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Troublesome Tenants

Troublesome Tenants: What can Landlords Do?

Sometimes even the most careful Landlord will encounter a “Problem Tenant”. If this happens, the Landlord needs to take prompt action. Leaving an issue unresolved will usually only make matters worse. For the purposes of this post, we are looking at a short-term letting of residential property on an Assured Shorthold Tenancy basis.

Common problems

Problems typically relate to:
• Money – such as late payment or non-payment of rent
• Treatment of the Property – for example, the Tenant is causing damage or neglect
• Behaviour towards other people – leading to complaints from housemates or neighbours.

Rent arrears

If the Tenant is late with rent payments, or is failing to pay rent altogether, the Landlord should issue a written reminder. If payment is still not forthcoming, the reminder can be followed up with a more strongly worded letter which raises the prospect of legal action being taken. See our Landlord Management Letters for a selection of templates.

Unacceptable behaviour 

If the Tenant is behaving in a way that causes concern to the Landlord or to other people, this again needs to be documented. The Landlord should write to the Tenant describing the unacceptable behaviour and reminding the Tenant of the relevant terms of the Tenancy Agreement. A follow-up letter can then be sent if the offending behaviour does not stop. There are useful templates in our Landlord Management Letters.

Legal action

If the problem persists despite the Landlord raising the issue via a series of letters, the Landlord can consider taking legal action to evict the Tenant and obtain payment of any sums owing. The position is different according to whether the fixed term of the Tenancy is still running or has expired.

• During the fixed term – the Landlord would need to use the procedure in Section 8 of the Housing Act 1988. The Landlord must prove fault on the part of the Tenant, such as rent arrears or another breach of the Tenancy Agreement. Our Guidance on Section 8 and Section 21 Notices has more information.
• When the fixed term has expired – the Landlord can use the “No Fault” eviction procedure in Section 21 of the Housing Act. See our new Residential Possession Proceedings folder for detailed Guidance Notes and Template Forms.

By Iain Mackintosh

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