What Are The Rules For Evicting a Tenant?

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There are two primary avenues through which landlords can evict tenants, referred to as section 8 and section 21 notices. Landlords can use one or both to end a tenancy agreement, but the differences are not always clear, and serving the wrong notice or making a mistake can lead to severe problems and delays in eviction. Landlords who do not follow the necessary processes, could be charged with harassing or unlawfully evicting their tenants.

Here we, the property law experts at AST Assistance answer the question: ‘What are the rules for evicting a tenant?; explain the rules for evicting a tenant, the appropriate circumstances for eviction, and how to avoid costly or time-consuming mistakes in the process of evicting a tenant.

Instruct Us Our Approach

Understanding the type of tenancy

The types of tenancy will determine the rules for evicting a tenant. There are two types of assured shorthold tenancies:

  • Periodic tenancies - running week-by-week or month-by-month with no set expiration date
  • Fixed-term rentals - for a specific period of time

If your renters have an assured shorthold tenancy, you must follow a certain eviction procedure:

  • If you want the property back after the tenancy period ends, serve your tenants a section 21 notice
  • If your tenants have violated the conditions of the tenancy, serve them a section 8 notice

If your tenants do not leave by the date mentioned on the notice and owe you rent, you can apply to the court for a possession order. If you do not have any overdue rent, you can file for an expedited possession order.

If your renters refuse to leave, apply for a possession warrant, which allows bailiffs to remove them from your property.

What are ‘Section 8’ notices?

In order to service a section 8 notice, you will need to specify upon which grounds you are relying to evict the tenant and take possession of the property within the notice, which is why it can be best to consult legal advice before taking this step.

Relevant grounds to serve a section 8 notice include:

  • You wish to use your property as your main residence
  • Your property is subject to a mortgage and the mortgage payer intends to sell
  • The property requires redevelopment
  • The tenant is in rental arrears
  • The tenant has failed to uphold other obligations (including taking care of the property)
  • The tenant is using the property for illegal purposes or causing a nuisance

Many of these grounds for eviction are subject to a decision by the Court as to whether or not possession will be granted. It is therefore important to be thorough when serving a notice to a tenant.

You must give a tenant two months’ notice to leave a property, so if you have plans for the property you should take this time limit into account when determining when you should serve your notice.

A section 8 notice cannot be served in situations where a tenant has not broken their tenancy agreement. However, if you are seeking to evict a tenant after a fixed-term tenancy ends or during a periodic tenancy, you may be able to serve a section 21 notice instead.

What is a ‘Section 21’ notice?

Section 21 notices can be used at the end of a fixed-term tenancy period, or during a periodic tenancy where there is no fixed end date. For a section 21 notice to be valid, you must also have given your tenants an Energy Performance Certificate for the property, a copy of the government’s ‘How to Rent’ guide, and an up-to-date gas safety certificate for the property (if it has gas installed) before they moved in.

You cannot use a section 21 notice in circumstances where:

  • A fixed-term tenancy period has not ended (unless your contract specifies that you are allowed to do this)
  • You have not put the tenant’s deposit into one of the three Government-backed deposit protection schemes
  • The council has served an improvement notice or said it will perform emergency work on the property in the last six months
  • You have charged the tenant unlawful fees or deposits as specified in the Tenant Fees Act 2019

While the process of serving a section 8 or section 21 notice may sound simple, there are several pitfalls that can cause delays in the process of evicting your tenants, or which can result in your notice being deemed invalid, so it is best to obtain professional legal assistance if you intend to serve a section 21 or section 8 notice to your tenants. In this way, you can ensure that you meet all of the legal requirements for serving a section 21 or section 8 notice correctly and repossessing your property from a tenant.

For tailored advice on evicting tenants, contact the expert team at AST Assistance by calling
01706 619 954, emailing info@ast-assistance.com or filling out our contact form here.

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