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Avoiding Eviction

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Wed 14 Apr 2021

Avoiding Eviction

Think of the word ‘eviction’ and imagine some of the thoughts and emotions that may come up for all parties confronted with this as a reality.  In our 13 years experience as a lettings agent, we have only ever faced a court eviction on one occasion.  This almost perfect record is down to conducting critical due diligence from the beginning of any tenancy and continued communication throughout to ensure good relationships with all parties.

 

Some Tenants Will Always Take Advantage

Before we go any further, it should be stressed that most issues involving any tenancy do not ultimately end in eviction.  When things do go very badly wrong, however, eviction can be the outcome we are left with.  It also has to be said that there will always be a very small minority of tenants who, unfortunately, take advantage in some cases with the sole intention of hanging in there until eviction occurs no matter what.  Thankfully, these tenants are few and far between in our experience.

 

Tenancy Breaches

It is the legal right of any landlord to serve notice on any tenant simply because they no longer wish to continue renting out their property.  This can happen for all sorts of reasons, including that their situation has changed and they may need to take up residence in their property themselves.  The law gives all landlords this right (outside a fixed term) to give notice whether or not the tenancy agreement has been breached and the same applies to tenants themselves.

 

Whenever breaches of tenancy agreements occur the landlord may, understandably, want to claim back control over their property.  However, it does not have to play out like that.  When life throws lemons, agents, landlords and tenants must communicate effectively to stop a small issue becoming a major problem. 

 

Good Communication Between Landlord and Tenant is Critical

The need to support and help others to get through the challenges of Covid-19 has been apparent since the first lockdown in March 2020.  Both landlords and tenants have particularly suffered in financial, mental and emotional terms and many continue to do so even now.

 

These uncertain times will pass but the hardship created for many tenants and landlords will take  some time to resolve before things can begin to return to a normal balance.  One of these hardships is the inability to pay the rent.  Non-payment of rent, under any circumstance,  is a time when communication between all parties is the route to avoiding formal eviction.  Sheridan Sales & Lettings take great care to facilitate good communication between landlord and tenant so that issues cannot arise but if no agent is involved great communication is still needed.

 

Reduce the Risk of Eviction Situations

To reduce the risk of an eviction situation here are the key points to bear in mind:

 

1.      Landlords – With or Without Help From Your Agent

  • Learn as much as possible about the causes of the situation by communicating with your tenant.  Remember that tenants may be feeling insecure if they are struggling.
  • Establish if the situation is short term and temporary or whether it is likely to be long term.
  • Advise tenants where they may find support.  You can do this by researching on behalf of the tenant to determine whether they qualify for Central and Local Government financial assistance or even an employer (ie Council Tax reductions, Housing Benefits, Tax Credits, Pension Credits, Furlough Scheme).  NB: many benefits now fall under Universal Credit.
  • Stressed tenants are likely to feel overwhelmed so send them useful links to the right information to help them apply for the right support.  Make it as easy for them as you can.
  • Suggest they contact the Citizens Advice Bureau for further impartial assistance.
  • Draft and agree a realistic and consistent payment schedule for the tenant to help chip away at the growing arrears.  This will also keep the tenant in a focused routine and encourage regular rental payments. 
  • Review the payment schedule regularly with the tenant to support changing circumstances.

2.      Tenants

  • Be mindful that Landlords are not all fatcat property tycoons and many have got mortgages and bills to pay as well as a family to support just like you.
  • Contact your landlord and/or agent immediately about your situation and be open and honest about it.  The sooner the better.  Remember it is not helpful to you or anyone else if you hide the situation.
  • Try to be realistic about how long the situation is likely to continue - short or long term – and advise of any options available to you.
  • Try to find our what support is available to you, ie do you qualify for Universal Credit or other Central and Local Government financial assistance?
  •  Worried landlords will appreciate open communication once they understand what is going on.  Making it easy for them to understand your situation will help oil the wheels.

Tenants must also remember that deferred rents are a temporary reprieve only.  Under even the extreme circumstances found with the current pandemic outstanding rents must be paid up to date at some point.  Observing these points raised here will help save you from a world of future headaches.

 

Protections In An Eviction Situation
 

In the event that a landlord is forced to forfeit their property to the lender the tenants have some protection but only IF they have not breached their tenancy in any way and are still within the fixed rental period.  A property landlord, along with their mortgage lender has to comply with current Coronavirus guidelines in any eviction process and you can easily check if your landlord has followed the rules.

It is essential that tenants seek professional advice as soon possible if they receive a court eviction document/letter or bailiffs try to evict them.  Consulting the Citizens Advice Bureau about repossession by your lender or mortgage lender/span is a good idea.
 

Don't Worry - Evictions Are Rare
 

We have witnessed this unfortunate position only once as managing agents and remind all landlords and tenants that evictions are rare events, particularly when all due diligence has been carried out from the start of a tenancy.
 

In the event a tenant refused to leave a property having been given appropriate notice as per the tenancy agreement then that is the point where things can begin to escalate.  However, communication will happen first before any legal action is taken.

 

It is always much better to keep lines of communication open and act fairly and reasonably when difficulties occur.  This can help avoid unnecessary eviction situations which nobody really wants.

If you would like to learn how Sheridan Sales & Lettings can help you avoid an eviction situation when it comes to rental property then please get in touch on 01366 858228 or email us on sales@sheridanestateagents.co.uk and we will be glad to help.