How to prevent and deal with rent arrears

17 Jan 2015

Once a contract is signed, it can be easy to assume that the rent will keep rolling in. Unfortunately, loss of rent can occur for a variety of reasons and it’s not always easy to predict where and when the shortfall will come. 

Whilst it is the tenant’s responsibility to make sure rent is paid in full, on time and in the manner agreed in the tenancy agreement, effective procedures for managing arrears should be established because late payment is not unusual.

What to do if rent has not been paid

Falling into rent arrears can be a very difficult time for tenants. Payments can be missed for a variety of reasons and sometimes this can be resolved between the landlord and their tenant.

For example, if the rent does not appear to have been paid, it’s best to know for certain as soon as possible, instead of allowing the issue to drift. There may be a simple explanation, such as an admin error. Issues like this can be quickly resolved by talking to your tenant and establishing a process to ensure rent is paid on time in future

Sometimes, however, the problem may be more serious. In situations like these, it’s even more important that you speak to your tenant as quickly as possible.

  • A tenant may have had to pay unforeseen costs which have compromised their ability to pay their rent. You may then look to put together a repayment plan to bring the arrears back under control.
  • If a tenant is facing longer-term financial difficulty, they may need to resort to applying for housing benefit to help pay their rent. As a landlord, you should be sensitive to such situations and offer support to the tenant to help them submit a valid housing benefit claim.

Summary

So if your tenant falls behind in the rental payments, here are a couple of quick measures you can take to get to grips with the situation

  • Speak to the tenant – find out what’s happened and what you can do to help
  • Support your tenant – as many cases of rent arrears arise due to a loss of income, has your tenant considered applying for housing support?
  • Quick fix – if it’s just a temporary hiccup, can you work with your tenant to agree a way for them to spread the cost of repayment?

Unipol

Unipol is an accreditation code working in Leeds, Bradford and Nottingham student letting markets within the universities and Student Unions.

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