How do you evict a tenant with a residential tenancy?

You must follow strict procedures if you want your tenants to leave your property. You may be guilty of harassing or illegally evicting your tenants if you do not follow the correct procedures.

You use the standard possession procedure if you want your property back because your tenants owe you rent.

You use the accelerated possession procedure if you are not claiming unpaid rent.

You can use the accelerated procedure to get your property back when you are owed rent by filing a separate money claim for the rent arrears and/or damages.

Giving Notice

A Section 8 Notice is given where the tenant has broken the terms of the tenancy agreement.

A Section 21 Notice gives notice of possession of your property avoiding the adversarial nature of the court and the associated costs and prolonged court procedures.

The notice period is 2 calendar months. The earliest it can be used is 2 calendar months and one day prior to the end of the Tenancy Agreement.

A Landlord cannot serve a valid Section 21 notice when a deposit is not being held in an authorised Deposit Protection Scheme or the initial requirements have not been met within 30 days of receiving the deposit.

Where the deposit is not protected within 30 days of receipt no Section 21 notice can be served unless the deposit has been returned in full to the tenant or with agreed deductions.

A Landlord cannot serve a valid Section 21 Notice if the Prescribed Information has not been served.

Once the Prescribed Information has been served then a Section 21 notice can be issued.

This does not apply if the deposit has been returned in full to the tenant or with agreed deductions.

In summary, a Section 21 Notice can be served if the deposit has not been protected within 30 days or the Prescribed Information not served only if the deposit has been returned in full or with agreed deductions, or if a court hearing for late service or protection has been determined by the Court, withdrawn or settled between the parties.

What do I do if the tenant does not leave on the specified day?

If you wanted your property back because your tenants owe you rent you apply to the court for a standard possession order.

If you want your property back and are not owed unpaid rent or you have filed a separate money claim for rent arrears and/damages you apply to the court for an accelerated possession order.

What do I do if the tenant won't leave when ordered by the court?

You should apply for a Warrant of Possession from the County Court instructing a County Court Enforcement Officer (Bailiff) to attend.

Alternatively, under Section 42 of the County Court Act 1984 you can transfer your County Court Order to the High Court for a High Court Enforcement Officer to attend with a High Court Writ of Possession. The benefit of using a High Court Enforcement Officer is speed of attendance.

In the first instance call the County Court nearest the Tenant to ask for the time being taken to attend a Residential Possession.

A County Court Bailiff is the cheapest route but when you take into account loss of rent or further damage to your property then it may be more cost effective to instruct a High Court Enforcement Officer.

Excluded Tenancies or Licences

You do not need to go to court to evict your tenants if they have an excluded tenancy or licence, eg they live with you.

You only need to give them "reasonable notice" to quit. Reasonable notice usually means the length of the rental payment period, so if your tenants pay rent weekly you can give them one week's notice. The notice doesn't have to be in writing but it is best practice to do so.

You can then change the locks on their rooms, even if they still have belongings in the room.

What is retaliatory eviction?

An eviction is viewed as retaliatory where tenants who complain about the state of a property are then issued with an eviction notice. MoneyClaimsUK are not able to support Landlords where an eviction could be retaliatory.

What do I do with possessions left by the tenant at the end of the tenancy?

Any property left behind by a tenant still belongs to the tenant and normally should be returned to the tenant.

You can charge for cost of clearing the belongings out of your property. However, if throw away property belonging to the tenant which subsequently turns out to be of value, the tenant may make a claim against you for damages.

The Torts (Interference with Goods) Act 1977 states that the landlord can dispose of goods left behind. You must follow the correct procedure:

Send a letter by recorded delivery, or hand deliver with a Witness if the tenant is likely to refuse to sign for post. Tell the tenant that you intend to sell/dispose of the goods and give the following information:

  • Your name and address where you can be contacted regarding the tenant's collection of their belongings
  • Details of the items held, ideally take photographs of their condition immediately after the tenant vacated
  • The place where the belongings are held
  • The date on which you intend to sell the goods (this must give the tenant a reasonable amount of time to collect the goods, say two-four weeks)

Keep a copy of the letter.

If you have not been given the new address by the tenant, you will be able to sell or dispose of the goods if you are able to show that you made reasonable attempts to locate the tenant.

This is best done by instructing a Tracing Agent. Many will offer a "no-trace-no-fee" arrangement. Keep the agent's report stating that they cannot find the tenant.

Selling the goods left a tenant

If any items are sold, the proceedings of sale are, strictly speaking, the property of the tenant.

However, you are allowed to deduct the cost of the sale, any rent arrears outstanding or other money due to you from any money you make from selling the tenant's goods.

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