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I have a tenant who has not paid rent for 2 months. She insists the payments have gone out of her account.

She says her father died and she will be 'up north' for a week but I rang her at work and she answered the phone but said it wasn't her! Do you know if I give maybe 48 hours notice to say I want to inspect the flat and see evidence of the payments out of her account if would be legal to enter if she isn't there? Any advice would be appreciated. Lesley


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This is a difficult one. Is she on an assured shorthold tenancy? Any reasonable person would provide you with evidence that their rent had left their account and would be chasing the bank to see where it has gone. It is obviously illegal to enter the property without her there. You need to give the necessary notice. Even if you do go to the house no guarantee that she will show you her statements and she has no obligation to do so. If you are in a position to give notice to end the tenancy I would do so, hope she leaves, get a new tenant and try to recover the lost rent from her through the small claims court. If you can't give notice as there is several months to run on the lease I would go to see a solicitor. See if you can get an initial free appointment. An initial letter to her from them may well do the trick for a relatively small cost. Good luck.

[i]Sorry, are you suggesting that you would enter the flat and rummage through her bank statements? [/i] No that would not be legal! But the excuses sound highly suspicious. So I think you should issue a section 8 Notice To Quit (assuming she is still in the fixed term of the tenancy agreement - section 21 if the fixed termm has ended). manzanilla

Firstly, thank you both for your answers. Of course I wouldn't go in and touch, let alone rummage through anything. I asked her to meet at the flat so we could sort things out and if she could show me her statement I could check the account she had sent it to. If it has gone out then she would need to find out where it had gone. I know her stories are lies now and feel so angry I have been taken in by someone I thought was trustworthy. I have repaired/replaced anything immediately yet she is acting in this way. I have phoned her work and she answered the phone although she said 'everyone says they sound the same'. I will put a letter through the letterbox to say I will meet her on Monday (she says she will be back from then) and take it from there. If she isn't there I thought I could go in as long as I gave reasonable written notice of my intention. I will need to know if she has cleared out. Lesley

The short answer - yes. The long answer: The tenancy agreement will usually tell you (-a properly drafted one one will specifically allow the landlord to inspect at reasonable times and on reasonable notice). However, in your case, even if the agreement doesn't expressly mention this, given the non-payment and tenant's behaviour, I think you would be justified to visit the premises (the tenant is in breach). I suggest you telephone in advance (say 48 hours) or, better, write to say you will be inspecting - presumably you have a key, rather than just turning up. There is an implied right in tenancies to allow a tenant to peaceably enjoy the premises and for a landlord not be a nuisance (so better to give notice).  If any of the rent is paid by housing benefit don't forget you have a duty to tell them if the tenant has vacated the premises. Suggest you also write a formal letter to her advising of the non-receipt of rent (if you have to go to court to repossess it is much better to have everything in writing rather than relying on what was said in a phone call). Keep a copy of your letter(s) You cannot repossess the premises without a court order (unless the tenant has clearly vacated - but you have to be sure about this) so your visit will strictly be for an inspection. Personally, I wouldn't get too involved in checking the tenant's bank statements etc. - at the end of the day you haven't received the rent and it isn't your job to investigate why this has happened, that is the tenant's problem. Be firm, polite, businesslike and formal.     

PS I am not aware of any legislation which prohibits a landlord entering a premises for the purposes of an inspection if the landlord has given the tenant reasonable notice of the inspection to do so, and the tenant is not there on the day of the inspection. It is, of course, usually better for inspections to take place in the presence of the tenant (to avoid false accusations etc.) A landlord is entitled to repossess premises without a court if the tenancy has clearly been abandoned (and this actually happens quite a lot). I would therefore do exactly what you have suggested, wait until she gets back, and organise a time. You will then be able to assess her personally on your truthometer. If she isn't there, go in to inspect. If necessary then take steps to repossess.  Good luck  

The repossession procedure is not quick. I would get it started straight away. You can always offer to withraw it if she can prove that the money has left her bank account and co-operates with you in trying to trace it. manzanilla

If her bank really have debitted her account then they would be able to trace the movement of that money and so it would be recoverable. However, the suspicion is that she hasn't paid because regular payments don't normally go astray once they have started. It is the first one that is the problem because of possible input errors. After that it is usually automatic. 2 months is more than enough slack to cut anyone. Get things moving and send letters to be Signed For - the old Recorded delivery. Mike

Thank you all for your help and advice, I will take all your comments on board. Lesley

Lesley The legal position is that the landlord can inspect the property at any time, and 24 hours notice is usually seen as being adequate. However, there have been disputes where the landlord has phoned or written in advance and the tenant has claimed never to have received the call / letter. So the general advice is to hand deliver the letter, ideally with an independent witness if you can arrange one. If not, I have found the best thing to do is photocopy the letter and take a photo of yourself putting it through the letterbox as proof. You can then return the next day and freely enter the property, without the tenant having to be present and with no legal disputes. *However*, you only have the right to inspect the property in this manner, you cannot inspect any of the tenant's possessions or private information. The tenant has to voluntarily show you bank statements or other proof of payment. If she doesn't provide these, you can evict her without using a Section 21 notice - you can use a Section 8 notice instead, as she is two months in arrears. The notice period for Section 8 is only two week, as opposed to two months for Section 21, so it can get her to act that much quicker. A Section 8 notice is free to provide, and will usually scare the tenant enough to make a decent effort to find out what's happened with the missing rent, and at least to provide proof of payment. There's a Section 8 template here: http://www.docstoc.com/docs/6221746/Free-Section-8-Notice-Template and guidance on it's use here: http://www.letlink.co.uk/letting-factsheets/factsheets/factsheet-8-claims-for-possession-the-section-8-notice.html Your claim is unders grounds 8 and 10. Provided you can prove ground 8, that the rent hasn't been received by you, then the court is required to grant you possession. Make that clear to the tenant and you'll light a fire under her pretty darn quick!

Thanks Swarbs, that's fantastic advice and will download the Section 8 form. She is actually more than two months behind on the rent as she didn't pay earlier and was supposed to be making up the difference. Many thanks, Lesley