When my husband was offered an Inter company transfer to South Africa with a 2 year work visa, it seemed rather rash to sell our family home, after all the move may not have worked out, then what?
So we opted to rent out our family home with an agent. The house was empty for 3 months before tenants moved in. We paid the rental agent 10% of the monthly rent to manage the property on our behalf.
The agency has since been sold twice, but prior to the second sale we discovered the tenants weren’t making payments on time and had in fact not paid any rent since November 11th 2012. Naïve of us to have trusted the agency to ensure rent was paid on time, naïve of us to assume we would be informed, but 6000 miles away and 2 years on, still adjusting to life as expats, we assumed that when we paid a company to act on our behalf, they would do just that.
Having finally extracted the rent arrears from the tenant’s guarantor, we opted to serve the tenants with a Section 21a notice giving them 2 months notice to evict the property. The agent opted in his wisdom to give them 3 months notice to quit with the date being May 24th 2013.
From the last inspection report it was obvious there was lots of work needing doing to the property and as the tenants weren’t reliable we couldn’t trust that they’d make the necessary repairs and return the property in the state that they rented it. So I flew over to the UK to oversee this matter.
The tenants ignored the Section 21a notice and I then had to turn to a solicitor and the courts for assistance.
Assuming you have a short hold tenancy agreement with the tenants this is the procedure you are required to follow to obtain possession of your house, recover lost rent and make good repairs prior to re renting.
You are required to produce the following documents and I strongly suggest that in order to save time, should you find yourself in this position that, you obtain copies from your agent asap.
1. Proof of ownership of the rental property, i.e. The Land Registry Office copies
2. A copy of the signed tenancy agreement
3. Rent statement
4. Tenancy deposit certificate
5. Evidence of service of the prescribed information that the landlord is obliged to give to the tenant in relation to the tenancy deposit scheme. I.e. a covering letter and the information that was given to the tenant
6. Notices that have been served in relation to the property:
How, when and by whom
If served by royal mail, provide covering letter
If the notice was personally handed to the tenant, when the notice was served and by whom was it served
7. Check in report/ inventory
8. Tenant referencing documents credit checks, personal references
9. For the purpose of enforcing any court judgement provide details of tenants employment, bank details and known assets
10. Any correspondence between the parties agents, landlord and tenants
11. Any details of any matters that the tenant has complained of, in relation to the state of the repair of the property and if items have been complained of what steps were/will be what has been done to remedy the situation
12. Whether there has been any history of drugs and violence at the property and if a possession order is made you consider that the bailiff will require police assistance
13. If the bailiff is required to take back possession, confirm who will be in attendance when possession is obtained and to arrange for the locks to be changed
Ensure your agent takes up these references prior to signing any contract so you don’t discover down the line that your tenants have done this to another landlord before.
In order to obtain an accelerated possession order of your property you will be required to present these documents to your solicitor. Who will charge you approximately £2000 plus vat to obtain possession of your property. You will also be required to pay £175 to the courts and a further £110 should bailiffs be required.
The process to obtain possession of your house can take up to 5 months and as most Insurance companies will only pay for 30 days accommodation, you should really issue an eviction notice at least 5 months before you intend to reoccupy the property.
Recovery of rental arrears and damages can take between 1-3 years so prior to renting out your property, ensure, like we did, you have enough money in your account to meet these costs Inc. mortgage payments.
Once you’ve satisfied the courts that you have given 2 months written notice to the tenants for them to vacate the premises you can request an Issue of proceedings for possession on the first working day after the date the tenants were due to vacate the property.
The tenants have 14 days from the date issued to provide a defence. If a defence is submitted then the possession order can be delayed for up to 6 weeks for a hearing.
The court will then serve the possession order and a date will be given to the tenants in which they have to vacate the property.
Today as I sit writing this post I have been in the UK for 7 weeks. The tenants are using a van and their car to empty the contents of a 6 bed house. This may take some time, they started 6 days ago. I expect to have the house back by Friday.
Failure to do so will result in a warrant for possession served by a bailiff in order to evict the tenant with a further cost of £110.