What Should I do if My Tenant Can’t Pay the Rent?

The Covid-19 pandemic created difficult circumstances for lots of people, including tenants. Even without a global epidemic, however, there are times where tenants can’t pay their rent. Often it’s through no fault of their own, and it’s a situation they certainly don’t wish to find themselves in.

As a landlord, such a scenario puts you in a difficult situation. On the one hand, there’s the human element to think about and the need to show sympathy when someone finds themselves in a difficult situation. Yet, persisting with a tenant who can’t pay rent isn’t sustainable in the long term.

If you find yourself in a sticky situation where the tenant can’t pay rent, what should you do? In this article, we’re bringing you the lowdown on how to handle situations where renters can’t pay rent, including new rules and regulations regarding the coronavirus and tenants.

Speak to your tenant and try to resolve any issues

If you know that your tenant has found themselves in a difficult situation due to the coronavirus – or any other reason – open up a dialogue with them.

Most tenants will be honest and contact you upfront if they can’t pay their rent entirely or on time. If they haven’t reached out to you ahead of time and a rent payment has been missed, don’t defer calling them and enquire about the situation. Together, you can talk about the options available to them, such as:

  • If they have lost their job, the tenant can look into applying for Universal Credit. If the tenant is eligible this credit will assist him with covering their living costs
  • Another option is the UK government’s Jobseeker’s Allowance to help anyone during the time they are searching for work
  • If the tenant is sick or self-isolating and cannot keep working, employees are now entitled to receive statutory sick pay from day one. Anyone applying for this will have to provide evidence and can request it from NHS 111 online

The government is also issuing lots of advice around the current situation, and you can find more support on the Employment and Benefits Support page of its website.

two people having a serious conversation

Set up a rent payment plan

Introducing a flexible payment plan between you and the tenant, which suits both of your circumstances, will help ease some concerns on either side of the table. A plan will help ensure that everyone is protected so that disputes only end up in court in the worst-case scenario.

Make sure that you confirm any arrangements with your tenants in written correspondence, in case you need to access any support in future.

Get rent guarantee insurance

Look into rent guarantee insurance, also known as rent protection insurance, if you haven’t already done so. Having this type of insurance protects you if your tenant should default on a payment. Like most insurances, you will need to have bought it before the tenant was unable to pay.

For this reason, it is better to cover yourself with rent guarantee insurance sooner rather than later. The benefits of rent guarantee insurance are that it protects you for 12 months, including any legal expenses. If you have already taken out at rent guarantee insurance, call them and check your coverage.

We are living in uneasy times with lots of uncertainty. Overall, however, our experience has shown that the overwhelming majority of landlords and tenants have managed any issues amicably through dialogue and honesty. Communication is key, with the best practice revolving around staying in contact with your tenants. And it wouldn’t help to safeguard yourself with rent guarantee insurance either.

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