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How to evict a tenant

One of the more unpleasant and stressful tasks any landlord has to go through is evicting a tenant. Of course, not every eviction arises because of a rent dispute, sometimes you just need to regain possession of the property.

Maybe you are going to sell, perhaps you have decided to move in yourself, or the tenant has neglected the property resulting in damage. Or, it is simply that the tenancy agreement is coming to an end.

Whatever the circumstances, it is important that landlords follow the correct eviction procedures to ensure they regain possession of the property as quickly as possible.

It is also important you consider the tenant here. Whilst you have no duty of care aside from providing a home in return for a fair rent, at the end of the day you are taking that home away from them.

So, make sure everything is done legally and with due process. If you don't, and the tenant has grounds for legal recourse, it could become a very expensive exercise.

Evicting a tenant with a Section 21 notice

Most tenants of private landlords are 'assured shorthold tenants'. The most common way to evict such a tenant is by serving a Section 21 notice. Section 21 (https://www.gov.uk/evicting-tenants/section-21-and-section-8-notices) is mostly used when a tenancy is nearing the end of its term.

To be a lawful eviction, the landlord must serve a written notice giving the tenant two months before they need to vacate the property. Further action only needs to be taken if the tenant does not leave by the date set out in the notice.

In those circumstances the landlord must apply to the court for a possession order. Unfortunately, this can take several months but you cannot force the tenant to leave before the court has ruled.

An alternative is to use an Accelerated Possession Procedure (https://www.gov.uk/evicting-tenants/accelerated-possession-orders) in which the landlord can apply to the court for a possession order without a hearing.

Whichever process is used, a tenant cannot be evicted until the court has granted a possession order. Once the order has been handed down, the judge will set a date for the tenant to leave. If the tenant ignores this date, the landlord must apply to the court to ask bailiffs to attend the property and to evict the tenant and remove their belongings.

What you need to include in a section 21 notice

• Name and address of tenant

• Name and address of landlord

• Telephone number of landlord

• The address of the property which the landlord is seeking to reprocess

• The date on which the notice is served

• Date which landlord will take possession (remember you must allow at least two months between the notice of possession and taking possession of the property)

How to evict a tenant for rent arrears during their fixed term

If a landlord is seeking eviction because of rent arrears or damage to the property before the end of a fixed tenancy, a Section 8 notice must be served. It is more complicated than Section 21 as the landlord has to prove 'grounds for possession'.

There are both 'mandatory' and 'discretionary' grounds. Mandatory include rent arrears of at least two months while discretionary grounds include damage to the property or breaking other terms of the lease.

The tenant does have the right to contest the landlords grounds for possession and the judge could dismiss or suspend the case if the tenants challenge is successful.

If the court agrees with the landlord that it is reasonable to evict a tenant, they will order the tenant to leave the property, usually within 14 days.

Although the process to evict your tenant can be a lengthy and frustrating one when there is a dispute, in the majority of cases there is no need for further action after a Section 21 notice is issued. Just remember to serve the notice in good time before the end of the fixed term tenancy.

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