Having a tenant that doesn't pay rent is not a pleasant experience. It is something you hope you never have to deal with. But, as a landlord, the reality is that you will probably have to contact a tenant regarding rent arrears at least once in your lifetime. Sometimes you will be able to recover the unpaid rent. Other times you may be forced to initiate the eviction process.
Prior to commencing the eviction process, communicate with your tenant by sending them a letter or if need be, a series of letters. Letters are also an effective paper trail and will help your case in court, if it was to go that far.
In the event of unpaid rent, the RLA have put together a collection of rent arrears letter templates to help you to communicate with your tenant.
Letters for use where you are not employing a solicitor
Rent Arrears - Friendly
Send to a tenant as a friendly reminder the rent is overdue.
Rent Arrears - Less Friendly
After sending 'Rent Arrears - Friendly' letter to a tenant and hearing nothing, send this letter.
Rent Arrears - Standing Order or Direct Debit bounces
Send to a tenant when a Standing Order or Direct Debit bounces.
Unpaid Standing Order or Direct Debit
Send to a tenant when a Standing Order or Direct Debit bounces following a phone conversation in which a collection date was agreed upon.
Direct Debit Cancellation
Send to a tenant immediately on receiving notice that a Direct Debit instruction has been cancelled.
Standing Order Cancellation
Send to a tenant immediately on receiving notice that a Standing Order instruction has been cancelled.
Stage 2 - If the letters from Stage 1 do not provide the outcome you were looking for, consider issuing these letters.
Rent Arrears - Small Claims Court Action Pending
This final letter is suitable when chasing arrears of rent only and not necessarily looking for vacant possession of your property.
Rent Arrears - Legal Action Pending
Legal action to regain vacant possession of your property is pending.
Letter for use where you are employing a solicitor
Employing a solicitor can be a costly affair and in most cases involving tenancy breaches is unnecessary or counter-productive. Tenants generally lack assets to lay claim to in the event of a breach so a landlord representing themselves via moneyclaim.gov.uk or seeking possession using under Section 8 Housing Act 1988 is usually the best route.
In the event that your tenant has assets, is in breach, and the breach is for £10000 or more, then you should be using a solicitor. In those cases, if you wish to be able to claim all of your solicitor's costs from the tenant, then you must comply with the Pre-Action Protocol for Debt Claims. This adds a number of additional requirements and obligations for the landlord and so a specialised debt claim letter is required for it. The below letter complies with the Pre-Action Protocol provided it is sent along with the Reply Letter and Information Sheet.
This letter should NOT be used if you are representing yourself as it increases the amount of time required before action can be taken and significantly increases the likelihood delays. It should also not be used if you are using Section 8 to gain possession of your property on the basis of arrears.
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