Rent arrears and seeking possession

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Our tenant was working full time until August 2007, when she was made redundant. She now has a part time job, which is less money. She is a single mother with a young child.

She has been in the property for almost a year (during the first 6 month ASTA all was fine as she was working). We renewed the ASTA so that a new 6 month ASTA was in place, which is due to end on 29 February 2008.

She pays monthly rent in advance by Standing Order on the 1st of each month. She cancelled the Standing Order and she did not pay the advance monthly rent payment on 1 January and she did not pay the advance monthly rent payment on 1 February. Is she now classed as 2 months in arrears with her rent, even though she signed the ASTA agreeing to make the monthly payments in advance?

Also, she has been late with previous payments since September 2007.

She has been ignoring our letters and phone calls until a few days ago. (We have only been able to contact her mum (the Guarantor) who she also owes 2,000 to. The Guarantor has also paid October and November's rent on our tenant's behalf). This week we sent the tenant a letter asking her to update us, as she told us (about a month ago) after numerous attempts by us to contact her, that she had been to the Job Centre and they had told her that they would pay her rent. We were willing to wait until the benefits were sorted out, as long as she kept us informed but we have not heard from her and she has been ignoring our calls and letters since November 2007 (apart from a couple of text messages which did not give us enough information). When she finally called us, she said that she would have to move out as she cannot afford the rent, even with the proposed Benefit. This week she agreed to send a letter to us, giving us notice that she would move out on 29 February 2008. We have not received her letter and because she has been so unreliable, we doubt that she will send it.

We want to end this agreement so feel we need to start the ball rolling our end as we cannot guarantee that she will send us her notice letter. Do we need to give her 2 weeks notice (see above regarding rent arrears) or do we give her 2 months notice? If we have to give her 2 months notice, will it be as of 1 March to 30 April (i.e. 2 full months)? Or can we issue the notice immediately (e.g. date the notice to start as of 9th February with the notice to end on 9th April)?

Which forms should we use?

Her 600 deposit is held by the DPS. Our tenant said that she will pay what she can over the next few weeks and then she will agree to us recovering the rest of the rent arrears from the deposit. We did point out that the deposit shouldn't be released until she proves that all bills are paid and the property has been inspected by us. She said that she would pay 200 in to our account today, but we didn't expect it (as she has said this before and doesn't pay and does not contact us to explain) and we were right, as it did not get paid into our bank today.

We have tried to contact her again by phone but she has not replied.

1. She is in arrears with her rent.
2. She has said that she cannot afford to live there and needs to leave.
3. She has been constantly ignoring our calls and letters and texts (as well as not collecting Recorded Delivery Mail from us - this was returned to us by the Post Office). She occasionally picks up the phone but hangs up as soon as she hears our voice.
4. She repeatedly says that she will pay something towards the rent on certain dates (dates that she chooses) but these payments are never made and she does not contact us with an explanation.
5. We understand that she has limited money, so we have repeatedly sent her SAEs and told her that we will call her back to save her phone bill.
6. Her rent payments for September, October, November and December were all late, without prior warning to us from her.

If we issue her with notice, will she be able to use this to go to the top of her local Council Housing list? (which is something her mum suggested) or would she need something from the court for this?

She told us that she loves the house and doesn't want to move out but she said that she will have to move as she cannot afford to stay. We appreciate this, and we have tried to help her but if she won't answer the phone or our letters then there is nothing we can do to help her and we cannot afford to keep paying the mortgage without a paying tenant.

Basically, we want to regain possession. The latest 6 month ASTA ends on 29 February anyway. She is in breach of the ASTA. She owes us rent arrears, which we would like to recover along with the future rent that she will owe if she stays in the property until a court asks her to leave. We do not know which forms to use or which dates to give.

Thank you for your help.

08/02/2008 00:00

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