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You’re Being Served! Cases of Non-Payment of Rent

Regardless of how rigorously a landlord may have screened their tenant, sometimes undesirable situations develop during the tenancy, forcing the landlord to reconsider the relationship. For example, the repeated failure to pay the rent, illegal activities, unauthorised sub-tenants, and many other term violations by a tenant can lead to a situation that leaves the landlord thinking about the steps they need to take to evict the tenant. If you’re looking to evict your tenant, here’s all you need to know.

Remember: A Notice Seeking Possession Always Comes Before Any Formal Eviction Proceedings Will Be Accepted By A Court

As a landlord, if you feel that you’ve got clear grounds for an eviction, you’ll still need to serve a notice seeking possession before pursuing formal eviction proceedings as per the official way of the County Court. Under the Housing Act, a Section 8 notice is the designated notice for setting out a specific breach. Although, unarguably, the most common breach relates to the failure of the tenant to pay their rent and accrue significant rent arrears. The term ‘significant’, in these circumstances, is defined as the total unpaid rent accumulation which exceeds two months.

Prior to the introduction of Schedule 29 to the Coronavirus Act 2020, the time frame a landlord needed to provide to a tenant before commencing possession proceeding for such a case was a minimum of 2 weeks. Although this increased significantly during the Coronavirus Pandemic, it’s expected to revert to pre-pandemic levels from 1st October 2021. Another option is to serve a section 21 notice, but it is regarded as a non-fault termination, and therefore the time frame, which must be offered before any enforcement can move forward, is considerably longer. 

The Case of Non-Payment of Rent on Time

As one of the most common reasons for termination of tenancies, repeatedly failing to pay the full rent within the due date may prompt the landlord to serve a notice seeking possession. The ground for possession, which, arguably, you’d want to include in the notice, is Ground 8, as it’s a mandatory ground for possession. Most other grounds are discretionary grounds, which means that even if they’re proven, they may still not lead to formal termination. 

The notice seeking possession must offer a mandatory time frame to give the tenant an opportunity to remedy the situation and/or come to an agreement to avoid enforcement. Failure to adhere to this requirement will almost certainly render the notice defective and impair your chances of securing a favourable outcome should the matter progress to the County Court.

If, on service of a notice on the grounds of rent arrears, the tenant settles the current arrears balance within the stated period, the grounds for possession will become unenforceable.

If the mandatory time frame has elapsed, and the tenant has still failed to settle the arrears or initiate a constructive dialogue, then the landlord can commence formal recovery proceedings to terminate the tenancy. But it requires the landlord to establish the court under whose jurisdiction the property falls and file a claim for possession. The court will require a claim form and certain particulars of the claim, along with a fee of £355. Eventually, this will lead to a hearing date, at which time the merits of the case will be heard and considered. The parties will present themselves and their documentation to the court, and at this point, the tenant can raise any concerns they have with the landlord’s conduct or the condition of the property. Most courts will have a duty solicitor on hand for the tenant’s benefit, so the landlord should always work on the basis that the tenant will be well represented, which will serve to increase the pressure on them to perform.

If the landlord secures a favourable outcome, but the tenant still refuses to leave, then they can instruct a bailiff to evict the tenant and secure vacant possession.

The possession procedure is complex and stringent. A Judge will only offer to terminate the tenancy if the landlord can unequivocally demonstrate that they’re entitled to an order for possession in law; with the onus on the landlord to prove their case and the fact that they’ve fully complied with the various pieces of corresponding legislation from start to finish. Mistakes are not tolerated, and latitude is hardly, if ever, offered to a landlord. A mistake at the earlier stages of the procedure could undermine your actions at a much later stage in the procedure. Landlords, therefore, need to understand and fully acquaint themselves with the requirements in terms of their submissions and conduct in court.   

For every day that passes where the tenant is not paying rent, the money is being taken out of your pocket. It is therefore recommended that you consult experienced Rent arrears expert UK or residential eviction specialists to ensure you can manage the situation effectively. They may be able to help you avoid court action altogether and get the tenancy back on track. Reach out to experienced and knowledgeable Residential Eviction Specialists UK at Landlord Assist at 01843 223223 or email at to learn more.

Consult our Landlord and Tenant team to find out how we can help you.