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Housing Act – Reduce tenant’s rights when non-payment of rent occurs early in the tenancy

Comment 1st July 2010

Reduce the time limitations on landlords for evicting tenants for non-payment of rent (arrears) in, say, the first 3 months of a tenancy to 2 weeks unpaid rent at the time proceedings are initiated.

Why does this matter?

I rented out my old home for the first time late last year. The tenants paid the 1 month's rent in advance and the deposit but then refused to pay any more rent. There was no good reason for this (e.g. the property was in excellent order   … etc). Just before the Housing Act entitled me to take proceedings for non-payment of rent, the tenants moved out late one night and now cannot be traced. Since they left my property, there have been numerous visitors looking for them in connection with unpaid debts (including all the bills they ran up whilst in my property) and one "Officer of the Court" (as he called himself), claimed to have followed them through 15 different properties in a short period of time. Hence, I assume that these people are moving every few months after ripping-off landlords, avoiding Council Tax, and not paying their TV licence, debts they have run up over the years, their gas / electricity bills   ..etc.  As a result of the landlords not being able to take proceedings in a timely manner and them moving so often, no-one they owe money to gets to take legal action against them so they always pass credit cheques and the rip-offs continue. This is costing not just the landlords but everyone who has to bare the burden of people who don't pay their bills.

I am all in favour of being patient with long-term, good tenants who fall on hard times because of unemployment, ill health …etc. Hence, I am not suggesting that their rights be eroded. However, if there were a qualifying period of, say, 3 months tenancy before such rights were accrued, the practices I describe could be clamped down on. Hence, my suggestion. 

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