What to do for tenant not paying

Tenants who do not pay their rent can be very frustrating for landlords.

It might happen that the tenant’s circumstances change or that they find another place, but if this is something they could have told you about before, it will hurt your relationship with them if you evict them. However, there are some cases where the landlord has to take action against the tenant.

In most cases, a tenant not paying their rent is a breach of contract and the landlord can take legal action against them in order to get back any money they are owed or allow you to end the tenancy. You cannot be forced into letting someone stay in the rental property if they don’t pay – this is called retaliatory eviction.

Tenants renting from the social housing sector are governed by different rules than private renters. You can find out more on our page about eviction of social housing tenants .

If they don’t leave after you’ve given them notice, you will need to go through the legal process of ending the tenancy.

Before taking any action, talk with your tenant about their situation and how they plan to pay the rent in future. If they are experiencing financial difficulty, there may be options available to them that do not involve eviction.

Of course it’s important that you keep evidence of your attempts to speak with them. For example you could keep a written record in a rent book or tenants’ file, and make a note when you’ve made contact. Sending letters by recorded delivery will help prove they received your communications.

Waiving the Rent

If you want to waive the rent due from a tenant, it’s very important to make this clear in writing. It can be difficult to get back rent once you’ve waived it, so think carefully before you do!

Entering the Property

You may need to take court action if your tenant won’t allow you access into the property or is refusing to pay any rent while they live there.

If you want to know more about this option, see our information on evicting tenants from private rented homes .

In some cases, you may be able to ask the Court to allow you access the property. This should only be used as a last resort.

Further Options

If you have difficulty getting your tenant to pay their rent, there are organisations that can give you advice and support which will depend on where they live. For example, Shelter provides free housing advice for tenants and landlords in England and Wales . The National Landlords Association is a membership body for private sector landlords and can offer advice and support.

If you’re uncomfortable talking to the tenant yourself, an adviser may be able to do it for you.

Eviction

If all other avenues fail, there are two ways of evicting a tenant who hasn’t paid their rent:

  1. Getting a court order for possession – this will allow you to evict the tenant if they don’t leave.

If you are trying to get your tenant evicted because they haven’t paid their rent, it’s important that you do this within the correct legal time frame. If you don’t, you could end up being liable for money that is owed to them.

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