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Giving Notice to a Tenant- How to Evict a tenant

One of the most stressful and challenging aspects of being a responsible residential landlord is the eviction of a tenant. 

 The reality is that many landlords are left with no option but to seek repossession of their property, due to non-payment of rent, subletting without permission, non-repair of damage, or another breach of their tenancy agreement terms. This leaves them asking 'How can I evict a tenant without things getting ugly?'
 
In this article, we will outline how to evict a tenant if they are subject to an assured shorthold tenancy agreement, including giving notice to a tenant, the difference between a section 21 and section 8 notice, and whether you will be required to attend Court.

Remember, if you are in any doubt, seek the advice of a specialist landlord and tenant Solicitor or a property dispute solicitor on how to evict a tenant; if you do not follow the correct process for removal of a tenant, you may face legal action for harassment or illegal eviction.

04 July 2019
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Giving Notice to a Tenant: Should I Issue a Section 21 or Section 8 Notice?

A Section 21 notice can be served on a tenant to legally request them to leave your property assuming they have either reached the end of a fixed term, or a periodic tenancy is in place. This method of servicing notice does not require the tenant to have breached the terms of their agreement.  In addition, a Section 21 notice cannot be used in all circumstances; for example, it cannot be issued in the first four months of a tenancy.  It should also be noted that under the new Tenancy Fees Act 2019, a landlord cannot issue a Section 21 notice if they owe the tenant any fees which were received unlawfully.  We recommend checking the government’s guidance on this matter before proceeding  and giving notice to a tenant. 

A Section 8 notice can be issued at any time in the event the tenant has gone into rent arrears, has caused damage to the property, has become a nuisance to their neighbours, or has breached the terms of their agreement in another way.
 
A landlord may decide to serve a Section 21 and Section 8 notice at the same time – i.e. if the fixed term has ended and there are grounds for breach of the tenancy contract.

How do I Give Notice to a Tenant Correctly?

Regardless of the option/s selected, it is essential that landlords issue them in a legally valid manner, or they may become unenforceable.  Even by not spelling the name correctly, or omitting the address, the notice may be deemed legally invalid.  
 
Section 8 notices, in particular, require very careful attention when being completed.  You must make sure it contains the correct grounds for possession and robust reasons why you are using these grounds; you may be asked to provide evidence why you have selected each.  

If you are in any doubt over the completion of a Section 8 notice, or how to give notice to a tenant in general, it is highly recommended you seek the guidance of a specialist residential property Solicitor who can ensure it is correct before being served.  They understand what the Court will expect you to show in order to prove grounds for possession.

Will I need to attend Court to gain possession of my property?

In most cases, the serving of a Section 21 notice on a tenant to vacate will not require a Court hearing.  If tenants have not vacated by the date of expiry of the notice and assuming you are not claiming for rent arrears at the same time (this can be done separately if needed), the accelerated possession process can then be used to secure a possession order.  This faster process does not typically require you to attend a Court although a judge may in limited circumstances request a short hearing.
 
If you are using the Section 8 route, you should be aware the process may take longer than when issuing a Section 21 notice; this is because there is no accelerated process, and a small hearing is typically requested.  This will then lead to a final possession order assuming the judge does not use their discretion to give the tenant an opportunity to re-establish regular payments in line with the assured shorthold tenancy agreement (in which case, they may issue a suspended order for possession).  
 

Final words- How to Evict a Tenant

For landlords faced with a growing backlog of rent arrears, the Section 8 route can take longer overall, but it offers the prospect of gaining back your property in addition to the monies you are owed.  If, on the other hand, your priority is less about money and more about repossession, Section 21 notice provides a faster route.  It is highly beneficial for landlords to discuss their matter with a residential property Solicitor who can explain their options and recommend an optimal legal strategy.  Ultimately, most landlords just want the matter over with as soon as possible in a way which protects their business interests – making the right decisions at the outset will ensure you can achieve this.
 
Note: The government announced in June 2019 that section 21 notices would be banned.  There is no coming into force date as yet; however, as soon as we know more, we will update you via a blog post.

Guillaumes LLP law firm in Weybridge are experts in residential property. If you're in need of a property dispute lawyer or a commercial property solicitor, Guillaumes LLP will be happy to assist you. Contact us today for more information.