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John Knox
John Knox, Solicitor
Category: UK Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 1155
Experience:  solicitor with 8 years experience
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I have a situation where my tenants didnt pay the FULL rent

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I have a situation where my tenants didnt pay the FULL rent this month. The same tenant wants to request for housing benefit from the local council but he is unwilling to provide info as to when and how much he will be getting from the claim. The rent payable is 1000 pounds a month and he only paid 800 with no comment as to when he will pay the rest. I am nervous from the fact that a housing benefit will also be claimed as this shows the tenant may be in extreme difficulty to keep his future payments. There is an AST in place which is valid for another 6 months.


1) What is the best course of action to put pressure on the tenant without making him feeling 'bullied' by law?
2) When and under what conditions could I potentially evict the tenant if I had enough with his late payments / non payments?
3) Under what conditions can section 8 / section 21 notices be raised and what is an average time that a court can issue an eviction notice?
4) Are there any 'excuses' the tenant may find or can assist him delaying a potential eviction ?

I know that court has to be a last resort but I dont want to be caught up if I need to go down the route. Please help

I will do my best to help you with this.

You say the AST is valid for another six months. Is this a 12 month AST and are there any arrears currently, other than the £200?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
No other arrears

Unfortunately this is a new ast for 6 months I signed a couple of
Weeks back the tenant was on periodic agreement previously

I will go through each of your questions for you.

1. The best course of action. You are in a position where you cannot force the tenant out very easily and you must use the Court process which enables you to repossess a property where there are arrears or other breaches of the tenancy. On that basis, watchful waiting and record taking is the best course for now. Once the tenant owes a total of two months rent (he is in arrears of two months), you have a mandatory ground for possession, meaning that the Court would have to grant you possession if you made an application. Once you have satisfied this ground, you must go for possession straight away, first by serving a section 8 notice seeking possession and second (if he does not move out) by issuing possession proceedings. Provided two months rent are still owed at the date of the possession hearing, you will be awarded possession.

2. See above! The easiest and best ground, because it is mandatory, is that the tenant owes at least two months rent. The Court has no discretion and would be forced to order possession in your favour.

3. Once the tenant is arrears of two months rent, issue the section 8 notice. If he has not moved out when the notice expires, issue proceedings based on section 8. You would use the section 21 procedure if you were seeking possession at the end of the term i.e. at the end of the current six month term. Section 21 is slightly easier and quicker so you would use that if, for example, in 4 months time there are two months arrears and the tenancy is shortly due to come to an end.

The procedure usually takes about 6 - 8 weeks from the date you issue proceedings, so it can be dealt with relatively quickly (for the otherwise snail like Court system!). When the Court makes the possession order, the tenant will have 14 days to leave the property.

4. There are no excuses, not if the tenant has two months arrears. As I said, the Judge has no discretion, he MUST order possession.

Any further queries, please ask. Please remember to rate me kindly!

Best wishes

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
thats an excellent answer!,!! thank you will definitely rate highly:)

Just to clear something last in my head. By 2 months arrears do you mean 2 full months or it doesnt matter how much the tenant owes. Since my fear is that the tenant wont meet the full rent for two months. for argument sake say that he only pays 800 first month and 800 next month (out of the 1000). would justice see that this is not really 2 months in arrears?
Hi Costas

That is right. Unfortunately, it needs to be two full months arrears. So, once he is £2,000 behind in his rent, only then can you seek possession on the basis of unpaid rent.

On that basis, it may be that he keeps paying £800 per month and does not reach two months arrears during the six month term. If that happens, you will have to go for section 21 possession as the term comes to its end. You would go for that 4 months into the term.

All the best with it Costas.

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