There are things that both landlords and tenants can do to minimise problems, and to prevent them from becoming more serious. Any problem needs to be recognised, accepted, and resolved promptly. Sometimes landlords will let a situation go on for too long before they do anything about it. This is not constructive for either landlord or tenant. The landlord could end up losing a lot of money and the tenant could end up in Court. Anybody who is unhappy about a situation needs to deal with it.
A typical example of such a situation is rent arrears. Landlords are contributing to the possibility of a problem developing if they don’t check that payments are made on time; if they allow payments to be made later and later or to be missed altogether; or if they accept excuses without setting boundaries.
There are safeguards that can be put in place at the start of the tenancy: by making the rules clear and including them in the tenancy agreement; by taking out rent guarantee insurance if the tenant is eligible; or by including a guarantor as party to the tenancy agreement. Having all the rent paid in advance for the period of the tenancy will avoid any late payment. Paying rent in advance is becoming more common these days especially for tenants coming from abroad; for those with a poor credit history; and for tenants who do not have regular earned income.
With rent arrears, it can be kinder to both the tenant, and to the landlord’s pocket, to take a legal position from the beginning. Confronting the situation early can give the opportunity to find out the reason and negotiate an arrangement which is acceptable to both parties. It may be the bank’s error; maybe a change of employment has led to a delay in the tenant receiving income. Maybe the tenant is unhappy and is withholding rent as a protest.
As a tenant you should always let your landlord or agent know if you are having problems with paying your rent, for any reason, before the rent is due. If you think the landlord has failed to maintain the property or you feel the landlord’s behaviour is unacceptable in any way, you cannot withhold rent in protest.
Non-payment of rent for any reason, will go against a tenant. Not only is the tenant risking legal action: when they apply for the tenancy of another property, their landlord or agent may refuse to give a reference, or may give the details of the rent arrears. The new landlord may prefer not to take the risk and turn the tenant down.
Tenants should also consider carefully before taking any tenancy. They should not over commit themselves to a higher rent than they can comfortably afford, or take a property in poor condition because it is cheaper. Keeping to a 6 month tenancy gives flexibility for the tenant to leave if they become unhappy or realise the property does not meet their needs.
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