Can my landlord evict me for late rent payments (rent arrears)?

October 16, 2018

If you’ve fallen behind with your rent payments, your landlord may be able to evict you. Landlords must follow a specific procedure when evicting tenants for rent arrears, but if you’ve missed more than one payment they can commence action straight away.

So what procedure must they follow?

Eviction for late payment of rent

Eviction procedures vary according to your type of tenancy agreement:

Excluded occupier

If you share living space with your landlord, such as the bathroom or kitchen, they only need to verbally request that you leave.

Social housing

If your landlord is a housing association or local authority, a rent arrears ‘pre action protocol’ must be followed. This includes providing help for you to claim any appropriate benefits.

Private tenant

The process of eviction in the private rental sector is called ‘seeking possession’ and your landlord must provide you with written notice of their intentions. This could be called a ‘notice of seeking possession’ or perhaps a ‘notice to quit.’

If the notice period comes to an end and you haven’t paid, the landlord is likely to seek a possession order through the courts. Should you refuse to leave by the date specified your landlord can obtain a warrant of possession allowing bailiffs to evict you. Bailiffs would send a notice of eviction with the date they intend to take action.

Rent arrears and eviction: what do you need to consider?

Is the notice to quit or notice seeking possession legally correct?

Check that all the details are accurate and the correct form has been used by the landlord. If not, you may be able to delay proceedings. The same applies to any court papers you receive.

Seek professional assistance

Obtaining professional advice increases your chances of fighting eviction, and of dealing with your overall financial difficulties. You may owe more than one debt, in which case it could be beneficial to enter into a formal insolvency procedure which would safeguard your home and protect you from creditor legal action.

Put your rent payments to one side

Sometimes landlords refuse to accept payments once a written notice has been served. If this is the case and you can afford to pay your arrears but the landlord won’t accept them, you should put the money to one side. If the case does go to court you can then demonstrate your ability to repay, and the court may deem it unacceptable to evict you.

Defending yourself in court

When the claim form is sent from the court you should also receive a defence form on which you can state your side of the issue. You could include details of another party who is responsible for the arrears, for example, or let the court know that a housing benefit payment is due. You may also want to describe any particular circumstances that have led to the debt, such as job loss or illness.

What can you do about your rent arrears?

If you fall behind with rent payments, it’s crucial to contact your landlord straight away. You can explain your circumstances, and offer to pay an amount towards the arrears as a show of good faith.

Various formal debt solutions may also help to deal with the overall problem. Individual Voluntary Arrangements offer an alternative to bankruptcy, for example, if your debts have become unmanageable.

UK Debt will help you deal with rent arrears and advise on your next best steps. We are insolvency experts and offer same day consultations free-of-charge. Please contact one of our expert team to find out how we can help.

Joanne Wright

Head Adviser at our Manchester Office

Tel: 0800 001 4247

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