Rent arrears arise when a tenant has not paid the rent when due under the tenancy agreement.
If tenants fall into arrears, it is best to make contact with them promptly to work together to prevent the debt becoming unmanageable. Organisations such as Citizens Advice (see link below) can advise them on their benefit entitlement. Landlords should try to agree a repayment plan.
If this doesn’t work, landlords may terminate the tenancy and/or make a claim for repayment of the debt in the Small Claims Court.
Notice of application for possession order
If rent arrears amount to more than two months’ rent, the landlord may serve two weeks’ notice of an intention to apply to the court for a possession order under Section 8 of the Housing Act 1988, under Ground 8. This is a mandatory ground which means the court must grant possession if the landlord can prove that two months’ rent was unpaid when the notice was served and on the day of the hearing.
Landlords may also serve a notice using Ground 10 (‘some rent’ is and remains unpaid) or Ground 11 (the tenant has failed repeatedly to pay rent on time). These are both discretionary in that the court has the discretion whether or not to grant possession. A landlord can use Ground 11 even if there are no rent arrears at the time the possession proceedings start.
>> Related Post: How to seek possession under Section 8
>> Related Post: How to terminate a tenancy with a Section 21 Notice
Recovery of rent arrears
Landlords may bring a claim to recover the rent arrears in the small claims court. The NRLA recommends doing this via Moneyclaim Online.