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How to evict a tenant who causes problems

What do you do as a landlord when your tenant, who seemed fine at outset, then turns out to give you problems. Such as not paying their rent, rubbish piling up at the front of the property or in the garden, loud music being played at all hours of the night, moving in extra tenants without the landlord’s consent. And all this is before the landlord even gets to see what the tenant might have done to the inside of the property?

If the landlord has been unfortunate enough to have a poor quality tenant, then it is important to remember that there are legal steps the landlord can follow to get the tenant out of their property.

The cheapest way to evict a tenant in the UK is to issue a ‘Section 21’ notice. The landlord must serve this notice at least two months before they wish to re-take possession of the property and therefore this can be a slow process. It must be in writing and state the date in which the landlord will take possession of the property.

If the tenant refuses to move out after receiving the Section 21 notice, then a landlord needs to apply to the Court to obtain a ‘Possession Order’. If the tenancy is an ‘Assured Shorthold Tenancy’ also known as an AST, (the most common type, and the structure of all tenancies that started on or after 15th January 1989), then the landlord needs to have served a Section 21 notice and have the grounds the seek the eviction of the tenant before applying to the Court for a Possession Order.grounds to seek eviction of the tenant.

If the landlord is anxious to get rid of a tenant who is in arrears of several months rent or is causing a lot of damage to the property, then the landlord may be able to use the Accelerated Possession Procedure to gain occupation quicker. However, the Accelerated Possession Procedure does not always a quicker route to get rid of the tenant and this route can often take just as long, (if not longer) as the traditional route.

To apply to the court for Accelerated Possession, the landlord still needs to serve a Section 21 Notice two months before the date they wish to take possession. The reason the procedure is ‘accelerated’ is rather than require a court hearing, the Judge will make his or her decision based on the paperwork provided by your solicitor. However, delays can occur when the paperwork is not correct, or the tenant submits a credible defence to the reasons cited for eviction.

If either of these factors occurs the Judge may set a date for a hearing, or dismiss the application altogether, (forcing the Landlord to start again with the serving of a Section 21 Notice).

However, if all goes well, the landlord will receive and order for possession and the tenant will be required to pay the landlord’s court costs.

Once the possession order is granted, notice will be served on the tenant by the Court. If he or she fails to leave the property, the Court can send a bailiff to the premises to remove the tenant. However, it is important to note that this can take up to four to eight weeks, especially in the Greater London area, due to the increasing workloads of the court bailiffs. During this time as a landlord the tenant is very unlikely to be paid any rent.

Where the tenant uses every trick in the book to delay or circumvent a possession order, the landlord can apply to transfer the enforcement of a Possession Order obtained at the County Court via to the High Court. If successful, a High Court Sheriff will turn up on the tenant’s doorstep within seven days of the writ being issued, without any prior notice given. They also have the power to seize goods if rent arrears are owned.

High Court Sheriffs are more expensive than County Court bailiffs, but the landlord may find, when weighing up the loss of rental income, coupled with the personal stress experienced waiting for a bailiff to execute his or her duties, the cost may well be worth it. Evicting a bad quality tenant is not a straight-forward process, but with good legal advice the procedure can run smoothly and efficiently.