Last edited 11 Oct 2019

How to evict a tenant

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The eviction of a tenant from a property is a complex process which must be undertaken sensitively and in accordance with strict procedures. The type of tenancy agreement between tenant and landlord and the terms within it will determine the procedures to be taken.

During a fixed term tenancy, there are only certain 'fair grounds' for the landlord to serve an eviction notice on a tenant. These include:

At the end of the fixed term, such reasons are unnecessary, as the landlord can serve a ‘notice to quit’ to evict the tenant. Under section 21 of the Housing Act 1988, the landlord must give at least two months’ notice, unless the terms of the tenancy agreement make provision for a shorter notice period.

For the eviction notice to be legal, the landlord must have protected the tenant’s deposit in a Tenancy Deposit Protection scheme, and the tenant must not have complained to the council about the living conditions resulting in the landlord being served a warning.

If the tenant refuses to move out by the date required by the landlord, they may apply to a court for a possession order (this cannot be issued within the first six months of a tenancy). If this is served to the tenant by the landlord but the tenant still remains in the property, the landlord may apply for a warrant for possession. This enables the landlord to hire bailiffs to evict the tenant.

If the landlord lives with the tenant, this is known as an excluded tenancy. Only ‘reasonable notice to quit’ is needed. What is deemed ‘reasonable notice’ can depend on factors such as the length of time the tenant has lived there, how often they pay rent, and how quickly another tenant is required to move in by the landlord.

If the tenant refuses to leave after this notice period, an application to a court is not required, the landlord can simply change the locks on the tenant’s rooms. (The landlord must, however, give the tenant their possessions.)

If the tenant believes they have been given insufficient notice to leave, they can seek advice from the local council, who may take action on the tenant’s behalf if the eviction notice has been served illegally.

If it is an assured shorthold tenancy (AST) or a statutory periodic tenancy, and there is a written tenancy agreement, it is after the end of a fixed term tenancy and the correct notice has been given, the landlord can pursue an accelerated possession procedure, which is faster than having to apply for a court hearing (typically, 6-10 weeks).

The county court should be applied to for accelerated possession, who will then serve the papers on the tenant, who has the right to lodge an objection within 14 days.

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