How to Evict a Tenant Checklist

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The first thing you need to work out is why you are evicting the tenant – if you don’t you may end up evicting them with the wrong paperwork resulting in the need to start the whole process again.
The second step is to go through the terms and conditions of the contract you have with your tenant. This will have clauses which explain why and how your tenant can be evicted.
If you haven’t evicted a tenant before, it is wise to get it right first time, especially if they are not paying the rent or are damaging your property – look for a fixed fee service such as Landlord Action.
  Make sure if you are choosing a legal company to evict a tenant they are authorised by the SRA (like Landlord Action) and able to carry out all services from issuing notices to evict through to collecting unpaid rent. 
  Most tenancy agreements these days are ‘assured shorthold tenancy’ (AST) agreements.  This means you would evict a tenant through a ‘Section 21’ (non-fault based possession) or a ‘Section 8’ (which allows you to seek possession under specific grounds, such as rent arrears or anti-social behaviour).
  If you have taken a deposit from the tenant, you can only serve notice to quit if you have legally protected their deposit in one of the government schemes, such as the Tenancy Deposit Scheme.
  If you just want the property back and your tenant has lived there for more than the six-month fixed time period given by an AST, then you just need to send them a ‘Section 21’ notice. This does not require you to give any reason as to why you have asked them leave, but will require you to give them two months’ notice. 

If you signed a tenancy agreement or renewal agreement with your tenant after 1st October 2015, you must now comply with parts of the Deregulation Act 2015 in order to be able to serve a valid Section 21 notice. 

You must be able prove that you provided your tenant with an EPC, Gas Safety Certificate and the government’s ‘How to Rent’ guide prior to the start of the tenancy. Any non-compliance with this requirement renders a section 21 notice ineffective.

There is now a new section 21 notice (prescribed form 6a) which combines the two former section 21 notices (Section 21a periodic and section 21b fixed-term) into a single use notice for both fixed-term and periodic tenancies.  The old Section 21 notices can only be used on tenancies which started prior to 1st October 2015.

From 1st October 2015, you can no longer serve a section 21 notice within the first four months of the contractual term of the tenancy.

A section 21 notice now also has a lifespan.  Once a Section 21 notice has been given under a fixed term AST or a periodic AST, possession proceedings must be started within 6 months of the date the notice was given. Failure to do this will result in the possession notice becoming invalid and a new one being required.

In some cases, it is possible to get ‘accelerated possession’ – this can be within 14 days, or take as long as 42 working days, but this depends on your circumstances and it is worth taking professional advice. You can call Landlord Action on 020 8906 3838 and discuss whether this is possible.
If you use a Section 8, you can issue this at any time and, depending on why it is being issued, the tenant will need two weeks to two months to quit.
The notice to quit is important. It must be in writing and give the tenant at least two months from the date it is served until the date you want the tenant to leave.  This date must be AFTER the six months fixed tenancy term offered by an AST. Check to see if the tenancy falls under the rules of the Deregulation Act or not.
If your tenant decides not to leave, you will have to apply to the courts.  This can cost hundreds of pounds and take a few months, so be prepared for a battle.  However, or they may just leave before/on the court date.
If the tenant doesn’t give a reason or a defence as to why they should stay, then the court will grant you ‘possession’ and give a date for the tenant to leave.  
If the tenant does not leave by the date given, you must then apply for a bailiff to be present to ensure the tenant leaves.
The bailiff is the one person who can remove the tenant and their belongings. In some cases, if the tenant has left but left their belongings, then it is wise to hold them in storage for a reasonable time period. Take photographic evidence and an inventory of their belongings, as well as written evidence that you tried to contact them, so they have no claim against you.


All our information is brought to you by Kate Faulkner, author of
Which? Property books and one of the UK's top property experts.
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