A LandlordZONE reader called Rebecca has been in touch to ask whether landlords like her can get around the Covid-related six-month minimum notice period required before possession hearings can be started to evict a tenant who has stopped paying their rent.

We asked evictions specialist Paul Shamplina to answer her two specific questions.

Question: Would landlords be within their rights to only accept tenants who are willing and able to pay six months’ rent up front?

Paul says: “Yes, you could ask a tenant to pay the rent up front but tenants apart from maybe international students are unlikely to be willing to do that, and most couldn’t afford to even if they were willing to.

“And while you wait until you find a tenant who will, you’re going to have your property sitting empty, which isn’t ideal.

“You’d be better off asking for your tenants to provide a guarantor, which many landlords suggest when a prospective tenant has a poor credit rating or references. Or landlords can take out rent guarantee insurance.

“You’ve got to be realistic and commercially-minded as a landlord; there are lots of decent tenants out there who prefer to pay monthly.”

Question: Could we serve six months’ notice at the same time as issuing a tenancy to ensure that, should it be necessary due to non-payment of rent, we are ahead of the game in terms of beginning the eviction process?

Paul says: No, not really. Under the current rules that came in during August last year, landlords can only serve a six-month notice period which is called a Form 6a after four months of a AST tenancy agreement so effectively the minimum term is now ten months.

“When I gave advice to the government on this, I made the point that giving notice to someone on the day they move in was poor practice – and judges will take a dim view of it plus it doesn’t put your relationship with a tenant on a good footing.”

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