How To Evict Tenants
An “eviction” is a legal proceeding by which the landlord seeks to reclaim the premises, causing the tenant to vacate.
Evicting tenants can be costly, lengthy and complicated situation, so I suggest you take up yoga during this ordeal to gain discipline and self-control.
There are a lot of professional companies out there that will actually handle the eviction for you (for a fee, of course). You can go to the Tenant Eviction Services page for a list of professional eviction companies. If you don’t want to go for that option, you can follow the eviction process independently, but make sure you follow the legal procedure, because it is a criminal offence for a landlord to evict a tenant without doing so. Using improper methods to evict tenants can actually do more harm than good, and you could be deemed liable to criminal prosecution.
A landlord only has a right to evict where the agreement with the tenant contains such a right, and/or where the landlord is able to rely on one of the ‘statutory grounds for possession’.
Statutory grounds for possession
|Ground 1||A claim by the owner who has: a) lived in the property before it was let or b) wishes to recover possession because he needs it as a home for himself or spouse.|
|Ground 2||A claim by a mortgage whose mortgage predates the grant of the tenancy who needs possession in order to sell the property. A notice must have been served before the tenancy commenced by a mortgagor who is an owner/occupier on the tenant.|
|Ground 3||An out of season let of a holiday home for a period of less than 8 months. The property must have been let on a holiday basis for the previous 12 months. Notice must have been served by the landlord not later than the beginning of the tenancy that the property may be recovered on this ground.|
|Ground 4||A tenancy of not more than 12 months and at sometime during the preceding 12 months the property was let to a student by an educational institution. A notice must have been served not later than the commencement date of the agreement that possession could be sought on this ground.|
|Ground 5||A let of a dwelling that has been used for ministerial purposes and the courts are satisfied that it will again be used for ministerial purposes.|
|Ground 6||The landlord wants to demolish or reconstruct the property and needs possession so to do.|
|Ground 7||The tenant has died and possession has passed to a person without entitlement. ( This is only applicable during a periodic term).|
|Ground 8||At the date of service of the notice and at the date of the hearing, the tenant has not paid the rent, and either rent is payable weekly or fortnightly and at least eight weeks’ rent is unpaid; or rent is payable monthly and at least two months’ rent is unpaid; or rent is payable quarterly and at least one quarter’s rent is more than three months in arrears.
Note: When claiming possession under this ground, it is advisable to cite more than one ground since, if the tenant pays off part of the arrears shortly before the hearing, this ground can no longer be proved and possession proceedings will have to be abandoned. It is, therefore, common practice to cite more than one ground for rent arrears (i.e. grounds 8, 10 & 11), if applicable, and to also wait until at least two months’ rent (or eight weeks in the case of a weekly tenancy) is unpaid before issuing the Section 8 Notice.
|Ground 9||That there will be suitable alternative accommodation available for the tenant if a Possession Order is made. The Landlord must pay the tenant’s reasonable removal expenses if a Possession Order is made. A tenant can oppose a Possession Order on this ground if the alternative accommodation is not suitable.|
|Ground 10||Any amount of rent is in arrears at the date of service of the notice and remains unpaid on the date on which the proceedings for possession are begun.|
|Ground 11||The tenant has repeatedly failed to pay rent.|
|Ground 12||The Tenant has breached any term of the tenancy agreement (other than one relating to the payment of rent).|
|Ground 13||The property has deteriorated due to neglect by the tenant or by someone living with him and the tenant has failed to remove that person.|
|Ground 14||The tenant or someone living with him has caused a nuisance to neighbours, visitors or others in the locality or has been convicted of using the property for immoral or illegal purposes or has been convicted of an indictable offence committed in the locality.|
|Ground 14A||The property is occupied by a couple and one of them has left due to violence or threats of violence from the other partner or from a member of that partner’s family who was living in the property also. This notice can only be used by a registered social landlord or a charitable housing trust. The tenant who has left must also be sent this notice.|
|Ground 15||The furniture has been ill-treated by the tenant or by someone living with him and the tenant has failed to remove that person.|
|Ground 17||The landlord was induced to grant the tenancy by a false statement made knowingly or recklessly by either the tenant or a person acting at the tenant’s instigation.|
You can also evict a tenant for other breaches of the tenancy agreement (e.g. antisocial behaviour or damaging the property), although these proceedings will normally be more complex and expensive.
Steps for evicting tenants:
Step 1 – ask nicely
Before going in all guns blazing, it’s always worth trying the diplomatic approach. Simply ask the tenant to leave and explain your reasons for your request.
You could be surprised, your tenant maybe willing to vacate your property willingly. If your tenant agrees, make sure he/she signs a document clarifying the agreement.
Step 2 – serve a valid possession notice
Failing the diplomatic approach, you should serve a valid possession notice. The landlord or the landlord’s representative (e.g. letting agent) should serve a Section 8 Notice, citing the relevant grounds for possession listed in Schedule II of the Act.
A section 8 is typically enough to force the tenant to surrender the tenancy. Approximately 80% of tenants leave after being served notice.
Please note, failure to serve this notice correctly may delay the repossession and it is wise to consult a professional to advise you or do this for you.
Step 3 – getting a court order:
Once the Section 8 notice has expired and if the tenant has not paid you the rent due or moved out of your property, you may apply for a hearing at a County Court. For more information on arranging a hearing at a county court, please go to the County Court HMCS page.
Step 4 – get the bailiffs involved
Having won the repossession order in court, most tenants will vacate your property as instructed. However, if they do not, you must arrange for Court Bailiffs to remove your tenant.
- If your tenant has fallen into arrears, and provided you win your case, you should get what is owed, included the costs of going to court and possibly further compensation. However, if your tenant is not working, you could well find that he/she is permitted to pay the money back over some ridiculous length of time, with the potential for further defaults along the way.
- If you decide to use a professional company to evict your tenant, make sure you are aware of the ALL costs.
- Make sure that you serve written notice correctly and that you follow all the correct procedures. If there are extenuating circumstances, like the property is in poor order, this may weaken your court claim.
- If you are in a position where you need to evict a tenant, you should consult a solicitor or legal body before taking any action. Even if you are relying on one of the grounds for possession that entitle you to a possession order as of right, the court will expect you to follow the correct procedure.
- Judges dislike evicting tenants and will not do so if the landlord has not got his paperwork in order. It is very easy for someone who is unfamiliar with the process to misunderstand the rules and get things wrong.
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