Ask the Legal Expert was launched last year by Clapham & Collinge LLP in relation to topical employment law questions. This series of articles helped deal with various employment law topics and issues in general terms. The Litigation Team are now shifting its focus to Landlord and Tenant Law following the relaxing of restrictions on evictions earlier this year.
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My tenant has failed to pay rent. What can I do?
It is always sensible to try and speak with your tenant and understand why they have fallen into arrears, whether their circumstances are likely to change and if you can agree a repayment plan, particularly after the pandemic.
If, however your tenant will not communicate or they are refusing to make any contribution, you will need to obtain a Court order to recover possession of your property and repayment of the rent arrears. Before issuing Court proceedings an appropriate notice needs to be served on the tenant giving a date to leave the property. The type of notice and length of notice period depends on the circumstances and the amount of the arrears. If you are unsure of your position, please contact a member of our Litigation team who will be happy to assist.
My tenant is not in rent arrears, but I want my property back. What can I do?
Even if your tenant is not in arrears or in breach of the tenancy agreement you may still be able to recover possession of your property (depending on the circumstances) by serving a s.21 Notice. There have been several changes to the law since 2015 in relation to s.21 notices so we would strongly recommend seeking legal advice before serving any notice on your tenant and/or issuing Court proceedings.
What is the procedure?
Once the relevant notice has expired, the next step is to issue Court proceedings against the tenant if they remain in situ and no agreement can be reached. The tenant can file a defence if they dispute the possession claim.
Pre-pandemic, Courts would list a case for a substantive hearing to decide the case within approximately 28 days of the tenant receiving the Court papers. However, since the pandemic, Courts are required to list the matter for a preliminary hearing known as a 'review hearing'. Parties are not required to attend the hearing but must be available on the telephone. The landlord's representatives are responsible for preparing a bundle of papers for the Judge to review, to determine whether the case should be listed for a substantive hearing.
At the substantive hearing both parties are required to attend, and the Judge will hear the case. If the landlord is successful, the judge will usually grant an order for possession within 14 days of the hearing together with judgment for the rent arrears and fixed costs.
What happens if my tenant fails to leave the property on the eviction date?
You can apply for a warrant of possession from the Court. This means the Court will appoint a bailiff to attend the property to evict the tenant. A Court fee is payable for this service.
Bailiffs and high court enforcement officers are the only people entitled to evict Tenants using force.
Our dedicated team is on hand to provide expert advice to you in connection with Landlord and Tenant Law. For more information on the Landlord and Tenant services we offer, please visit our Residential Landlord and Tenant or Commercial Landlord and Tenant web pages.
If you need further information or require legal advice on any of the points discussed above please contact our expert litigation team today. Call 01603 693500 or email us using 'Make an enquiry' form on our website.
We offer telephone and video appointments through various applications including FaceTime, WhatsApp and Zoom. Face-to-face meetings are available by appointment only at our Norwich, North Walsham and Sheringham offices.
*This article is provided for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or other professional advice.