How to evict a tenant in the UK

As a landlord, you have the right to evict tenants from your properties. However, there are many rules and regulations you must follow to ensure you do this lawfully. For example, you can’t just knock on a tenant’s door and demand they leave the premises right there and then. There’s a whole systematic process that needs to be followed before an eviction can legally occur.
Don’t know what this process is or how to properly evict a tenant? Have no fear, that’s what this article is for. Below, you’ll find every tiny piece of information you need to know to learn how you evict tenants:
Eviction Notice
First and foremost, you have to give your tenants notice of eviction well in advance of the intended eviction date. As per the UK Government, there are two different types of eviction notice you can give your tenants. The first is the most common and comes under section 21 of the 1988 Housing Act. This notice is for landlords with fixed term tenants who want their property back when the tenancy agreement ends. You can also use this notice if there’s a periodic agreement between you and your tenants, e.g. a month-by-month tenancy.
The law states you need to give at least 2 months notice when you give a Section 21 notice. This gives them enough time to sort things out and move everything from your property that doesn’t belong to you. There are a couple of ways you can serve up this notice, the first of which is to fill in a form called Form 6a – which you can find on the government website. That’s what you should do if the tenancy started on or after October 1st, 2015. You can serve a Section 21 notice on any tenancies that started before that date by writing it yourself and telling your tenants what you’re giving them.
When the notice has been served, you should keep proof of it. You can do this by filling in the certification of service form N215 (again, you can find this on the government website, just Google the form number).
The second notice you can give is called a Section 8 notice and is for tenants that have broken your terms of tenancy. For example, they failed to pay rent, and you want them evicted. To do this you need to fill in a Section 8 form, and it’s advisable you get legal advice to fill it out correctly. Normally, you have to give anywhere between 2 weeks and 2 months notice on a Section 8 eviction notice.
What Happens When A Tenant Doesn’t Answer The Door?
It’s recommended you serve your intended eviction notice directly to your tenants. This means knocking on their door and handing it to them. But, what if they know they’re getting a notice and choose to ignore you and not open up? In this case, you can take a witness with you to their door and post the notice through the letterbox.
Standard Possession Orders
If you’ve served up the correct eviction notice and your tenants still aren’t out of your property by the agreed date, then you’ll have to go to court. You must go to court to get a possession order, which will help you gain back possession of your property and evict your tenants. It’s important to note that you can only get a possession order after 6 months of a tenancy has passed.
If you’re evicting someone with an assured shorthold tenancy, then you need proper grounds for eviction before you can apply for a possession order. Typically, this is something along the lines of your tenants fixed term expiring and them still not leaving after you’ve given them a Section 21 notice. This gives you grounds for eviction, and possession proceedings will begin.
Then, there are possession orders granted for rent arrears – your tenants refusing to pay rent or being in debt for a few months of rent. In this scenario, you’ll have served then a Section 8 notice, and they still haven’t left. The court will grant you possession orders, and the process starts. Also, the court usually only grants you possession orders when a tenant hasn’t paid rent for more than 8 weeks. If they missed a month, it’s unlikely you’ll have a case.
You can make a possession claim by using the government’s online service, and your tenants owe you month or rent. Essentially, this allows you to fill in all the relevant court forms online and track the progress of your claim.
Accelerated Possession Orders
The above paragraph is only concerned with the standard possession order process. There is another process you can go through, known as the accelerated possession procedure. It’s called this because it’s seen as a much quicker way of gaining back possession of your property than the standard order. There’s no court hearing involved, but you will have to pay a fee of £355 to use this service.
Accelerated possession orders are granted to landlords who have served a Section 21 notice and still have tenants avoiding eviction. It’s important to stress that you can’t use this service if you are claiming rent arrears. You need to use the standard procedure through that and make a court claim. What some landlords do is they use the accelerated procedure to evict their tenants and get their property back, then they make a separate claim for their rent arrears. This is legal, it just means you have to concern yourself with two separate orders instead of going through the standard order procedure.
How To Apply For An Accelerated Possession Order
Apply for one of these orders is relatively easy. All you need to do is use the accelerate possessing service on the government website. This will tell you everything you need to do and present you with all the forms you have to fill in.
It’s a simple process, you fill in the online form, print it out and sign it, then post your form and a copy of the relevant tenancy agreement to the court. You can also pay the £355 charge online after you’ve filled in the form. Once you’ve done all this and posted the forms, the court will receive it and send a copy to your tenants. They then have two weeks to challenge your application (the two week period starts when they get the copy, not when you send it off).
If all goes well, you will not be required to go to a court hearing. A judge will simply review your application and look at any objections your tenants have. If they can’t find anything wrong, you’ll be granted a possession order that means your tenants must leave the property. You can normally enforce this order two weeks after it’s been granted, and you will also get an order that demands your tenant pay the £355 court fee for you.
This outcome happens most of the time, but there are instances where it doesn’t. If you messed up the paperwork or the judge deems that your tenants have raised a valid and important issue, then a court hearing will occur. This doesn’t mean you won’t get a possession order, they just need a hearing to determine the outcome.
Appealing Against The Judge’s Decision
If the judge doesn’t grant you a possession order, then you do have the chance to appeal this decision. After the court hearing, you must ask them for permission to appeal, and then apply for an appeal hearing. You’ll only be successful if you can prove the judge made mistakes during the possession hearing. This applies to standard possession orders as well as accelerated ones that get taken to court.
Warrant For Possession
Once you’ve got your possession orders and can legally evict your tenants, you may think you’re home and dry. However, some tenants may still choose to stay in your property and disobey the law. If they’re still there after the date they must leave, then you can apply for a ‘warrant for possession.’
This will set you back £121, but it means the court send out an eviction notice telling your tenants the absolute final date they have to be out of your property. If they still haven’t left, you can arrange for a bailiff to go round and evict them for you.
You also have the option to speed things up by getting the High Court involved. If you’re claiming over £600 (in rent arrears and court costs), then you can apply to have the warrant transferred into the hands of the High Court. They’ll then send out an HCEO (High Court Enforcement Officer) to evict your tenants.
Summary
All things considered, the eviction process can be very long and irritating. But, you need to go through these steps if you want to legally evict a tenant in the UK. Fail to go through the proper eviction procedures, and you may be guilty of an illegal eviction.
Remember, serve the correct eviction notice, apply for possession orders through the court, then get a warrant if things still aren’t solved.
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