Dealing with headache tenants

medication for headache

6 Jan

They’re not everywhere, but a bad tenant can be nothing short of a nightmare.

  • Moaners
  • consistent late-payers
  • antisocial residents
  • and vandals

A nightmare tenant could end up losing you money. The question is – how do you deal with them?

Prevent it

If you’re reading this because you already have a nightmare tenant, this one won’t be of that much help to you. But at the very least, you’ll know for next time! (Sorry.)

However careful you are, nothing is fool proof – some people will always slip through the net. But interviewing tenants & carrying out proper tenant referencing is certainly the best combination.

Give notice

You can only take a case to court once you’ve filed a fully legal eviction notice. There are two ways you can do this:

Section 21 notice to quit

This is the notice landlords can give to a tenant at the end of the Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST). The landlord does not have to provide any reason for serving this notice. The notice must be served in writing, and give the tenant a minimum of 2 months’ notice. You’ll find more information on serving a section 21 by reading our guide Advice for evicting tenants.

Section 8 notice to quit

A section 8 notice to quit – sometimes referred to as a ‘section 8 possession notice’ – is the notice landlords should give if they wish to regain possession of their property during the fixed term of an the Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST).

NB: Unlike a section 21, serving a section 8 notice requires that the tenant has breached the terms of their tenancy agreement. Most commonly, this breach is in the form of rent arrears.

For a full list of acceptable grounds for eviction, view our guide Advice for evicting tenants.

Get lawyers involved

There are two benefits this approach.

  • An official letter from a lawyer will scare most tenants into taking action. If your tenant is withholding rent, this can be the quickest way to get them to pay.
  • The second reason is that – should you need to take your case to court – your lawyer will be able to provide far better assistance if they are involved at the earliest possible stage.

Tenants have a lot of protection under the law, so if you want to get them out of your property, you’ll need make sure you don’t make any mistakes in the paper work.

Cut your losses

This might seem hard to stomach, but sometimes it’s actually better to let a tenant off their rent-arrears than go through all the lengthy proceedings involved to get them out of your property. It is often less costly to let go of a month’s rent, rather than taking someone to court.

Naturally, this option is a judgement call as it depends on the circumstances. If you do choose this route though – it’s highly recommended that you get an agreement in writing. A written and signed agreement will help you out if things continue to get worse.

Keep squeaky clean

Frustration can easily lead to bad decisions, if you want your tenant/s out fast, the absolutely worst things you could do would be to:

  • Threaten/harass them
  • Turning off their gas/electricity/water
  • Trying to physically remove them.

When landlords do these sorts of thing, courts always side with the tenant. Ye be warned!

In addition:

  • You should keep a copy of every single piece of communication you have with that tenant.
  • If you’re discussing the situation with the tenant in person, it’s a good idea to have an independent witness present.