ASK MEL- “How do I serve notice on my tenant?”

Dear Mel,

I’ve been enjoying yours and Mariam’s blog for some time now and have found the recent addition of ‘ASK MEL’ useful. I thought I’d write in and if it makes for blog worthy reading, please feel free to share your answer on the blog as I’m sure it will help other landlords like me.

I’m relatively new to being a landlord. Truth be told, I fell into it accidentally.

My situation is this- I have a tenant who pays the rent as and when she feels like it. It’s currently up to date but never paid on time or all at the same time.

During the inspection of the property, not only was I extremely disappointed with how the property was being kept but, she’d also got a dog without my permission. What also annoyed me was that she lied about the dog, saying she was dog sitting for a friend but, when I asked the neighbours they confirmed it was hers and she’d had it for some time.

My gut instinct is telling me that this will only get worse and I think it’s best that I start looking for a new tenant. How do I go about serving her notice?

I look forward to your reply (and possibly seeing it on the blog!)
-Sam

Mel’s Reply

Hi Sam,
I’m really glad to hear that you’ve been enjoying the blog and finding the ASK MEL articles useful. Congratulations on falling into the roll of Nuneaton Landlord. It may not always feel like it, but you’ve made a great decision.

You are clearly upset about the situation, which is understandable and, you are able to serve your tenant notice but, this should always be the last resort. I know it can sometimes be awkward for landlords to speak openly about issues with tenants, but, have you tried addressing your concerns with the tenant?

If you explain to her what you expect from her, with regards to rent being paid by standing order on the same day each month because it is causing too much confusion with finances, then she may be more willing to rectify the problem as she will not want to ‘rock’ the proverbial boat.

With regards to the dog, you could let her know that in getting the dog, she has breached her tenancy agreement and perhaps even your insurance? which would give you reason to serve her notice, or, alternatively, you could ask for a pet deposit. Think how much it could costs to have all the carpets cleaned, have the house professionally cleaned and possibly a treatment for fleas. We usually ask for £250 and state that it is non-refundable.

If you’ve tried everything but you’re still adamant that you want to serve her notice then you will need to serve her with a Section 21 (I think this would be the most suitable notice for your situation, from what you have said in your email), which sounds simple enough.

However, you need to take into account the following:

• A Section 21 cannot be served any earlier than 2 months before the end of the current tenancy agreement. So, if you are 3 months into a 6 month AST then you will have to wait another month until you can serve her notice.
• If you took a deposit did you protect the it in an authorised deposit scheme within 30 days of receiving the funds?
• Did you provide the tenant with the prescribed information within 30days of receiving the deposit?
• Have you provided the tenant with an up to date Gas safety certificate and EPC?
• Did you provide the tenant with a copy of “How to rent: the checklist for renting in England”?

If you have answered NO to any of the above questions (and your tenancy started after 1st October 2015), it is likely that your S21 possession claim will be rejected if it goes to court.

The above questions are but a few steps that landlords often forget to do and, as a result, can cause a lot of grief when it comes to regaining possession of your property.

If you do fall into this category, then it is certainly worth discussing further to see exactly where you stand. I am happy to answer any questions you have.

If you’ve answered yes to all of the above and the tenancy is due to end in the next two months or is on a rolling contract then you can proceed with serving notice. If you are not entirely confident in making sure it is served correctly, just give me a call on 02477 674 545 and I’ll help in any way I can.

As I don’t know the entire background of your situation, I do not want to assume one thing or another. There are a lot of things to check before serving a Section 21, but I have covered the most common problems above.

Hopefully you’ve found my answer helpful but, if you would like to discuss this further, please feel free to get in touch. We’re happy to help.

For anyone else reading this article- you may want to serve notice on your tenants for completely different reasons. I have tried to cover what I think to be the most common causes of failed S21 claims but, please ensure that you do your research or, if necessary, seek legal advice before serving notice to ensure you achieve possession of your Nuneaton rental. A Section 8 notice may be more suited to your situation and, depending on the grounds you can serve notice at any point during the tenancy and could have court date within 2 weeks to claim possession. Court Fees can be costly so you want to make sure you have a good case if it goes that far.

If you are looking to have you property managed to save you the ‘hassle’, then rest assured, we do serve relevant notice’s to tenants (if they are in breach of their contract) as part of our fully managed package. If you would like to discuss this further then please get in touch.