Some examples and suggested solutions
Unless otherwise mentioned, it is assumed that the tenancy is an assured shorthold tenancy.
1. Tenant fails to pay at the start of a long fixed term
Very occasionally a landlord will find that the tenant will pay the deposit and first months rent before signing the tenancy but will then fail to pay anything else. If the tenant has signed up for a years fixed term (or even worse – longer than this) then this will put you in some difficulties.
Realistically all you can do is serve a section 8 notice, once the arrears have reached two months and proceed on that basis.
However if you have a break clause in your tenancy agreement I suggest you use this as this may allow you to use section 21 as bit earlier. However most break clauses cannot be used right at the start of the tenancy.
Note that some agents will recommend long fixed term. This situation is one reason why this is not a good idea, plus the agents will normally take their commission for the whole fixed term up front which could put you seriously out of pocket.
2. Tenant pays rent spasmodically and but it is generally between two to three months in arrears
In this situation it is likely that if you issue proceedings under the section 8 procedure, your tenant will bring the arrears down to under two months worth by the date of the hearing.
In this situation therefore, although you might want to serve a section 8 notice on the tenant just was a warning, I think (assuming you actually want the tenant to leave) that you bring any proceedings under the s21 ground.
Otherwise it is likely that the tenant will pay up just before the court hearing and you will be left unable to get an order for possession.
3. Tenant is in many months in arrears of rent, tenancy is periodic but no section 21 notice has been served
Here you will probably want to use the rent arrears ground and issue proceedings based on your section 21 notice, rather than wait another 2-3 months before you can issue proceedings.
I agree that this is probably the best option. However I should also serve a section 21 notice, as I have known a situation where the landlord assured me that the tenant would never be able to clear the arrears, yet he nevertheless managed to get a benefit payment through just before the hearing.
In that case we just got a JJC for the balance of the arrears outstanding, and then issued separate proceedings later under the s21 ground, as by then the s21 notice period had expired.
Next lets take a look at your options for actually bringing proceedings