If you are a landlord unable to recover your lost rental income then it is worthwhile speaking to a debt recovery company, who can apply pressure on your behalf to recover monies owed.
Debt Recovery companies set out to recover money in a professional and speedy manner establishing contact with the errant tenants within 24 hours. With a proven track record every step follows OFT guidelines.
Here are my top tips to recover rental income from defaulting tenants:
o Before taking on a new tenant get their permission in writing to undertake a credit check against them. This will show you any CCJs, bankruptcy details or derogatory information which may affect their ability to pay.
o Ensure you obtain their current and past addresses for six years, their date of birth and details of their employment. This is all useful information should they default and move away and you find yourself having to trace them.
o Consider asking for a guarantor. You can then ask the guarantor to pay the tenant’s outstanding liabilities and pursue legally if necessary.
o If rent is late, call the tenant and check whether the payment is on its way. It is often possible to tell from your conversations whether there is a more substantial problem. If it is a joint tenancy and only one individual has missed a payment, you should contact the other renters who have paid on time and discuss the problem.
o As soon as a payment has been missed, write to tenants to inform them of the payment deadline. If the rent has not arrived after two or three weeks, maybe visit the tenant at home always being careful that the approach is courteous and professional.
o A face-to-face chat will unearth any problems facing the tenant. He or she might have become unemployed or be suffering from personal problems and you can discuss your options.
o It is reasonable to write or contact tenants by telephone, but it is important not to harass the tenant. When a tenant is two months in arrears, you are able to send a mandatory notice giving notice that Court proceedings will follow. The form of the notice is very important. At the same time instruct a pro-active debt collection agency.
o Court action should be a last resort. It can take six to eight weeks for a court to conduct a hearing and issue a possession order. The court can order possession if two months’ rent has been missed or if the fixed period of a shorthold tenancy has expired. The Court will expect the correct notice to have been given at the correct time to the Tenant.
o If a tenant vanishes, landlords may still need a possession order. The tenancy agreement continues even if the rent has not been paid. Landlords should take all possible steps to contact the tenant, guarantor or next of kin or instruct experts to track the tenant down.
o It is against the law for a landlord to change the locks or remove the possessions of a tenant. If neighbours have seen activity suggesting that the tenant has moved out, landlords should obtain a witness statement.
o As the recession worsens, it would be wise for landlords to take reasonable steps to reduce the risk of a tenant defaulting. But even the most in-depth reference checks cannot stop a tenant becoming unemployed. It is important for landlords to be flexible, remain amicable with tenants and work to find a solution, whether it is the payment of arrears over an agreed period or the termination of a tenancy by mutual consent.
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