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Renting riddles: Preventing rent arrears

YM RentArrears 1706Q. One of my biggest fears as a landlord is that my tenant stops paying their rent. How can I avoid this happening in the first place and what should I do if it does? 

It is pretty scary if a tenant stops paying their rent – especially if you haven’t got a lot of savings to cover the bills while you resolve the problem. 

The first thing to do is speak to your tenant to find out whether it’s just a mistake or a longer-term problem. If we collect the rent or manage your property, we’ll do this for you.

The good news is that we offer a rent protection product, backed by Aviva, which covers you for up to 6 months’ rent if your tenant stops paying. If you look at the cost of this versus the cost of losing one or more months’ rent, it may represent very good value for money. That’s why many of our landlords currently take advantage of this Rent Protection Insurance Scheme. Find out more here.

If your tenant’s not paying and is refusing to leave the property, you’ll need to issue them with a Section 8 notice. You can do this when they owe more than 8 weeks’ rent for weekly or fortnightly payments, or more than 2 months’ rent for monthly payments. If they still don’t leave, you’ll have to take the eviction – come and speak to us and we can explain the process, or talk to an eviction specialist, such as Landlord Action.

Five top tips to avoid tenants falling into arrears – and you losing money!:

  1. Reference properly. Ask for 3 months’ bank statements so you can see their income and expenditure patterns and whether they can afford your rent. And speak to their previous landlord to find out whether they had any problems with payments.
  2. Check your bank on the day rent is due. The sooner you notice late payments, the sooner you can take action.
  3. Communicate with your tenant/agent right away if rent is late. If it’s a simple error or small problem, put a payment plan in writing to make sure the rent’s made up as soon as possible.
  4. Be aware of tenants trying not to pay you. You might sympathise with your tenant’s money problems, but you’re running a business! If they can’t afford to stay in your property you both need to find an affordable solution.
  5. If in doubt, get the tenant out! If there’s an ongoing issue, or you suspect a tenant is deliberately not paying, issue them with a notice to leave. Delays will cost you time and money. 

If you’re currently self-managing and you’d like to discuss our services, or if you need any advice about dealing with arrears, just call into your local Your Move branch.

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