I am regularly asked by landlords that I meet for the first time about what would happen if they find themselves with a “horror story” tenancy. They have usually heard about these types of infamous tenancies on the grape vine or in some cases, have experienced one first hand. This is where a tenant signs a lease and moves in, stops paying rent and “trashes” the flat or creates all sorts of anti-social behavioural issues with the neighbours. If this happens and the landlord needs to reclaim possession of the property by evicting the tenant then a long and drawn out process can begin. There is a very good blog on the TC Young website giving a few examples:

http://www.tcyoung.co.uk/blog/2011/private-landlord/how-long-does-an-eviction-action-actually-take-in-scotland

In summary, it can take months (or in most cases close to a year) from when the tenant first stops paying rent to having them legally evicted – this is assuming the landlord knows their legal rights and acts quickly. By which time, the tenant has rung up a huge debt in rental arrears, plus legal costs for the landlord in having them evicted, plus any remedial works required as a result of tenant damage and cleaning of the property. All of this is recoverable from the tenant through legal process but this is usually an even lengthier process and in many cases not worth pursuing if the tenant does not have the means to repay it. A horror story indeed!

The key to avoiding these situations is proper tenant screening prior to tenants signing a lease and moving in. It is vitally important to get this right and do it thoroughly. When done properly, this identifies any risks with a potential tenant and then allows the landlord to either decide not to proceed with the tenancy or do so with a guarantor in place (who does pass the screening).

The legal process for evicting a tenant can be used but due to the time constraints involved and the amount of financial loss the landlord can incur, it is not a practical solution by any means so should not be relied on. The best way to guarantee avoiding this situation is to screen potential tenants properly and never take a risk with a tenant, even if they do seem really nice at the viewing!

If you have any comments or questions about this blog, please tweet me @UmegaNeil.