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How can I sort this problem with my tenants? Sorry it's a bit long but please help if you can.

(19 Posts)
AddictedtoCrunchies Mon 08-Apr-13 13:42:47

We moved into a rented house in November and then rented out our property. Did this for two reasons: couldn't sell and needed more space.

Tenants moved in on 21 December - a couple and their friend. All housing benefit recipients - I had no problem with that. They paid a month's rent up front and a deposit of a month's rent plus £100. They have a dog which I allowed them to have even though I'd originally said no pets. They all moved to our town to find work and so I wanted to give them a chance. It was/is all done through a letting agent who take 10% from me. That's all fine.

January's rent was a few days late as was February's. But they paid when chased. March's was due on 21st. Tenant 1 (the friend) paid his half in cash on 30 March and the remaining half (the couple) is still outstanding. It will be 3 weeks late this coming Thursday.

I'm obviously worried as I'm not a property magnate and it means we are short this month due to having to pay a mortgage plus our own rent (paid by standing order monthly).

Originally the letting agent had told me that we had to give them a minimum of six months (due to the Housing Act?) then we could give them two month's notice meaning we could evict them on 21 August. However when I called this morning, a different person told me that, as they've signed a 12 month contract, I can do nothing until that 12 months is up even if they refuse to pay.

So I'm potentially going to have to pay rent AND mortgage until December. And not have access to my house that I know they are slowly trashing.

I know this because the boiler broke in February so I went round with my dad to fix it. There was mould all over the walls where they're not ventilating the property properly. There are two mattresses dumped on the drive plus damage to the doorplate. I see this as my bus goes past every morning ane evening. It's not a mansion - just a two bed mid-terrace however it was very clean and tidy when we moved out. I'm not naive enough to think they will look after it as well as I did but I can see it deteriorating..

They have been inspected by the agency and given advice on what to do to clean the mould and another inspection is due soon. The shower has also broken but I've told the agency it won't be fixed until they catch up with the rent and give me guarantees it's going to be paid. There is a bath so they're not going to be smelly.

So I guess I really want/need to know..what can I do? Short of sending round someone to 'scare' them and get them out, I don't know (and I wouldn't do that anyway as I'm too nice). Have I been taken for a fool?

Should I go and see a lawyer? I don't have the money to go to court but surely if they sign a contract they have to pay?

I'd really appreciate any help or advice.

Thanks

NorbertDentressangle Mon 08-Apr-13 13:47:45

My first reaction to your post is shouldn't the agency be dealing with this eg. chasing them up over late rent, threatening them with notice (or whatever can be done based on the contract), dealing with the state of the property?

You are paying the agency 10% for them to manage the property and tenants surely?

lalalonglegs Mon 08-Apr-13 14:00:28

Going to court doesn't cost a fortune - less than a couple of hundred quid and you can fill the forms yourself. Do the tenants have a 6-month contract? In this case, you will probably be better issuing a S21 notice, giving them two full months to quit at the end of the term. If it is a 12-month contract, then you can issue a S8 notice once they are 8 weeks in arrears. If they do not leave at the end of the S21 notice, you can go to court for an order of possession, with a S8 notice I think (have never had to issue one myself), you automatically "go to court" (it's the small claims court and you may not have to attend).

The important thing is to make sure that you have filled out either the S21 notice or the S8 notice perfectly (see www.landlordzone.co.uk/section-21-notices.htm as about 70% of them get tossed out. It is also mandatory that you have properly protected deposits etc.

AddictedtoCrunchies Mon 08-Apr-13 14:48:00

Norbert i think they are dealing but not to the extent that I would and they're certainly not keeping me in the loop. They've said there's nothing I can do but I don't believe that's the case.

lalalonglegs thank you for that. It's a 12 month contract due to expire on 20 December. So once we get to 8 weeks (16 May), I will be able to do as you say.

Thank you so much for your help, both of you.

NorbertDentressangle Mon 08-Apr-13 14:57:50

Good luck. Hope it gets sorted.

pettyprudence Mon 08-Apr-13 16:36:01

no harm in serving a section 8 notice now to give them a bit of a shake up. persistent late rent Ian a ground for section 8 notice (but won't get you anywhere with the court).
fyi the whole rent and not just one persons rent will need to be 8 weeks late to go through the section 8 route properly.

newbiefrugalgal Mon 08-Apr-13 17:53:25

OP what a nightmare.
Out of curiosity once they are eight weeks in arrears and you serve the notices, do you have any chance of getting your money back?
I know they have a bond but that won't cover it all.

specialsubject Mon 08-Apr-13 17:56:25

oh no.

first, make a nuisance of yourself to the agency and demand the service that you are paying for. Did they do any referencing? They don't want to do any work so you need to be a major pain to them - threaten bad publicity or worse. You are their customer.

there is plenty to be done but it all takes time and you must be whiter-than-white as the law is biased towards the tenants. If you 'send the boys round' YOU will be the one in trouble.

Is this 'friend' still on enough terms with you that a letter can be written reminding all concerned of their obligations? (paying the rent, getting rid of rubbish etc) If you have professional thieving tenants (and it sounds like this may be the case) you need to get proper advice and start taking action.

bill the agency for all of their work that you do. If they are by any chance ARLA members, raise a complaint.

LIZS Mon 08-Apr-13 17:59:50

Agree with Norbert , what is agent doing ? Initially they should be sending strong letters about having missed the payment and making arrangements to catch up plus specifying what needs doing to remedy the damp and tidy the property. If they are in arrears with rent you can get a possession order regardless of length of lease but think it has to be 2 months behind. You could report to council as they are in receipt of HB but not paying it over. Have you checked the terms of the lease ?

AddictedtoCrunchies Mon 08-Apr-13 18:03:24

Well I mailed a friend earlier who is a solicitor and luckily she works in property disputes. She's asked for a copy of the contract and will be able to give me some advice.

specialsubject I think a letter is a good idea to start with as they are reasonably young and naive so that might be enough to jolt them into sorting themselves out.

They are ARLA members so I shall look into their complaints procedure as well.

newbie I think the deposit will be needed for redecoration sad

Thanks for all your advice. I'm copying it into another document for reference smile

RenterNomad Mon 08-Apr-13 18:51:23

Your agents sound incompetent and pretty passive, if they are managing agents. However, I'm confused about your involvement: with a "management" contract, I wouldn't expect you to be going round to fix a boiler.

And that boiler business is a pretty bad signal to be sending, unless you or your dad are registered gas safe engineers. Top that with the condensation problem they're letting develop, and your refusal to fix the shower, and the "relationship" is no longer a financial one, and has broken down. Best to finish it ASAP (and finish with the agents as well, afterwards; that's another relationship that's gone sour).

AddictedtoCrunchies Mon 08-Apr-13 19:46:06

Dad is gas safe. We went because I'm nosy I thought it would be cheaper than them getting an engineer. Our current property is rented through the same agent and they're sending someone to fix our boiler from a town more than 150 miles away. So I'm not convinced they will always look for the best value for money.

I agree both relationships have broken down. Aim now is to get the tenants out (legally and as smoothly as possible), repair any damage (decorate, carpets etc) then decide whether to put on the market or rent again. I'd prefer to sell as not sure I want to go through this again but that would mean I step off the property ladder so hard to know what's best.

Thanks again for all your advice. I really appreciate it.

specialsubject Mon 08-Apr-13 20:03:06

there is some hope with the 'young and naive' thing, you may be able to scare them into doing the right thing. Agree that they need to be removed as soon as legally possible - and DON'T then be browbeaten into giving a reference!

go to ARLA - they are fairly toothless but they have a reputation to keep up.

good luck - please keep us posted.

Sunnyshores Mon 08-Apr-13 20:18:51

The S21/S8 notices are quite complicated and need to be done 100% correct (assume you've protected their deposit or you cant issue these). I'd recommend joining the National Landlords Association for £100 and using their free legal helpline and on-line Notices.

And kick the bloody agent, so many of them are crap..

RenterNomad Mon 08-Apr-13 20:36:08

Oh, thank goodness about the gas safe! You really had me doubting you there! smile

Oreocrumbs Mon 08-Apr-13 21:33:34

They have to be 2 months in arreas before you can issue a section 8. Now your legal friend will be able to advise better but I'm fairly sure that because you have recieved some rent (the single persons share) you can't class that as being in arreas.

My recolection is that even if it was just £1, if they collectively have paid something then they are not fully in arreas.

Getting rid of bad tenants is quite complicated and I would want to know whay the agency started them on a 12 month contract. A 6 month AST is the usual starting point. Is there a break clause in the contract? I would also be getting onto the agents case about how they are managing them.

In your shoes I would do as Sunnyshores suggests and join the NLA. You can do most of it yourself, but it is complicated, and time consuming and so easy to make a small mistake and end up back at square one.

They will be able to point you in the right direction.

AddictedtoCrunchies Mon 08-Apr-13 21:51:23

Thanks again. I knew MN would sort me out. smile

LilMissSunshine9 Mon 08-Apr-13 22:11:50

I used to work in a lettings agent we never took on people on benefits because of the number of issues around collecting rent. Not to say everyone is like that but 90% of time rent was never paid on time.

elfycat Mon 08-Apr-13 22:23:52

If they are late with rent then they are in breach of your contract - therefore you can give notice for them to leave (there must be a clause in the contract for this). If there isn't this clause sue the agent.

If they are not looking after you property adequately you can give notice, as this should be in the contract. If not see point 1.

If the agency is taking their 10% despite not doing their job, I'd have a long and loud conversation with the agent about reimbursing you this fee.

I know one of my tenants pays a few days late from time to time because (according to her) the system pays out her housing benefit a couple of days late, but my agency does get on her case immediately.

The 6-12 month contract is based on both sides fulfilling the terms of the contract, you are not trapped into this with tenants who are not (and as a landlord tenants are not stuck with us if for example we don't do gas safety checks)

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