This is a big topic, but the number one thing for landlords to realise is that it is heavily regulated.
First – almost ALL tenants must be evicted after first obtaining a court order for possession.
If the tenant then fails to leave, you must physically evict them using the County Court Bailiffs (or High Court Sheriffs).
If you do not evict your tenants using ‘due process’ as it is called, this is both a
- criminal offence (which means you can be prosecuted and fined or imprisoned) and a
- civil wrong – meaning your tenant can sue you for compensation and an injunction letting them back in again.
(NB – there is a post you can read if you are unsure about the difference between civil and criminal law)
The act which deals with all this is the Protection from Eviction Act 1977, and it covers not only tenants but also licensees.
There are a few ‘excluded occupier’ types where you do not need to get a possession order, the most important being lodger situations where the landlord lives in the same property and shares living accommodation.
So what is due process then? Basically, for possession claims, it is the three part procedure that must be followed.
- Notice – the type of notice to be served on the occupier varies depending on the tenancy type and the type of eviction procedure you intend to use.
- Possession order – this needs to be obtained via the local County Court (or very rarely, the High Court)
- Bailiffs – who do the actual physical removal of recalcitrant tenants from the property. Although in my experience they will normally have gone by the date of the appointment.
There are a number of different procedures that you can use to remove occupiers from your property
- Locking them out. If you are evicting someone who is an excluded occupier under the Protection from Eviction Act this may be allowable. You have to be VERY careful though. I talk about this on my Lodger Landlord site.
- The squatter procedure – although the Police now have greater powers to deal with squatters under the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishing of Offenders Act 2012, in many situations it will still be necessary to evict them through the courts. You use a special procedure for this, which is also the one used for licensees who fail to move out after their license to occupy has ended
- The accelerated procedure. This is the special procedure you can use for claims for possession under section 21
- The standard procedure. This is the normal procedure which we use for all other eviction claims.
Note that I have guidance for landlords on the last two in my eviction kit available to +Plus members of my Landlord Law site.
Eviction of tenants is at the ‘easy’ end of the litigation difficulty scale, but there are still a lot of traps for the unwary. So anyone seeking to do this themselves need to be very careful.
Finally, remember that there are some circumstances where you will have NO right to evict tenants. For example most protected tenants under the 1977 Rent Act.