Calculating the rent arrears due
For many landlords this will be simple. The tenant has failed to pay a months rent and it is now at least one day after the second months rent fell due. However in other cases there may be a complicated rent payment history.
It is important that at this stage you work out exactly how much rent is due. The best way to do this is to complete a proper rent arrears schedule – if you bring proceedings for possession you will need to have a schedule in this format this to show the Judge at court, and if you use the Possession Claims Online service, they will expect you have to already served it on your tenant.
Schedule of rent payments form. You can use this form to calculate your arrears (it was created quite a long time ago but still works very well) – you just need to put in the information and it will calculate the arrears for you. There are instructions in the notes which follow the form – these by the way are just for your information and should not be served on the tenant with the form.
>> Click here for the form.
Using a spreadsheet. Our form is only really suitable for straightforward situations. If there is a complex arrears history, you will find it easier to create your own schedule using a spreadsheet such as Excel.
The schedule (if you are creating it in a spreadsheet) needs to have four columns. One for the date. One for rent due. One for payments made. And finally a column at the right showing a running total of the arrears. (Note that the balance column in our form is only there because it is needed to allow the arrears column to calculate properly.)
You need to start at a time at least two months before the date when you know for sure that the tenant was not in arrears. If you are uncertain, go from the start of the tenancy. If you are doing this the procedure is as follows:
1. Put the date the first payment of rent was due, in the date column, and the rent amount in the rent column. If you are using our form, this figure will copy over to the final column once you click out. If you are using Excel, you need to copy this sum over. If the tenant paid some rent on the same day, put this in the rent paid column, so that the rent arrears figure shows the balance due to you.
2. If rent was paid by the tenant on any other day during that first month, then on the next line down in the schedule, put the date it was paid, and the amount paid. The running arrears column should show the amended balance due to you (in a spreadsheet you will have to manually tell the form to calculate this).
3. Do the same for all days during the month when the tenant made a payment
4. Then for the next rent payment date, put in the date, and the rent figure in the rent paid column. Plus, if any rent was paid to you that day, the rent paid.
5. Continue in this way, showing a separate entry for every date rent was paid, unless it was paid on the same day that the rent fell due, in which case you can put it in the same row. Do this up to either the last rent payment day or the last day a rent payment was made, whichever is the most recent. You will then be able to see exactly how must rent is due to you.
>> Click here to see an example of a very basic schedule created in Excel.
The importance of a properly calculated schedule of arrears
It is important that a proper rent arrears calculation is done at this stage. For tenancies with a complex rent arrears history some landlords may be tempted to skip this stage and do a ‘guestimate’.
However it is surprising sometimes, when you do the calculation properly, just how high the arrears turn out to be. This is money you are legally entitled to.
The higher the rent arrears figure is, the less likely it is that the tenant will be able to defeat your claim (if you need to go to court for a possession order) by making a payment or by a housing benefit payment coming through. You do not want your claim to be defeated by being paid less than you are entitled to, simply because your rent calculation was not accurate.
It is also important that an accurate rent arrears figure is given in the possession notice you are about to do. If the arrears figure stated is inaccurate the Judge may be unwilling to allow you to correct this at court, or may consider the notice to be defective, which will affect your claim.
Note that you must not include the deposit figure in this schedule. The deposit money is not rent and should be dealt with entirely separately (in most cases now it will be held under a tenancy deposit protection scheme).
The tenant is not entitled to ask you to offset the damage deposit money against rent, and you should never agree to or offer to do this. It is a fund of money to be used for damage to the property after the tenant has left. It is only after this has been done (i.e. after the tenant has vacated) that any balance can be offset against rent arrears.