What Documents Do I Need to Evict a Tenant? (UK)

Evicting tenants is often a complex process. In the UK, the procedures and legal requirements are stringent and designed to protect both tenant and landlord rights. 

Landlords operating under Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) agreements should have a clear roadmap of the eviction process. In the following guide, we explain this and the documentation involved, ensuring you are prepared and informed at every step of the process.

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The grounds for eviction

Landlords must establish a clear and legitimate reason for evicting a tenant before they can do so in compliance with the law. The AST agreement, which is the most common type of tenancy in the UK, stipulates specific grounds upon which a landlord can initiate eviction:

  • Rent arrears: if a tenant has fallen behind on rent for a specified amount of time, typically two months or more.
  • Breach of tenancy agreement: if a tenant breaches other terms of the agreement (e.g., causing damage to the property, using the property for illegal purposes).
  • Property required for landlord's use: if the landlord requires the property for their own use, or for a family member.
  • Repossession by a lender: if the property is subject to a mortgage, the lender may need to repossess it.
  • Nuisance or annoyance: if the tenant is causing a nuisance to neighbours or using the property for illegal or immoral purposes.

Other examples include cases where a tenant gave false information as part of the tenancy agreement, breached the UK's immigration rules, or the property needs significant renovations or repairs. In this last case, the landlord may need to provide accommodation for the tenant for the duration of the tenancy or until the work is finished and the property becomes habitable.

Initial documentation and preparation

Before initiating the eviction process, landlords must ensure that all necessary documents are in order. Proper documentation supports the legitimacy of the eviction and helps to streamline the process. Here is a checklist of the initial documents you may need:

  1. Valid Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) agreement: when agreeing to a tenancy, you should create a formal tenancy agreement document. This contract outlines the terms and conditions of the tenancy and is important for any legal proceedings. A written tenancy agreement is not necessary for all tenancies, but you may find the eviction process more difficult without one.
  2. Rent records: keep comprehensive records of all rent payments, highlighting any arrears or late payments. This is particularly important if eviction is being considered due to rent issues.
  3. Communication records: document all correspondence with the tenant, including emails, letters, and notes from phone calls. This could be vital if you need to prove that you've given the tenant notices or warnings related to the eviction grounds.
  4. Property inspection reports: regular property inspections and maintenance records can prove any property damage or if the condition of the property is disputed.
  5. Deposit protection documentation: a tenant's deposit should be protected in a government-approved scheme, and you should have provided the prescribed information to the tenant.
  6. HMO license: if the property is a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO), ensure that you have a valid HMO license.
  7. Right to Rent checks: have records of the checks you conducted to ensure the tenant has the right to rent in the UK.
  8. Energy Performance Certificate (EPC), Gas Safety Certificate, and Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR): these must be up to date, and you should provide copies to the tenant.

Having these documents organised and accessible will not only support your position but also ensure compliance with legal requirements, making the subsequent steps of the eviction process smoother.

Eviction notices

Before formally starting the eviction process, landlords must serve their tenants with a preliminary eviction notice. The type of notice depends on the grounds for eviction, which may be:

  1. A Section 21 Notice (no-fault eviction): this notice can be used to evict tenants after a fixed-term tenancy ends or during a tenancy with no fixed end date (a 'periodic' tenancy), without providing any reason for eviction. Landlords must provide tenants with a minimum of two months' notice. Additionally, certain prerequisites, such as providing an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC), Gas Safety Certificate, and How to Rent guide, must be met before issuing a Section 21 notice.
  2. A Section 8 Notice (fault-based eviction): this notice is used when a tenant has breached the tenancy agreement (e.g., rent arrears, damage to the property, antisocial behaviour). The specific grounds for eviction must be cited in the notice. The notice period varies depending on the eviction grounds cited; it can be as short as two weeks or as long as two months.

Serving the correct notice is vital to the success of the eviction process. The notices must be correctly filled out and served in accordance with legal requirements. Doing so properly sets the foundation for any potential legal proceedings and ensures that the process adheres to legal standards, protecting the rights of both landlord and tenant.

For help and advice on arranging the necessary documents to evict a tenant, speak to AST Assistance. We can guide you through the entire process of eviction to ensure it is as smooth as possible. To learn more about our service, simply call AST Assistance today on 01706 619954, or visit our contact page for more details.

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