There has been a lot of publicity in the national and trade media about evictions, they are always a flash point but they are actually quite rare. There is protection for the tenants regarding evictions and landlords need to understand the situation before proceeding legally. You will need to issue a Section 21 or Section 8 notice before you can proceed with an eviction.
If the tenant – landlord relationship just doesn’t work out
You won’t be able to evict the tenant during the tenancy unless they have breached a covenant – that is, unless they have done something that they promised not to as part of your tenancy agreement. If they have not breached a covenant, you will have to wait until the end of the assured shorthold tenancy to get your property back, unless you can both agree an early termination.
Evicting the tenant yourself by changing the locks or removing the tenant’s belongings (or instructing someone else to do so) is a criminal offence under the Protection from Eviction Act 1977.
If the tenant does not pay the rent
If the tenant owes two months’ rent or more, you can take them to court. You will be guaranteed possession of your property providing they still have rent arrears of at least two months at the time of going to court. You should get a court hearing within one or two months of your application, and the Judge will then grant you possession of your property within 14 to 42 days.
If the tenant has rent arrears of less than two months, or if they are consistently late with their payments, you can still take them to court. However, in such cases it is up to the Judge whether or not to grant you possession of your property. ‘Eviction’ is not guaranteed.
If the tenant damages the property
You can take the tenant to court for a breach of covenant, but you would need to prove that you told the tenant in writing how they broke the tenancy agreement and asked them to put the breach right before taking any legal action against them.
Even if you have this evidence, eviction is not guaranteed. A Judge may just place an order on the tenant to put matters right rather than give you possession.
It’s hard to say how likely it is that a Judge would grant you possession of your property if a tenant damaged it. The Judge is likely to take into account what type of damage has been caused, how it has been caused, the length of the tenancy and the type and number of tenants.
You should think carefully and take advice before deciding to start court proceedings.
This is one of the 50 most asked questions in our book: Landlord Intelligence.