Evicting a tenant for not paying rent, or for breaking the terms of tenancy, or damaging the property is much more complicated than what you expect. Although some of the cases get resolved by negotiating a compensation or repayment plan with landlords, there are a proportion of cases where tenants are unable to pay or don’t want to pay and even refuse to leave the property. In such cases the landlord has to seek help of court to gain possession of the property.
The first step in the eviction process is to issue notice under the Housing Act 1988. Under this act, there are only two notices that can be used i.e. Section 8 and Section 21 to end the assured shorthold tenancy (AST) agreements.
However, there are other eviction processes as well for different kinds of tenancy but AST remains the most commonly used.
Below, we give a brief insight into the eviction process so you can understand what it involves.
- Give notice – If the landlord wants the property back after a fixed term ends, then Section 21 notice should be given to the tenants. At least 2 months’ notice should be given to tenants and it can be served by a landlord prior to a fixed term only if there is a provision in the tenancy agreement. On the other hand, the Section 8 notice is given to tenants if they have broken the terms of tenancy.
- Possession orders – Incase the tenant doesn’t move out after being served with Section 21 notice, then the landlord will have to go court to seek the possession order. For AST, the grounds for eviction must be specified and the proper notice should be served to the tenants before the possession proceedings start. There are many mandatory grounds for possession, but the most commonly used are;
- Shorthold tenancy – In case of assured shorthold tenancy the landlord is entitled to a possession order only after the fixed term has expired and proper section 21 notice has been served.
- Rent arrears – If there are huge rent arrears at the time of serving the Section 8 notice, and at the time of court hearing, where the rent arrear is of more than 8 weeks.
- Accelerated possession process – It is a faster way to gain possession of the property as there is no court proceeding. However, the landlord will have to pay a fee prior to the commencement of the action. The landlord will have to look for a county court in the place where the property is situated and fill in a form called N5B. The court will then post the papers to the tenant. There is a form of reply which is sent along for the tenant in case he wishes to raise an objection within 14 days. The proceedings typically take between 6 to 10 weeks provided nothing goes wrong.
- Professional notice servers – Sometimes tenants do not answer the doorbell and the notice cannot be served. To deal with such a situation, the landlord can put the notice through the letterbox before 5 pm in presence of a witness. It is then considered to have been served the next day. However, if the landlord is unable to visit or doesn’t want to confront the tenant himself, then the services of professional notice servers can be secured. The fee for this service is modest and a certificate is issued by the server which the landlord can use at court.
After these formalities are done and necessary documents are submitted, the court will pass its judgement and give appropriate orders from a case to case basis.
The evicting process needs speed and accuracy
Most of the landlords do not want to get into the hassle of evicting a tenant. However, delay in taking action when needed can lead to loss of rent. It takes around 2 weeks to 6 months to evict a tenant and a mistake in serving the notice can make the process even longer. It’s best to act accordingly and quickly to ensure that there is no loss of further rental income or further damage to your property.