By the time landlords get to the stage of Court proceedings, rent arrears have risen considerably beyond the 8 weeks/2 months arrears level that they have to be when the notice is served; if using a Section 21, the 2 months notice period has well passed and your tenant is still there, delaying any plans to sell or re-furbish.
Taking Court proceedings is the last thing landlords want to do, because of the delays and the high cost – £280 if done through the Court, £250 if the on-line possession claim route is used, but there is worse to come, if it gets to Court and possession is not granted the process then has to start all over again.
This is often because of small errors which can be avoided, with care.
Here are a few pointers to try and make sure that you issue notices correctly and will only have to issue possession proceedings once:
- Issue the notice to whoever the tenancy was issued to and in the name used when issuing. So a joint tenancy should be ended by a joint notice. If a company name is used for the landlord, then the notice should also have the company name.
- Make sure you are clear about which notice you are serving. Most landlords prefer a section 21, as a ground is not needed and it is accelerated possession proceedings. It requires 2 full months notice, possibly more as it should follow the dates of the tenancy.
- Although commercially available notices will include a “saving clause”, the easiest way to avoid problems is to use the tenancy dates. So if a tenancy starts on the 2nd of the month, the tenancy runs monthly to 1st of the following month and the notice should therefore be issued before the 2nd, to end 2 months hence on the 1st.
- If rent arrears, use a Section 8 notice quoting grounds 8, 10 and 11; ground 8 is the mandatory ground, which means a Court should order possession and says that either 2 months or 8 weeks (dependent on what the tenancy agreement says) rent arrears are owed. Grounds 10 and 11 are discretionary grounds which mean a Court must feel it is reasonable for a landlord to want possession but in cases where there is a ground 8, it adds weight. The Section 8 notice should also follow dates, but in this case, the last 14 days of a tenancy period, so in the case mentioned, a tenancy ending on 1st of the month must have a notice issued before 15th of the month, to end 1st of the next month.
- Have a clear rent account showing what is due, what was paid and an accumulating rent arrears total. The best way to show this information is in the form of a spread sheet. Landlords have been known to present a set of bank statements, a Court will not take the time to go through these and come up with their own figures for rent arrears. If trying the on-line possession procedure, dates and figures will have to be inserted, so having a clear rent account is necessary to do this speedily.
- Though a joint notice can be issued, when it comes to Court proceedings, the Court paperwork must be completed 3 times for each tenant. This is done automatically in the on-line procedure.
It is bad enough having tenants you don’t want linger in your property so make sure you issue paperwork correctly; it saves time and money.
By Sharon Betton