Evicting tenants – frequently asked questions for landlords
Can I evict a tenant if I want to sell the property?
No as this is not one of the legal reasons which a landlord must use when evicting a tenant. These reasons (known as grounds) are contained in the Housing Act 1985 (As Amended) which is the law which governs such matters.
What are the grounds for evicting a tenant?
There are a number of grounds some of which are mandatory which means that the Court has to grant the landlord possession if that ground applies – for example non payment of rent. Others are discretionary where the Court has to decide whether an eviction is reasonable in all the circumstances. For example, a landlord wants to move back into the property.
My tenant is in arrears with rent – can I start eviction proceedings?
As with most grounds for possession, the appropriate Notice (known as a s8 Notice) has to be given and to obtain a Possession Order, at least the relevant amount of rent owed (the exact amount depends on the terms of each individual tenancy) has to be outstanding when the Notice is served, when proceedings are started and at the Court Hearing.
Therefore, if for example the tenant reduces rent arrears to below the relevant amount even as late as the date of the hearing, the Court cannot make a Possession Order based on unpaid rent arrears alone.
However, often in these cases about rent arrears, a landlord can also use a discretionary ground arguing that the tenant is persistently late with the rent.
What if none of the grounds for possession apply can I evict my tenant?
Assuming the tenancy is an assured shorthold tenancy, a landlord can serve Notice to Evict to expire at any time after that tenancy ends – at least two months’ notice has to be given – this is known as a Section 21 Notice.
Will the Section 21 Notice automatically result in a Possession Order?
Yes-providing certain conditions have been complied with (particularly for tenancies started after October 2015). These include supplying a tenant with Energy Performance and Gas Safe Certificates.Whilst a Possession Order is still needed, no Court Hearing should be required.
If I can use either one of the grounds for possession the Section 8 procedure or the Section 21 procedure which is quicker?
As a Court Hearing is needed under the Section 8 procedure, although the initial notice period is usually longer, the Section 21 procedure is quicker – assuming the tenant does not move out.
What can I do as a landlord if the tenant does not move when a Possession Order is made?
The Court Bailiffs can be instructed to evict the tenant. Those Bailiffs have to provide notice of the eviction date and the landlord has to make their own arrangements to be present to change the locks.
Does the tenant have to pay my legal fees?
Those fees (including the Court issue fee) can be claimed from the tenant. However, unfortunately, in practice the tenant does not (or cannot afford) to pay those fees.
Accordingly, in practical terms legal costs and Court fees often must be accepted by the landlord as the price (literally) for evicting a tenant.
If you have any questions, get in touch with our solicitor David Wilson on our freephone 0800 8 60 62 65.