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Evicting Tenants | How to legally evict a tenant in the UK

Posted 28/07/2023 by Reeds Rains
Categories: Landlords/Lettings
Evicting Tenants

The rules for evicting tenants have changed since our last update on this important topic. Following the introduction of the Renters (Reform) Bill in Parliament, some landlords have contacted us to find out whether they can still issue a Section 21 eviction notice to evict a tenant. And the answer is yes; until the Bill has become law – which is unlikely to be for at least another 18 months (see box above) - landlords can continue to evict tenants without having to state a reason by giving two months’ notice via a S21.

However, evicting a tenant is not necessarily easy and if they refuse to leave the property by the date stated in the notice, that’s when it can start to get tricky for landlords. There is a specific legal process that you have to follow in order to get a possession order from a court and if you get any part of it wrong or you have failed to adhere to certain legal responsibilities, you may have to start the process again from scratch and may even be unable to evict the tenant altogether. In addition, if your tenants successfully defend your possession claim in court, you could be ordered to pay their legal costs.

Check you can serve a valid section 21 notice

There are a number of circumstances under which a S21 notice would not be valid, so if you want to evict a tenant that hasn’t breached any of the terms in their Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) – or you would simply prefer to use a S21 rather than a S8 - it’s important to check the following:

  • You have protected the tenant’s deposit as required and provided them with the ‘prescribed information’ relating to the deposit scheme
  • You have provided the tenant with the correct version of the Government’s ‘How to rent’ guide
  • You have provided the tenant with copies of the current Gas Safety certificate (renewed annually) and Energy Performance Certificate (valid for 10 years)
  • You have not charged the tenant any fees that are prohibited under the Tenant Fees Act
  • If the tenant requested repairs to be made and you were issued with a relevant notice by the council, you must have carried out the required works – otherwise, you cannot issue a S21 within six months of that notice
  • The expiry date of the S21 is not within the first 6 months of a tenancy or any fixed term
  • You give the tenant notice in writing by using the government’s form 6a or a letter with all the same information on it

When to evict a tenant via a section 8 notice

If there is a specific reason for the eviction of tenants – e.g. your tenant has broken the terms of their tenancy agreement - a section 8 notice can be issued, with the notice period varying from two weeks to two months, depending on the reason for the eviction. For some of the grounds - in particular ground 8, which is for serious rent arrears - you can serve notice and bring proceedings to evict the tenant before the fixed term has ended, provided your tenancy agreement allows for this. 

You must use the government’s Form 3 and state the ground(s) on which you are evicting the tenant, which may be mandatory, meaning that if the ground is proved, the Judge has no option but to grant a possession order; or discretionary, in which case the Judge can exercise discretion over whether or not to grant the landlord a possession order, even if the facts of the ground are established.  

Should I DIY or use a specialist?

Because of the very specific legal process that has to be followed in order to gain possession, we would recommend that you use a reputable eviction specialist. There are many companies that offer this service, although some are unqualified and do not carry proper insurance, so make sure that any firm you instruct is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority and ideally find one that offers a fixed-fee service.

Of course, you will have to pay an eviction specialist for their service, but if you have taken out our rent protection insurance, that gives you up to £50,000 of cover for the legal cost of regaining possession of your property.

For more information on notice periods and evictions in the different countries of the UK, see our separate article, and you can access the government’s guide on the possession process in England via the GOV.UK website. And if you have any more questions or think you may need to evict a tenant, we’re always here to help - just get in touch with your local Reeds Rains branch and have a chat with one of the team, or access our fully managed landlord services.

The Reeds Rains Content Marketing Team

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