Evicting a Tenant: What You Need to Do

No landlord wants to be faced with evicting a tenant and all the hassle, legal wrangling and costs it can involve. Done right, however, and you’ll soon be rid of troublesome tenants.

It’s a sad fact of landlord life that everyone renting out property needs to acknowledge: not every tenancy goes well and some end in disaster. That often means evicting a tenant from a house or flat — one of the most contentious and stressful parts of the job.

But the first thing landlords need to know is that just because tenants stopped paying the rent and may be badly in arrears, that doesn’t give you the automatic right to throw them off the property. You must follow procedure and possibly go through the courts to have it done properly. This also helps in reducing the headaches and trauma along the way, for both sides.

When things go wrong with tenants, it’s essential to act as quickly as possible. Otherwise, you may face a serious financial drain due to a lack of rent, a property that’s not paying — especially critical if you have a mortgage on it — as well as any associated legal and other costs.

Grounds for Evicting a Tenant

There are many reasons for evicting a tenant from a property, though the most common are to do with money and the condition of the house or flat. Once rent stops being paid and gets into serious arrears, it’s alarm bells for a landlord. Now, they’re earning nothing on the property while possibly paying out substantial sums each month in mortgage repayments, property management fees and maintenance charges.

Any breach of the rental agreement terms is another potential reason for evicting a tenant, as is causing damage to the property and anti-social behaviour while in it. False information is another case for eviction; a typical case might be providing bogus personal information or fake credit check data so the landlord would believe you were financially reliable. If a landlord finds out after the tenancy began that a tenant lied, they might be entitled to evict them.

It may also be possible to evict a tenant if there’s serious overcrowding in the flat or house, with more people living in it than was initially agreed to. Something some tenants often do without thinking properly, as they assume the property is theirs to do as they wish, is subletting it to others. In most cases, this is not permitted unless there is a prior agreement with the landlord in place.

Procedures for Evicting a Tenant

In England and Wales, there are two types of redress landlords can seek if they wish to evict a tenant. Again, it’s vital to note that you cannot try and get them off the property yourself. If you even attempt it, you could be charged with harassing or illegally evicting tenants. Harassment includes such things as cutting off the electricity and not carrying out essential repairs.

Under the law, the procedures for evicting a tenant vary depending on what type it is. But for most — fixed-term tenancies — there are two legal options: A Section 21 Notice and a Section 8 Notice. The first is used in cases where landlords want to get their property back after a fixed term concludes. The second is used when landlords want to evict tenants who have broken the rental agreement.

A Section 21 Notice can only be used if the tenancy began after April 2007, however, and if the landlord has either a written or oral agreement with the tenant. The Section 21 Notice will then give the tenants at least two months to vacate the property. If they don’t, you can apply for an accelerated possession order. A Section 8 notice, meanwhile, gives tenants betwen two weeks and two months to leave — and if they don’t, it’s on to court for a possession order.

You can get more information about evicting a tenant, as well as expert assistance, by contacting Horton and Garton today.