Eeek, I think the worst case scenario has come to pass, and I am looking at having to evict my tenant. Is there a simple way to do this, I feel a bit daunted by the paperwork?
Oh no, it’s not an easy decision to have to make to start possession proceedings, whatever reason it may be. If you feel that you have no other option than to seek to evict your tenant there are some fairly strict guidelines that you must adhere to in order to make sure that both you and your tenant are protected throughout.
Firstly, you must decided whether you want to regain possession using a Section 8 or a Section 21 notice. Whilst they have the same end goal and follow similar procedures, these are very different processes, and you must be sure to chose the right option for your situation.
Section 21 or Section 8?
A section 21 notice is a ‘no fault notice’. This means that you do not have to give any reason for seeking to regain the possession of your property, and you are not accusing the tenant of any wrong doing.
You must give the tenant two months clear notice to leave the property, and the tenant cannot be asked to leave before the break period, or end of the tenancy agreement. Typically, this means that for a new tenancy agreement with a six-month break clause, a S21 cannot be served until month four.
The law has recently changed around the Section 21 notice, making it a little less complex - you can read more about this here https://www.urban.co.uk/landlord-university/advice...
Your other option is to use a Section 8 notice, which, whilst considered more complex can be a significantly speedier way to get your property back, depending on which ground you serve it under.
There are 17 grounds under which you can serve a section 8 notice, all of which have different notice periods. These are:
- Ground 1 – at least two months’ notice: The landlord requires the property in order to use it as their main residence. This ground can only be used if the landlord used the property as their main residence prior to the tenancy beginning
- Ground 2 – at least two months’ notice: The mortgage lender on the property has served notice to foreclose. In this case the mortgage in question has to predate the start of the tenancy.
- Ground 3 – at least 14 days’ notice: The property was previously used as a holiday let and is required to return to the status of holiday let. For the exact conditions that apply to this Ground please see the Housing Act 1988.
- Ground 4 - at least 14 days’ notice: The property is being let by an educational institution and is now required by students of the educational institution. Written notice that this may happen must be served before the tenancy begins.
- Ground 5 – at least two months’ notice: The property is owned by a religious body and they require possession for a member of their church i.e. a Minister of Religion.
- Ground 6 – at least two months’ notice: The landlord wants to demolish and reconstruct, or redevelop all or part of the property. The tenant needs to have refused to live in all or part of the property while work is carried out for this ground to be feasible. If granted the landlord is required to pay all reasonable moving costs to the tenant.
- Ground 7 – at least two months’ notice: The current tenant is a tenant heir and is not named on the original tenancy agreement. The landlord must serve a Section 8 notice within 12 months of the death of the named tenant.
- Ground 8 - at least 14 days’ notice: The tenant has failed to pay more than 8 weeks rent in the case of weekly payments, 2 months in the case of monthly payments or 1 quarter in the case of quarterly payments. Ground 8 is often cited in conjunction with Grounds 10 and 11 so that a partial payment by the tenant just prior to the court hearing doesn’t render the possession order obsolete. 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 – at least two months’ notice:Suitable accommodation of the same type and quality has been offered to the tenant and refused. The landlord is required to pay all reasonable removal costs if possession is granted.
- Ground 10 - at least 14 days’ notice: The rent is in arrears but by no more than 8 weeks in the case of weekly payments, 2 months in the case of monthly payments and 1 quarter in the case of quarterly payments.
- Ground 11 - at least 14 days’ notice: The tenant is repeatedly late with payments or repeatedly fails to pay their rent until prompted by the landlord.
- Ground 12 - at least 14 days’ notice: The tenant has breached any of the terms listed in the tenancy agreement.
- Ground 13 - at least 14 days’ notice: The tenant has neglected or damaged the property, or they have sublet the property to another individual who has neglected or damaged the property.
- Ground 14 – you can start proceedings as soon as you serve notice: The tenant is considered a nuisance to neighbours or other tenants and has received complaints concerning their conduct.
- Ground 15 - at least 14 days’ notice: The furniture listed on the property inventory has been damaged, broken, lost or sold by the tenant/sub-tenant/family members/guests.
- Ground 16 – at least two months’ notice: The property was let to the tenant as a condition of their employment but the employment has now come to an end.
- Ground 17 - at least 14 days’ notice: The property was let on the basis of false information provided by the tenant or one of their referees/ guarantor.
What legal requirements must I meet in order to serve a notice?
It is vitally important that you are complying will all landlord legislation before you attempt to regain possession of your property, whichever method you choose.
This is especially pertinent with a Section 21 notice, which will be invalid if you have not served your tenant with a number of important legal documents throughout the duration of the tenancy. You must be sure that you have all the paperwork that you need in order to comply with legal landlord requirements before you start this procedure, or you will find yourself slung out of court and the notice invalid.
You must ensure that you are able to prove that you have:
- A signed copy of the tenancy agreement
- A valid gas safety certificate for the property (if required) and that a copy of this has been served to the tenant
- A valid EPC for the property and that a copy of this was served to the tenant
- A copy of the How to Rent booklet was served to the tenant
Additionally, you cannot serve a Section 21 notice for six months after the council ordering you to do repairs to your property under an improvement notice or emergency works notice.
How do I go about serving a notice?
There are a number of ways that you can serve a Section 8 or Section 21 notice. However, whichever way you choose, make sure you are sure to keep copies of everything that you serve, and document exactly what you do and when you have done it.
You can serve either notice in the following way:
- In person: You can choose to hand a copy of the notice to your tenant, explaining what the document is. Make sure you have a witness present to clarify that this was done. Your witness should be prepared to sign a statement which could be used in court.
- To the property: Posting a document though the letterbox is fine, but you must make sure that you have a witness present here too.
- By mail: posting the document is a great option, but make sure you get a proof of postage receipt at the Post Office and don’t be tempted by recorded delivery. Your tenant could turn the document away and this would mean it hasn’t been served
What’s the next step?
Once you have served a notice (whichever you choose) you will have to proceed to court to obtain a possession order. The court, if everything is correct, will grant the order, and will then write to your tenant to order that they leave the property.
Depending on your tenant’s circumstances, the court can allow up to 42 days for them to leave the property.
Should your tenant not leave the property upon receiving a court order, you can then instruct a bailiff (or country court sheriff in the case of a Section 8) who will attend the property and assist with the eviction.
It still sounds scary!
If you are still daunted by the idea of taking this role on, there are alternative options to handling the job yourself. Landlord Action is an organisation who can handle the entire process for you, from choosing the best method for your situation, to overseeing the removal of your tenant.
The award-winning team - made famous by Channel Five’s ‘Nightmare Tenants, Slum Landlords’ - is headed up by industry-celebrity Paul Shamplina, and are the UK’s first evictions specialists, dedicated to resolving tricky issues like this quickly and with minimal losses to the landlord.
For more information about how Landlord Action could help you, visit https://www.landlordaction.co.uk/ or call the team on 0333 321 9415
Let my property online from
£99 inc VAT
FREE Instant Online Valuation