How Do I Recover Rent Arrears From My Tenant?
If any tenant is unable to pay the rent you first need to know if it is a genuine issue because of the COVID-19 pandemic or some other reason.
If it is due to COVID you need to be aware of the changes introduced by the government due to the Coronavirus Act. The law has been modified so it is best to consult a rental solicitor before opting with any legal proceedings.
Speak with the tenant: Before doing anything, it would be best to speak with the tenant about the rental arrears. Try to be understanding and courteous during your interaction.
Listen to their response: The tenant should be able to confirm with documents the reason they are unable to make the payment. Ask them for a revised timescale for them to be able to make the payment. Most tenants will be proactive in searching for a mutually beneficial solution of some kind.
You need to determine if they would be able to keep their end of the agreement. If they offer a solution that seems unrealistic you need to look out for your interest. Instead, ask them to produce a financial means form along with their income and expenditure with supporting evidence. Looking at the evidence would shed light if they will be able to honour any revised payment agreement, they have discussed with you.
If other than the current arrears and (if they will have the means), if they have been paying promptly and been a good tenant having them evicted might be counter-productive. It will include court fees when combined with the loss of rent (until a new tenant is found). Instead getting an agreement with them staying on would be worth considering.
If you do plan an agreement with the tenant, it must be written and signed by all. You need to be extra careful when drafting the agreement and mention what action will be taken against the tenant if they do not stick to the written terms.
Although, if you think that the tenant will not be able to make the payments you need to prepare to take possession legally of the property. However, ensure that you act within the new COVID guidelines that are enforced dues to the pandemic at present.
Can the deposit be used to repay the rent arrears?
The tenant might suggest deducting the arrears from the deposit you have. Generally, whenever the tenant vacates the property there might be a need to make deductions because of any property damages or rent arrears at that time. While the property is occupied by the tenant the landlord is not obliged to use the deposit to recoup arrears. Therefore, if the tenant will continue staying it would not be recommended to deduct arrears from the deposit.
Is there a guarantor for the tenant?
If there is a guarantor for the tenant and the latter owes rent arrears, it would be advisable to get in touch with the guarantor at the earliest. Since the guarantor stood surety for the tenant, they will work expeditiously to resolve the rent payment issues with the tenant. If not, the landlord is within his legal rights to claim arrears from the guarantor by going to the county court and filing for a debt collection claim.