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How To Evict A Tenant

This guide has been put together to give some advice and help on how to evict a tenant. Here at FinderMonkey we specialise in locating tenants who have absconded owing money to landlords. If you need a ex tenant tracing to a new address please visit our tenant tracing page.

The advice within this guide is correct and has been heavily researched but our tongues were in our cheeks when we added some of the comments, we hope you enjoy it.

If you are a landlord looking to evict a tenant from your property there are certain rules and procedures you must follow to get the property back from your tenant, even though its your house and you pay the mortgage!. This does seem a tad unfair but if you want them out as quickly as possible and without any comebacks it is best to follow them. Illegally evicting or harassing a tenant is a crime and will mean you are giving them an opportunity to stay in the property even longer so it is best to follow the letter of the law and remove them legally. You want this stressful time to be as short and as pain free as possible.

Ending a tenancy
If you want to end your tenant’s time in your property, you must give them notice of when you want the tenancy to agreement end. The type of notice and the time period you must allow will depend on how the original tenancy agreement was set up but it is usually two months.

Ending a tenancy – serving a ‘notice to quit’
To do this you must inform the tenant in writing that you want the property back and the date you want them to leave by, again this will depend on the agreement you put in place when they moved in. A good time frame is two months but it can be as little as two weeks. You must be fair and give them a reasonable amount of time.
For many tenancies, the notice you give must be in a particular form which includes certain information and warnings. You can obtain a standard form of notice to quit from many online sources but it is not something that FinderMonkey currently  provide.
You have an automatic right to possession at the end of an assured short hold tenancy, as long as you have given your tenant two months’ notice to quit. So if you can tie in any possession with this then it will be the easiest way to evict them.

Ending a tenancy early because they owe you money
If you want the property back because the tenant has not paid rent or has broken other terms of your tenancy agreement, different rules apply, depending on which type of tenancy your tenant has. For example, if the tenancy is an assured tenancy, you will need to use one of the reasons or ‘grounds’ for possession in the Housing Act 1988.

If you use one of the grounds from the Housing Act 1988, either two or four weeks’ notice may be required. Some grounds are mandatory – this means the court has no choice but to make a possession order if it is satisfied that the ground exists.
Examples of mandatory grounds include:

  • more than eight weeks’ unpaid rent
  • the mortgage lender having enough of you (e.g the property you own and rent out is being repossessed)

Other grounds are ‘discretionary’ – this means the court will look at the reasons and decide if a possession order is fair.

Examples of discretionary grounds include if the tenant:

  • Pays rent late or not at all
  • breaks the terms of the tenancy agreement
  • is a nuisance to others such as neighbours
  • uses the property for illegal purposes (for example, dealing drugs, growing drugs, parties, whore house, liquor den, cock fighting – you get the picture)

If the tenancy is regulated, possession can only be sought using one of the grounds in the Rent Act 1977.

Getting your property back
If your tenant leaves the property within the notice period, you can re-enter your property, and will not need to contact the courts for assistance. Which seems fair since it is your property and you pay the mortgage!
If the notice period expires and your tenant has not left the property, you will need to start the process of eviction through the courts. You must not forcibly remove your tenant without an eviction order. You cannot open the front door, walk into the living room and proclaim, ‘this is my house, now do one’ at the top of your voice…unfortunately!

If you need to trace an ex tenant to a new address if they owe you money you can do so using our tenant tracing service.

How to evict a tenant through the courts
If you have already asked the tenant to leave by serving notice on them and they have not left even though the notice period has expired, you must send your tenant a ‘notice of intention to seek possession’. This makes the tenant aware in no under certain terms your intention, basically that you plan to apply to the court for a possession order to evict them if they do not leave.
You must give this notice of intention to your tenant before you can apply for a possession order.
Once you have applied to court for the possession order, the court will decide whether or not to evict your tenant (crazy considering it is your property!). If the court grants the order, it will either give a date for the tenant to leave or they will suspend the order, this means the tenant can stay as long as they continue to mean conditions set out by the court.
If your tenant still refuses to leave when you have a possession order, you must apply for a warrant for eviction from the county court. The court will arrange for bailiffs to remove the tenant from the property.

Evicting a tenant through accelerated possession
If your tenant has an assured short hold tenancy (the most common type of tenancy, starting on or after 15 January 1989) you can also consider the ‘accelerated possession procedure’. This is a quicker way to get back possession of your property, and usually does not need a court hearing. You can only use the procedure if you have a written tenancy agreement and you have given the required written notice – in the right form and giving at least two months’ notice. The notice you give cannot ask a tenant to leave before the end of a fixed-term tenancy.

Applying for accelerated possession
You should apply directly to the county court for accelerated possession and complete the ‘claim for possession’ form (form N5B). You will need to include the following information:

  • names and addresses of you and your tenant
  • the property you want possession of
  • dates of the tenancy agreement and when notice was served
  • when the notice period ended

You should also send copies of the tenancy agreement, the notice sent to your tenant, and any other relevant documents.
The court will base its decision on the written evidence supplied by both parties. You must ensure you include all relevant information when you first make the application.
If the courts award possession to you, you may be able to get your costs of making the application back from the tenant. However, you cannot claim any other costs, such as rent arrears or unpaid deposits.
The possession order will normally take effect two weeks after the decision unless the court decides that this would cause the tenant exceptional hardship. In that case, the judge may delay the order for up to six weeks. However, the judge will set up a hearing beforehand which you can attend, to hear the tenant’s application.

What is harassment?
Harassment can be anything a landlord does, or fails to do, that makes a tenant feel unsafe in the property or forces them to leave. Harassment is a broad term but can include any of the following:

  • stopping services, like electricity
  • withholding keys, for example there are two or more tenants in a property but the landlord will only give out one key
  • refusing to carry out repairs
  • anti-social behaviour by a landlord’s agent, for example a friend of the landlord moves in next door and causes problems
  • threats and physical violence

Illegal eviction and tenants’ rights
Your landlord must first give you a notice to leave if they want the property back from you. If you do not leave on your own, your landlord has to ask a court for an eviction order to force you to leave. Your landlord may be guilty of illegal eviction if you:

  • are not given the notice to leave the property that your landlord must give you
  • find the locks have been changed
  • are evicted without a court order

If you have an assured short hold tenancy recognised by the landlord’s mortgage lender, they must honour the terms of your tenancy. If your tenancy is unknown to the mortgage lender you may still be able to request that possession is postponed by up to two months so you can find other accommodation.
You can ask the mortgage lender directly to delay possession of the property or you can make an application to the County Court.
If you think you are being harassed or threatened with illegal eviction, or the property you rent is being repossessed, you should speak to a legal adviser. You can start by contacting Community Legal Advice for free.
If you need to trace an ex tenant to a new address if they owe you money you can do so using our tenant tracing service.

We hope this guide has helped you answer the question how to evict a tenant.

How To Evict A Tenant FinderMonkey
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How To Evict A Tenant FinderMonkey

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