In the UK, tenant eviction is a complex and often emotionally charged issue. While most tenancies run smoothly, there are times when landlords need to evict their tenants. In this article, we’ll explore the issue of tenant eviction in the UK, including the different types of eviction, the reasons for eviction, and the legal processes involved.
Types of Tenant Eviction
There are two main types of tenant eviction in the UK: Section 8 and Section 21.
Section 8 eviction is used when the tenant has breached the terms of their tenancy agreement. This may include failure to pay rent, causing damage to the property, or engaging in antisocial behavior. The landlord must give the tenant notice before starting the eviction process and must provide evidence of the breach of the tenancy agreement.
Section 21 eviction is used when the landlord wants to end the tenancy without giving a reason. This is often referred to as a “no-fault” eviction. The landlord must give the tenant at least two months’ notice before starting the eviction process.
Reasons for Eviction
There are several reasons why a landlord may need to evict their tenant. These include:
- Rent arrears: Failure to pay rent is the most common reason for eviction in the UK.
- Damage to the property: If the tenant has caused damage to the property, the landlord may need to evict them to carry out repairs.
- Breach of tenancy agreement: If the tenant has breached the terms of their tenancy agreement, such as by subletting the property without permission, the landlord may need to evict them.
- Antisocial behavior: If the tenant is engaging in antisocial behavior, such as noise disturbance or harassment, the landlord may need to evict them.
Legal Processes Involved
Evicting a tenant in the UK is a legal process and must be carried out in accordance with the law. The process varies depending on the type of eviction being carried out.
For a Section 8 eviction, the landlord must serve the tenant with a Notice to Quit, giving them a specified amount of time to leave the property. If the tenant does not leave, the landlord must apply to the court for a possession order. If the possession order is granted, the tenant must leave the property within a specified timeframe. If they do not leave, the landlord can apply for a warrant of possession, which allows bailiffs to remove the tenant from the property.
For a Section 21 eviction, the landlord must give the tenant at least two months’ notice before applying to the court for a possession order. If the possession order is granted, the tenant must leave the property within a specified timeframe. If they do not leave, the landlord can apply for a warrant of possession, as with a Section 8 eviction.
Facts and Figures
According to the Ministry of Justice, there were 20,488 possession claims issued by landlords in England and Wales between April and June 2021. Of these, 8,827 were Section 8 claims, while 11,661 were Section 21 claims. This represents a significant increase from the previous quarter, which saw 14,513 possession claims issued.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on tenant eviction in the UK. The government introduced temporary measures to protect tenants during the pandemic, including a ban on evictions for certain types of tenancies. This has led to a backlog of possession claims and delays in the eviction process.
Evicting a tenant in the UK
Do you need to learn about evicting a tenant in the UK?
When you rent out a property that you own, you become a landlord. As a landlord, you have the power to evict your tenants from your property. But, you need to make sure that you are careful here and follow all the rules and procedures that come when you go through this process. So, while you may think it is as simple as turning up and telling your tenants to get out of your property, it isn’t.
You need to make sure that you understand the ins and outs of how to evict your tenant properly so that you don’t end up being taken to court. So, if you aren’t up to date on the law right now, you need to read this guide on how you should address evicting a tenant.
What Are The Correct Documents?
Before you can go through with the tenant eviction, you need to make sure that you have all of the paperwork that you need for this to be lawful. The form that you are going to need is an eviction notice, but you need to keep in mind that this has to be served ahead of the time of eviction. This is because you must allow the tenant enough time to find somewhere else to live before you can reclaim your property.
What Is The Housing Act 1988 Section 21?
You are likely going to need the eviction notice that comes under section 21 of the 1988 Housing Act. This is the standard notice to say that you want the property back when the tenancy agreement ends. Like we said before, you need to give the person living there enough time to find new accommodation and usually, this is a minimum of 2 months. There are also other forms that you have to fill in to be able to acquire a section 21 eviction notice.
The first is going to be the 6a which you can find by going on the government website. Once you have completed this, you should keep some sort of proof that the notice was served to the tenant. One way that you can do this is to fill in the N215 form.
There are certain cases where this eviction notice isn’t going to be available to you. Some of these include: if the tenancy is less than six months, if the tenancy term has not ended, or if there was an improvement notice served in the last six months. There are more exclusions to this notice on the government website.
What Is The Housing Act 1988 Section 8?
The other type of eviction notice that is available to you is section 8. This is going to be what you need if your tenant has broken any of the rules that you set as terms of tenancy. It is advised, that to make sure you fill this out correctly, you seek some sort of legal aid here. So, you should go to a solicitor so that they can oversee you filling out this form. This is just going to be a precaution as you don’t want to fill this in incorrectly.
A few examples of when you might need this eviction notice is if you set out no pets in the property as one of your terms, and your tenant violated this. Or, if your tenant has not been paying their rent. Do be aware though that you still need to give the tenant enough time to find somewhere else to live and this can be anything from a few weeks to 2 months.
What Issues Could You Face?
While it is advised that you serve the eviction notice in person, this is not always going to be possible. It has been known for tenants to not answer the door when their landlord has come around. This issue can be quite a challenging one, especially if you have not been through this process before. The first thing you should do is either slide the notice under the door or stick it to the door so that the current occupier will see it. You can fill out your N215 form after you have done this to document that the notice was served.
What If Your Tenants Refuse To Leave?
There have been multiple occasions where a landlord has gone to the property on the day of eviction to find that the tenants refuse to leave. Sometimes, they will barricade themselves in the house, it has also been known for them to change the locks so that the landlord can’t access the property. If this happens, you need to fill out either a standard possession order or an accelerated possession order.
What Is A Standard Possession Order?
Does your tenant owe you rent? If so then you will need a Standard Possession Order or an SPO. Be aware that this service does cost about £325, so depending on the amount a tenant pays in rent, it might be worth waiting to see if they get things back on track. Typically, a landlord will wait several months before even considering paying an SPO. The good news is that getting an SPO is incredibly easy and can be completed online. However, there are cases where you will not be able to do this only.
This will be the case if someone has trespassed on your property or if tenants have broken the lease terms. In this case, an SPO will need to be filled out on paper and then posted to your local court. This costs £355, and the cheque needs to be paid to HM Courts and Tribunals Service.
Further Eviction Notices
If your case goes to court and the judge grants you an order for possession but your tenants still haven’t left by the specified date, you can go to the court and ask for a warrant for possession. This is going to cost you £121 and your tenants will be sent yet another eviction notice with a new date that they must vacate your house by.
If they still do not leave, you are going to need to go back to the court and ask for a warrant of possession which will arrange a bailiff to come and remove them from your property.
What Is An Accelerated Possession Order?
You can apply for one of these if your tenants have not moved out by the specified date on the section 21 notice, only if you are not claiming rent arrears. If you apply for this order, there is usually no court hearing and can give you your property back faster than applying for an SPO. This will cost you £355, so you need to weigh up the pros and cons as to whether it is worth paying this extra money.
Before you apply for one of these, you need to keep in mind that you cannot evict the tenant if their fixed-term agreement has not ended. If you are trying to evict them and the term has not ended, you are not going to have much luck here. You can download the APO form from the government website, and when you have done this, send it to the closest housing court to your property.
If you do want to claim rent arrears, then you can either apply for an SPO, or you can go through with the APO and make a separate claim for the missing rent.
What Happens After You Have Requested An APO?
Once you have filled in all the necessary documentation, your tenants will be sent a copy. Once they have received the application, they have 14 days to contest this before your order is granted. A judge will usually issue a possession order that will state that your tenants need to leave the property. If this is the case, the judge will set the amount of time the occupiers have to leave your property. This is normally around 2 weeks unless they are in exceptional difficulty where they can be granted up to six weeks.
If your tenants do decide to dispute the application, the case can go to court. This is not very common and will only be the case if there is either something wrong with your paperwork or if your tenant raises an important issue that will deem a court hearing necessary. However, just because the case goes to court, this doesn’t mean your tenants will win. It can still happen that a possession order will be granted in your favor.
Delaying An Eviction
Something that your tenants can do is ask the judge to suspend the warrant for possession. This will happen at a new hearing, but there can be some outcomes that will not be in your favour. You need to be prepared that if this happens, the judge can either grant the suspension which delays the eviction, dismiss the case, or even allow your tenants to remain in your property if they can start making the payments again. They will have to prove that their circumstances have changed for this to be the case.
Can You Avoid Dealing With Tenants?
Most landlords do not want to have to deal with their tenants at all when they need to evict them. The good news is that you don’t have to. You can, if you wish, contact a professional server. Agents like this will handle every aspect of the eviction that would otherwise fall on your shoulders. For instance, they can make sure that if a tenant hasn’t accepted an eviction notice that one is posted through their letterbox. If you use a service like this, it’s important to make sure that you do get a certificate of service that can be shown in court.
What Are Excluded Occupiers?
Excluded occupiers are a special case scenario. This means someone is living on your property and is sharing a bathroom, kitchen and other common places with you. This can be the case if you’re renting a room in your property to a student. In a case like this, you only need to give a ‘reasonable notice’ verbally. Legally, this is considered to be the same as the rental term. So, if you are given rent every fortnight, that’s reasonable notice.
After this, you are legally allowed to change the locks.
When Can You Not Evict?
There are some scenarios where you will not be able to evict a tenant. The most obvious would be for retaliation purposes after a tenant has annoyed you in some way. For instance, you can’t evict if your tenant has reported you to the housing authority or potentially the health and safety issue that you failed to fix.
A tenant may have taken legal action against you in this type of scenario. Be aware that even if you win the legal claim, you still should not try and evict the tenant within the three or six months following. It’s quite likely that the judge will see this as a form of retaliation even if the tenant has broken the terms of their lease or has fallen behind on their rent. In a scenario like this, it’s best to wait and gain as much evidence as possible of a tenant’s wrongdoing before attempting to remove them from your property.
Similarly, you should be careful about removing a tenant who is not paying rent due to a safety issue or health problem that you have not fixed. Legally, a tenant has the right to withhold rent if you are not upholding your responsibilities expressed in your contract. This can get tricky.
For instance, you will likely include in your contract maintenance of the flat in a tower block. So if an issue develops here, a tenant probably can withhold rent if it’s not fixed in a fair amount of time. In contrast, the elevator in the building probably isn’t included in the contract. As such, in this case, a tenant cannot legally withhold rent due to an issue with this.
We hope this helps you deal with the issue of evicting a tenant in the right way. Remember, if you are in any doubt do contact a solicitor who can help you discover exactly where you stand legally in an individual situation.
If you need any help or advice on how to locate an ex-tenant, after the eviction process, to issue proceedings against them please see our tenant tracing guide.
How to evict a tenant
Do you need to know how to evict a tenant? 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.
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 tenant’s 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 a 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 sends 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.
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 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.