How to evict your tenants

How to evict your tenants

Help – how do I evict my tenants

A couple of weeks ago, I blogged about retaliatory evictions by landlords. But there may come a time in your career as a landlord when you genuinely need to evict your tenants.

There are strict rules about how to do so and which procedure you use will depend on the particular circumstances of your tenant and tenancy.

You may have heard all sorts of horror stories about evictions. However, although it’s not an overnight process, provided you comply with the rules, it should be reasonably straightforward.

Which procedure do I need to follow?

This will depend on the type of tenancy agreement you have in place. The most common type is an assured shorthold tenancy. These are either periodic tenancies which run from month to month (or week to week) or fixed term tenancies which run for example, for a period of 6 months or a year (but it could be longer). If you’re in any doubt about what type of tenancy you have in place, you should check with a professional.

Having established what type of tenancy you have, you must follow the procedure which applies to your tenant:

I want my property back when the current tenancy agreement comes to an end

In these circumstances, you will need to follow what is known as the Section 21 notice procedure. If the tenancy started after April 2007, you can only use a Section 21 notice if you put the tenant’s deposit in a deposit protection scheme.

Using this procedure, you cannot evict until any fixed term tenancy has ended and you must give two months’ notice. However, exactly how much notice you need to give will also depend on the rental period as the notice period must end on the last day of the rental period. This, therefore, could be longer than two months.

The precise form of this notice can vary, but it must be in writing and must specify the date of required possession. It’s very easy to get the date wrong so again, if in doubt, get professional advice. If the tenant doesn’t move out as a result of the Section 21 notice, you’ll have to go to court to seek a possession order.

If your tenants don’t leave by the date set in the Section 21 notice, you can then use the accelerated possession service but only if you are not claiming rent arrears. If you are, you’ll have to apply for a standard possession order.

My tenants have breached the terms of the tenancy and I want my property back

This situation normally applies where the tenant hasn’t paid the rent, is late paying the rent or has sub-let the property in breach of the tenancy. You will need to follow what is known as the Section 8 procedure which allows you to regain possession during the fixed term of your tenancy. But if the reasons you are relying on involve rent arrears, the notice can only be issued after a certain amount of rent is unpaid.

The Section 8 notice procedure requires you to give your tenant between 2 weeks and 2 months’ notice, depending on what terms of the tenancy they have broken. The section 8 notice must be properly completed with the terms you allege have been broken.

Whatever procedure you use, you will need to apply and complete forms at the court in the area in which the property is. You may need to complete a different set of forms depending on when the tenancy was issued.

You will also need to make sure the tenant is given the correct paper work in the correct time frame. This is known as service and again, strict rules apply about how and when you can serve your tenant with the papers and what you have to give them. If you are in any doubt, check with a professional or risk your application being dismissed. You will then need to complete a proof of service document (certificate of service).

You can issue and serve a Section 21 and Section 8 at the same time in respect of the same tenant. However, you must make sure you comply with the different procedural requirements and notice periods of both.

Exceptions

Squatters

Section 21 and Section 8 are the most common type of evictions but there are exceptions. If you are trying to evict squatters who have entered without your permission and where there is no, and never was, a tenancy agreement in place, there is different, quicker procedure you can use. Again, strict rules apply.

Your tenant lives with you

If your tenant has an excluded tenancy or a licence, the procedure is different and you simply have to serve them “notice to quit” within a reasonable time period. Again, check with a professional if you’re not sure whether this applies to your situation.

Tenancies which began before 27 February 1997 may have additional protection from eviction.

What happens next?

Once you have issued and served the correct notice, the court will fix a hearing date for a judge to decide what should happen. Both you and the tenant may have to file a statement of evidence for this and you or your representative will probably need to attend. Check with the court. It’s important to bear in mind that your case will be dismissed if you haven’t followed the correct procedure.

What can the judge do?

  • The judge may make an order for possession requiring your tenant to leave by a set date, usually 14 or 28 days after the court hearing.

If they don’t leave by that date you will need to apply to the court for a  ‘warrant for possession’ and an eviction notice will be sent by the court to your tenants. Do not attempt to evict them yourself at this stage. If your tenants still don’t leave your property, you’ll need to arrange for a court bailiff to evict them.

  • The judge may make a suspended order for possession, allowing your tenants to stay provided they comply with some set conditions i.e. to pay the rent. If they don’t comply, you will have to return to court.
  • The judge may order your tenants to make payments to you (a money order/ judgment). This may be in combination with a possession order and could include rent arrears or legal costs.

A word of caution

It’s a crime to harass or try to force your tenants to leave your property without following the correct procedure. Not only do you risk your application for eviction being dismissed by the court but your tenants may even be able to claim damages from you.

As you can see, evicting tenants is a potentially complex area. The above is only a rough guide and should not be treated as legal advice. I would always recommend you get professional advice and or assistance before you try to evict your tenant.

Perhaps even more important is to make sure that you have all the right paperwork in place when you first grant your tenancy. In that way, you can minimise the risk of anything going wrong and make sure that you’re in a strong position if it does.

Graham Faulkner is Branch Director of EweMove Dorking

www.ewemove.com/dorkingHe’s bought and sold a lot of properties over the years and is also a portfolio landlord, as well as specialising in helping other landlords. Apart from his own experience and expertise, he can also recommend the right professionals, as tried and tested by him, to advise you.

Multi award winning EweMove in Dorking is a residential property sales and lettings agency who pride themselves on being refreshingly different and standing out from the crowd. EweMove Dorking covers from Ockley to Oxshott.

Enquiries to 01306 406 506 / 01372 701 702, or via email to dorking@ewemove.com

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Getting more energy efficient

Getting more energy efficient

A reminder about MEES, EPCs and cold showers!  And how we can all do our bit 

Remember MEES?

Back in April I blogged about the new Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) which come into force next April (2018).

In a nutshell, if you’re a landlord, you won’t be able to renew or grant a new tenancy of longer than 6 months if your property has an EPC rating of ‘E’ or lower. If your EPC is lower than that, you also risk a substantial fine.

The new standards have been designed to help the UK reduce carbon emissions. But of course, they should also help tenants – more efficient heating and insulation means cheaper energy bills.

And don’t forget EPCs

This year also sees the 10th anniversary of the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC), a certificate that measures the energy efficiency of a property. It includes a survey that looks at heating systems, insulation and the effectiveness of windows and doors in blocking draughts.

An EPC will normally include recommendations for improvements too, such as switching to LED lighting, installing better loft insulation, a new boiler, double glazing or having external wall insulation fitted.

Improving energy efficiency – landlords  

The fact that EPCs are now 10 years old means the oldest ones are no longer valid. Renters and buyers need to check the date carefully in order not to be caught out.

Technology and energy efficiency have come a long way in the last 10 years. For properties with older EPCs (and combined with MEES) this should provide a real incentive for landlords to push up energy efficiency standards. And that has to be good news for tenants as well as the wider population.

Doing your bit too

The long summer holidays can cause energy consumption to spike, particularly when you throw in some of the not so seasonal weather we’ve had lately.

Extra time spent in the kitchen cooking, watching TV, playing computer games and perhaps even putting the heating on (yes, I know who you are), all take their toll on your heating bills.

So, to help you do your bit this summer, here are 5 easy steps to help keep you energy efficient this summer:

  1. Take showers not baths and try and turn the temperature dial down too.
  2. Opt for salads for lunch rather than using the oven to cook meals.
  3. Dry clothes on the washing line, not in the tumble drier (if it stops raining for long enough) and keep windows open rather than running the air conditioning or a fan.
  4. Don’t leave appliances switched on or on standby and try and limit TV or computer game time. I know, easier said than done when the weather is bad.
  5. Try using a “smart meter” which allows you to keep track of exactly how much gas and electricity you’re using and which appliances you’re using the most. Check it daily with the kids and then try and get the reading down by using less energy!

And of course, don’t forget to check the date on your EPC. If it’s one of the older ones, it might just be time to ask your landlord to make a few changes before winter kicks in!

Graham Faulkner is Branch Director of EweMove Dorking

www.ewemove.com/dorkingHe’s bought and sold a lot of properties over the years and is also a portfolio landlord, as well as specialising in helping other landlords. Apart from his own experience and expertise, he can also recommend the right professionals, as tried and tested by him, to advise you.

Multi award winning EweMove in Dorking is a residential property sales and lettings agency who pride themselves on being refreshingly different and standing out from the crowd. EweMove Dorking covers from Ockley to Oxshott.

Enquiries to 01306 406 506 / 01372 701 702, or via email to dorking@ewemove.com