3 Years Running: Buy-To-Let Legal Services Award
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Property is sub-let?
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The latest figures released last week by LSL Property Services reported that the number of tenants facing serious rent arrears has fallen by nine per cent in the last 12 months. In the latest quarter, the number of tenants more than two months in arrears stood at 62,500, compared to 71,700 for the same period last year. There is an annual improvement of 6,500 tenants no longer facing the threat of eviction and figures also show that 98.6 per cent of tenants in the private rental sector now avoid falling in serious rental arrears.
These figures showing an overall improvement are encouraging for landlords, no landlord wants to end up with a tenant that cannot pay their rent on time. Obviously, genuine circumstances can arise during the course of a tenancy; a tenant may lose their job, a couple could split up, personal incidents occur, the cost of living and associated bills increase, yet wages may not. A landlord cannot predict these things happening during a tenancy, but if a tenant does slip into arrears, communication with the tenant early on is crucial so that a payment plan can be worked out, or if necessary, a tenant can make an application for housing benefit.
We have far too many landlords that let months pass by before they take action and serve a section 8 rent arrears notice. It makes it much harder to collect the rent, bearing in mind it can take up to five months to evict a tenant from serving notice to bailiff eviction stage.
Last week, I spoke to one landlord who instructed us to act. His tenant had racked up thirteen months’ rent arrears by the time he had decided to call us!
Most tenants are genuine and will tell the landlord what the problem is. But some tenants will bury their heads in the sand and ignore communication with the landlord in order to stay put until evicted. This can cause landlords huge financial distress and even force them into mortgage arrears with their bank. We have acted for some landlords that have decided they have had enough of being a landlord and when they finally get vacant possession, sell the property and exit the Private Rental Sector. This has been particularly prevalent this year, as more and more landlords have seen the rise in value of their property.
We have experienced a dramatic increase of section 21 instructions this year, where landlords will use the accelerated possession procedure (no hearing) to obtain a possession order, even if they are owed rent arrears. Many would rather go under this simpler procedure of section 21, rather than section 8 which involved pursuing the case through the courts with a hearing, as they want to avoid possible complications and delays. In fact, we recently carried out a survey with our landlords which had served section 21 notices and 28% had tenants in arrears.
Landlord action was set up by landlords for landlords with problem tenants. That is, tenants who are in rent arrears or break some other part of a tenancy agreement. Landlord & tenant law is a specialist area and we found solicitor charges were too much and too vague. When you have a bad tenant you want to evict them fast. Any landlord would want a bad tenant out. they want advice and help with the law. And that's what we do. We are experts in this area and unlike solicitors, we only act for landlords, never tenants. And we'll help recover the outstanding rent. Our free advice line is open to all landlords and we have carried out thousands of evictions.