EVICTING TENANTS UK: Landlords must follow strict procedures to evict a tenant from their property.
How to Evict a Tenant
The method used to evict a tenant depends most on whether they owe rent or not. The tenancy agreement and its terms may also affect which process to use.
You should use the ‘standard possession’ method if your tenant owes rent arrears. This is the best eviction procedure to get your property back.
There may be an alternative to eviction if your tenant is on Housing Benefit or Universal Credit. In this case you can ask for their rent money to get paid to you instead. This system of ‘managed payments’ works best when your tenant claims certain benefits.
What if you are not claiming unpaid rent but you have another reason to start the landlord eviction process of a tenant? In some cases you can ‘evict a tenant using accelerated possession‘.
There are several different eviction procedures depending on the type of tenancy you have. As a rule the terms of the tenancy agreement determine the exact procedure for eviction.
Assured Shorthold Tenancies (ASTs)
There are two different types of Assured Shorthold Tenancy agreements.
- Periodic Tenancies: This type of tenancy runs week-by-week or month-by-month. As a rule they do not have a fixed end date.
- Fixed-term Tenancies: In general this type of tenancy runs for a set amount of time.
All landlords must follow this set process if their tenants have Assured Shorthold Tenancy.
- Step One: Give your tenant a Section 21 notice to quit. Give them a Section 8 notice if they broke the terms of the tenancy. A Section 8 notice seeks possession by specifying which terms they have broken.
- Step Two: This step assumes your tenant does not leave by the specified date. In this case you should apply to the court for a standard possession order. You can also apply for an accelerated possession order if you are not claiming any unpaid rent.
- Step Three: You must apply for a warrant for possession if your tenants still will not leave the home. This step means bailiffs can then use legal force to remove the tenants from your property.
Excluded Tenancies or Licences
Having an excluded tenancy or licence often means the tenant lives with you. In this case you can evict your tenant without going to court.
You still need to give the tenant ‘reasonable notice‘ to quit. As a rule, reasonable notice means the length of the rental payment period. That means tenants who pay rent weekly usually get one week’s notice to leave.
This type of tenancy agreement does not need a notice in writing. A landlord can then change the locks on their rooms even if the tenant still has belongings inside the home.
Assured and Regulated Tenancies
Did your tenant start the tenancy before the 27th of February 1997? If so they may have an assured or regulated tenancy agreement.
In this case you must follow different rules for evicting tenants with this type of tenancy. It also means they will have increased legal protection from eviction.
Note: Contact Shelter in England and Shelter Cymru in Wales for help with assured tenancies and regulated tenancies.
Tenants Possessions After Eviction
What happens if tenants leave belongings after eviction in your property? Find out what landlords should do with their tenant’s belongings after getting evicted.
Standard Possession Order
The ‘Possession Claim Online‘ service is for landlords in England or Wales.
It is a system to get your property back when your tenants owe you rent money.
The digital service means you can fill in the court forms online and track how your claim progresses. The possession claim online service costs £355.
You should use a different system if your tenant does not owe you rent arrears. Instead, you should apply to the court to evict your tenants if they broke the tenancy agreement.
Reasons for using this system could be for trespassing, forfeiture, or demoted tenancy.
When You Should Not Use the Online Service
You cannot use the online service for certain types of standard possession claim. For example, it would apply if you make a forfeiture claim because tenants have breached the terms in the lease.
This system costs £355 to apply. You can send a cheque to the same court with your completed form. Make your cheque payable to ‘HM Courts and Tribunals Service’.
Accelerated Possession Order
If you are not claiming rent arrears you can use the accelerated possession service. The system speeds up tenant eviction process UK. It gets used when your tenants do not leave by the date specified in your Section 21 notice.
Using accelerated possession to evict a tenant is often quicker than applying for a standard possession order. The reason is because there is no court hearing, as a rule. But, the accelerated possession service costs £355.
Note: You cannot evict a tenant using accelerated possession until their tenancy ends if they are fixed-term tenants.
What happens if you want to claim rent arrears from a tenant? In this case you can use the standard possession procedure.
Another method is to use the accelerated procedure to get your property back first. Then follow that by making a separate court claim for the rent arrears.
Applying to the Court
You should download the appropriate form, fill it in, and send it to the nearest court that deals with housing possession:
- Form N5B for properties in England (available in English and Welsh)
- Form N5B for properties in Wales (available in English and Welsh)
What happens when you apply to a court to get accelerated possession? The court sends a copy of the application to your tenant. Tenants then have 14 days from the date they receive it to challenge the application.
A court judge will then decide either to:
- Issue a possession order stating your tenants must vacate the property. This case decision occurs most often.
- Have a court hearing. This happens most if the paperwork is not correct or your tenant raises an important issue.
A court can still decide to issue a possession order even if they set up a hearing. The judge can extend the order up to 6 weeks for tenants who are suffering extreme hardship.
Eviction Notices and Bailiffs
Tenants do not always leave a property by the date given in an order for possession. In this case landlords can ask the court for a ‘warrant for possession’. The service currently costs £121.
Tenants will get an eviction notice when a court issues a warrant for possession. The warrant states a date by when the tenants must leave a property.
Some tenants still fail to leave the property even after the issue of a warrant. In this case you should fill in a separate form to arrange for bailiffs to evict the tenants. The special form is a ‘Request for Warrant of possession of Land (N325)‘.
High Court Enforcement Officers (HCEO)
There is a way you can speed up the landlord eviction process in England and Wales. You can apply to have the warrant transferred from the county court to the High Court. In this case a High Court Enforcement Officer carries out the tenant eviction.
Note: You must be claiming over £600 (including court costs) to transfer a case over to the High Court eviction procedure.
Suspend the Warrant for Possession
At a new hearing, tenants can ask a judge to ‘suspend or delay‘ the warrant for possession. The judge can choose to delay the eviction in some cases. Besides delaying tenant eviction judges can also let your tenants stay in your property. But, tenants must show they can start making rent payments again.
Changing Tenant Payments
In some cases the circumstances of a tenant may change. That means they can ask a judge at a new hearing to change the amount they pay. It is best to find legal advice if your tenant wants to change payments.