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Tenant in arrears? Text them - phone calls are so intimidating…

Most tenants claim they are “intimidated” when agents or landlords telephone them about arrears - and they would much prefer a text.

A small research project amongst 200 tenants and conducted by a PropTech firm found that 57 per cent opposed direct telephone calls about the money they owed, with 62 per cent preferring texts instead. 

On top of that, 69 per cent said they would welcome “a flexible payment option to help reduce rental arrears and manage future payments.”


PayPoint, which commissioned the research, says it’s now up to agents and landlords to change their communications to fall in line.

A spokesman says: “Up and down the country, people are finding new ways to manage financial situations. A big part of that is how they are handling overdue and approaching payments. It is crucial that both private and social landlords tune in to the current market and offer tenants innovative solutions such as flexible payment plans and simple transaction processes. Landlords must also adopt a sympathetic approach to communicating.”

A statement from the company claims lettings agencies could accommodate these tenant preferences by “small adjustments” to how they work.

It adds: “With concerns surrounding overdue rent particularly high, it seems that many renters would welcome a gentle nudge, in the form of a text message or email, to remind them of arrears or approaching payments.”

It goes on to say: “The majority of respondents (69 per cent) would welcome a flexible payment option to help reduce rental arrears and manage their future payments … Being able to speak to someone from the tenants’ housing association or letting agencies, who is understanding of the individual’s financial situation, was also important to renters, with 78 per cent saying this would help them manage their finances.”

Poll: A tenant is in arrears: do you...


  • Paul Smithson

    They don’t like you knocking on the door either....but nobody can stop you doing it in a nice way!

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    • 09 October 2020 05:39 AM

    As part of the new required pre-action protocols I doubt texts would be accepted by courts.

    How does text evidence get delivered to courts!?

    Records need to be available now that Govt tries to do everything it can to prevent LL from repossessing.


    Actually Paul text messages can be presented in court. I suggest you keep yours from tenants in case 'stuff' happens going forwards

    Simon D

    WhatsApp messages are easier to share and fwd than text messages in my experience.

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    • 09 October 2020 08:18 AM

    Tough! If that have not paid the rent, then some intimidation is to be expected.
    The more the better.

    And they definitely deserve it......

    I would like to know what the laws are about how often and how hard the intimidation can be?

    Anyone know??????


    It's mostly in line with harassment laws

  • icon

    This may be unpopular opinion; Tenants who prefer SMS want to be given the opportunity to ignore them.

    I've always found a frank discussion on the phone to be far more pro-active.

    • 09 October 2020 08:40 AM

    And delete them and say they never received it!!!!!!
    Typical of non-paying tenant crooks.

  • girish mehta

    The tenants should make the first call. They know that they have issues well before anyone else. Why would you not contact landlords to discuss unless you have a agenda.
    Landlords are flexible and to paint all landlords as money grabbing monsters belongs to Victorian times and attitudes need to change with media and public. They have invested their life earning to give you a roof over your head. The government have failed them over last few decades to address the housing issues and only make bold statement for their own gain.

    Algarve  Investor

    While I agree with the general sentiment of your point, landlords letting a home aren't doing it out of the goodness of their heart, for entirely altruistic reasons. For most, it's a business first and foremost, and they want to make as much money as possible. Landlords aren't investing their life savings just to give tenants a roof over their head, they are doing it to make good returns and provide a healthy retirement pot (in many cases).

    Agree that the government has failed to address housing issues for decades and landlords have become a popular scapegoat as a result. The days of Rachman are long gone, and belong to another world, but as we see regularly on these pages and Landlord Today, there are still a fair few rogue operators who need to be stamped out.

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    • 09 October 2020 08:45 AM

    I consider myself as a money grabbing LL.
    Why would I bother being a LL if I didn't attempt to achieve the maximum of market rents.

    It is only how others perceive successful LL as money grabbers based on their own perspective.

    I consider being a successful money grabber as a successful business man and nothing to be ashamed of at all.

  • Mark Wilson

    I can see a real charm school of personalities here, but amazingly I agree, speaking is by far the best way to understand the situation and work out how to deal with. If the let has gone south some Landlords might see value in paying the tenant to go. I can see that happening in spades. Wasting time and energy on CCJ, less useful.

  • icon

    Take no notice of the troll above. I suggest Mark you concern yourself collecting arrears for whatever misfortunate LL's you have left.
    The rest of us from the 'charm school' are in the business of housing honest people who wish to live in quality properties for competitive rent.
    As for arrears & text messages. If I have to make first contact then its minus 10pts & the Wrath of Khan to follow. If they call me I will go 95% of the time with whatever deal they propose & I don't charge interest.
    We know damn well that most rent shirking tenants dislike being called on their phone. Its because they have to face the issue of arrears with interaction in real time & being held to account. Something the millennials struggle with I've noticed. When there is a late payment I must say I have texted first followed by a phone call later that day & I've learnt to make no apology for interrupting them whilst they are playing Call of Duty or FIFA 20.
    I believe all late payers with their excuses should be coming to the office cap in hand to explain themselves not being chased by us and always carry out what you promise/threaten to happen.
    Yeah charm school benefitted me!

  • Matthew Payne

    Rent arrears have to be handled by multiple means of communication for several reasons. Firstly, whilst the snowflake generation may not like it, having to discuss a debt of any sort with the person or organisation to whom you have missed a payment to, is of course going to be uncomfortable but that goes with the territory of being a responsible adult facing up to the challenges of life. Tenants should not be spared this discomfort just because it is a call they will find arkward, choosing to hide behind text messages. A call from an Agent or LL also adds gravity to the situation, a text is too casual. Of course calls need to be civil, professional and non confrontational, and dare I say it, I agree with Mark, it's much easier to get to the bottom of the situation and perhaps a bit of empathy if required can sometimes help resolve things more quickly. Landlords likewise should not cower from a call with their lender if they have missed a mortgage payment.

    Secondly, text messages went out with the Ark, whatsapp is the only reliable medium to exchange digital messages, and any conversation should be backed up with a whatspp message as a summary of what happened on the call. Texts get lost, sometimes take hours or even days to arrive, especially at the moment if people are at home more and don't have a signal. They are not a reliable way of date stamping correspondance.

    Thirdly, 7, 14, 21 day letters/demands by registered post as an additonal layer are good practice in the lead up to a possible s8 notice (or don't hurt with s21 either) and are often a requirement for insurance policies.


    Very well put Matthew


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