Tenant eviction – a complete guide for residential landlords
At Willans our tenant eviction solicitors can provide residential landlords with specialist advice and expertise to help landlords with their rental property.
In this guide we answer some questions commonly asked by landlords as well as take you through the process of how we can help you to remove troublesome tenants in a cost-effective manner.
Our solicitors have many years’ experience in advising residential landlords on the tenant eviction process and are able to offer fixed fees at every stage so you are aware of how much the eviction process is likely to cost. The right guidance will maximise your chances of making a successful claim and recovering your property in an as quick and stress-free way as humanly possible.
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Click on the links below to jump to the different questions.
- What is the easiest way to evict a tenant?
- What happens if a tenant refuses to leave my property?
- Evicting tenants by serving a Section 21 notice; what is it and why use it?
- What is a Section 8 notice and why would you use this as part of the eviction process?
- How long does it take to get a tenant evicted?
- How can I get rid of a tenant without going to court?
- Do I need a solicitor to evict a tenant?
- How much does it cost to evict a tenant?
- Can a tenant sue for being evicted?
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What is the easiest way to evict a tenant?
The most ideal way to recover possession of your property is by agreement with the tenant and then the tenant vacating the rental voluntarily. This doesn’t always go to plan and often residential landlords need to take further measures to recover their rental property.
If you need a possession order to help evict a tenant, then the easiest way to proceed is usually by serving a section 21 notice.
What happens if a tenant refuses to leave my property?
If a tenant refuses to leave after expiry of a valid notice, you will need to get a court order to evict them. This is done by following the formal possession proceedings process. If your application is successful, the court will then grant a possession order.
If the tenant still refuses to leave, you will then need to apply for a warrant of possession. This, if granted, allows you to utilise bailiffs to recover possession of your property. At this stage you may choose to use High Court enforcement officers, as they can be quicker at recovering possession of a property than a county court bailiff.
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Evicting tenants by serving a Section 21 notice; what is it and why use it?
The two most common paths when seeking to recover possession of your property is to evict your tenants using a formal notice under either Section 8 or Section 21. In this section our tenant eviction solicitors provide guidance on the process when serving a section 21 notice.
Section 21 eviction notice
A section 21 eviction is often referred to as a “no fault” eviction. Section 21 notices do not require a reason for you to seek possession, merely that the fixed term has expired and that you have complied with all of your obligations as a landlord.
What are the advantages in serving this type of notice?
- Speed – Section 21 possession applications are dealt with under what is called the “Accelerated Possession Procedure”. This allows the court to deal with non-contested applications without a hearing. It is all handled by paper correspondence so there is less delay.
- Certainty – If you have complied with all of your obligations as a landlord, and the notice that you have issued is in the correct form and is valid, the court is obligated to order that possession of the property is returned to you if an application is made under Section 21.
- Cost – As the application for possession is generally dealt with on paper alone, the legal costs incurred are generally lower. This is on the assumption that the application is not contested.
What are the disadvantages?
- Length of notice period – Under the current rules a minimum four-month notice period must be provided for a Section 21 notice.
- Risk of non-compliance – For a Section 21 notice to be valid it is essential that you have complied with all your landlord obligations. If it later becomes apparent that you need to remedy something, you will need to start again with a new notice.
- No monetary claim – If you bring a claim under Section 21 you cannot claim for any arrears of rent or other funds which the tenant may owe you.
- Invalid notices – In addition to your obligations as a landlord, there are a variety of other factors that could make your notice invalid, such as an improvement notice or affixing the wrong date on the notice. These would prevent you being able to rely on the notice, or gain possession.
Steps we take to help you with tenant eviction services under a Section 21 notice:
To ensure that you have the best prospects of success with evicting your tenant and recovering possession of your property under Section 21, we will:
Step 1: Review your documents and advise you on how to comply with your obligations
Step 2: Remedy any defects (if required and possible)
Step 3: Prepare and serve the Section 21 notice
Step 4: Preparation of application for possession (accelerated possession proceedings)
Step 5: Enforcement (if required).
We offer a variety of competitively priced fixed fee services for removing tenants by a Section 21 process.
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What is a Section 8 notice and why would you use this as part of the eviction process?
Another option available to residential landlords is by serving a Section 8 eviction notice. In this section our experienced tenant eviction solicitors cover off tips about when residential landlords may use this service.
Section 8 eviction notice
A Section 8 notice or eviction is most commonly used where a tenant has breached the tenancy in some way. The most common breach tends to be when tenants are not paying rent, but the notice can also be used if they are causing anti-social behaviour. Alternatively, a residential landlord may use it to recover possession of a property that they once lived in.
What are the advantages in serving this type of notice?
- Length of notice period – Depending upon the level of rent arrears or grounds you are seeking possession under, a Section 8 notice can be effective from the day after the notice has been served to the tenant and up to four months from the same date.
- Recovery of money – If you bring court proceedings based on a Section 8 notice you can include a claim for unpaid rent. This means that you can seek to recover your rent arrears as part of the same claim, without the need for separate proceedings.
- Flexibility of landlord obligations – If you have not complied with all of your landlord obligations, a Section 8 notice may still allow you to issue a notice to evict tenants from your rental property, despite your breaches. However, you should be aware that these breaches can carry penalties which may be offset against funds claimed from your tenant.
- Settlement – With this type of notice you may be able to reach a settlement on any breaches caused by your tenant outside of court. This could make the process a lot cheaper and less stressful for both the landlord and the tenant.
What are the disadvantages?
- Cost – A Section 8 application is much more detailed than a Section 21 application. It typically needs witness evidence and other documentation prepared, and a court hearing is almost always required. These factors tend to mean that evicting tenants to recover your property is often a more expensive route through a Section 8 process compared with a Section 21 application.
- Time delays – As a Section 8 application is dealt with at a court hearing you can risk facing substantial delays with the court process so a Section 8 application can take longer to resolve.
- Proof – With a Section 8 application you must prove to the court that you meet the requirements of the relevant grounds that you are applying under, such as a tenant’s failure to pay rent. The court has wide discretion as to whether they will support your claim to recover your property.
Steps we take to help you with tenant eviction services under a Section 8 notice:
With any Section 8 notice we would discuss the grounds of your claim and the relevant notice periods to ensure that you have the best prospects of success. We will take the following steps to recover possession of your property under Section 8 and can help you with all or various stages depending on your need:
Step 1: Review of documents and advice on complying with your landlord obligations
Step 2: Remedying any defects (if required and possible)
Step 3: Preparing rent schedule (if relevant)
Step 4: Preparation and service of Section 8 notice
Step 5: Preparation of application for possession
Step 6: Preparation of witness statement and exhibits
Step 7: Enforcing the order (if required).
We offer a variety of competitively priced fixed services to help landlords remove a tenant using a Section 8 route starting from as little as £99 + VAT. We can help you with any of the steps mentioned above.
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How long does it take to get a tenant evicted?
At the time of writing the court is still dealing with a backlog caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, so progress at the court is slower than normal. Generally, excluding the notice period, solicitors specialising in tenant eviction would expect an application under Section 21 to take about 1-2 months and an application under Section 8 to take about 2-3 months, if the application is not contested. If it is contested, it can take a lot longer.
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How can I get rid of a tenant without going to court?
Some tenants do leave by consent. However, if your tenant does not leave by consent you will require a court order and potentially a warrant of possession to force the tenant to leave your property.
It is a two-way street and you cannot control how your tenant will react to the news on hearing you want them to leave your rental property which they may ultimately see it as their home. Sometimes it is easier to be one step removed from the process by allowing professionals like our specialist tenant eviction solicitors handle the application process for you. Depending on your grounds, we will first try to resolve the matter without the need for court.
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Do I need a solicitor to evict a tenant?
You don’t need to use a solicitor to recover possession of your property as people can deal with the court directly, however, there are a signification number of obligations and rules that need to be met before a valid notice can be given to a tenant to end your tenancy.
We strongly recommend using an experienced tenant eviction solicitor at an early stage, even if it is just to have an initial review and to draft the correct notices. They handle these types of claims day in, day out and are able to advise you on the best course of action to help you get your property back.
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How much does it cost to evict a tenant?
The cost to evict a tenant can vary significantly depending on the reason for seeking the eviction, what defence support the tenant may have in place, and the need for one or multiple court hearings.
Assuming it is not contested, on average, a residential landlord should budget around £1,000 – £1,200 + VAT for a possession order under Section 21.
A section 8 application is more time consuming and therefore tends to be more costly. We estimate between £1,250 – £1,400 + VAT for a non-contested possession order under Section 8.
If a claim was contested, the costs could be much higher, especially if multiple hearings are required to resolve the matter.
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Can a tenant sue for being evicted?
If a residential landlord has complied with all of their obligations, serves the correct order, gets a court order, warrant and appoints a bailiff then the landlord cannot generally be criticised by the courts or sued by the tenant.
However, if a landlord breaches their obligations to a tenant, or forcibly evicts, they could be sued a substantial sum or even receive a custodial sentence. We always recommend you seek professional legal advice to help mitigate these risks.
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How we can help
As a landlord, you may have a variety of issues with your tenant or tenants. These issues could include:
- evicting your tenant
- anti-social behaviour
- damage to your property
- deposit disputes
- dilapidation claims
- disputes over payment of rent
- disrepair claims
- pets in your property
- recovering possession of your property.
At Willans, we have a team of landlord and tenant property specialists who are ready to assist you. If you are residential landlord in need of tenant eviction solicitors please do not hesitate to contact us. Our experienced solicitors will approach any issue you face with a commercial approach and will help you to resolve the dispute in the most effective and cost-effective way.Contact us
Disclaimer: Please note that this page is for guidance only and does not replace legal advice. Speak to us if you seek advice, we’d be delighted to help you resolve your dispute.