Dealing with "problem tenants" can be one of the most frustrating things about being a landlord. The eviction process can be long, expensive and demoralising. For that reason, this post includes some helpful hints for guiding you through the procedure, so that it is as quick and easy as possible.
Specifically when dealing with rent arrears, you might want to first check out our other article 'Rent Arrears & Eviction - A Timeline of Events'.
Which eviction notice to use
There are two primary types of eviction notices – Section 21 and Section 8 notices. Which you use depends on what kind of tenancy agreement you have, and how the tenant has broken it.
It is important to remember that each notice requires a different process. Section 21 notices need to be submitted 2 months in advance of the eviction date, while Section 8 requires between 2 weeks’ and 2 months’ notice, depending on which terms of your agreement the tenant has broken.
You also need to be sure you follow the proper procedure for serving the notice. This means filling in the relevant form for each procedure and affixing it to the door of the property, or dropping it in the tenant’s mailbox addressed to "the occupiers".
If your tenant hasn’t left the property following the eviction notice, the next step is a possession order. There are two types – standard and accelerated.
A standard possession order can be submitted online in some cases; if your tenant owes you back rent, for example. For some cases, however, you need to submit the order by post to your local court. These cases include forfeiture claims or cases of trespassing on your property.
The online form requires payment of a £325 processing fee, while the paper-based process costs £355 with the cheque made out to "HM Courts and Tribunals Service".
In certain cases, you can submit an accelerated possession order. This can be quicker than the standard process because it doesn’t always include a court hearing. It costs £355, and is usually done following a Section 21 notice when you are not claiming rent arrears.
Following your application for an accelerated possession order, the tenant has 14 days (from the day they receive it) to submit a challenge. The judge will then either issue the possession order (requiring the tenant to leave the property) or call for a hearing (which is less common).
Hearings are designed to evaluate the validity of your case for eviction. If the judge rules in your favour, an order will be issued for the tenant to leave the property between 14 and 28 days after the hearing. The judge, however, can also dismiss the case, if he or she finds that there is no basis for the eviction, or if you haven’t followed the correct procedure.
For that reason, and given the time and money involved, it is important to think carefully before beginning the eviction process, and to follow the procedure as correctly and exactly as possible.
For more information on which type of notice to use, how to serve it and what to do afterwards, read the government's guide to evicting tenants.