Within the first few days after the tenant falls into arrears, the landlord should send a formal demand letter by first class mail or hand deliver it. In the letter, request that the outstanding arrears be paid immediately and ask the tenant to ensure that all future rental payments are made in full and on the due date.
In the same letter advise the tenant that you may make an application to the court for possession of the property should more than two months' rent remain unpaid, but also include a paragraph to the effect that you are willing to discuss the problem and reach an amicable solution before things get that stage.
If you still haven't received outstanding rent 14 days after the rent is due or there has been no response to your offer of help, send another letter telling the tenant that if they don’t pay, you'll take the matter further and seek possession of your property. If your tenant has provided a guarantor, send the guarantor a letter advising them that the tenant hasn't paid the rent according to the tenancy agreement. Usually, this letter prompts payment of the arrears.
If, after 21 days you haven’t received any rent from your tenant or a reply of any kind, you should send another letter confirming your intention to take legal action and consult a lawyer specialising in this area. If your tenant has gone a whole month without paying rent and another month is due, you can now consider your tenant to be two months in arrears.
This means you have the right, under the Housing Act 1988, to take action to claim possession of your property by serving a Section 8 Notice that gives the tenant a further 14 days to pay. It’s important to remember that some local authorities require the landlord to have a licence before they can rent out properties within the local authority’s area. If the landlord does not have such a licence if required by the local authority, then any possession proceedings will fail.
In addition to asking the court to make the order entitling you to seek possession of your property, you may also ask the court to make a judgement against the tenant for the arrears of rent and reasonable costs you may have incurred. If you get judgement against the tenant, you will have six years in which to enforce it.
Some insurance companies supply cover in policies for landlords which will protect you if your tenant doesn’t pay the rent and cover the legal costs involved.