Having to evict a tenant is something that every good landlord dreads. Thankfully it’s pretty rare: most tenants want to keep their home and will behave responsibly as a result. But still, every week hundreds of landlords are faced with the prospect of evicting a tenant. So it’s worth being aware of the reasons why this might become necessary, and what you need to know from a landlord’s point of view.
Why tenants face eviction
There are a few common reasons why evictions happen:
1. Non-payment of rent. Not surprisingly, this one is hard for landlords to tolerate. You have a mortgage and other costs to cover, so a tenant not paying rent can quickly become a problem. But do find out if there’s a simple explanation: it could be a banking error or a one-off issue that the tenant can quickly resolve. Remember, life-changing situations such as a serious illness or losing their job can often lead to people burying their head in the sand because they’re finding it hard to cope - they may just need a month’s grace, or a helping hand to get back on track.
2. Damage to the property. Most rental contracts state that the property must be kept clean and in a good state of repair. But on doing an inspection, some landlords and agencies can discover that this guidance is far from being followed. Education is often better than eviction, so it’s worth trying to reason with the tenant/s to get the issues resolved before issuing them with formal notice - after all, eviction costs both the tenant and the landlord.
3. Antisocial behaviour. This usually becomes apparent through complaints from the tenant’s neighbours. Again, it’s worth finding out the facts – what’s the cause, and is it something that can be easily addressed? However, if you can’t reason with the tenant and the complaints continue, eviction may be your only option.
4. The tenant isn’t living there. Sometimes landlords find out that their property is actually empty - the tenant could have permanently moved out to live with a partner or may be staying with a relative. There are security risks if your property is standing empty, and your insurance could be invalid. It is worth trying to establish what their circumstances are before issuing an eviction notice, as the tenant may be looking to return to the property. Taking next of kin details during the referencing process can help to clarify situations like this.
How to manage an eviction
1. Contact the tenant. Agents acting on behalf of landlords, or self-managing landlords, need to take reasonable steps to make contact with the tenant first. This is to establish the cause of the problem and to see if the situation can be resolved. Eviction really should be the last resort.
2. Give notice. You can evict tenants who have an assured shorthold tenancy using a Section 21 or Section 8 notice, or both.
Section 21: You must give at least two months' notice under section 21 of the Housing Act -and it needs to be in writing. You need to state the date when the tenant needs to leave but you do not have to give a reason why you want them to leave. If there’s a fixed date on the rental contract, the eviction date can’t be before this.
Section 8: Another option is to issue a section 8 notice. This can be used if the tenant has broken the terms of the tenancy. You must provide a reason for eviction, and it is wise to provide as much supporting evidence as possible, as a court order based on a section 8 notice is hard to secure.
Landlord Tip: Read more about both notices at https://www.gov.uk/evicting-tenants/section-21-and-section-8-notices
3. If the tenant doesn’t leave, get a court order. You can only get a court order after the tenancy has been in place for six months, and the section 21 or section 8 notice has expired.
4. Accelerated possession. If you need to regain your property fast, this is a way to do it that doesn’t necessarily involve a court hearing. It requires a fee and a form that you complete via the County Court. This can be done on the basis of a section 21 notice.
5. Bailiff order. A successful claim will result in an order for possession, giving a date that the tenants should vacate by. If they do not leave, the last step in the process is to apply for a bailiff order. This is usually issued fairly quickly (1-3 weeks) after the application is made, and will give a date and time for the bailiff warrant to be executed. The tenants will receive a copy of this beforehand, and the bailiffs will meet the landlord (or their representative) at the property for the appointment. The warrant gives the bailiff authority to remove anyone still in the property, and the locks can then be changed.
Word of warning
Eviction is not a pleasant part of renting out your property. This is one of the reasons that landlords choose to appoint a letting agent such as Progressive Lets – we have and will manage all of the situations discussed here, and unlike many agents, we will also manage the eviction process from start to finish if the issues can’t be resolved. Most other agents will advise you to seek legal advice and appoint a solicitor, which can cost you thousands in fees.
For further information or assistance relating to the eviction process, call us on 01733 293900 and request to speak to Steph Forrester or Henrietta Michalski, who is our in-house eviction experts.