Learning how to evict a tenant is relatively straightforward however, it is estimated that around 50% of landlords and agents follow the process incorrectly and end up loosing more than a few months rent and legal fees.
With the help of one of the Country's leading tenant eviction specialists, we have put together a general overview of the process of how to evict a tenant however, the information here is not designed to help anyone evict a tenant without seeking expert help.
We strongly recommend that if you do find yourself in a position where you will need to evict a tenant, you contact a reputable tenant eviction specialist.
There is no escaping that the process of tenant eviction will set you back financially, and during the process you might not receive further rent. Therefore, it is very important to ensure the eviction process has been carried out correctly and as quickly as possible.
How to evict a tenant using Section 21 or a Section 8
As most tenancy agreements are created as an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST), under the Housing Act 1988, there are only two processes that can be used to end an AST agreement:
- The Section 21 Notice and
- The Section 8 Notice.
There are other processes to follow for non AST agreements however, as AST's are the most common, this will be the main focus of this article.
Step 1 - Serving a Notice on the tenant
Circumstances of the tenancy may determine which Section Notice to use, either the Section 21 or Section 8 procedure, or you may have no choice but to follow a particular process. An eviction specialist will be able to discuss your individual case with you to decide which route will be best to take. On occasion, both Notices may be served and then a decision is made as to which is going to be the best procedure to follow.
Evicting a tenant under a Section 21 Notice
This is the most common of Notices used when regaining possession of the property. Under Section 21 the landlord is simply asking for the property back and is not accusing the tenant of anything i.e. late rent payment.
The tenant is given a statutory notice period of a minimum of two months by the landlord however, the tenant cannot be asked to leave before the end of the fixed term of the original tenancy unless a break clause was written into the original agreement.
Regaining possession using a Section 21 Notice can be relatively straight forward as long as the landlord has complied with all the tenancy regulations such as deposit regulations, notice periods etc and most importantly has drafted the Section 21 Notice correctly and has served it on the tenant correctly. The notice requires the tenant to leave by a given date. The good news is that around 60% of tenants do leave after this notice has been served.
If the tenant remains in the property once the possession date has passed, the next step would be for the landlord to apply directly to the courts. As the tenant is not being accused of anything, there is no requirement for a court hearing. A judge simply reviews the papers submitted by the landlord and if everything is in order, the landlord will be granted possession of the property.
To receive a possession order can take up to six weeks and from there, the court will write to the tenant ordering them to leave.
Evicting a tenant under a Section 8 Notice
Under Section 8 the landlord is asking for his property back on the grounds that the tenant has defaulted under the terms of the tenancy agreement. This might be non-payment of rent or any one of several other grounds allowed (by Schedule 2 of the Housing Act 1988).
The tenant is first served a notice which includes the landlord's grounds for seeking possession and his evidence, e.g. rent arrears schedule. The notice gives the tenant a date by which to leave - at least 14 days after the notice is served.
In 60% of cases, when a tenant receives the Section 8 Notice, they do leave the property. If they don't leave, the process will be escalated to Step 2
Step 2 - Applying for a possession order from a court
This is when the notice, or the way it was served, did not fully comply with the law. All too often you could end up starting all over again.
In London, it can take 6 weeks before you get a court hearing date. Courts elsewhere aren't so busy, but they can still take several weeks.
At court, it is always recommended that the landlord attends. They are represented by one of our advocates but it helps to have the landlord there as he can verify any facts for the judge.
Using mandatory grounds, as long as we can prove that the tenant has breached the tenancy, the court must grant our landlord possession. If there are rent arrears, we would also seek a money order from the court.
If granted, possession is usually ordered for 14 days later. The tenant may not have been at court and will be written to anyway.
DIY tenant eviction vs using specialist services
Many landlords serve tenant eviction Notices themselves. They believe they are saving a few pounds however, it often ends up costing them more.
There are thousands of served Notices that are invalid unfortunately, they are only uncovered when the case gets to court (Step2). Then, a judge might throw the case out because the Notice is invalid or a tenant might put in a defence. If you lose a claim, the court will usually order you to pay the tenant's defence cost, which can run to hundreds or thousands of pounds.
Advice is available on the internet about how to serve a Notice, however, it would be impossible to list all the many variables that can make a Notice invalid. We strongly advise landlords that if they are uncertain about the process and drafting a Notice, they should contact a specialist tenant eviction firm.
We can put you in touch with a tenant eviction specialist who will be happy to discuss your case with you and if you wish to proceed with their service, the first step (Serving Notice) is just a flat fee of £117.60 including vat.