Guide to Evicting a Tenant
Its a harsh reality for landlords that every now and then things do not work out. Your job as a landlord is to act swiftly so that you can re-let your property as soon as possible.
As in most things, prevention is better than cure which is why screening your tenants and getting references and a healthy deposit at the outset are essential. But, the fact that you are reading this means something has probably already gone wrong and you need to know what to do next.
The landlord’s legal right to evict a tenant depends on the nature of the tenancy agreement signed between the two parties. In most cases, they need to follow a set number of laws and rules to make their tenants move out of their property. Ignoring these rules may cut against the landlord in the court of law, giving the tenants the right to remain in their rented house on the grounds of illegal eviction procedure, even if fundamentally you had a right to evict them!
Common reasons for evicting a tenant
- The tenant not being able to pay the rent consistently
- The tenant breaking the tenancy agreement in some serious way
- The tenant causing damage to the landlord’s property
- The tenant disturbing the neighbourhood or showing antisocial behaviour
- The tenant carrying out any illegal activity (e.g. drug dealing) within the rented property
For a breach of the tenancy agreement you will need a section 8 Notice.
Evicting assured shorthold tenants
An assured shorthold tenancy agreement gives the landlord legal rights to evict their tenants provided the former follows the proper rules.
- Fixed term assured shorthold tenancy: Tenants who pay rent to a private landlord, have exclusive rights to the rented property and hold an agreement with a starting date after the 28th of February 1997, that runs for a fixed period of time
- Periodic assured shorthold tenancy: Tenants who have a private landlord along with exclusive rights to the rented property and an assured shorthold tenancy agreement that is valid on a periodic basis depending on rent payment (month to month or week to week)
Both the fixed term and periodic assured shorthold agreement require the landlord to give their tenant a written eviction notice asking them to leave the rented property within a certain amount of time (two months according to a Section 21 notice). The periodic assured shorthold tenants have limited rights compared to the fixed term tenants, so the eviction process is often relatively easier for the landlord.
If the tenants refuse to leave even after the end of the prescribed notice period, the landlord can take the next legal steps of getting a court order through a possession hearing.
Evicting assured tenants
Tenants who moved in the rented property between the 15th of January 1989 and 27th of February 1997, having a private landlord and exclusive rights to their rented house are generally considered assured tenants. A tenant is also considered an assured tenant if they have a written assured tenancy contract from their landlord.
- Assured tenants have strong legal tenancy rights, so the landlord can only evict an assured tenant on grounds proven in the court of law.
- The landlord must send a written eviction notice to their tenant, stating the grounds on which they are claiming possession as well as the earliest dates when court action may begin
- The eviction notice must also state a notice period within which the tenant has to either pay the rent or move out. The notice period provided usually range between 2 weeks and 2 months, but can be shorter depending on the reason of eviction
The landlord can take further legal action if the tenant remains in the rented house after the notice period ends.
Evicting regulated tenants
A tenant who moved into a rented property before the 15th of January 1989 and who pays their rent to a private landlord usually holds a regulated tenancy agreement.
- Regulated tenants are private tenants with strong tenancy rights so the landlord can only evict them on legally proven grounds.
- The landlord must send an eviction notice stating the notice period and the grounds on which the eviction is sought.
Evicting excluded occupiers
Excluded occupiers generally have limited tenancy rights with the landlord often not even requiring an eviction order from court to evict their tenants. Excluded occupiers do not have exclusive rights to their rented property and can be evicted by the landlord after serving them with a reasonable notice period.
Secure and flexible council tenancy
Secure council tenants have strong tenancy rights and cannot be evicted without proven grounds such as not paying the rent or any other bill for a long period or being involved in some criminal activity. Since council tenants do not have a private landlord, the housing association renting out the property must send an eviction notice with a reasonable notice period and obtain an eviction order from the court to proceed with the eviction process.
Most Evictions in the UK relate to Assured Shorthold Tenants. Landlords often choose the DIY approach to this legal process but given the cost of 'downtime', (when for whatever reason rent is not being paid), many landlords choose to pay a solicitor to serve the notices and get the order for them.
You can use our eviction notices now
(A) The tenant(s) have breached the contract and I want them out:
Section 8 Notice to Quit
(B) Other evictions after the fixed term has ended.
Section 21 Notice to Quit