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Evicting troublesome tenants: a guide for landlords

September 25 2017

Most tenants want the place they live to be as clean, peaceful and trouble-free as the landlord does – it’s their home after all. But there are inevitably a few who don’t stick to the rules and who cause no end of problems. Non-payment of rent, damage to the property or noise nuisance may all lead to the landlord deciding it’s time to end the tenancy.

If you’re a landlord and you want your troublesome tenants to leave there are strict rules about what you can and can’t do. Getting it wrong could mean that you’re breaking the law and could be fined. Worse, you may not be able to take back possession of your property.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to the eviction process as it stands in England and Wales (Northern Ireland and Scotland have their own rules). The process varies depending on the type of tenancy agreement in place.


Assured shorthold tenancy

Step 1

If your tenants have an assured shorthold tenancy agreement (either fixed term or with no fixed end date) give them a Section 21 notice, a Section 8 notice, or both.

Section 21 notice – if you want the property back after a fixed term ends.

Section 8 notice – if the tenants have broken the terms of the agreement.

The Deregulation Act 2015 set requirements in respect of protecting deposits and providing prescribed information, before a Section 21 Notice can be served. The requirements are complex so please contact us if you would like more detailed information.

A Section 21 notice must give the tenants at least 2 months’ notice to leave. A Section 8 notice must give between 2 weeks and 2 months’ notice depending on which terms of the tenancy agreement the tenants have broken.

Step 2

If the tenants haven’t left by the required date and they owe you rent, you can apply to the court for a standard possession order. If no rent is due, you can apply for an accelerated possession order which is usually faster.

Step 3

If the tenants have still not left the property, apply for a warrant of possession from the court. The court will issue an eviction notice with a date to comply. If this fails, you can then arrange for bailiffs to remove the tenants.


Excluded tenancies or licences

If your tenants have an excluded tenancy or licence (for example, if they live with you) the process is simpler.

You have to give ‘reasonable’ notice to quit. This normally means the length of the rental agreement period, i.e. 1 month if they pay rent monthly, 1 week if they pay weekly.


Assured or regulated tenancies

If the tenancy started before 27 February 1997, it may be an assured or regulated tenancy. In this case the tenants will have increased protection against eviction.


“Even if you believe you have legitimate grounds for evicting your tenants, it’s vital that the correct legal process is followed,” says Laura Thorpe, property litigation expert at PM Law. “We see so many cases where an invalid Section 8 or Section 21 notice has been served, making the process much longer and more complicated. We recommend seeking legal advice right at the start so you can be certain that everything is done correctly. This is the fastest way to get rid of your troublesome tenants.”

PM Law offers straightforward help and advice to landlords, from drafting tenancy agreements to preparing and serving eviction notices. We offer fixed fees and for more complex cases, a ‘pay-as-you-go’ structure for each step of the process.

Call or email the property litigation team on 0114 220 1795 or disresenquiry@pm-law.co.uk.