Help on rent arrears, threats from tennants

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M
Mrs D
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Hi,
My husband and I are first time landlords - have been renting our property for 18months now. History of the problems is summarised as follows:

1. Took on tennants in May 2008. 12 month RLA contract signed. Deposit one month's rent taken. They are in receipt of housing benefit.
2. May 08 to May 09 - no problems; rent in every month, only issue was they wouldn't always let us come to inspect house on the dates suggested by us. Would always delay by 1-2weeks.
3. May 09 - rent not received; had to chase and came week late. June 09 - rent not received - tennants claimed they no longer had the money and would pay it back when they had the money. Refused to give me a time frame for repayment. Refused offers of paying back slowly (total 555).
4. Tennants also claim that because we hadn't signed a further fixed contract by May 09, that they did not owe us any money for June as they were no long under contract!! But living in our house as tennants and we had not issued notice two months before end of initial contract, to vacate.
5. We signed new contract in July, to end May 2010; I felt sorry for them as I'm GP and know that some people are struggling in current climate. So reduced their rent from 555 to 525.
5. We were both particularly stressed at work and unfortunately completely forgot about the gas safety check. Completely our fault - we were 2 months late; but did get it done. Had no calls from them about it during the overdue 2 months; but interestingly, they complained to the gas safety officer at HSE (that we hadn't done the check), the day before the gas check was booked in (and on that same day, called us to say we could no longer bring gas man to the house until following week.

6. We wrote to them 3 weeks ago giving notice that rent arrears due. No contact from them. We've heard from the neighbour that they've stated that 'we're never going to see our rent for June' and that 'they have people they can send to beat people up if necessary'. Suspect he's all mouth - but in any case, have let the police know though can't do anything as threats not directly at us and also via third party.

7. They were one week late wtih rent this month; finally come in today after some chasing. I emailed housing benefits people from their council to take advice; they went straight to the tennants; now tennants texting me saying they're going to take legal action over us (not quite sure for what)!!

Am I correct in thinking our next course of action should be to persue arrears in courts via moneyclaim.gov? Would you persue to evict also?? They've told us numerous times that they love our house and feel very settled there and can see themselves there for a long time!! After May 2010 - we don't ever want to be landlords again - stress of being a GP is more than enough!! But WHAT IF THEY WON'T GO?? I've heard it can take months and months to evict them.

ANY ADVICE FROM HELPDESK OR OTHER LANDLORDS WOULD BE MUCH APPRECIATED.

THANKS

28/10/2009 00:00

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