Many landlords approach us about unpaid rents or utilities by tenants. At what stage should they take legal action?
Firstly, there should always be a written contract between tenant and landlord, so it is clear when rent is due, and how it is to be paid. Also how utility bills will be funded. If a tenant does not pay a month, or pays late, then you could instruct a solicitor to send a legal letter to request payment. This bears a cost. So if the tenant then pays, but late, then money has been lost.
If a tenant does not pay after a legal letter, the next step is to start an eviction proceeding through the Courts. If they have never had a problem before, the Court may let them just pay and continue in the property. However, they are more likely to agree to an eviction if rent or utilities owing. However, this takes time to come to Court. Although it is much quicker than it used to be.
Advice for Landlords – Unpaid rent and Utilities
If you have a tenant that has not paid for a month, it is unlikely that it is worth involving a solicitor at this stage. You should contact them for overdue payment yourself or through the agent. It is possible there is a good reason and they may need a little leeway. The best thing with landlords to avoid problems is to try to keep matters amicable.
However if it is clear that a tenant is continuing with unpaid rent and utilities then after a couple of months or maybe three it is time to take action. A legal letter should be sent, as then we have to wait a period of time for a response. If after say 20 days, there has been no response, you will need to start a legal action. This would be for payment of unpaid bills (if they have money). Also for eviction. The problem is sometimes the eviction can take place, but if the tenants have no money at all, getting paid can be a problem. That is also why the initial vetting of tenants and a contract can be very important. We can assist landlords with unpaid rent and utilities situations.