What to do when evicting a tenant
Talk to your tenant
It is always better to resolve disputes without the need for court action. First see if you can reach an agreement with your tenant or help them establish a plan for repaying any rent arrears. Make sure you keep a log of any correspondence and that any agreement reached is recorded in writing.
Check which eviction process to take
When considering the process of eviction, there are two possibilities for terminating a tenancy in England and Wales:
- Section 8 Notice: where the tenant has broken the terms of the tenancy
- Section 21 Notice: if you want your property back after the fixed term has ended
To give your tenants notice using a Section 8, you must fill in a Notice seeking possession of a property let on an assured tenancy or an assured agricultural occupancy. You can give between two weeks’ and two months’ notice depending on which terms of the tenancy they have broken. You can apply to the court for a possession order if your tenant doesn’t leave by the specified date.
You can issue a Section 21 notice if your tenant has either:
- A written agreement with a fixed-term which has ended
- An oral or written ‘periodic’ agreement with no specified fixed end date
When issuing a Section 21 notice, you must provide your tenant with at least two months’ notice to vacate the property—you can create a notice by filling in Form 6a. This applies to all tenancies, regardless of their commencement date. To serve a Section 21, you must have also provided your tenant with an up-to-date Gas Safety Certificate, Energy Performance Certificate, Prescribed Information and a copy of the Government's How to rent guide.
It's essential you keep proof of the notice you gave to your tenant, either by completing Form N215: Certificate of service or by writing 'served by [your name] on [the date]' on the notice. If your tenant doesn’t leave by the specified date, you can use your completed Form N215 or notice to apply for an accelerated possession order.
Eviction changes due to coronavirus
Across the UK, each nation has produced updated guidance on evictions during the Covid-19 outbreak. In all cases this includes an extension of the notice period for evictions.
- The notice period has been increased to six months.
- Government has encouraged landlords to pause eviction proceedings where possible.
Scotland and Wales
- In most cases landlords must now give tenants six months’ notice.
- In Scotland, a new law has made all grounds for eviction discretionary. This allows tribunals to consider the impact of coronavirus before issuing an eviction order.
- Landlords must now give 12 weeks' advance notice in writing before the date tenants have to leave.
- Landlords or letting agents cannot force tenants to leave rented homes during the coronavirus outbreak.
Last updated: September 2020
What not to do when evicting a tenant
Neglect your obligations
You must make sure your end of the tenancy agreement has been upheld. Landlord obligations such as maintenance still need to be diligently addressed, failure on your part could result in legal action.
Change the locks
Entering the property to change the locks without notice and prior to the tenant vacating the premises is a criminal offence which could lead to a hefty fine or even imprisonment.
Remove the tenant's belongings from the property
Holding a tenant’s belongings hostage in lieu of unpaid rent, or removing it from the property before the tenant has left is also a criminal offence where you could be heavily penalised. Failing to return a tenant's possessions could result in prosecution.
Shut off the utilities
Switching off the utilities such as gas, water, electricity would be a mig mistake. As a landlord, you need to fulfil your legal obligations and shutting off a tenant’s water supply could result in criminal action.
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