How to evict a tenant: The landlord's guide

How to evict a tenant: The landlord's guide
No landlord would ever relish evicting a tenant. From landlords to letting agents, we all crave a smooth-running tenancy with no issues.

But that kind of tenancy is not always guaranteed, and landlords should be prepared and know the process of how to evict a tenant, while also protecting themselves legally.

CJ Hole has put together this handy guide on how to evict a tenant in the UK, answering your questions and taking you through the process..

Can I evict a tenant myself?

You can, but it's not simply a case of turning up, banging on the door and demanding they leave.

Depriving someone of their right to a home is an issue taken extremely seriously by the courts, so the key thing as a landlord looking to evict a tenant is to do everything by the book.

The process of evicting a tenant

The first thing to state here is the process to evict a tenant is not always particularly quick. But this will largely depend on the reasons for starting the eviction process.

The first thing to do is decide on the appropriate notice to serve to your tenant:

Section 21 notice
This informs the tenant that you wish to regain possession of the property at the end of an agreed fixed-term tenancy or an agreed break clause.

You don't have to provide a reason for issuing this notice, but you do have to give the tenant at least two months' notice. This notice cannot be used as a claim for rent arrears.

Changes to the Deregulation Act 2015 mean that, since October 1 2018, landlords issuing section 21 notices:

  *  Can't do so within the first four months of the tenancy agreement
  *  Must be aware that a section 21 notice expires after six months
  *  Should be aware that failing to deal with a tenant complaint that results in a housing authority notice will mean any section 21 notice issued after that will be invalid
  *  Must have issued a valid gas safety certificate, energy performance certificate (EPC) and a copy of the government's How To Rent guide to all tenants

Landlords should also be aware that:
  *  Section 21 notices will not be able to be issued if a landlord or managing agent charges any of the banned tenant fees under the Tenant Fees Bill after June 1 2019

Tips: Ensure you correctly specify the required date of possession and make sure this gives at least two months' notice to the tenant.

Always try to accommodate the needs of the tenant and be reasonable and if your tenant doesn't want to leave, don't respond in a way that could be classed as harassment.

Section 8 notice
A section 8 notice is issued when a tenant has breached a term, or terms, of their tenancy agreement.

The most common reasons for issuing a section 8 notice are:

  *  Unpaid rent
  *  Damage to the property
  *  Nuisance

The reason for seeing a section 8 notice must be clearly stated and the tenant given between two weeks and two months' notice depending on the terms breached.

A section 8 notice acts as notice for the tenant to bring any rent arrears up-to-date or a possession order for the property will follow alongside a monetary judgment for the remaining arrears.

Tips: Even if your tenant has breached the terms of their agreement, if the agreement is nearing the end of its fixed term, it could be better to hold on and issue a section 21 notice instead as possession is mandatory and the tenant is not able to lodge a defense.

However, if the tenant's rent arrears are substantial, a section 8 could be best and save you serious financial losses.

Section 21 or section 8: Which is better?

Firstly, a section 8 can only be issued if your tenant has breached the terms of the tenancy agreement, while a section 21 can only be issued once the initial fixed term of the tenancy has expired.

If you are in a position where you could issue either of the notices (i.e the term is set to expire and the tenant has breached terms of the agreement), you would have to decide which is more important to you: Gaining possession of the property quickly (section 21) or recovering rent arrears (section 8).

Evict a tenant using accelerated possession

If your tenant refuses to leave once either your section 21 or section 8 notice has been served, you can make a possession order.

The kind of possession order you use will depend on which notice your tenant was issued with.

If you served a section 21 notice on your tenant and they remain in the property after the two-month notice period, there is a written tenancy agreement and no rent arrears, you can use the accelerated possession order.

This should enable you to evict your tenant without going to court. The County Court where the property is situated is your first port of call alongside an N5B form, which will be sent to the tenant alongside a reply form allowing the tenant 14 days to make an objection.

Standard possession procedure

This is the process used after you have issued a section 8 notice to your tenant and wish to regain possession of the property as well as claiming for rent arrears.

It can also be used alongside a section 21 notice, but no claim for unpaid rent can be made.

For a standard possession order following a section 8 notice, you should fill in forms N5 (claim for possession) and N119 (particulars of claim for possession).

A court order to evict a tenant

Under successful accelerated possession, you should get an order for possession without a court hearing.

For standard possession, if your case goes to court, a judge could make one of the following decisions:

  *  Dismiss the case
  *  Adjourn the hearing
  *  Outright possession order (tenant must leave by a date set or face a warrant for possession)
  *  Suspended possession order (tenant can remain under certain conditions, i.e clearing rent arrears)
  *  Money order (tenant must make a certain payment or face bailiff action)
  *  Possession order and money judgment (the tenant must make a payment as part of a suspended possession order)

How long does it take to evict a tenant

Again, this depends on which process you go through as a landlord.

The accelerated procedure is slightly disingenuous in that it can still take between six and 10 weeks from starting proceedings to receipt of a possession order.

Under the standard possession procedure, an accelerated procedure that ends up in court, or where a tenant ignores a possession order, it can take up to five months for an undefended case to reach an end.

Cost of a court order to evict a tenant

An accelerated possession order that doesn't end up in a court hearing costs a fixed fee of £355.

A standard possession procedure costs the same, although there are occasions when the standard procedure can be started online for a cost of £325.

However, those costs pale into insignificance if an eviction process reaches the point where bailiffs are required and the tenant stops paying rent, a landlord could be looking at a cost running into thousands of pounds.

How to evict a tenant without a tenancy agreement

Most tenancies in the UK now are Assured Shorthold Tenancy agreements, but there are still scenarios where landlords do not have a written agreement with a tenant or are unsure if they do.

The first thing to establish is whether you have a tenancy agreement. If a tenancy runs on after the initial fixed term and becomes a periodic tenancy, the original agreement is still in force.

However, if this is not the case and you simply shook hands with your tenant and agreed a monthly rent, you can still evict them using a section 21 notice.

The accelerated procedure, though, is not available in this scenario and a court hearing will be required.