I have an unwanted tenant, can I turn off the utilities?

Question

I served a Section 21 notice to my tenant in October, and they haven't left, and isn't paying rent. My gas safety certificate expires soon - can I turn off the utilities?

Answer

Whatever you do, don’t even consider turning off the utilities! You would be committing a criminal offence, convening the 2004 Housing Act. As well as being a very bad idea for obvious reasons, it would also put you in a terrible position with the courts when it comes to evicting your troublesome tenant.

The best course of action would be to ensure your gas safety check is booked in, as soon as possible. Making sure you are complying with all legal requirements is vital if you are going to end up in court with your tenant – which sadly, it sounds like you might have to consider this outcome.

Your next step (possibly advisable to seek access for the gas safety check before this stage, you may find relations with your tenant get a little strained afterwards) would be to move on the Section 21 proceedings to court action. If you don’t do this within six months of the Section 21 notice being issued, you will have to issue the notice again.

As long as the Section 21 has been issued correctly and you are sure it has been received (double check that you have a recorded delivery slip or notice of receipt to prove this) then you can request a court order for possession.

At this stage, you have to be 100% sure that you have completed the Section 21 form properly, and that you are completely compliant ( you have an up-to-date gas safety certificate for example!) as at this stage your tenant will be sent a defence form. They can use this to explain why the section 21 notice cannot be used to evict them, and have the potential to use any evidence possible.

An extension of up to 42 days CAN be granted to the tenant by the court, however this is usually only done in exceptional circumstances. Your case may be dealt with using an accelerated possession procedure, however if the case goes to court, both you and your tenant will be able to put forward your case – the judge will consider all the evidence before deciding whether or not to grant a possession order.

If successful, county court bailiffs acting under a court order for possession will then physically evict your tenant on a pre-agreed date, if they still haven’t vacated voluntarily.

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