Sick Tenant - advice please

I’ll try to keep this short, but advice and thoughts welcome please. Earlier this year Jan20 my tenant said she needed to split £1200 rent into 2 payments, i felt for January just after Xmas this was ok, I received 600/600 two weeks later. Feb comes and she asks the same, I get 600 and no second payment. Later that month she send me pictures hooked up to machines in hospital, she has chronic back pain and quite poorly, can’t work and can’t pay full rent. By March COVID has hit, she’s not working (can’t work due to health and covid) she’s applied for DSS and starts to pay £740 in rent the max housing benefit for our area… I agreed this for 3 months, review June. In June she says she wants to try working and can pay 900 for three months, going back to full rent in sept when she’s working. Last week early August she’s back in hospital clearly not working and won’t be able to go back to 1200 by sept. Guarantor I took on with her has said she’s gone bankrupt due to covid and can’t be guarantor anymore. Having a chat with tenant next week, is it unreasonable to ask her to leave while she’s in and out of hospital and can’t work? Her job is zero hours catering work so was affected by covid, but she can’t work anyway due to health now. I’m torn between being a caring human, but not had full rent since Jan20. How have others dealt with the covid implications on tenants? Thank you

As far as I know the home secretary has banned evicting tennants until August 23 and who knows that could be extended again.

Why is your desired rent £460 over the housing benefit cap for your tennant? Was this kind of scenario even considered before letting the property? I’m not a landlord but as a prospective tennant its the kind of calculation I make before deciding to enquire about a property so I know I’m covered if the worst happens.

Do you have another property thats cheaper and met by the HB payments you could move the tennant into so you can re-let the £1200pm

Firstly though its important you know the legislation and how the covid temporary measures effect your rights.

You sound a very kind and caring landlord who has done all you can do under the circumstances. As has your tenant from the sounds of it.

Unfortunately, it’s one of those things, circumstances change, sometimes for the worse.

Unless you can afford to drop the rent to the LHA amount it doesn’t sound as if you have much choice.

The previous post was totally wrong and misleading and needs to learn ‘the legislation’ themselves.

You are still able to issue to Section 21 and 8.

You have to give three months notice instead of two at present. The courts will reopen for business on 23rd August to hear the back log of cases.

No not everyone is as clever as you clearly are Ali and are not able to foresee pandemics or ill health. What do you want to happen? The mortgage company to foreclose on the landlord? The tenant will lose their home then, it’s only postponing the inevitable. How is that solving the problem?

Ask for evidence of bankruptcy from guarantor. It’s what they signed up for, to help their friend/relative in such an unfortunate event. Of course it may well be true but you need to look into it.


Thank you both, interesting to hear. Firstly Al1, I didn’t specifically set rent with UC housing allowance in mind, due to my insurance I am only allowed to accept working individuals, UC would not technically be allowed as a form of rent payment - it’s the landlord insurance I have in place. This is also my only rental property, I rely on the rent for income so don’t have anywhere to move her. I’ve suggested for the last 3 months she contact the council for a council property but I can’t physically get involved with that process. 1200 is the marketed value of the property, nothing to do with local housing benefit.

MrT thanks for advice, yes I have thought about asking for bankruptcy evidence, and given covid so many ppl are in poor financial way, I reckon I’m maybe not the only landlord in this situation. I did give a very clear email in June staying this was the three months notice unless things got back on track in the meantime, which sadly they haven’t, I’ve suggested my tenant ensure she’s receiving disability benefit as well which I’m sure she’d be entitled too, but it feels a false economy that she receives more benefits to pay me more rent… I think she needs a much cheaper property, or a council house, she’s in a 2 bed luxury flat in a gated community, she’s been penalised on the housing benefit - spare room tax type thing and I have this dilemma. I don’t want her to worry about finances when she’s so poorly so think It would be best for her as well if she seeks a much cheaper living arrangement, id feel awful if she spent every penny of benefit on rent and struggled with other things, that’s not really living. My dilemma goes on a short while longer speaking to her next week. Thank you

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Very difficult I can hear it pains you but sounds like you have really tried to think of everything. If she’s a reasonable person too she must see your problems and must know cheaper accommodation is the only long term solution.
Only plus point I can think of is that August is an easier time to be moving than winter.

Ali has a point I admit. Lots of people over-accommodated in regards to LH criteria for housing costs. Perhaps both tenants and landlords need to think of the implications of this a bit more.

Perhaps she could share the flat with someone so that you can still get your 1200pcm
Very tricky for us as Landlords still have to pay the mortgage

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Hi there
I have a tennent who owed me £600 prior to the Covid 19. She has been a nightmare for the last 3years. I have put up with her shabby payments. If and when she can pay(she doesn’t pay in dec and June (birthdays and Xmas) it’s a case of playing catch up .
Now she has been furloughed and receiving a element of rent which is £400 through housing u/ receiving no payments at all. She now owes £3.700. Due to government ruiling it could be Xmas before I get her out. By then it will cost me £10,000 at least . I’ve served section 8 and 21 .i can’t wait to get rid of her . I’m a dam good landlord . She is a nightmare dead loss . Please don’t fall into the trap . I’m sorry she is poorly . I know some cases are genuine . But some of them know the system and move from landlord to landlord … good luck

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Hi there

Cant she apply for discretional housing payment via council to top up LHA ?

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You have two choices, be caring and sympathetic and allow the tenant eventually to walk away owing you a bag of money, (thats what normally happens)… or stand back and you or your agent pursue the tenant for your money without the emotion.
Immediate avenues are to give notice and also pursue the guarantor. (you just cant unilaterally stop being a guarantor) Notice focuses the mind for a tenant as they realise the writing is on the wall. Even if you give notice you will be lucky to get a tenant out in 2020 if they don’t co operate.
[The ladies suggestion of getting another tenant in was thinking outside the box, i liked that one it might just work]
So difficult situation for you. I have been bitten many times over the years so now i am empathetic but firm. Maybe Landlords need to be roasted as couple of times before they get to that place. Landlords and Tenants have a business relationship, Try and think of it that way. I would get the ball rolling , dont expect the courts to see your point of view and be prepared to take a big hit in the revenue. (hope for the best and Plan for the worst) good luck


I have read that councils are offering tenants in difficulty through arrears loans to help them out due to the current situation. Perhaps its worth looking at.

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When I started in the renting game a decade ago I needed to make it work to provide income to make up for being made redundant from a well paid job. I bought a group of flats, let them and crossed my fingers. Shortly after letting one, and still very green behind the ears, some tenants told me of a serious health condition that precluded working while recovering. Arrears soon got to 1200 and I was worried… What did I do…

  • parked the arrears and got focused on just restarting income payments… For you this will probably be via universal credit/housing benefit

  • stressed the need for trust and openness as being more important than rent…I needed to know what to expect and on what days so that I could plan… So try to get it so the arrears are no longer growing

  • when able, start gradual reduction of arrears. In my case that took best part of two years

-8 years on I have the best tenants who have never since missed a payment, with a relationship built on trust and respect that comes from acting on each others interest. Most of my tenancies are like this.

Sounds like your tenant is a good person with genuine problems. I’d be doing everything I could to keep a roof over their head and to remove the worry of losing it. Obviously you will have your limits, like I did, but I think in these circumstances, basic compassion trumps profit. But I stress the need for trust and openness, so don’t look to exploit me and I will do my best for you, but watch out if you take the piss.

That’s my philosophy, others may do differently.


You can apply to have the Housing Costs paid direct to yourself.

Hi mr T
I’ve already arranged this. 3 times . She rings up the day after and stops it . ( she is allowed to do this) the sooner I get her out the better. …

My advise for future landlords is to investigate why the tenant wants to rent a property bigger than the number of people in the household.

In this case, why a single person wanted to rent a 2 bedroom flat?

They may than sublet the property without your knowledge.

Important to get the rent and legal cover. General criteria is gross income should be at least 3 times the rental.

Also check how secure are the jobs of all working tenants based on economic and that particular industry situation.

And always get full tenant checks.

I had pre-screening questions before the viewing to eliminate tenants who were not suitable, particularly based in income criteria.

If any of the prospective tenant has County court judgement over last 6 years, even If it is satisfied, you will not get rent guarantee cover.


I can see why you need to get rid and thats your main aim.

I don’t see why she’s allowed to cancel the direct payment if she is in such bad rent arrears. There is no appeals service for this decision only a review service which is set from anything between 3 to 24 months and evidence has to be provided from the tenant that things have changed. The whole idea of this is to safeguard the tenants home or there’s no point having it, if any tenant can just cancel.

A well as direct payment a landlord is also able to request a payment from the UC towards the outstanding arrears. Not that the actual payment will be huge but it’s possible.

Looks like something is not working as it should be.

Melanie, we give Free advice and have done in many similar cases to your.
(3rd party referral / service removed)

I have contacted Possession Friend for advice too. It sounds a very good service. Thank you.

Repossess. Her health and money issues are not yours, there are other support networks for this. Who will bail you out if you can’t make your mortgage payments? You cannot sustain this and it is not your responsibility to do this. You have already gone over and above board so don’t consider yourself ‘uncaring’ if you do this. What about yourself and your own family? We had similar, but I had a mother-in-law with dementia - with no social service support - what if something similar happens to you - what resources do you have? And def go after the guarantor.


There is a serious back log of cases waiting to be heard once possessions start again. I would be very tempted to get things in place. Your already out of pocket and by the sounds of it will be a long time before your able to take possession.

It might sound harsh but you have to ask yourself if your running a business or a charity.
How much more of this can you take financially before it breaks you.

Your expenses and legal obligations don’t stop just because your income does.

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It’s admirable to have your attitude, but let’s cut this down to business basics. I don’t know if your property is mortgaged or not, so for the purposes of this exercise, let’s assume it is. Think this, would your mortgage providor mirror your sense of compassion? The answer will tell you what to do next.

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