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What can go wrong if I do Eviction Notices myself?

By Tessa Shepperson on 27/08/2014 with comments

One of the main reasons why landlords have their eviction proceedings chucked out of court is errors in the notice. Sometimes the errors seem minor and landlords are amazed that something so small can cost them their claim.

However Judges take a very serious view of eviction proceedings. If the landlord succeeds, the tenants may be made homeless. This will significantly impact on them and their ability to lead a normal life. For example if they are unemployed it will dramatically reduce their chances of ever getting another job.

It is not surprising therefore that before making an order which can have such a detrimental effect, Judges expect the landlord to at least get his paperwork right.

So what can go wrong?

All sorts of things but here are some examples:

Using the wrong notice

You have to serve the correct notice for the type of procedure you intend to use to evict your tenant. So

  • A section 8 notice will need to give at least two weeks’ notice for ‘bad tenant’ grounds (such as rent arrears) and at least two months for other grounds
  • An old style notice to quit will need to give a notice period of not less than 28 days, and may require more depending on when it is served and the type of tenancy involved

Issuing proceedings too soon

Another related problem is issuing proceedings before the notice period has expired. This will invariably result in the court dismissing the claim - they will not allow the proceedings to be 'stayed' until the notice period has expired.

So you will waste time and money - and you may be ordered to pay your tenants' 'wasted costs' if they use solicitors.

You may say “How can I issue proceedings too soon when it is written down in the notice?” However many notices use 'saving clauses' which provide for the expiry date of the notice to be worked out in a different way if the date on the notice is incorrect.

If you do not realise that the date on your notice is incorrect, then even though the notice may be 'saved' you will still lose your case if you issue proceedings before the 'proper' expiry date.

Not using a standard form

Some landlords are so clueless that they do not realise that there are proper forms you need to use. Just sending a letter requiring the tenant to vacate is not enough and will have no legal significance.

For example:

  • A section 8 notice has a prescribed format. If any of the notices and bullet points are left off then the form will be invalid
  • A Notice to Quit must include statutory wording and again will be invalid if this is left off
  • Even a section 21 notice, which does not have a prescribed form or wording, has information set out in the governing legislation which needs to be included and so it is best to use one of the professionally drafted forms.

This all sounds very worrying but if you take care and follow advice there is no reason why (if you are a landlord) you should not serve your own notices perfectly properly. Many landlords do. So for example if you use the notices on this site and follow the guidance you should be fine.

But if it is something you have not done before - be careful and make sure you read the guidance notes in full before you start.