How Long Does It Take To Evict A Tenant?

Stopwatch

You often hear of horror stories about landlords being caught up in lengthy eviction battles, while simultaneously accumulating a mountain of rent arrears.

I’m not going to say that doesn’t happen. It does.

However, tenant evictions aren’t always the stuff nightmares are made of! Actually, from my experience, as long as the proper procedures are followed, they can be straightforward affairs that are over relatively quickly…

This blog post is going to be based on my own experience, having dealt with several evictions over the last decade. I’ve also reached out to Legalforlandlords (a UK based getting rid of nightmare tenants, because broadly speaking, ‘eviction’ often means repossessing a property from perfectly good tenants, too. But, ya’ know, we tend to associate evictions with a negative ordeal, which typically involves throwing out the trash!

For those that want to smash ‘n grab a quick answer to the question, I’m not going to deprive you: I’ve had tenants vacate as quickly as 14 days (after they received notice), and I’ve dealt with tenants drag their heals for a painstaking 6 months. The process eviction literally can take anywhere between 14 days to 6-8 months, typically.

I know, not the most useful answer!

But the reality of how long an eviction will take is dependent on the circumstances; mostly what it boils down to is how wilful your tenant is. However, to give you some context, I’ll run through a few scenarios.

Generally, there are three steps to a tenant eviction. Progressing through all steps isn’t necessarily required, but if a step fails, progressing onto the next is required, which means the eviction will take longer…

  • Step 1: Serving legal notice (i.e. Section 8 or 21)
  • Step 2: Court Proceedings
  • Step 3: Warrant of Possession (Bailiffs)

After serving notice (Section 8 or 21)

Assuming your tenant is prepared to play-ball and voluntarily vacate after receiving sufficient notice is given, they will vacate the property on the date specified in the notice, without any problems. This can take between 14 days and 2 months.

If you are serving a Section 21 notice during the fixed term, you are required to give two months notice to your tenant.

If you are a serving a section 8 (because you have grounds for eviction e.g. rent arrears), the notice period can vary from 2 weeks to months, depending on which grounds are being used to serve the notice. For example, if your tenant is in rent arrears, which is the most common reason for eviction and serving a section 8, the notice period is 14 days (i.e. the tenant is given 14 days to vacate from the day they receive notice).

In many cases, serving a notice is enough to force tenants to vacate! However…

If notices are ignored…

Legalforlandlords has stated that it is very unlikely that a tenant will voluntarily vacate once a section 8 notice has been served as this notice is usually based on rent arrears, and normally when tenants are in arrears, they are unable to afford a deposit for a new rental property, so they remain in the property. Landlord’s usually have better luck when the notice is served for alternative grounds to rent arrears.

If your tenant ignores the notice served (whether it be a section 8 or 21), then you (the landlord) will have to apply to the court for a possession order. You can use the possession claim online service via the GOV website; the service lets you fill in court forms online and see how the claim is progressing. It costs £325.

It will take generally between 6-8 weeks for the judge to grant a possession order under section 8 or section 21.

If the possession order is ignored…

It’s not unusual for tenants to ignore the possession order granted by the court, which is normally a 14 day order. In these cases the landlord has to go to the final step, which is to apply for an eviction date with the County Court Bailiff, which can take between 5-10 weeks. The waiting time will depend on your court and the resources they have available.

According to Legalforlandlords, Landlords requiring court application based on a section 8 or section 21 notice is 75% and the process normally takes between 5-7 months, sometimes longer depending on the court. For example, courts that currently take longer are Central London, Clerkenwell & Shoreditch and Birmingham.

So, how long does an eviction take?

As said, it really does depend on the circumstances, and frustratingly, it’s usually out of the landlords hands! It can take anywhere between 14 days to several months.

What if you want to evict tenants quickly?

Hmm… nothing changes, unfortunately.

Unless the tenant agrees to voluntarily vacate, you can’t get them out of the property quickly. I’m not aware of any formal legal procedure that can assist in quick evictions, not even in the following common scenarios:

  • If the property is doing something illegal in the property, like operating a business without permission
  • If you wish to sell your BTL property
  • If accumulated rent arrears has made you default on mortgage payments

Many landlords try to persuade tenants to vacate with financial incentives, either by giving them money directly, or by reducing or completely revoking any rent arrears. Many tenants actually do leave on those conditions, but as a landlord, it’s a very difficult pill to swallow, especially if the tenant starts to try negotiating (which they often do).

Following the proper eviction procedures…

Just a word of caution before I sign off and sail off into the unset.

While tenant evictions can typically take anywhere between 14 days and several months, I have heard of many cases where they have either dragged on for much longer, or at least, dragged on for much longer than necessary, because the proper procedures weren’t followed.

For the most efficient eviction, it’s important for landlords to stay legally compliant and to do things properly!

Going through an eviction? Need some advice?

If you would like some free legal advice or professional assistance with evicting your tenants, you can contact legalforlandlords.

If you’ve been through an eviction, I would love to hear your experience, along with any useful tips (if you have any)…

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