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The Purpose of a Letter Before Action for Landlords

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Landlords get bad press as it is often said they are in the property game for the money and that they will raise rents or start eviction proceedings at the drop of a hat.

Not all landlords are like that. Some struggle with rising mortgage rates and need to sell as it isn’t economical to rent a property out if the rent does not cover the mortgage and other outgoings. Other landlords genuinely need their property back so they can live in it. Others are despairing when a tenant has breached the covenants in their tenancy agreement or will not let the landlord in to inspect and carry out repairs.

Our Landlord and Tenant Solicitors look at the purpose and power of a well-written letter before action to sort out some of these and other issues landlords must deal with.

UK Online and London-Based Landlord and Tenant Solicitors 

For advice on landlord and tenant law or to book a consultation call OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or contact us online.

What is a letter before action?

A letter before action isn’t just used by landlords. It is a useful tool for anyone in a dispute, including tenants and those in commercial and property disputes.

In the context of landlords, in essence, a letter before action is a wake-up call to say you mean action and that if the tenant ignores your phone calls and texts and contact from the letting agent then the letter before action shows that you have a plan and will follow through.

What do you put in a letter before action?

If you are a landlord then your Landlord and Tenant Solicitor will probably want to use the letter before action to:

  1. Identify the problem or dispute
  2. Explain the law
  3. Set out steps taken to date
  4. Clearly explain what the tenant must do by a specified date
  5. Explain what you will do next if the tenant does not comply

Why does a letter before action work?

When a tenant gets a letter from a solicitor it shows them that you are not going to let things go and that you know your rights and the law.

By clearly setting out the problem and what the tenant needs to do about it and giving them a deadline you are showing that you are serious and will follow through with consequences.

If the tenant then complains that you started court action or that you reported them you can evidence that you gave them a warning but they ignored your letter before action so you followed through on what you said you would do.

Why should a Landlord and Tenant Solicitor write a letter before action?

There are a few reasons why it is sensible for your Landlord and Tenant Solicitor to write your letter before action for you:

  1. A letter before action from a solicitor can make a tenant think they cannot ignore the problem anymore
  2. The letter before action will be professionally worded so the tenant cannot accuse you of harassment or phrasing things aggressively
  3. The solicitor will check that what you want to put in the letter before action is reasonable and compliant with the law
  4. The solicitor will talk you through your options if the tenant does not do as you ask – there is no point in sending a letter before action if you say you intend to do something but you have no plans to do so

In most cases, our Landlord and Tenant Solicitors can prepare a letter before action for you for a fixed fee. We can also tell you about the likely costs and timescales of the next steps if the tenant does not do as you ask.

Do you need to respond to a letter before action from a tenant?

Sometimes a tenant will send their landlord a letter before action. If you get one then our advice is not to ignore it as otherwise the tenant may start court proceedings, report you or seek a costs order if they win in court because they gave you a warning of what they wanted and the consequences of you not doing it.

Sometimes when a tenant sends a letter before action it is to negotiate compensation or to achieve a rent reduction. For example, a tenant could send a letter before action to say you have breached the tenancy agreement and failed to comply with your obligations as a landlord. That may only be half the story as the tenant may have never told you about the problems or they may have told you and then kept saying you cannot make a convenient appointment to view the work needed to the property or to carry out repairs.

That sort of letter before action needs a formal response and an action plan. In a case of serious allegations, such as mould affecting a family’s health, you may need an independent report to identify the cause of the mould and to identify the cause of the problem and solution. An expert may say that mould is inevitable in a wet climate and where a property does not have adequate ventilation and heating. Provided there is no underlying cause for the mould and the tenant has opening windows and a working boiler you need to respond equally robustly to the letter before action once you are totally satisfied with the accuracy of what you are saying and the reasonableness of any solution proposed by you.

OTS Solicitors can help with your legal needs and questions

At OTS Solicitors our Landlord and Tenant Lawyers understand you need speedy expert and solution-based legal advice you can rely on. Our Landlord and Tenant Solicitors work with you or your letting agent to provide comprehensive advice on all aspects of landlord and tenant law ranging from tenancy agreement advice, deposit disputes, and section 8 and 21 possession proceedings.

UK Online and London-Based Landlord and Tenant Solicitors 

For advice on landlord and tenant law or to book a consultation call OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or contact us online.

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