Tenant can't pay and currently not often in flat

I am retired and have heavily invested in a flat to rent out as a major source of income.
My tenant has been in my flat for 8 months. He has paid a deposit and 3 months rent in advance.
He has not missed a payment.
However he has a contract locally as a school teacher and during to COVID-19 has been layed off, not furloughed.
To make things more complicated he has an elderly father and he often flies back to his father’s home for weekends.
He went to his father a couple of weeks ago saying he had no work and could not afford to pay the rent.
Naturally I have said when you are back we’ll discuss a repayment schedule.
However he hasn’t been able to get back due to restrictions.
Today I was informed that he has to come back as he has to go to school Friday and then go back to his father and probably ditto next week.
So I have a tenant who cannot pay, who hardly lives in the flat and is paying no rent.

What can I do?

I can’t evict, fair enough, but I have a flat that is mainly empty and I cannot rent it out.

Any suggestions?

Ask him does he want to surrender the tenancy.


Looks like your tenants will take a 3 months rent holiday, whether agreed with you or not. Catching up on 3 months arrears will be very hard for this and most tenants.
I do not see an alternative to Colin’s suggestion that tenancy is terminated by mutual consent. At least this way you will start a fresh atthe end of lockdown.

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We had similar situation just before COVID with my daughters tenant. He changed jobs so as to come off shift and spend more time with his girlfriend. Then she packed him anyway and he could no longer pay the rent off 1 reduced income.

We asked him if it would help if he gave his 1 months notice and if so we would not chase him for any rent owed. He did just that and went home to his mums after the month, by then during COVID. But we have the apartment back and he agreed via DPS that we could retain the deposit against unpaid rent. This was approx half the sum owed.

Our tactics, be nice at all times, keep in friendly contact with your tenant. Explain what it means to you if the rent is not received. In my daughters case if the rent was not received she in turn could not pay her own bills.

Might work, might not. We always look after our tenants, select them discerningly, treat them nicely and appreciate them. In return we rarely have problems with rent or issues with our properties.

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If he is unemployed then like anyone else he can claim benefits including LHA which is to pay his rent. You can look on your local councils website for your local LHA rates in 2020.
Some people really struggle with applying for benefits, people who have reading difficulties etc.
I have had similar problems in the past and I always find gentle communication is key.
Ask the tenant if they are claiming LHA, if not than enquire why? and do they know they can apply? Offer to help them if required. Its all done on line and even with current distacing its not hard to sort out over the phone or skype etc.

i believe you can give notice but its 3 months now not two. give notice as a backstop , best advice is colin 3 but dont waste any time

Hi. Thank you for your excellent responses. I had a chat with him during the week as he was back for a day’s teaching. He’s waiting to see what the PM has to say this w/e before he decides but if there’s no work he’s likely to quit the tenancy, which I said I would be happy with. However had a message from him yesterday saying he was back with his father but he had paid last month’s rent which was a nice surprise.
As most people on here seem to agree, be polite with your tenant, discuss the situation and see how it goes. I have been lucky so far.