How Long Does it Take to Evict a Tenant?

The eviction process can be a daunting task that requires understanding legal protocols and managing simultaneous timelines, making it crucial for property owners to understand each step.

In the following guide, we explain the eviction process, explaining the legal proceedings and the timelines involved. Whether you are an experienced landlord or new to the property rental market, understanding these procedures can save you time, protect you from legal pitfalls, and ensure a smoother transition when regaining possession of your property.

Valid grounds to evict tenants

Before initiating the eviction process, landlords must understand the valid grounds on which they can legally request a tenant to leave the property. These grounds ensure that the eviction is fair and legally justified:

  • Mandatory grounds: these are clear-cut reasons where, if proven, the court must order eviction. They include situations like rent arrears (if the tenant is at least two months behind on rent), proven antisocial behaviour, or breach of tenancy agreement terms.
  • Discretionary grounds: in these cases, even if you prove the reason, the court may decide whether it is reasonable to evict a tenant. Examples include consistent late rent payments, minor breaches of the tenancy agreement, or the landlord's intention to occupy the property.

Types of tenancies in the UK

In the UK, the nature of a tenancy agreement plays a key role in dictating the eviction process. Here is a brief overview of each:

  • Assured Shorthold Tenancies (ASTs): the most common form of tenancy, ASTs typically offer tenants six months' security of tenure, but after this period, you can regain possession of the property provided you give appropriate notice.
  • Assured tenancies: less common nowadays, these tenancies grant tenants greater security of tenure. Evicting a tenant under an assured tenancy requires you to prove certain grounds for eviction and can often be a more complex process.

Landlords must identify which tenancy agreement they have with their tenants, as this will significantly influence the eviction procedures, notices required, and the overall timeline.

The eviction process and timeline

The process begins with initial communication. Before embarking on formal proceedings, it's advisable to engage in a dialogue with the tenant to discuss the issues at hand. Oftentimes, a resolution can be reached without resorting to legal action. This stage is immediate but does allow time for tenants to respond and potentially rectify the situation.

If resolution is not achieved, the next step is serving notice. There are mainly two types of notices:

  • A Section 21 Notice is typically used in ASTs when you intend to reclaim the property after the tenancy term concludes, without needing to prove any fault on the part of the tenant.
  • On the other hand, a Section 8 Notice is applicable when the tenant has breached the tenancy terms.

The notice period for a Section 21 notice is at least two months, whereas a Section 8 notice, can vary from two weeks to two months, depending on the specific grounds cited.

If the tenant does not vacate the property by the specified date in the notice, landlords can then proceed to the legal stage by applying to the court for a possession order. This process involves preparation, filing, and potentially a court hearing. The duration of this stage varies, often taking several months, depending on the complexity of the case and the court's schedule.

Finally, if the tenant still occupies the property after a Possession Order is granted, landlords can request the court to send bailiffs to legally enforce the eviction. This final step ensures that the eviction is carried out lawfully, but it can also add a few weeks to several months to the overall timeline.

Throughout each stage of this process, landlords should stay informed, remain patient, and adhere strictly to legal protocols.

Compliance and legal considerations throughout the tenant eviction process

Ensuring legal compliance throughout the eviction process is not just about following procedures; it’s about upholding the rights of both landlords and tenants. Here are key points to consider:

  • Adherence to legal protocols: strictly follow the notice periods and conditions as stipulated by law. Any deviation can invalidate the eviction process and you might have to start over. Ensure all documentation, including tenancy agreements, rent records, and communication with the tenant, is accurate and well-documented.
  • Awareness of tenant's rights: tenants have certain rights during the eviction process, including the right to receive proper notice and to live in the property until the eviction is legally executed. Illegal eviction practices, such as changing locks or threatening tenants, can lead to significant legal repercussions.
  • Potential consequences of non-compliance: failing to comply with legal requirements can result in the eviction being delayed, legal penalties, or the case being dismissed. Understanding and respecting the legal framework not only ensures a smoother eviction process but also preserves your reputation as a fair landlord.

Being well-versed in these legal considerations and seeking professional advice when in doubt can prevent unnecessary complications and expedite the eviction process.

Professional assistance and support

Seeking professional eviction assistance can provide you with the expertise and peace of mind needed to navigate this challenging landscape efficiently. AST Assistance provides advice to landlords on how to properly evict a tenant, from understanding your options to knowing when court proceedings may be necessary.

If you find yourself needing to evict a tenant from your rental property due to rent arrears or bad behaviour, call us on 01706 619954, or fill out the form on our contact page to arrange a time for us to call you back.

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