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Legal Channels Available To Deal With Unruly Tenants

Some tenants pay their rent on time and care for their home. However, there is a surprisingly large majority who will not abide by the rules. Broadly speaking, for every tenant that pays on time, there is one late payer and one already in arrears.

The importance of acting quickly
It has become increasingly difficult for landlords and it feels as though tenants have the law in their corner. That said, there are a number of legal channels open to landlords and it is worth being familiar with them. This will enable immediate action to be taken in the event of non-payment or property damage. It is wise to take prompt action because the legal process takes time and it can be stressful for all parties.
 
Try talking first
Before taking legal action, in the case of failure to pay, it can be worth trying to find out what the underlying cause might be. For example, if someone has lost their job or become ill, they may have lost their income. They may be entitled to various benefits so it is worth recommending that tenants visit their local authority to find out about Housing Benefit. This is payable to people who are in work as well as those who are not working. The council will also advise on other benefits that might help a tenant to meet their rent obligations.
 
Serving an eviction notice
When all other avenues have been exhausted and eviction is the only answer, then landlords need to serve notice to the tenant under the terms of the Housing Acts of 1988 and 1996. The first type of notice is a Section 8 notice which provides two weeks’ notice of eviction on grounds of breach of the tenancy agreement, arrears or antisocial behaviour. There is also a two month notice, the Section 21 notice, to dissolve the tenancy agreement.
 
Legal proceedings
In some cases, just serving the notice can shock the tenant into better behaviour and many people will resolve to pay for repairs or catch up on payments. And the Section 8 notice is effective for a year which should discourage any potential for backsliding. For those who won’t comply though, it can mean the beginning of protracted legal proceedings in order to get a possession order. Many cases are lost because of seemingly trivial reasons like inaccurate paperwork so it is vital to ensure that the paperwork is correct. If this is an area of uncertainty, it may be worth seeking specialist help.
 
Consider using bailiffs
If the court grants a possession order, then the majority of bad tenants will vacate the property. In some cases though, tenants will refuse to leave the premises which means it is time to think about bringing in bailiffs to evict the tenants and protect the property.
 
Cover yourself by having a witness
In all circumstances, no matter how stressful the situation becomes, it is important that landlords remain calm and avoid threatening or harassing the tenant in any way whether verbally or physically. In cases where personal contact is unavoidable, try to have a third party present as a witness.
 
Catriona Mackay, a freelance writer, provided this article for  MoreThan.com .The opinions expressed are those of the author and any data provided does not originate from More Than.


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