Its every landlord’s nightmare, tenants that ask for extension initially and then default on rent eventually.

Help, my tenant doesnt pay me, what can I do as the landlord?

Evicting Tenants

Where a tenant has breached the terms of the tenancy agreement, such as by his failure to pay rent, a landlord may forfeit the tenancy and re-enter the premises to evict his tenants.

What does forfeiture entail? It means that the landlord can obtain possession of the premises either by effecting a peaceable entry by himself, or by process of law through an application to the court.

Landlord must refer to the Tenancy agreement to check if there is a right of re-entry clause or the default of tenant clause. Generally, forfeiture will not be invoked unless the tenant fails to pay up despite being given opportunities to do so.

To re-enter the premises, the landlord needs to make a formal demand (by Email or written notice sent to the premises and paper notice stick onto the front door) for the tenant to leave the premises.

If its a residential unit, its not advisable to re-enter and change out the locks as there may be occupants residing in the unit, it will be catastrophe if a fire starts in the unit.

If its a commercial or industrial unit, landlord may re-enter and change out the locks, but its advisable to go with another eye witness (preferably the police) and take video documentation in case the tenant counter sue the landlord for missing items.

Otherwise the usual practice is to invoke the services of a solicitor to issue a writ of summons for possession, and begin legal proceedings for taking possession.

To do this, the landlord should make sure that he has expressly stipulated a right of re-entry in the tenancy agreement. The landlord must also serve a notice, under S18 of the Conveyancing and Law of Property Act, specify the breach complained of, the compensation sought, and the remedy to be undertaken by the tenant.

However, a tenant may also apply to the court for relief against the forfeiture of his lease. As forfeiture is an extremely harsh remedy, courts will give the tenant a reasonable time of an additional 4 weeks for the tenant to pay rent.

One solution for the landlord is to exercise his right to distress under the Distress Act. The right to distress is a remedy for the arrears of rent where the landlord must apply for a writ of distress, where he can claim up to 12 months’ arrears preceding the distress application.

It is important to note that the landlord should act on the matter swiftly and not take his own time in claiming the arrears. After which, a notice of seizure of goods and writ of distress must be sent to the defaulting tenant. If the tenant does not reply within 5 days, the landlord may exercise his option to sell off the goods. As there is no comprehensive law governing landlord-tenant relations, much depends on the tenancy agreement.

There is no one set of legal process for evicting tenants. As a matter of precaution, always review the terms of a tenancy agreement before entering into one.