Stage 1: Before you start court proceedings (rent arrears)

About this service

If your tenant(s) has failed to pay rent and is in arrears, you can use this pack to help get them to pay back the rent, or as the first step in the process of starting court proceedings if they do not pay. This pack is suitable for use where you have an assured shorthold or an assured tenancy agreement with the tenant(s).

You should begin the process by sending your tenant(s) our 'Initial letter to tenants regarding rent arrears'. If you have not already done so, you must also send our ‘Notice to tenant(s) of deposit protection scheme’ (for use with lettings using an ‘assured shorthold tenancy’ only). If the initial letter does not have the desired effect then you should use our ‘Notice under section 8 of the Housing Act 1988’ along with its associated covering letter ‘Covering letter for section 8 notice’ to prepare and serve a formal notice seeking possession upon the tenant(s). You can use our ‘Form N215 - Certificate of service’ to record how and when the section 8 notice was served.

If it is unlikely that the tenant(s) will pay the rent arrears (due to their financial circumstances) then you may want to consider obtaining a possession order using the accelerated possession procedure as this is quicker, but does not order the tenant(s) to pay the rent back. Start with our pack 'Stage one: Before you start court proceedings (accelerated possession)'.

Pack documents:

  • Notice to tenant(s) of deposit protection scheme
  • Initial letter to tenants regarding rent arrears
  • Notice under section 8 of the Housing Act 1988
  • Covering letter for section 8 notice
  • Form N215 - Certificate of service

This product is suitable for use in: England

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Included in this service:

  • Notice to tenant(s) of deposit protection scheme
    Use this document to meet your legal requirements after taking a deposit from a tenant (now known as contract holders in Wales). It tells tenants which deposit protection scheme is used and, together with the scheme documents that must be provided with this notice, gives them the 'prescribed information' required by law.

    Protect the deposit and give this notice and the scheme documents to the tenant within 30 days of the tenant paying the deposit. At the same time, you should also send it (together with the scheme documents) to anyone who paid the deposit for the tenant and, in order to avoid any dispute, the tenant's guarantors (if any).

  • Covering letter for section 8 notice
    This document creates a covering letter for a landlord serving a notice seeking possession under section 8 of the Housing Act 1988 against a tenant with an assured or assured shorthold tenancy agreement solely on the grounds that there are current rent arrears. You will need to attach the section 8 notice to this letter.

    You must not send this letter (or the section 8 notice) if you're told that the tenant has been granted formal 'breathing space' from the rent arrears debt under the Debt respite scheme.

  • Form N215 - Certificate of service
    The N215 certificate of service should generally be completed after having sent any court documents, such as claim forms or applications to the court, or other important documents to an opponent after (or sometimes before) court proceedings have begun. The form provides evidence that the documents have been served on an opponent. It is only suitable for claims within England & Wales.
  • Initial letter to tenants regarding rent arrears
    This document creates an initial letter from a private landlord to a tenant who is in rent arrears. It should be used for residential properties rented under an assured or an assured shorthold tenancy agreement in England, or a standard occupation contract in Wales.

    You must not send this letter to a tenant if you're told that they've been granted formal 'breathing space' from the rent arrears debt under the Debt respite scheme.

  • Notice under section 8 of the Housing Act 1988
    This is the formal notice that you must serve on (i.e. give to) your tenant to tell them that you're seeking possession of your property due to current rent arrears. It also includes a schedule of rent arrears to accompany the notice.

    If you've been told that your tenant has been granted 'breathing space' under the debt respite scheme, you can't send this notice during this period without first getting a court's permission.

    Please note that this document can only be used in relation to properties in England where either an assured or an assured shorthold tenancy agreement is in place. It is not suitable for seeking possession on any grounds other than rent arrears.

Useful information

What is a deposit protection scheme?

By law, landlords taking deposits for assured shorthold tenancies are required to safeguard their tenants' deposits through the registration with an approved deposit protection scheme.
Compatible region(s): England

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