How Landlords Can Ensure Eviction Is A Last Resort
Eviction Law In The UK
This article will cover how to ensure the eviction is a last resort. This year, the UK government issued an eviction ban, to protect renters from being thrown out due to unexpected financial issues caused by the pandemic. Usually, if a tenant has rent arrears, meaning a backlog of rent payments that have been missed or not paid in full, the landlord can seek possession of the property. This means the landlord will go through court to seek to evict the tenant, on the grounds that they have not fulfilled their contract, which states that a monthly payment should be made.
So how has the law changed? Simply put, the UK government responded to the coronavirus crisis by issuing a ban on evictions which was set to end on August 29th, 2020 – but has now been extended to 20th September 2020. This means that legally, your landlord cannot take you to court for rent arrears during this period. They can still seek to evict you on other grounds such as excessive noise or domestic abuse. For full information on your renters’ rights at this time, visit the Citizens’ Advice Bureau.
How can landlords avoid evicting tenants?
Whether you are a landlord or a tenant, the COVID-19 pandemic has probably put a strain on your livelihood. Nobody saw this pandemic coming, and there have been thousands of people put out of their jobs by this crisis. This is the reason for the protections issued for renters. However, come September 20th, landlords will once again have the power to evict their tenants on the grounds of rent arrears.
This can be a very traumatic and stressful experience for those renting, particularly if they are of immigrant status, have small children, or have few family members and friends to turn to.
Mass evictions could lead to a sharp increase in homelessness. This week, London mayor Sadiq Khan advised the government to freeze rents in London in order to prevent a wave of mass evictions that could devastate thousands of families. But what are the alternatives to evictions if your tenants have rent arrears? Here are some suggestions for how to ensure the eviction is a last resort.
Have an in-person discussion
Communicating via phone or email can be cold, and it can be very hard to get across your feelings and intentions. If you are a landlord who is considering evicting your tenants due to rent arrears, you should arrange to meet with them in person to discuss their situation.
This should be done safely in compliance with government guidelines around COVID-19, but if it is possible to meet, perhaps outdoors, then this should be done.
Why is this important? Because your tenants are human beings who deserve their voices to be heard. You should ask them to bring any documentation which proves their claims such as a redundancy notice, or proof that they are in the process of applying for jobs and/or housing benefits or universal credit. They should be given the space to explain why they have not been able to pay the rent.
This healthy level of discussion can lead to a plan being formulated, allowing you to work with your tenants, not against them, towards their financial stability. This benefits them and you. Evicting your tenants and then having to find new tenants is a long, complicated process that is best avoided.
Setting up a repayment plan
If you wish to pursue the rent arrears, you could set up a repayment plan with your tenants which is reasonable and achievable for them. If they owe you thousands of pounds, you could set up a standing order of, say, one hundred pounds per month in order for them to pay you back in an affordable way.
Making unrealistic demands of your tenants will only lead to conflict – besides, most renters simply cannot afford to pay back the arrears all at once. Why ask something you know they cannot achieve?
Consider your own financial position
If you are struggling financially during this time, it is understandable that you need to pursue any money owed to you by your tenants. However, if you own multiple properties and/or are in a good position financially, consider your relationship with the tenants who have built up arrears.
If the tenants are expressing the desire to repay you slowly, it is best to accept this and move on, rather than pushing them to commit to repayments they cannot afford, or throwing them out altogether. At the end of the day, we are all human beings, and if you can be kind to your tenants then you should be.
Consider their tenancy behavior
When considering seeking possession of your property and thereby evicting the tenants, first you should think of their behavior during the tenancy outside of the payment plan. Have they been good tenants? Have they taken good care of your property, by cleaning it, keeping it safe and well ventilated? Have they ever had noise or abuse complaints made by neighbors?
If the answers to these questions are all positive, perhaps consider trying to work things out with your tenants before evicting them.
Good tenants are hard to find. If you evict your current inhabitants and move new ones in, who is to say you won’t encounter problems down the line? If your current tenants are reputable but are experiencing financial difficulty, it is best to stick with them and work things out.
If you are a landlord, your job is to collect rent and provide safe and adequate housing to your tenants. If they have broken this contract, you have the right to be frustrated by this.
However, eviction is a brutal and inhumane process, which should be avoided unless it is the last resort. Follow this guide to help work things out with your tenants, without going through court.