I recently learnt of a private landlord who had a tenant who suddenly stopped paying the rent.

After four months the landlord consulted a solicitor who informed him that a successful eviction process could take a further nine months. Obviously not receiving income for such a long period of time would be detrimental to the landlord, especially as, in this case, he had a mortgage to pay on the property.

Unfortunately, a tenant who stops paying the rent is not an uncommon occurrence. I would regard the solicitor’s estimate of nine months is pessimistic, however, and the eviction process could well be completed much sooner than that.

One important thing to bear in mind is that when a tenant refuses to pay rent it is a civil matter. Should the landlord be tempted to try and evict the tenant himself, change the locks or cut off amenities then he could find himself in serious trouble as these are viewed as criminal acts.

Action should be taken through the proper channels which means issuing a Section 21 notice, assuming you are out of a fixed term, and a Section 8 notice to seek a judgement for the rent owed.

Many courts have been closed in recent years and this can be a long drawn out affair but the correct processes must be followed. I cannot stress enough the risks a landlord runs if he tries to take the law into his own hands and several people have been severely penalised for carrying out illegal evictions.