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How to get possession of your buy-to-let property

February 19th, 2014

In this article, Stefania Fulford advises residential landlords on what steps can be taken if faced with growing rent arrears

There has been a lot of press coverage recently about residential tenants being unable to pay their rent. With rent charges as they are, failing to pay a small portion of rent per month can quickly see the arrears increase to substantial sums of money. If the arrears are building up you may start to struggle with your own payments, such as the mortgage on the property if you bought it as a buy-to-let.

As a landlord, it is important to keep a thorough record of what rent the tenant has paid and when, and it is important to take action quickly before the arrears become too significant.

If you cannot resolve the matter by entering into a satisfactory repayment plan with your tenants (that they stick too) you may decide you are left with no option but to end the tenancy and obtain possession of the property. The most common methods of obtaining possession of a residential property are through either section 8 or section 21 proceedings.

You can only obtain possession through section 21 if the original fixed term of the tenancy has expired. So, if your tenancy started on 1 January 2013 and lasted for a period of 6 months, but the tenants remain in the property without having entered into a new tenancy agreement, you can obtain possession through the section 21 route. Often a court hearing will not be needed, so this can be the most attractive way to proceed.

The second most common option is through section 8 and this requires significant breaches of the lease on the tenants’ part. The breach most commonly relied upon is that the tenants are at least 2 whole months in arrears of rent as if this can be proven to the court, the judge has no discretion and must make an order for repossession. You can commence section 8 action for breaches of the lease at any time during the tenancy – the original fixed term does not need to have expired.

Before you issue proceedings for possession under either of these options, you need to have served the correct notice. It is important that these are 100% correct as judges have been known to defeat possession claims on the smallest of errors in the notice. We would therefore recommend that you instruct solicitors to draft the notice for you and run the proceedings through to conclusion, to ensure a much greater chance of success once your application for possession reaches the Court.

Lennons Solicitors offer a fixed fee structure for assisting with the repossession of your residential property. If you would like further information on the termination of tenancies, contact Andrew King or Stefania Fulford by emailing hello@lennonssolicitor.co.uk.

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