How can a landlord evict a tenant?
In England and Wales, there are stringent guidelines to be followed if a landlord wishes to evict tenants from a rented property. The correct route to take is clearly mapped, but all actions and paperwork should be 100% compliant with the law in order to avoid delays in the tenant eviction process.
This guide will provide an overview of the eviction process, but for more specific details about your own situation, please contact Coffin Mew today.
The Protection From Eviction Act, 1977
This act of parliament protects people in the UK from being evicted out of a property without the express permission of a court. One key condition is that (save in only a handful of special circumstances) any lawful residential occupier, regardless of whether they have a lease or licence, must be given four weeks’ notice to quit. Section 3 of the act also states that no landlord is permitted forcibly to evict a tenant without the permission of a court.
This act forms just one element of the law that surrounds tenant eviction in the UK. Adherence to these regulations is absolutely necessary to allow for smooth completion of this process.
A section 21 notice is available to a landlord if the tenant occupies under an AST (assured shorthold tenancy), and (if a deposit is taken) the deposit is correctly registered in a prescribed tenancy deposit scheme. . This notice can be served in person, through the letterbox, or via postal service. This notice must provide two full months’ notice to the tenants. If the tenants do not leave the property by this time, the landlord can apply for a possession order.
It is absolutely essential that a section 21 notice is completed and served correctly, as non-compliance can lead to further delay in the eviction of tenants. If you would like help with a section 21 notice, please get in touch – our experts will be happy to help.
A section 8 notice may be served where a landlord is seeking possession of a property on grounds that the tenants have broken terms of the tenancy agreement. In the overwhelming majority of cases this is because the tenants are in arrears. The length of this notice is two weeks. If the tenants do not leave the property by the specified date, a landlord is then able to apply to court for a possession order. An overview of possession orders is provided below.
After serving a section 21 notice, landlords can apply for a standard possession order or an accelerated possession order, depending on their situation. A standard possession order is designed for landlords whose tenants owe them rent, but an accelerated possession order is often the faster option for when tenants don’t owe money or where the landlord does not want to claim the arrears.
Once the court has served tenants a copy of the accelerated possession order, they have fourteen days to object. After this time, the court will either issue the order for tenants to leave, or call a hearing – the latter is not a common occurrence.
If the tenants have not left by the date specified in the possession order, the landlord can apply for a warrant for possession to evict the tenants. The eviction date will depend on the court bailiff’s diary.
Alternatively, it can sometimes be quicker to enforce the possession order by applying to the High Court. High Court Enforcement Officers will complete the eviction. This is normally implemented if the landlord is claiming more than £600, including court costs.
Staying within the law
It’s important to remember that harassment is a criminal offence. Landlords must follow the legal process to evict tenants, no matter the circumstances. Illegal action can include turning off key services, avoiding repairs, keeping keys, and threats or physical violence. As well as being a criminal offence, an unlawful eviction may entitle the tenant to claims damages if the correct procedure is not followed by the landlord.
For more information about tenant evictions, please contact our Commercial Property team.