is very important to get the context right in whcih we deal with this
issue. There is much talk about how th elaw favours tenants and
penalises landlords and this to a large degree is not true.
While the law is somewhat slanted in favour of tenants, it allows
landlords full recourse under the law to cancel leases, recover arrears
and to evcit tenants where neccessary. The bulk of problems landlords
experience is becaise they 1) Do not react timeously and delay the
process and 2) Do not follow proper procedure in enforcing their righst.
HANDLING OF ARREAR PAYMENTS
In terms of the Rental Act, it is the
landlords right to receive all rentals and amounts due on time as
specified within the lease. The tenants failure to do so is a breach of
the agreement and entitles the landlord to cancel the lease agreement.
Do not delay the sending out of the first notice. If the rental has
not been received by the first, then immediately send out a notice to
the tenant informing them of their responsibility, their failure to
fulfil that responsibility, the remedy required (e.g payment within
seven days) and the possible consequences thereof.
DO NOT discuss this verbally only, come to an agreement for a later
date and then have to start all over again. Many landlords find
themselves drawn into this kind of situation where eventually the
tenant is substantially in arrears and they have not even begun
official cancellation procedures.
At the end of the 7 days notice given to correct the rental situation,
immediately give notice that the lease is cancelled and provide a date
for the tenant to vacate the property.
Note : Arrears do not entitle you to do the following :
You are entitled to withold the deposit or portions thereof to cover any arrear rental, repair or servcies amounts.
- Disconnect electricty or others services
- Change locks or prevent the tenant from accessing the property
- Harass or threaten the tenant on any way
- Forcibly remove the tenant and or their possessions
- Claim tenants possessions in lieu of rental without the tenants permission
- Access the property without the tenants permission
Should the tenant refuse to vacate, you them have to resort to evcition procedures. See below.
DAMAGES TO THE PROPERTY
If you become aware of damages to the property, you are entitled to
enforce repairs by the tenant within a reasonable period. If the damage
is malicious, you may have the right to cancellation of the lease (see
below), but normally, such damages are accidental e.g a child on their
bicycle fallin gagainst and braking a sliding door glass.
Being reasonable will normally get you your best response in getting
the itms repaired. Tenants like anyne else have to manage their cash
flow and sometimes can only committ to fixing something at a future
Remember that credit worthiness is based on two factors 1) A
willingness to pay and 2) A capacity to pay. As long as the tenant is
willing you can probably resolve the issue. DO NOT get aggresive
unneccesarily, as this will diminsh their willingness to pay as well.
Interim inspections are important as they allow you to monitor the
condition of the property, take early corrective action and assess the
situation against the depost held.
OTHER MINOR INFRINGEMENTS
Use discretion in dealing with minor issues. You do not want to create
unneccessary tension with the tenant of issues that are not material.
Discuss the problems amicably and find a common solution.
Confirm the discussion in writing taking note of deadline dates.
If the corrective actions are not done by a certain date, then again,
discuss the matter amicably with the tenant, once again confirming in
writing. If once again, the matters are not corrected then consider
sending a final demand on the issues.
ISSUES DEMANDING LEASE CANCELLATION
Your lease agreement will have clauses within it, specifying grounds
for cancellation and you need to be aware of these up front so that you
do not attempt to cancel for reasons you have no right to.
Typically these would include :
notify the tenant in writing as to the action that caused the issue,
refer to the neccessary clauses in the lease agreement, the remedial
action required and make note of the consequences of such breach.
- Any illegal activity conducted on the premises
- Sub letting without permission
- Malicious damage to the property
- Allowing additional persons to live on the property
- Undertaking material changes to the property
Follow up with verbal or written communication to make arrangements for
corrective action if this will solve the problem. You might decide
however that you do not want corrective action taken but rather proceed
with cancellation. This is your choice but please bear in mind that
should the tenant contest the cancellation, your reasons muct be
Do not try and cancel a lease for instance because a tenant allowed his
sick mother to live with them for two months after recovering from an
ATTACHING THE TENANTS GOOD IF IN ARREARS
You will have to obtain a court order first. The
Sheriff of the Court will then attach your tenant's property to the amount of
the money due to you. If you take your tenant's possessions without a court
order, it's theft.
DEALING WITH THE RENTAL TRIBUNAL
Both landlords and tenants have the right to bring a matter before the
Rental Tribunal .and have them hand down a verdict which muct be upheld
by the parties.
Note : Only a court of law can order an eviction or possession of
tenant goods to cover rent. Not the tribunal. The tribubal can rule
that the tenant must leave but cannot force them though eviction
You can never evict a tenant
yourself. You can only seek a court order to evict a tenant if your tenant is
in breach of contract.
To find out if your tenant is in
breach of contract, check your agreement. There should be a clause saying what
constitutes a breach of contract (for example, not paying the rent on time) and
what your rights would be in such a case (in other words, cancel the lease
without further notice).
If your tenant is indeed in breach of contract, take
steps to strongly urge your tenant to rectify the breach. If this does not
work, take legal action - lodge a complaint with the Rental Housing Tribunal or
seek the help of a competent attorney.
Do not resort to strong arm tactics to force your tenants out - if
taken to court, you could find yourself on the wrong end of any ruling
simply because of your emotional actions.
Dealing with delinquent tenants can be painful but if handled correctly with give you the relief you need.
If in doubt, immediately consult an attorney and of course, if you have taken up our guaranteed rental option, with free evictions costs, you can relax knowing you are fully covered.