If your tenant owes more than eight weeks’ rent, you have a right to take the property back. As long as you follow the correct procedure and show a court proof of the debt, it must agree to grant you possession.
If the tenant is persistently late paying the rent or owes less than eight weeks, you can still claim possession. These circumstances are classed as discretionary grounds, i.e. a court does not have to evict the tenant if it thinks you are being unreasonable or you cannot prove your case.
It is usually easier to rectify the matter directly rather than taking legal action. If a rent payment is missed, tackle the situation quickly by encouraging the tenant to make regular extra instalments. If you can come to a reasonable agreement then there is more chance the debt will be cleared.
Abuse of your property
Again, if your tenant does not take proper care of your property, you may have a right to claim it back. However, this is also a discretionary ground for possession.
Tell your tenant how you want them to improve and if this does not work or they dispute what you say, put your complaint in writing detailing what you expect to happen. Keep a copy of the letter in case you need proof at a later date.
At the start of a tenancy, you should make a detailed list of everything in the property and if possible, obtain a photographic record of its condition. This can help demonstrate the tenant has not looked after something (normal wear and tear excepted).
Treat any complaint you receive confidentially and take it seriously. Bad tenants make neighbours’ lives a misery and cost you money.
You have a right to seek possession of your property if you can prove the tenant (and potentially anyone living at the property or their guests) has been anti-social or a nuisance. There are mandatory and discretionary grounds for possession, depending on the behaviour of the tenant.
Once you have substantial evidence of anti-social behaviour, you can go to court to seek an order for possession. You will need to send the tenant official notice outlining the problems and informing them you are taking legal action.
If your tenant is suffering from anti-social behaviour, there are ways to tackle the issue. I would recommend arranging a meeting to establish:
• Details of the problem
• If other people are affected
• Where and when the behaviour happened
• Why it has happened
• What effect it has on you, the landlord
Tell your tenant to keep accurate, dated records of incidents, as they will be vital if legal action is necessary.
If the problems persist, approach the perpetrator or the owner of their property. If this proves unsuccessful, you can ask the local authority for help, even if the property is privately owned. Councils take anti-social behaviour very seriously and are likely to initiate preventative steps.
James Parden is a specialist in property litigation at Sheffield’s Taylor&Emmet LLP. For more information, telephone (0114) 218 4000, visit www.tayloremmet.co.uk or follow the firm on Twitter @tayloremmet.