Managing Rent Arrears

As a letting agent, one of our primary, functional, everyday responsibilities is to collect rent from our tenants, and also manage any late payments and rent arrears if and when, for whatever reason, they don’t pay!

Dealing with people, whatever industry you work in, can be difficult and challenging, as you may say, ‘life happens‘. People unfortunately lose their jobs, fall ill and relationships breakdown. This is especially true in the lettings industry, when a sudden change in a tenants personal circumstances can have a very negative impact on the cash flow, and peace of mind of their landlord.

With this in mind, how those late payments and rent arrears are managed becomes extremely important, as there are legal implications regarding what a letting agent or landlord can and cannot do. For example, care must be taken not to harass a tenant, not to make threats to ‘send in the heavies‘ or call them at work, leaving a message about the fact they haven’t paid their rent.

At Jacob’s Ladder, once a tenant is late paying their rent, we usually send them a gentle reminder style SMS/email message the day after it was due. The next day we would make a phone call and leave a message and if after 7 days they haven’t brought their rent account back up to date, we would write them a rent reminder letter. In 9 out of 10 cases, the late payment has been cleared by this point, and it was usually an oversight, a short-term cash-flow issue or a bank holiday may have got in the way. If the late payment persists, at 14 days its considered to be rent arrears, and a more formal process would then kick in.

In our experience, trying to speak with our tenants at this early stage can be an effective, and quick way to resolve the situation.

Usually, we would have spoken to the landlord within a couple of days of their account falling into arrears, to explain our process and that we are aware of the situation, and explain that we’re doing what we can to resolve the matter as carefully, favourably, and as swiftly as possible.

As landlords ourselves, we understand our clients need their rent, as positive cash flow is vital to them, so we always aim to bring our tenants rental accounts back up to date as soon as possible.

We always keep accurate records of all correspondence and conversations with our tenants during the managing of this process, as these notes can prove vital should a landlord need to escalate the matter and pursue the tenant through the County Court system and seek repossession of their property, and repayment of the rent arrears the tenant has built up at a later date.

Sometimes, there is a Guarantor to fall back on, a family member or friend who signed up at the outset of the tenancy to pay the rent should the tenant fail to do so, and if this is the case, we would also write to the Guarantor informing them of the developing situation and seeking their assistance with dealing with the tenant, or providing payment and settlement of the rent arrears.

Thankfully, we only come across significant difficulties with our tenants rental payments very occasionally, and usually its following a major change in peoples circumstances.

At Jacob’s Ladder we always try and work with our tenants, understand their situation, their needs and assist them when and how possible.

Our aim has always been, and will continue to be, to have settled, long-term tenants living in our landlord’s properties, which we believe is much better for our landlord clients, as they have fewer void periods, less frequent re-let costs and their property is generally better maintained.

We are very proud to say that over many years, we have consistently helped dozens of tenants through difficult and worrying personal times, many of whom are still renting properties with us today.

For a more in-depth chat about how we approach and manage our tenancies, whilst primarily looking after the best interests of our landlords, why not give our property team a call on 01706 828229, to find out how we may be able to help you?

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