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Eviction – Do’s and Don’ts

Deciding to evict a tenant should not be taken lightly, however, there may come a time when eviction is the only possible and final option. To begin the eviction process and seek possession, you must follow strict procedures in order to have a tenant removed from your property. We have compiled a list of do’s and don’ts.

DO

Talk to your tenant

It is always preferable to resolve disputes without the need for court action.  See if you can reach an agreement with your tenant in the first instance or help them come up with a plan for repaying any rent arrears. Make sure you keep a log of any correspondence and that any agreement reached is recorded in writing.

Check which eviction process to take

When considering the process of eviction, there are two possibilities for terminating a tenancy:

  • Section 8 Notice – where the tenant has broken the terms of the tenancy
  • Section 21 Notice – if you want your property back after the fixed term has ended

To give your tenants notice using a Section 8, you must fill in a ‘Notice seeking possession of a property let on an assured tenancy or an assured agricultural occupancy’.

You can give between 2 weeks’ and 2 months’ notice depending on which terms of the tenancy they have broken. You can then apply to the court for a possession order if your tenant doesn’t leave by the specified date.

You can issue a Section 21 notice if your tenant has either:

  • A written agreement with a fixed term which has ended
  • An oral or written ‘periodic’ agreement with not specified fixed end date

When issuing a Section 21 notice you must provide your tenant with at least two months’ notice in which to leave the property. You can create a notice by filling in form 6a (if the agreement commenced on or after 1 October 2015) or write your own notice explaining that you’re giving notice under Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 where the tenancy started before 1 October 2015.

It is essential that you keep proof that you gave notice to your tenant, either by completing a certification of service form (N215 form); or by writing “served by [your name] on [the date]” on the notice.

If your tenant doesn’t leave by the specified date, you can use your completed N215 or notice to apply for an accelerated possession order.

DON’T

Neglect your obligations

When trying to evict a tenant, you’ve got to make sure your end of the lease agreement has been upheld. Landlord obligations such as maintenance issues still need to be diligently addressed, failure on your part to do so could result in

Change the locks

Entering the property to change the locks without notice and prior to the tenant vacating the premises is a criminal offence which could lead to a hefty fine or even imprisonment.

Remove the tenant’s belongings from the property

Holding a tenant’s belongings hostage in lieu of unpaid rent or removing it from the property before the tenant has left is also a criminal offence, one for which you could be heavily penalised. Failing to return tenant’s possessions could result in prosecution.

Shut off the properties utilities

Switching off the gas, water, electricity etc. is a big no no. As a landlord, you need to fulfil your legal obligations and shutting off a tenant’s water supply could end in criminal action and a court.

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