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What do I need to do to evict a tenant?
Unless your tenant is willing to leave by mutual consent, you will need to follow the correct legal process. This always starts by serving notice on the tenant. If the tenant remains in the property after the notice has expired, you will need to issue Court proceedings to obtain an order for possession, which will require the tenant to move out by a certain date. If the tenant is still there after that, a warrant for possession authorising a Court bailiff to take possession of the property will need to be obtained. We can serve a fully compliant notice on your behalf.
Can’t I just throw them out?
No. It is a criminal offence to evict a residential tenant without due process of law. In serious cases, unlawful eviction can carry a prison sentence.
It is also an offence to interfere with the tenant’s occupation of the premises, even if you have asked them to leave. For example, you are not allowed to turn up at the property unannounced (genuine emergencies excepted), try to prevent the tenant from getting in our out of the property or interfere with the utility supplies.
Only a Court bailiff acting in accordance with a warrant can forcibly gain entry.
How long does it take to evict a tenant?
We always work as fast as the system will allow us to get your property back as quickly as possible. Our average timescale for removing a residential tenant is between 3 and 4 months, but this can vary, as it depends on a number of factors.
The reality is that evicting a tenant can be a lengthy process and you should be wary of anyone who promises you that they can do it quickly regardless of the circumstances.
Some tenants move out just days after we have served the notice requiring possession but others, for various reasons, do not. The first step is to wait for the notice to expire, which generally speaking is around 2 months, before issuing a claim at Court.
The length of the Court proceedings vary from Court to Court but as a rule, the hearing will take place between 4 and 8 weeks after the claim is issued. At the hearing, the Court will usually make an order for possession, which takes effect in between 2 and 6 weeks. However, if the tenant raises a defence to the claim, the matter may be adjourned to a later hearing. We are experienced in spotting where tenants are likely to defend claims and can normally advise you on how to prevent this but if you think the tenant might have grounds to defend the claim, it is important to address this before commencing formal action.
It may be quicker for you to use the accelerated possession procedure which enables the Court in some circumstances to grant possession without the need for a hearing. We will advise you on whether this is an option before starting your claim.
If a warrant for possession is needed after the date set by the Court for the tenant to move out has passed, the eviction date will normally be between 2 and 4 weeks after applying for the warrant. Again, this varies from Court to Court.
What information do you need from me?
We will need to see a copy of all tenancy agreements which you have entered into with your tenant in relation to the property in question, together with copies of all renewal agreements. If there is a bond, we will normally ask you to confirm what arrangements you have made to protect it, including the scheme used and the date it was registered. If you are the landlord of a House of Multiple Occupancy, there may be additional documentary requirements which we will let you know about if necessary.
If any of the above information is not available, don’t panic, there is often a way around the problem. Just give us a call and we can advise.
I haven’t registered the bond, is that a problem?
If you collected a bond on or after 6th April 2007, you are obliged to register it using an approved tenancy deposit scheme within 14 days and to notify the tenant of the details of the scheme within 14 days of registering the bond. Failure to do either of these things could result in you being ordered to pay a substantial amount of compensation to your tenant. What’s more, failure to comply with the requirements can render a possession notice invalid, meaning that possession proceedings can take longer and be costlier.
There is no written tenancy agreement in place, can you still help?
Yes – we will just need to get some additional information from you. Please give us a call to discuss.
My tenant owes me several hundred pounds in unpaid rent, what can I do?
It is usually possible to seek a Court Judgment for rent arrears at the same time as applying to the Court for an Order for Possession. We will arrange for this to be done where appropriate. We are specialists in all kinds of debt recovery and can also help if the tenant has left the property and still owes a substantial amount of rent.
What if the tenant has damaged the property before leaving?
The legal position is that you would usually be entitled to recover your losses – e.g. cleaning the property and repairing broken or damaged items – from the tenant. Often, any bond held can be kept as part-payment towards these costs. It may also be worth involving the police in cases of serious criminal damage of theft of your belongings.
I am a solicitor looking for a local agent to represent my client at a hearing in South Wales. Can you help?
Absolutely, we can normally offer a competitive fixed fee for landlord and tenant work. Call us today to discuss your requirements.
The guidance on this website is for guidance purposes only and is not intended to constitute legal advice. HardingEvans cannot held be responsible for any action taken in reliance on any of the information contained herein and in the event you are unsure as to your position, you should always seek legal advice with reference to the particular circumstances of your case.