Landlord & Tenant Disputes

Our team of dispute lawyers are very experienced when dealing with a range of property disputes between landlords and tenants.

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Residential Property Disputes

Our lawyers are assertive litigators and experienced negotiators. We can advise you of your options to achieve a resolution of your property dispute which may include Court proceedings, arbitration, mediation and other dispute resolution alternatives.

Where litigation is inevitable, cases are pursued with both vigour and pragmatism.

Residential Landlord and Tenant
We specialise in acting for Landlords and Managing Agents with significant property portfolios as well as representing Landlords and Tenants of larger residential properties.

It is important that as a landlord you comply with the legislation when managing your property so as to avoid claims being made against you.

Examples of possible disputes between landlords and tenants are:

  • Tenants have stopped paying their rent.
  • Damage to the property or disruptive behaviour.
  • Dispute with the letting agents.
  • Tenant eviction.
  • Service charge and insurance claims.

We can assist you in giving practical advice on how to manage your relationship with your tenant or landlord, prepare the documentation you need and ensure that if court proceedings become necessary they are handled in a cost effective and time efficient manner.

We do not advise:

  • Tenants on Housing Law
  • publicly funded Legal Help / Legal Assistance scheme (Legal Aid). If you are in receipt of benefits or think you may qualify for the scheme it may assist you to make enquiries of your local Citizens Advice Bureau or a firm offering Legal Aid advice.

FAQs

What can I do if my tenant has stopped paying rent?

Dealing with a tenant not paying rent can be a major concern for landlords. Here’s what you can do:

  • Keep Records
  • Maintain accurate records of payments
  • Communication – talk to the tenant first to try and resolve the issue
  • Formal Letter – If no payment, you or we as your lawyers can send a formal letter by post and email demanding immediate payment and warning of legal action
  • Follow-Up – send additional letters if no payment
  • Court – start legal proceedings

Legal Options to regain possession of the property:

  • Section 8 Notice: Grounds for eviction, like rent arrears
  • Section 21 Notice: “No-fault” eviction after the tenancy term or if there is a break clause
  • Court Action: If no compliance, take legal action for possession and arrears
Debt recovery options:
  • Statutory Demand and bankruptcy or company winding up petition
  • Court proceedings followed by enforcement action
What to do if a tenant refuses to leave?

First and foremost, it’s crucial to follow the correct steps to evict your tenant. This involves obtaining either a Section 21 notice to evict them at the end of their fixed-term tenancy or a Section 8 notice if they’ve violated the terms of the tenancy agreement.

If you’ve taken these steps and the tenant still refuses to vacate the property, your next course of action is to initiate legal proceedings in court. Here, the court will assess all evidence and issue a possession order, allowing you to reclaim your property.

Should the tenant remain after the court order, you can then apply for the tenant to be evicted. This empowers bailiffs to remove the tenants from the property, enabling you to regain possession.

What is a Section 8 notice?

A Section 8 notice is used in England and Wales for eviction, based on legal grounds during a tenancy. Common reasons include rent arrears (two months or more), breaching the tenancy terms, property neglect, causing nuisance, false information, illegal activities, or property repossession by mortgage lenders.

The notice specifies when the tenant must leave (typically two weeks, four weeks, or two months). Landlords must follow proper procedures to issue a Section 8 notice correctly.

What is a Section 21 notice?

A Section 21 notice is an eviction notice used when a tenant reaches the end of their fixed-term tenancy, is on a periodic tenancy without a specified end date or the tenancy has a break clause.

Unlike a Section 8 notice, a Section 21 notice doesn’t require the landlord to provide a reason for the eviction.

If the tenant remains past the date specified in the Section 21 notice, the landlord must go through legal proceedings to evict them. Acting outside of this legal process is prohibited by law and can lead to civil and criminal law penalties.

Can I evict a tenant without going to Court?

In a small number of cases it is possible to evict a tenant without going to court, such as with an excluded tenancy where the tenant lives as a lodger in your home. Notice to quit will have to be given before any action is taken. There are civil and criminal law penalties where wrongful action is taken so legal advice is recommended.

For most tenancies you are likely to need to go through the courts to obtain a Section 21 or Section 8 notice to evict a tenant.

It’s advisable to seek advice from our solicitors for further guidance on this process.

How long does it take to evict a tenant?

The duration of the tenant eviction process can vary significantly, depending on various factors and how complex the situation is. If the tenant leaves voluntarily, the process can be completed within a matter of weeks. However, if court action is necessary to apply for a warrant of possession, it can take several months or up to 18 months if there are delays by the Court or other issues.

At Herrington Carmichael, our solicitors can provide guidance on the expected timeline and steps to ensure a smoother process.

Can I forfeit the lease as a landlord?

Tenants “own” flats and apartments by having a long lease. Forfeiting a long residential lease as a landlord means reclaiming possession of the property due to the tenant’s breach of the lease terms. A forfeiture clause must be included in the tenancy agreement for this action. It can only occur after the tenant has breached the lease for a specific period, usually at least 14 days.

Forfeiting a lease is legally intricate. It’s advisable to seek guidance from a solicitor for advice tailored to your situation

What if the tenant has breached the lease. What should I do?

Common breaches of the Tenancy Agreement by Tenants relate to unpaid rent, damage or disrepair to the property, making changes to the property without the landlord’s consent, unlawful behaviour, etc.

You may resolve the issue simply by speaking to the tenant. Alternatively, in cases where the tenant has caused damage or disrepair to the property, you may want to check the lease to see if you are able to carry out the remedial works and charge the tenant. However, if you wish to evict the tenant, you will likely have to apply for a Section 8 or s21 notice. The details of how to do this can be obtained from our solicitors.

Service charges: what do I need to know?

Service charges can often lead to disputes between landlords and leasehold tenants. Landlords should understand their responsibilities outlined in the lease, including the specified services and the service charge amount.

Landlords are not obliged to provide services not stated in the lease, and tenants are not required to pay for unspecified services.

To prevent disputes and ensure compliance, landlords should seek legal advice to correctly demand the service charge and meet statutory requirements. This minimizes the risk of tenants withholding payment or challenging the service charge through the Tribunal. A solicitor can also assist in resolving any disputes that arise.

Can I increase the rent on my property?

It’s possible to raise the rent for tenants in a property, but the timing depends on the type of tenancy. For a periodic tenancy (a rolling tenancy without a fixed end-date), you can typically increase rent once a year with the tenant’s agreement, but not more frequently. With a fixed-term tenancy (ending after a set period), you need the tenant’s agreement to increase rent during the term, or you must wait until the term ends.

When increasing rent, it must be reasonable and in line with local rates. Tenants must agree to any increase beyond the previously agreed amount or the rent increase has to be determined by a Tribunal or Court.

Landlords must provide tenants with at least one month’s notice for any rent increase, except for yearly tenancies, which require six months’ notice.

There is a legal process to follow to increase the rent which our solicitors can advise you upon.

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Herrington Carmichael has once again been named in the Times Best Law Firms. We were first listed in 2023 and have once again made the Best Law Firms list for 2024.  

www.thetimes.co.uk/article/herrington-carmichael

Best Law Firm 2024