Landlords urged to stay flexible when tenants can't pay rent

by Daniel Jones

Rather than waiting several months without getting paid and then reaching for a section 8 notice, it may be wiser letting tenants who can't afford to pay their rent to leave. According to one rental expert, landlords are better off closing a tenancy agreement early and getting new people in than going without rent.

David Lawrenson, private rented sector expert at LettingFocus.com, believes it is important to keep talking to tenants.

"What causes a problem is the lack of communication. If someone has lost their job, then they may be entitled to local housing allowance so it may be possible to put in an application for that," he explains. "The worst thing is if you don't receive the rent and then the tenant becomes non-contactable and then a solution cannot be found."

A "sensible" landlord, Mr Lawrenson argues, will be flexible with the contract and either let the tenant leave and find someone new, or agree to wait a little longer for payment, for instance, once the tenant has found a new job.

If a tenant is in arrears and refuses to leave, however, the landlord should use a section 8 notice to evict them.

And with rents continuing to rise, it seems that more people may struggle to pay rent. Average weekly rents in some London boroughs now stand at £143, some 14 per cent higher than in the last quarter of 2011, according to Easyroommate.co.uk.

But it may be unwise to keep hiking rents indefinitely.

"Landlords can increase rents as much as they like, but if people can't afford to pay those rents, then it is an unrealistic expectation," says Matt Hutchinson, director at SpareRoom. "Rents can only rise so much before people simply can't afford them. It is no use to a landlord to have a commodity that nobody can buy."

  • Landlord and Tenancy News from Lawpack: Solicitor-approved section 8 notice template with expert guidance on how to evict a tenant for rent arrears

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Published on: April 13, 2012

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