How to evict tenants
During the pandemic, the government sought to protect renters from being displaced and made homeless where they may have been unable to pay their rent as a result of job losses or a reduction in income by introducing longer notice periods to evict tenants.
Since 1 October 2021, the rules have now been reverted back to pre-pandemic notice periods which has resulted in a swell of evictions.
If you are a landlord and wish to terminate your tenant’s tenancy, the steps you need to take are set out below:
Step 1 – Notice
The law is very prescriptive in the way that it requires notice to be served on tenants and this may be in the form of either a Section 8 Notice or a Section 21 Notice.
A Section 8 Notice is required where you wish to evict a tenant for breach of their tenancy agreement, for example, they have failed to pay their rent or they have breached another condition of their tenancy agreement. Often the notice period required to evict a tenant under a Section 8 notice is much shorter than that for a Section 21 Notice, but the process can be more complex and lengthy overall.
A Section 21 Notice terminates the tenancy by giving the tenant at least two months’ notice and the landlord does not have to establish that there has been any breach of the tenancy agreement in order to get the property back. This is generally there most straightforward approach to evicting tenants, however, there are some circumstances in which a Section 21 Notice cannot be issued.
You cannot use a Section 21 notice if any of the following apply:
It’s less than 4 months since the tenancy started, or the fixed term has not ended, unless there’s a clause in the contract which allows you to do
The property is categorised as a house in multiple occupation (HMO) and does not have a HMO licence from the council
The tenancy started after April 2007 and you have not put the tenants’ deposit in a deposit protection scheme
The tenancy started after October 2015 and you have not used form 6a or a letter with all the same information on it
The council has served an improvement notice on the property in the last 6 months
The council has served a notice in the last 6 months that says it will do emergency works on the property
You have not repaid any unlawful fees or deposits that you charged the tenant - read the guidance for landlords on the Tenant Fees Act 2019
You also cannot use a Section 21 notice if you have not given the tenants copies of:
The property’s Energy Performance Certificate
The government’s ‘How to rent’ guide
A current gas safety certificate for the property, if gas is installed
You must have given your tenants the gas safety certificate and the ‘How to rent’ guide before they moved in. If these steps have not been taken, seek advice from a solicitor as to any steps that can be taken to issue these documents after the tenancy has commenced.
You must have given your tenants a copy of the property’s Energy Performance Certificate before they rented the property.
Under normal circumstances, the majority of tenants vacate the property on the date prescribed in the Section 8 or Section 21 Notice.
Step 2 – Possession Proceedings
Where a tenant refuses to leave a property despite being served Notice, possession proceedings should be commenced. Possession proceedings will generally be heard in court unless there is no claim for rent arrears or other breach; in these circumstances an accelerated possession order can be sought which generally does not require a hearing and can be a quicker way of obtaining a possession order than standard possession proceedings.
Step 3 – Bailiffs
If a situation arises where, despite a court order for possession having been granted by the courts, a tenant still refuses to leave the property, a bailiff can be instructed to execute the eviction.
Eviction proceedings can be expensive so it is important to ensure that the procedures are followed correctly to prevent any delay in terminating a tenancy agreement.
Lisa Downey is our expert on landlord and tenant matters. If you would like to discuss any issues you may be facing with your tenants, or would like to prepare for a future eviction, please contact her on 01992 422128 or at firstname.lastname@example.org