Eviction – one word and lots of troubles
No matter if you’re landlord or tenants the eviction is definitely the most unpleasant situation when it comes to rental properties. The things can get even worse if the arguing has to take place in court. In the folloowing paragraphs, we’re going to give you some bits of advice on how to get through the eviction process as smoothly as possible.
Let’s get straight to the point - How can you as a landlord end a tenancy or evict a tenant legally?
If you and your tenant/s are bound by excluded tenancy or licence
For example, if they live with you, you don’t have to go to court to evict them. The only thing required is to give them a
reasonable notice to quit. By reasonable, the law considers the length of the rental payment period. So if your tenants pay rent weekly you can give them only a week notice and the notice does not even have to be in writing.
The excluded tenancy gives you much more than that. You have the right to change the locks on your tenants’ rooms, even if they still have belongings in there. So basically in this situation, you’re the boss and everything, including the law, seems to be on your side.
If you are under the terms of Fixed Term Assured Shorthold Tenancies
This is the most common situation. Unfortunately, in this case the things definitely won’t be easy as pie. But let’s start by cutting it piece by piece.
Depriving someone of their home is a very serious matter, so judges will expect landlords to follow the proper procedure, have perfect paperwork, and are generally unforgiving if any mistakes have been made.
According to the Fixed Term Assured Shorthold Tenancy, which you and your tenant/s have signed, you can’t require a tenant to vacate the property before the end of the fixed term time period. Even though you can require possession at any point during the tenancy the date on which vacation is required should expire not earlier than the last day of the agreed tenancy period.
Plus you should give a notice – the one known as a
Section 21 notice.
Never forget that you must precisely follow the correct, strict procedures if you want your tenant/s to leave your property early or you might be found guilty of harassing or illegally eviction. Have in mind that even asking your tenant to leave, if you have not followed the proper procedure, can be considered harassment.
- So basically it looks like you’re kind of stuck with your nightmare tenant unless:
- you apply one of the grounds for possession, determined in the Housing Act 1988, and
- after serving a Section 8 notice and following the correct legal process
You should know that if you don’t take any actions, once the fixed-term assured shorthold tenancy period expires, the renter will automatically become a Statutory Periodic tenant and the tenancy will continue on the same previously signed terms as a Statutory Periodic Tenancy.
At this point you can serve a Section 21 notice, which requires the tenancy to end, whenever you want. Still, the written notice, providing a reasonable amount of time to your tenant to leave the property, remains necessary.
There may be dozens of unpleasant things we have to do sometimes, still reading the government’s scribbles and trying to get into them is one of the most terrifying duties, that’s why we’ve tried to summarize it all for you:
The Housing Act 1988 in short
Basically, the Housing Act 1988 governs the law between landlords and tenants. Have in mind that if there’s some sort of divergence between the Act and the agreement, signed between you and your tenant/s the agreement is considered invalid.
- Under the Act, there are two main routes that you, as a landlord can take to legally regain possession of your property:
- Let’s start with Section 21.
It gives you the automatic right of possession once the fixed term has expired, without pointing any particular reason. Still, you must give your tenant a minimum of two months’ notice.
- Then what you must check is the Section 8 notice.
It allows the landlords to regain possession on one or more grounds settled in Schedule 2 to the Housing Act 1988.
This includes rent arrears (pointed in Ground 8 - the tenant has to own at least two months' rent if rent is paid on a monthly basis, or eight weeks' rent if it is paid on a weekly basis) and anti-social behaviour (considered by the Ground 14).
Those are the two most commonly-cited grounds. You can serve a Section 8 notice at any time – including during the fixed term period – but still, you’re obligated to give the tenant up to two months’ notice.
- It should be served on the tenant, or each of the tenants if there is more than one.
- If it’s possible the Notice should be sent by First Class Post and Recorded Delivery and a receipt should be obtained.
- You have to be sure that the notice has reached the tenant and that this can be proven. If you have some doubts that the tenant will deny receiving the notice, take an independent witness with you.
- It should be drafted in the correct format.
- It must specify the Grounds of possession being relied upon to seek possession.
- The expiry date must be clearly shown and defined so that action can be taken once it has expired. Otherwise, the Notice could be considered invalid and you could lose your possession claim at court.
- The landlord must act within the correct deadlines set out for each of the grounds.
So far so good but what it if you don’t want to wait until the last day of the agreement?!
Depending on the Ground you refer to you should give notice, which varies between 2 weeks and 2 months.
Here you can read the full and the length of the notice they required.
The availability of Section 8 of the Housing Act 1988 allows the landlords to seek possession of a property let under an Assured Shorthold Tenancy before the expiry of its fixed term, unlike the other main form of notice, under Section 21. You can use the Section 8 proceedings if your tenant has defaulted in some way.
Section 8 Notice must meet the following requirements
Section 2 of the Housing Act 1988 sets out the 17 grounds that a landlord may use to obtain an order for possession against the tenant.
The first 8 of them must be proved at court, and the order for possession has to be made by the judge. These are known as Mandatory grounds for possession.
Grounds 9 – 17, if proven at court, will allow you to get your property back if the court finds that it is reasonable to do so. These are known as Discretionary grounds for possession.
Section 21 Notice vs. Section 8 Notice -
See you in court
If the tenant does not leave the property voluntarily by the time that the Notice has expired, a claim for a possession order will need to be made at court.
You can apply to the court for a standard possession order, if your tenants don’t leave by the date specified on the notice and they owe you rent.
If you’re not claiming any unpaid rent you should apply for an accelerated possession order.
Getting a possession order is the quickest and the cheapest way to evict. In accelerated proceedings, the judge makes the order on the paperwork provided and normally the court hearing is not necessary.
Between 8 to 12 weeks are needed before the order is obtained.
We hope that you won’t have to get to this one, last option but still if there’s no other way to settle things civilized, bailiffs can remove the tenants from your property.
That's all the highlights necessary. But in case you want to get through the whole information on your own, you can read the full Housing Act 1988, together with its amendments and modifications, on the Government website.
Before you leave - check out our Ultimate Guide for all the thing you should check before your tenant/s leave for good.