO FAMILY, at some point or other they will regard you as a bank.

The way I would handle this is to write them a letter in accordance with your tenancy agreement that formally informs them of the consequences of their failure to pay.

A letter like this is firm and lets them know this will not be tolerated going forward. This is an example:

"Dear Mr Smith

I am writing regarding your missed and still outstanding rent payment of £1500 due on 31st May 2018.

In accordance with our tenancy agreement I need to make you aware that your failure to pay your rent is causing me financial hardship, risking my credit rating and as a result I will be incurring charges from my Mortgage company as well as interest charges. Again, in accordance with the tenancy agreement I will be passing these costs onto you and will hold you responsible as well as any long term impact.

Regardless of your reasons and excuses I must also advise you that your late payment and any future failure to pay rent on time can be grounds for eviction under Section 8 of the Housing Act.

I would like to think that this is a one off blip but, with respect, whatever your financial issues are they are not my problem; your rent should be your most important priority and you should make your own credit arrangements with your bank to avoid going short.

Please can you email me your firm proposals of when you will be paying the rent arrears in full, I would also expect a commitment that this will be the first and last time that your rent will be paid late.

I must also advise you that if the arrears are not brought up to date within the next 7 days and/or rent is not paid on time again I will have no choice but to issue with a formal notice under section 8 of the Housing Act, which will be the first stage of formal eviction proceedings. Such proceedings would not only result in eviction but also a County Court Judgement which could drastically affect your credit record.

I look forward to hearing from you at your nearest convenience.

Yours sincerely

M A Smyth"

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Michelle 4th June, 2018 @ 17:56

Thanks very much for the advice and quick reply. I'm hoping that I'll be in a position to sell the house during the next couple of years and don't think I'll ever rent to anyone again, especially family!

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Sandra 18th June, 2018 @ 23:35

Hi, i am just finding this excellent page as i am looking for some answers to a new problem i have with a tenant but sadly i think it has to do more with my state agent. One year ago i began to rent my home and i let a estate agent that was recommended highly to do the job. They found the tenant, an older lady that has with her 2 grandchildren under the age of 4 and the rent is being pay by her son and father of the children. Since the first month we began to have complaints about the bathroom that by the way was just fully renew so we were quite surprised it had problems, anyway, the problem was to be found under the bath and it was a leaking, so we send the repair guy intermediately but the lady refused to let anyone entry for around a month and a half due to different excuses and the estate agent said nothing could be done until the lady allow access to the repair guy. Then, when the repairs were in progress, the lady stopped allowing the people again to finish the job week after week, and this keep going on for just under a month. Strangely her son began to threaten us that it was unacceptable and that he was going to complain to the council, so in the end, my agent told us to give them one month for free rent as a sign of good faith and we did. The repair finally was finish. After a few months then we began to have more complains about the mold; again we went to try to fix it and the lady did not allow entrance to assess the cause initially. It took about 2 months for the lady to allow us to fix it with a external dry wall, it required 2 rooms, the main bedroom and a second bedroom to be fixed, the tenant just allow us to fix one room but not the other, again the son keep saying how useless we were and how his poor mother had asthma which she was suffering from but again they restricted access. The agent, well, again said it nothing could be done. Now, looking at their payment history they have never paid the rent on time, the agreement was the 3rd of each month, but this month it has been the worst, they are 13 days late and still no payment, her son informed us via the estate agent that he couldn't pay because he is in china working and he was supposed to have paid last week, I have to keep chasing the estate agent up for information. What the agent did say was if he did not pay then he was going to have to serve them with a" 21 section" or something like that ( sorry, i don't really know much about the law and after this week i am beginning to know more thanks to your blog and other pages). Well, now after reading your blog i am quite worried as i have just learn that the Energy performance certificate has not been done as the lady did not allow the guy to perform the test and until now still has not allowed it to happen but the agent said again it cant be done until she allows entrance. So i guess my questions are, what are my options here? is it not going to be possible to serve them with eviction as the energy performance certificate was not given to the tenants even they did not allow it to happen? how can i make my tenant to allow access for any repairs? do i have to take it to the council? can they make me responsible for the repairs not been done even the tenant is the one who did no allow it to happen? and is the agent responsible for any of this as he is the one, we are paying to manage the property who was supposed to be in charge of this?. How can we encourage to provide more than the minimal communication with us, as he does not respond always with the full answer that we would like? Many thanks for taking the time to read and reply to my many questions. I really appreciate your help and guidance where possible.

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John 2nd September, 2018 @ 13:41

Does anyone have any ideas on my predicament?

I rent a house in Scotland and the tenants have been there since 2013, so they have an old Short-Assured Tenancy (SAT). About a year into the tenancy they started paying their rent two weeks late. After initial excuses this continued. I decide not to do anything about it since the payment regularly appeared, but just two weeks late. About three months ago no rent was paid and the tenant gave a really lame excuse. The money was eventually paid but now they have started paying a month late. I am sure this will be the normal pattern from now on but their lack of communication always has me worried about when and if I will receive the rent each month.

I could let this run but am worried it might be the prelude to rent being paid even more erratically or at some point not at all. It also causes me acute anxiety as every month I have this sense of fear that I’ll have to play run around to find out when they are going to pay.

Evicting them would be easy since it’s a SAT and I can use a “no-fault” process with no reason necessary. It’s a family with two children of primary school age.

So my dilemma is – they pay but never on time. So is it better to have the money rather than no money at all if I evict them and they just stop paying?

Does anyone have any experience of this or suggestions on what I should do?

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Benji 2nd September, 2018 @ 15:12

Serve notice now.
In the unlikely event they start paying the rent on time, every time, no excuses, then don't act on it.
It is partly your own fault for letting them think the rent is optional.
With the scrapping of "no fault" evictions now in Scotland, you would not have been able to evict under the new rules.
Could you cope with dealing with this every month of your life for years and years?

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Jock 2nd September, 2018 @ 15:15

It's not going to get any better.

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Mandy Thomson 2nd September, 2018 @ 16:42


For the new private residential tenancies:

"Ground 12: Rent arrears

A mandatory ground. If there have been arrears for at least three consecutive months and at least one month’s rent in total is owed on the day of the hearing.

It is discretionary ground if less than one month’s rent in total is owed."

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Benji 3rd September, 2018 @ 07:19


So the tenant reduces the rent to £1 less than one month's owing just before the hearing and the landlord has to start all over again.

Or the tenant makes up a counter claim.

It can take years to evict a determined rogue tenant.

In John's case above, he has already been putting up with this for 4 years before approaching breaking point and deciding to evict. Luckily, he can still evict under "no fault", otherwise it could be another 4 years or more before getting his property back.

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Benji 3rd September, 2018 @ 07:37


You also(conveniently?)missed this bit from your quote about Scotland;

Scotch Missed?

"It is not mandatory for the tribunal to make an eviction order if the rent arrears are due to any delay or failure (wholly or partly) in payment of rent caused by problems with relevant benefit payments."

I don't think there has ever been a "DSS" tenant who has not had at least some problem with benefit payments.

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Mandy Thomson 3rd September, 2018 @ 08:33


Agreed it's certainly not ideal. However, I disagree with your assertion that it would not have been possible for John to evict under the new system, just a lot harder. And no, I am NO fan of the private residential tenancy and the removal of no fault eviction, IMHO the only good thing about the new system IN THEORY (and that remains to be seen in practice) is the introduction of possession cases being held by the Housing and Property tribunal.

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Benji 3rd September, 2018 @ 08:45


You are quite correct Mandy, it is possible.

I misinterpreted your post as claiming "no fault" evictions weren't necessary as there were other grounds for eviction. Apologies.

And let's not get started on proving the near impossible grounds for eviction under ASB!

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Mandy Thomson 3rd September, 2018 @ 09:01


Tell me about it! I would be very interested to hear from anyone who has used the new Scottish system to evict, as the new "housing court" is supposed to resolve the issues around evicting under non arrears grounds, though no doubt it's going to be the same old situation with professional tenants submitting false pleas to schedule hearings and delay eviction.

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John 17th September, 2018 @ 19:51

Following on from comment #76 above - I served notice and they have two months to leave. They contacted me today saying that they had found a new place and wanted a reference. They say that if I don't give them one they will stay beyond the -ish date (which means I have to go down the court order route to evict them). I have told them again and again that I will not give them a reference if they owe me money and they haven't yet paid this months rent. So I am effectively being blackmailed into providing an untruthful reference. Even if I give them one there's always the danger that they then pay no more rent until the end of the tenancy having got what they wanted.

Part of me just wants to get rid of these dreadful people but on the other hand I resent being blackmailed and forced to lie in a reference. It could always rebound upon me, of course, if the lie is later discovered by a landlord further down the line. So I am tempted just to say "no rent, no reference" and see if that works. If I'm pushed into a court order situation then they'll get no reference at all and will, quite justifiably in my opinion, have to leave with nowhere to go.

Does anyone have any experience of this type of situation?

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Mandy Thomson 18th September, 2018 @ 07:41

@John luckily I have never been in the situation you describe, but bear in mind that any reference you provide must be truthful. You could provide a reference that simply doesn't mention the tenants' record on rent paying and other bad behaviour at all just whatever good points they have. A future landlord or agent who pays proper due diligence won't simply accept a written reference, they will want to speak to you too.

Although I normally prefer email over text, I ALWAYS phone a prospective tenant's last landlord, as even if they don't give me any more information, you will often pick up hesitancy and voice tone which won't be conveyed in writing. Also, people are more likely to blurt something out on the spur of moment or say something verbally that they won't put in writing.

Another thing you can do is upload their details to the tenant history/delinquent tenant databases, so any future landlord is forewarned (Google it, there are a few around).

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Kate 29th September, 2018 @ 22:34

Thanks for this post - I’m a tenant - always been on time for my rent, but Ive just moved and paid the deposit and first months rent on moving in, and now for the first time ever am going to be about a week late on half on my rent as I’m self employed and three of my clients are late paying me.
Wondering if I should pay the half I have or wait till I have it all, and how honest I should be? I want to have a good relationship with my Landlord and in over 10 years of renting I have never been late before so it’s really bad that this is with a brand new Landlord. It should also never happen again as I earn more than I spend but obviously the deposit was a large chunk of money making me tighter so when my clients didn’t pay I didn’t have my usual savings to use.
Any ideas of what you as Landlords would prefer your tenants to do in this situation?

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John 30th September, 2018 @ 09:16

In reply to Kate

You come across as genuine and fully aware of your need to pay rent on time but on this occasion are having problems paying. I would be up-front with your landlord and explain the circumstances that on this occasion have prevented you from paying in full. Particularly stress the burden paying the deposit has laid on you at the start of this tenancy. I would pledge to pay on time next time. What I would not do is just not pay in full without any warning or make up another type of story; so be honest.

I am a landlord and in this situation would let you pay when you have the money but certainly by the next due date. The problem might be if your landlord has mortgage payments to make from your rent, but even then if they are managing their finances properly they should be able to sit out a short period of non-payment from you. What I would not tolerate is habitual late or non-payment of rent.

Incidentally you may have self-employment insurance to cover any downturn in your income that might assist you.

This is all about being reasonable, and if you are honest about the situation then it would be a very callous individual who would take any sort of action against you in this situation.

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Mandy Thomson 1st October, 2018 @ 08:15

@Kate Really great advice there from John. As a small landlord the very worst thing is being left in the dark about rent payments.

I would add that as it's a new landlord, it might be an idea to arrange for your previous landlord to reassure the new landlord about your rent payment record (assuming the new landlord didn't get a reference from the old one, which frequently happens, though it shouldn't).

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Gabby 2nd October, 2018 @ 14:38

Cripes - as a landlord reading all the above who's only had one seriously bad tenant in the past 25 years (who I hope will be signing a Deed of Surrender and moving out imminently) - this is all pretty alarming stuff! In my case I've just the one rental property, which is the annexe to my one and only home. It's so sad that terrrible tenants wreck the future opportunities for other people wanting to rent good quality, well-maintained and affordable homes, as I'm sure many landlords come to feel that the hassle of letting just isn't worth it after a bad experience. Think I'll be going down the route of taking the "fully managed" lets option in future, instead of doing them myself!

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John 2nd October, 2018 @ 14:48


It can appear as a minefield but I guess to be a landlord you have to be quite thick-skinned. Bad tenants can, I agree, make you feel as if it's not worth it but in my case I am looking beyond these outgoing tenants to a better future when I'll have new people in who will hopefully not be as bad (although there are no guarantees). I have never had a good agent but despite this will use one next time; at least there's less chance of a tenant developing a habit of late payments with an agent.

Don't let a bad experience put you off letting.

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Mary 27th February, 2019 @ 14:52

who not pay should be ashamed. I heard to talk about a new service, should be ADDPAID. If I understood right you can publish overdue payments, invoices ( and rent in your case) to affect their reputations and shame anyone for bad behavior.

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Mandy Thomson 27th February, 2019 @ 15:38

Or better still use The Rental Exchange (though if you're a small landlord -defined as owning less than £500 properties - it's voluntary on the tenant's part. There are also delinquent tenant databases such as or Tenant History.

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Debra 28th January, 2020 @ 02:40

Hello all, we have tenants who are causing problems for us.tenants dirty, leaving the property for days and now weeks unheated and unventilated, mold now starting to flourish in abundance, we only found out about that when tenant broke saniflo toilet with wet wipes and proceeded to use the bath as a toilet for over a week!
which has been rectified by myself and husband.this property is next door to us, we have always been friendly with the tenants so can't work out how or why this is happening. Now we fear that the rent is not going to be paid and we are fearful of the property being ever more damaged by the lack of heat and mold and general neglect, help ?

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Maggie 9th April, 2020 @ 22:51

We have been landlords for over 20 years and at the moment we have some great tenants and the ones giving us problems are 1 pair on Universal Credit with over 2 months rent arrears and one single who pays sporadically on his terms and he has been with us for 3 years and now I'm getting fed up. I am a member of the NRLA and I rely on their legal advice, its the best I have found, well worth the membership. Your blog is a very good read. I think being a landlord and getting it right is the hardest job I have ever had.

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Tenant 22nd August, 2020 @ 09:20

Can I just say, that as a tenant - this is a fantastic site into the world of problems that landlords face. I’ll be sure to share a link with all my tenant friends so that information asymmetry isn’t also capitalised! Great stuff!


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