Evictions

1. Eviction Process

When you have good tenants living in your properties being a landlord is really great – professionally fulfilling and money-making. However, when you have bad tenants it’s a nightmare and, for all of us at one time or another, the knee-jerk reaction has been to demand they leave immediately.

To many a reasonable person this seems a rational reaction and yet the law is very strict on what is and is not allowed, and it is imperative that landlords work within these rules. Note well that you may be guilty of harassing or illegally evicting your tenants if you don’t follow the correct procedures.

The eviction process is a minefield so, while the information contained here offers valuable insight, I would nonetheless strongly recommend engaging professional services to get the job done in the correct way.

In England and Wales, if you want your tenant out and you have a written assured shorthold tenancy that runs week-by-week or month-by-month with no fixed end date you may be able to issue a Section 21 notice to quit. (For example, for it to be valid you must also have protected their deposit in a government-authorised scheme within a set time and given them the required information about how the scheme works.) If you have a fixed term agreement, you can only serve a section 21 notice if the agreement makes provision for it.

A Section 21 notice has to provide the tenants with at least 2 months’ notice to leave the property. The exact form of this notice can vary, but it must be in writing, and must specify the date of required possession. It is easy to get the date wrong, in which case you won’t manage to take possession at that time, so calculate carefully. You can buy a Section 21 notice e-form valid in England and Wales online from websites such as WH Smith, which are well worth investing in to help you get everything right if you choose to proceed alone.

Meanwhile, a Section 8 notice is, essentially, a breach of contract procedure and can therefore be used during the fixed term, unlike Section 21. You can serve a Section 8 notice at any time during the tenancy as long as your tenant is in breach of contract and you can justify your claim under one of the 17 grounds for possession (see http://bit.ly/1hxsnCl for a list of these). Again, Section 8 forms are available from reputable online stationers.

If the tenant remains in situ after the specified date of required possession in the Section 21 notice your next step is to go to court to obtain a possession order, although – frustratingly – this cannot be done in the first six months of a tenancy. If nothing goes wrong, the possession order process normally takes 6 to 10 weeks.

With a Section 8 notice, if you are successful the possession order will usually take effect within 14 days or, if this will cause the tenant exceptional hardship, within 6 weeks. It is worth noting that for rent arrears you need to wait until your tenant is at least 2 months behind before applying to the court.

There is also an accelerated possession order, which requires payment of a fee before any action can begin. This involves filling a Form N5B and filing it with the County Court the covers the area in which the property is situated. The court will then post the documents to the tenant with a form of reply allowing them to lodge an objection within 14 days. If you are successful you will get an order of possession, which is normally enforceable 14 days after the order was made and the tenant will receive an order to pay the court fees.

 
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