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Council clamps down on unpaid rent

Published Thursday, 28 June 2012

Enfield Council is clamping down on tenants who owe it rent as part of a wider strategy to protect its income against a backdrop of unprecedented government spending cuts.

And the borough is warning tenants who don’t pay up that it will not hesitate to peacefully re-enter their property and terminate their lease if necessary.

Cllr Andrew Stafford, Cabinet Member for Finance and Property, said, “As a Council, we are trying to support our local businesses to succeed, and we are also committed to offering value for money to our residents.

"Commercial rent is a key source of income for vital Council services and improved facilities in the borough. The repossession of any property, or any other debt recovery action, is only used as a last resort when all other avenues has been considered and explored."

As a deterrent, the threat of repossession has proven to be tremendously effective. By March 2012, Enfield Council was successful in collecting 93.15% of all commercial rent.

The Council owns more than 465 properties which are let for a number of business enterprises including shops units, industrial units, aerial installations and garages which generate an income of nearly £7.6 million annually.

But the Council needs to protect its financial interests and earlier this year adopted a new process to recover outstanding debt which includes peaceable re-entry.

Peaceable re-entry is a process which enables the Council, as the landlord, to gain possession of a commercial property by re-entering the property whilst the tenant is not physically present.

By taking this action, the Council brings the lease to an end with immediate effect, although a tenant can regain possession by paying the arrears (and associated costs) in full.

Peaceable re-entry has only occurred in a handful of cases.  As a first stage warning letter is always issued first and has been successful in most cases in getting the tenant to pay their arrears.

Enfield Council, as landlord, aims to assist tenants in paying their annual rent by offering several methods of repayment including monthly direct debit rather than quarterly payment in advance.

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