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Landlord Legal Issues - September 2020

Landlord & tenant lawyer, Tessa Shepperson of www.landlordlaw.co.uk answers your questions

Q. My tenant has not paid any rent for over six months now. I understand that it will take many months to recover possession through the courts. Is there anything I can do?

A. Unfortunately, possession proceedings are all going to be massively delayed. At the time of writing the government has recently announced another four-week delay before claims can even start to be processed by the courts after 20 September. There are, as far as I can see, only two courses of action open to you:

1: Try mediation. There is a new ‘Independent Resolution’ service that has been launched by TDS at www.thedisputeservice.com/tdsresolution where they will contact your tenants and try to agree a rent repayment plan with them. This type of service can be very helpful and tenants will often engage with someone independent when they refuse to speak to a landlord.

However, if the tenants refuse to co-operate TDS will, upon payment of a fee of £24 (including VAT) provide you with a certificate that you can produce in court in due course, showing that they have refused to engage in the mediation process. This may encourage the courts to give your case priority.

2: You can also issue proceedings for a County Court Judgement (CCJ). It is only the possession claims which have been stayed. If no rent has been paid and if there is no defence you will be able to obtain a CCJ, which will make it difficult for your tenants to obtain any rehousing after they have eventually been evicted.  

You should write to your tenants first stating your intention to issue proceedings for a CCJ if no payments are made within, say, 14 days and pointing out the consequences of this on their prospects of being rehoused in the future. If your tenants are in a position to make any payments, the threat of this may encourage them to do so.

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