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How can I evict my non paying tenants?

HousesHere is a blog clinic question from Paul:

My tenant signed a 3 year AST tenancy…..after six months they began making part payments and are now £2,300 in arrears. The monthly rent is £900.

I would like to give them notice to vacate the property by the end of January 2012 on the basis that they have broken the terms of the agreement and are now more than two months in rent arrears.I wish to sell the property so paying off the arrears will make no difference …what do I need to send them and how should it be worded as I obviously need a court ORDER?

Paul, you are quite right in saying that you need a court order.  It is unfortunate that you signed these tenants up for a three year fixed term, as this means that you can’t use the no fault ground for possession under section 21 of the Housing Act 1988.  This can only be used after the fixed term has come to an end.

Unless your tenancy has a break clause – you might want to check this.  Long tenancy agreements often do have break clauses.

Otherwise you are left with the rent arrears ground for possession.  To get a court order you need to serve a section 8 notice first and then issue proceedings for possession.  The notice has to be in a prescribed form otherwise it will be invalid, so you need to be careful that you are using the correct one.

The notice period must be not less than two weeks, but it will then take you a minimum of two months to get your possession order through the courts (and may take another month or two to physically evict the tenants via the bailiffs service if they refuse to leave).

So far as issuing proceedings for possession is concerned, this can be quite tricky so it is not something that can be explained in detail here.  However annual members of my Landlord Law service can use my ‘do it yourself’ kits, which is considerably cheaper than using a solicitor.

The kits provide all the forms (including the possession notices) you need, with detailed instructions to prevent you making any mistakes.  You can read more about the kits here, and about repossession generally here.

So far as timing is concerned, I think you will be lucky to get a possession order by the end of January but you may be able to do it if you action things quickly.

In future I would advise against a long fixed term.  In fact your case is a classic example of why it is a bad idea.

Rent Arrears

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3 Responses to How can I evict my non paying tenants?

  1. Many courts have a semi unofficial and un-publicised possession amnesty from mid December to Mid January which can also delay things.

    On a non legal aspect too tenants need to understand that any new landlord will ask for references from the old landlord and any landlord worth their salt wouldnt take on someone who had run up arrears like that.

    Even if you get possession and an award for the money, be prepared to have to track it down Paul, the courts dont do that for you and that can be a long process too

  2. One other thing worth mentioning that seems to be missed, is in relation to your comment that the tenant paying off the arrears will make no difference to your wanting possession as you intend to sell the property. You should be aware that as you do not have the option of serving a “no fault” section 21 notice (unless you have a breakclause) then you are solely reliant on rent arrears being the grounds for seeking possession. If the tenants decide to settle the arrears or reduce the arrears to a level under two months in value, then you will lose your grounds for possession and will have to sit the three year contract out.



About the post author:

Tessa Shepperson

Tessa is a lawyer and specialises in creating products and services which help landlords and letting agents learn and understand landlord & tenant law. For example, she runs the Landlord Law website (now in its 14th year) and is a director of Easy Law Training Ltd and Your Law Store. Tessa also sits on the Property Redress Scheme Council. When not working she enjoys reading, cooking and messing around on the computer. You can also find her on Google

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Tessa is an English lawyer specialising in residential landlord and tenant law.

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