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How to evict a tenant

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The first thing you need to work out is why you are evicting the tenant – if you don’t you may end up trying to evict them with the wrong paperwork resulting in the need to start the whole process again.
The second step is to go through the tenancy agreement you have with your tenant. This will have clauses which explain when, why and how your tenant can be evicted.
If you haven’t evicted a tenant before, it is wise to get it right first time, especially if they are not paying the rent or are damaging your property – look for a fixed fee service such as Landlord Action expert eviction solicitors.
  Make sure if you are choosing a reputable legal company to evict a tenant they are authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (like Landlord Action expert eviction solicitors) and able to carry out all services from issuing notices to evicting through to collecting unpaid rent. 
  Most tenancy agreements these days are ‘assured shorthold tenancy’ (AST) agreements. This means you would evict a tenant through a ‘Section 21’ (non-fault based possession) or a ‘Section 8’ (which allows you to seek possession under specific grounds, such as rent arrears or anti-social behaviour).
  If you have taken a deposit from the tenant, you can only serve a Section 21 notice seeking possession if you have protected their deposit correctly in one of the government schemes, such as mydeposits and provided the tenant with the prescribed information about the deposit protection.
  If you just want the property back at the end of the fixed term tenancy or your tenant has lived there for more than the fixed time period, then you can serve them with a ‘Section 21’ notice. This does not require you to give any reason as to why you have asked them to leave, but will require you to give them the correct length of notice. This is currently four months as a result of Covid legislation but will reduce to two months from 1st October 2021. 

You must ensure you have complied with the Deregulation Act 2015 in order to be able to serve a valid Section 21 notice.

You must be able prove that you provided your tenant with an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC), an Electrical Inspection Condition Report (EICR), all relevant Gas Safety Certificates and the government’s ‘How to Rent’ guide relevant at the time. Any non-compliance with this requirement renders a Section 21 notice ineffective.

In most cases you will be able to use the new Section 21 notice (prescribed form 6a).

From 1st October 2015, you can no longer serve a Section 21 notice within the first four months of the original term of the tenancy.

A Section 21 notice now also has a lifespan. Once a Section 21 notice has been given under a fixed term AST or a periodic AST, possession proceedings must be started within 6 months of the date the notice was given. Failure to do this will result in the possession notice becoming invalid and a new one being required.

After a Section 21 notice expires you can issue a court claim using the ‘accelerated procedure’, but the process and time scales will depend on your circumstances and it is worth taking professional advice. You can call Landlord Action on 0333 321 9415 and discuss whether this is possible.

A Section 8 notice can be served at any time providing the tenant has breached the tenancy under one of the relevant grounds. The most common is two months rent arrears. Under current Covid regulations, this gives a tenant two months to pay their arrears before you can issue a possession claim in the courts - if a tenant is at least four months in arrears, the notice period is reduced to four weeks.

If your tenant decides not to leave on the expiry of the possession notice, you will have to issue a possession claim with the courts. Instruct solicitors who are authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (like Landlord Action expert eviction solicitors) There are legal fees and court costs. Depending on the route used the process could take up to six months to get a possession order (court proceeding times have increased during Covid).

If the tenant doesn’t give a reason or a defence as to why they should stay, then the court will grant you ‘possession’ and give a date for the tenant to leave. If the tenant does submit a defence then you must take expert advice if you had not already. 

If the tenant does not leave by the date given on the possession order, then you must then apply for a bailiff to be present to ensure the tenant leaves. There is a further cost, and this process adds more time to you regaining possession of property. You may also wish to consider registering any judgment for money as this will not happen automatically.

The bailiff is the one person who can remove the tenant and their belongings. In some cases, if the tenant has left but left their belongings, then it is wise to hold them in storage for a reasonable time period. Take photographic evidence and an inventory of their belongings, as well as written evidence that you tried to contact them, so they have no claim against you.

PRS Mediation Service
The PRS Mediation service is an interactive way of sorting out disputes between landlords and tenants, with the help of a professional third person (that’s us) who won't take sides. We bring both common sense and expertise to find solutions that work for both landlords and tenants. If you’re thinking about rent arrears and evictions, we can help you by reaching an agreement with your tenants about how they will repay any rent arrears. Often we are also able to reach agreement with tenants to leave the property on an agreed date. It's quick – we can solve disputes within, on average, 10-15 working days, and prices start from £200 including VAT.

For more information visit the PRS Mediation Service.

 


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