There are many reasons why landlords may want to evict tenants and get their properties back. For example:
- You may want your tenants to leave so you can sell with vacant possession
- You may want to do renovation works which cannot be done with tenants in situ
- Your tenants may be failing to pay rent, or
- They may be unsatisfactory for some other reason
But how do you go about it and what things do you need to think about? Here are my top tips on eviction. Then at the end, there are a couple of free resources for you.
1 Is eviction really necessary?
For example, if your tenants are good tenants it seems a shame to make them move out just because you want to sell. Maybe, as an alternative to eviction, you could sell the property as an investment property, with them in situ? You may even be able to sell the property to them.
If your tenants are having problems making payment but are otherwise good tenants, you may be able to help them. Perhaps change their payment day to the day after their salary goes into their bank or allow them to take in a lodger (although be careful about this and read this post first).
Or maybe encourage them to use the Tasker Payments Service? (This should be mandatory for any tenants on benefit).
Eviction is not only distressing for your tenants but can also be very stressful for landlords, leaving aside the expense. Best to avoid it if you can.
2. Do you rent on licenses rather than tenancies?
Are you REALLY SURE they are licenses? Many so-called licenses are actually tenancies. This can get you into trouble anyway as landlords can be prosecuted for issuing ‘sham licenses’.
Frequently so-called licenses are only found out to be tenancies when the landlord takes the tenants to court and the Judge throws the case out because the procedure for evicting licensees is different from that used for evicting tenants.
You don’t want this to happen to you. For example, it may mean your tenants getting a court order that you pay their legal costs. So check this out.
Assuming you have tenants:
3 Do you know what your tenancy type is?
Most tenancies are assured shorthold tenancies. However, this is not inevitable.
The significance of a tenancy type which is not an AST is that the eviction procedure will be different. So you need to check.
4 Have you dealt with the tenant’s deposit correctly?
One of the top reasons why Judges throw out eviction claims based on the no-fault section 21 procedure is that the landlord has not protected the deposit, or served prescribed information on the tenant within the 30-day deadline.
Failure to comply with the deposit rules can also derail claims based on rent arrears as tenants can counterclaim for the penalty for non-compliance which can wipe out your arrears.
5. Did you serve the gas safety certificate on your tenants before they moved in?
This only applies to tenancies which started or were renewed on or after 1 October 2015, but this includes many, many tenancies.
As you can see from this post, as the law currently stands, landlords who have not served their gas safety certificate on tenants before they moved into the property will not be able to use section 21 AT ALL.
6. Have you served an energy performance certificate on tenants?
This is another legal obligation which is now a prerequisite to serving a valid section 21 notice for tenancies which started or were renewed on or after 1 October 2015.
This is not, at present, such a serious issue as failure to serve the gas certificate and is not fatal – however, some lawyers think that a similar issue could arise. So make sure you have served it and have proof of this.
7. Do any of the other section 21 pre-requisites apply?
These are, in essence:
- Service of the governments ‘how to rent’ booklet
- Having a license for your property if it is an HMO which requires licensing
- Not having had any improvement notices served on you by the Council in the last six months
- Your tenancy having first started not less than four months ago
8 Have you served the correct form of eviction notice?
Possession proceedings at court must be preceded by service of the correct form of notice on your tenants.
You need to be careful about this as the section 8 and section 21 notices have changed several times over the past few years. As both are now prescribed forms (save for section 21 notices for pre 1/10/2015 ASTs) you need to be sure that you are using the correct version. Be particularly wary about free downloads from the internet.
Strictly speaking, you do not need to use the new section 21 ‘form 6a’ for pre 1 October 2015 tenancies at the moment (August 2018). However we are advising that all landlords now use this notice – as if your case is dealt with after 1 October 2018 (which is very likely), the old form of notice may not be accepted by the court.
9 Can you prove service of your eviction notices and other critical documents?
Say your tenants turn up at court and say that they have never received or even seen your gas safety certificate, section 21 notice or whatever. Will you be able to prove that they were served?
If you can’t, you may lose your case.
10 Are you familiar with the eviction procedure?
The process is not rocket science but it is easy to make a mistake. If so you may find that your case is sidetracked and takes considerably longer to resolve. And if your tenants are not paying rent, time is money.
If you don’t really know how it all works you should either:
- Use solicitors (we recommend Landlord Action), or
- Use our Landlord Law step by step guide when doing it yourself.
Some free resources to help you:
- We have a free Which Possession Proceedings Guide.
- If your tenant is not paying rent, you will also find some free resources here.
You can find out more about Landlord Law and our eviction services here.