As a landlord, there comes a time where you have to evict your tenant, which could be for various different reasons. Before you make the decision to evict a tenant, you should know what your duties are as a landlord.
Dependent on the situation, there are different ways of going about it, and you need to make sure that you have the legalities in check to avoid any unwanted obstacles. Before we get into the details, it’s important to know the types of Assured Shorthold Tenancies:
- Periodic Tenancies – These are tenancies that are run week by week, or month by month with no fixed end date. These can also occur at the end of a fixed-term tenancy when it is not renewed until another fixed date.
- Fixed-Term Tenancies – These are tenancies that run for a set amount of time, with a fixed end date.
The type of tenancy will determine the steps that you as landlord must take to evict a tenant.
Introduction to Evicting with Assured Shorthold Tenancies
No matter the grounds, every eviction must start with providing the tenant with reasonable notice. If the tenant is on a fixed-term tenancy then you can serve a Section 21 notice of possession, which means that you can take back the property at the end of the fixed term, or trigger an agreed break clause if your tenancy allows for one. You don’t have to provide any reason when serving a Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988, however it cannot be done within the first 4 months of a tenancy.
If you wish to evict a tenant before the end of a fixed-term tenancy then you must provide a reason why, along with evidence. This can be done at any time during the tenancy and the notice can be from 2 weeks to 2 months, depending on the reason. The most common reason is a breach of tenancy, such as unpaid rent, excessive damage or anti-social behaviour and you must serve a Section 8 eviction, known as notice to quit.
How to Evict a Tenant Without a Lease
Even if you don’t have a written tenancy agreement, the tenancy is still classified as an Assured Shorthold if the tenant moved in after 15th January 1989 or it’s the tenants only accommodation and you as the landlord do not reside in the property. Therefore, even without a written lease you must still follow the formal legal procedure.
The Finer Details
Under Section 8 of the Housing Act 1988, there are 17 grounds in which landlords may seek possession of a property. Notice must be given in the correct format and failure to comply to the standards laid out may result in serious delays of the possession.
If you are serving a Section 8 on the grounds of rent arrears, it must be noted that the tenant has to be at least 2 months in rent arrears. Therefore, if the tenant reduces their arrears to less than 2 months at any time, your eviction notice is no longer valid.
If your tenant claims Universal Housing Benefit and owes rent, then you may be able to get the rent paid straight to you through something known as ‘Managed Payment’.
When serving a section 8, you must also apply to the court for a possession order as you cannot legally evict a tenant without one, and it’s always best to seek advice. You should also be aware that your tenant can dispute a Section 8 and it could go to court, where you must provide evidence of breach of contract. You should also ensure that you do not respond in a way that could be taken as harassment to the tenant if they refuse to leave, as this could result in them taking you to court.
You do not have to go to court to evict your tenants if they have an excluded tenancy, for example if they live with you. In this case, you only have to give them ‘reasonable’ notice which is usually the length of the rental period. You can then change the locks, even if they still have belongings in there.
There are challenges that you can face when attempting to evict a tenant, which is why it is important to ensure that you have fulfilled all your responsibilities as landlord. To prepare for the worst, you should also keep copies of any correspondence between yourself and your tenant, and proof of postage. This means that you are covered if the tenant attempts to argue that they did not receive any eviction notice.
Remember that as long as you have all the legal requirements then you are within your right as landlord to evict a tenant from your property. We at Chancellors also offer an Eviction Service for Landlords in order to help take the stress away.
For more information on how Chancellors can help you let out your property, read through our specialist landlord letting services.