How a Lettings Agency manages rent arrears

Any professional Lettings Agent in Southend needs a reliable system to identify when rent is overdue on the properties it is managing. Small agents may be able to work with a paper based system but once an agency has numerous properties to oversee, an electronic tracking system is a must. In order to be efficient and therefore cost effective, a lettings agency must be able to identify who is in arrears easily and quickly.

At Pace, we have a robust, organised system which works well. Each morning the accounts team post all rents collected the previous day on to a computerised system. We currently collect rents by standing order, online card payment via our website or by telephone. Occasionally, when a tenant has no other option, we will accept cash in person at our office. Once all rents for the following day are processed, our computer system identifies which accounts are overdue.

At Pace, we believe rent collection is an integral part of what we do as a professional Southend lettings agent. That’s why we have a highly trained property manager specialising in rent collection who checks overdue rents each day. Part of this role includes telephoning all tenants identified as having not made a payment to investigate why rent owed has not been received.

If we cannot immediately make contact with tenants, we try other methods of communication such as text messaging, email or letter. We keep trying to contact people on a daily basis until we have an answer or need to escalate the situation further. Throughout this process, we communicate with the landlord to ensure they are aware of what is happening.

After a few days, depending on the rent history, knowledge of the tenant and amounts involved, if we’ve still been unable to reach the tenant we change the tone and content of our letters to be more formal and demanding. We may also visit the property at this stage, or send a letter stating we intend to visit the property in 48 hours for an inspection and must be allowed entry to the rental property in Southend.

However we must say it is unusual not to reach a tenant. It’s more common that we do manage to speak and they explain the reasons for late rent payment. At this stage, we ask as many questions as possible to identify whether they are telling the truth. Many of the untruths we hear are similar – a favourite is a tenant being a victim of internet banking fraud but they rarely seem to have bank statements to prove it...!

We try and build a rapport with the tenant at this stage to identify what they can afford to pay. Depending on their income and previous payment history, the landlord may be understanding and allow a payment plan to catch up on monies owed. Alternatively, we may recommend, or our landlords may insist, the outstanding sum is paid immediately.

Should a tenant refuse to pay, we will continue with regular contact and letters explaining they will lose their property in Southend. At the point where rent is 2 months in arrears, we do have the right to serve a notice under Section 8 of the 1988 Housing Act. This notice is used in England & Wales by landlords to gain possession of a property that is let under a short hold tenancy where there are rent arrears of at least two months or more (or eight weeks for a weekly tenancy).

A section 8 notice is different from the more common section 21 notice to quit in that it is served on the tenant by a landlord wishing to regain possession of a property during the fixed term of an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST). A section 21 notice can only be used for regaining possession at the end of a tenancy agreement.

We would strongly recommend against going to court on such a notice even if there were a long history of payment problems. Taking the legal route can be expensive, time-consuming and stressful. A reputable managing agent will work for its clients, and with the tenants, to resolve the issue of unpaid rent: Saving landlords the cost and inconvenience of court action and the inevitable loss of rent and void period after the tenant has been evicted.

Next time, what happens once you serve a Section 8 notice.

We are happy to offer half an hour of face-to-face advice to local landlords in difficult situations free of charge. Please telephone and ask to speak to Martin, Marcus or Crystal.

Martin Ransom is Office Manager at Pace Plc, an independent Southend on Sea Letting Agent.

With nearly 25 years experience in the property industry, Martin is well placed in his role as Branch Manager for Pace.

After joining the business in 2010 Martin took it upon himself to foster excellent customer service among the team and this continues to position Pace as a leader in its field today.

Pace Property Lettings & Management Ltd
South Essex Landlords and Property Investor Network
No Selective Licensing
Pace Sales


"I am a landlady with many properties and have dealt with Pace for about 10 years. Marcus is very friendly, honest, efficient and helpful and has made my letting experience extremely easy always finding me suitable tenants. I have nothing but praise for Marcus who has been with Pace many years.

Mary R

After renovating a block of 21 flats to place into our rental portfolio we instructed PACE and gave them two weeks to let all the units on a sole agency basis. They marketed the flats for a week and conducted a strict open house event on the following Sunday for 4 hours. Within this slot 15 flats were let with the remainder let the following week.

The Director of Runwood Homes

As a landlord with multiple HMO properties, I have employed the services of PACE for a number of years now as they ensure I have my required specification of tenant placed in all my rooms. I only let rooms to employed applicants and very much favour their opening hours as this attracts and accommodates the right people.

Johnathon Simons HMO Landlord

Sara is my dedicated property manager and has been for some time. I have always found Sara to be a very professional member of staff. Sara always keeps me informed and provides regular visit reports, which is important for any landlord. Sara deals with any problem that befalls her, contacting me if she needs to. Sara will discuss any problem and invariably come to a solution.

Raymond Durrant – multi property landlord

The staff are always friendly and helpful, my special thanks to Sara, we have built a very special rapport and I feel very comfortable phoning if I need anything. I feel very happy that I have one person to deal with all of my issues.

Evelin Jenkins - Tenant

We cannot stress how much we appreciate having a dedicated property manager for our properties. We live 350 miles away and also spend a great deal of the winter out of the country. To be able to phone our manager who understands our properties and how we operate is for us complete peace of mind.

Peter and Maureen Mason – Multi property landlords

I was extremely thankful I chose PACE to conduct the sale of my property and extremely grateful to Sue Mellor who worked very hard to ensure a smooth transaction. She was most knowledgeable and professional throughout, always reachable and approachable. She was able to answer all the questions I posed.

Yvonne White

I've recently purchased a property with the help of Pace. I found the staff extremely helpful and friendly. My first contact was Katie, she showed me around the property and liaised with the vendor. After, I dealt mostly with Sue Mellor. She was very knowledgeable and helpful. She kept me informed throughout the process and was the first to congratulate me on completion.

Roni Miller

I just thought I'd drop you a line about Adele Moore who is managing my flat. Adele is doing a great job and is a credit to Pace. She has done, and continues to do, exactly what she says she will do and as a customer that is exactly what I want. Adele doesn't take things at face value and investigates things when she needs to, again a thing that clients will prize.

Tony Mihill - Landlord

Thank you to the team at PACE for firstly providing excellent property management services over many years and secondly for helping me to sell my property recently.

All your hard work has been very much appreciated. Special mentions to Sara, Amy, Sue and Billy for their friendly and professional service!

Charlotte, (Property Management & Seller)