Only court appointed bailiffs may carry out a legal eviction. Due process must be followed (Section 21 notice/ Court Application/ Possession Order/ Bailiffs Warrant).
Failure to comply with this process may result in an unlimited fine or upto 2 years in prison.
The landlord may also be liable to pay substantial compensation if the process is not followed.
It is vital that landlords know what to do when they need to evict a tenant so that they are on the right side of the law. Failure to follow procedure properly could land you with a hefty fine, or even worse, time in prison.
The advice contained in these pages will give you the information you need to help you successfully, and legally, evict a tenant and regain possession of your premises. Please note that this advice applies only to tenants living in England & Wales and who have an assured or an assured shorthold tenancy agreement.
What do I need to do?
There are many different grounds you can use to evict a tenant from your property, but the two most commonly used grounds are rent arrears and the accelerated possession procedure.
What is the accelerated procedure?
The accelerated possession procedure can be used by a landlord at the end of the fixed term of the tenancy (which may be ended early if a break clause has been used) or at any time during a periodic tenancy, provided that the tenants have occupied the property for at least six months since the start of the first tenancy agreement.
The procedure involves serving a notice under section 21 of the Housing Act (a section 21 notice), which will stipulate a certain amount of time within which the tenants must vacate the property. If the tenants fail to move out after you have served this notice, you will have to apply to the court for an order to evict the tenants.
What is the difference between a fixed term and a periodic tenancy?
A fixed term tenancy is created for a specified length of time, for example, 12 months. If the tenants remain in the property after the fixed term has ended, but do not enter into a new fixed term agreement, then their tenancy will automatically become periodic.
A periodic tenancy rolls on a specific period, such as month to month or quarter to quarter. This arrangement may have been specified at the start of the tenancy or may have naturally arisen by the expiry of a fixed term tenancy.
What is the procedure for rent arrears?
If your tenants are in arrears of rent, but you are able to use the accelerated possession procedure, then we generally recommend that you use this procedure, rather than using the ground of rent arrears. This way, you are able to get the tenants out as quick as possible and get new tenants in who will start paying rent.
However, please note that when you use the accelerated possession procedure, the court will not order the tenants to pay any rent arrears to you. You must instead apply to the county court for a court order requiring them to pay the outstanding rent to you.
Read more about using the Section 8 accelerated possession procedure on the desktop lawyer website.
Do not attempt to evict the tenant yourself. Doing so is a criminal offence and you could be fined and/or sent to prison and ordered to pay for rehousing your tenant. You must apply through the courts for them to do this on your behalf.
The necessay legal forms and advice on completing them are available from Her Majasty's court service website.
Your landlord has a responsibility to make sure the property or accommodation you are renting is maintained to a certain standard.
Unless the tenancy has a fixed term of more than seven years, the landlord is responsible for repairs to:
- The structure and exterior of the property
- Baths, sinks, basins and other sanitary installations
- Heating and hot water installations
Responsibility for other repairs depend on what agreement (if any) you have arranged with your landlord. The landlord is not responsible for repairing damage a tenant has caused. The rent the landlord charges can include a sum to cover the cost of repairs - but the landlord cannot pass this cost on to the tenant in the form of a separate service charge.
Safety of gas and electrical appliances
Landlords are required by the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 to ensure that all gas appliances are maintained in good order and that an annual safety check is carried out by a tradesman who is registered with Gas safe
The landlord must keep a record of the safety checks and issue it to the tenant within 28 days of each annual check. The landlord is not responsible for maintaining any gas appliances the tenant is entitled to take with them at the end of the letting.
Landlords should also ensure that the electrical system and any electrical appliances that they supply (such as cookers, kettles, toasters, washing machines and immersion heaters) are safe to use.
When you report your repair we aim to offer an appointment for all urgent and routine repairs at a convenient time.
As well as explaining what day we will call, we will also confirm a morning or afternoon appointment.
For planned repairs which generally require an inspection, we aim to offer you an appointment before the work is done. Also at the time of inspection we'll arrange a further appointment for the work to be completed.
But not all repairs will need an appointment (work to the outside of your home, for example).
For emergency repairs you will need to guarantee access to your property for the following 24 hours.
You will not be given a set appointment but will be able to negotiate a time when you will be at home to make sure the emergency work can be done.
You will receive written confirmation of your appointment, and of the repair.
The contractor can generally only do the work that has been ordered.
But if you have other repairs that are outstanding you should ask the contractor and depending on the nature of the job, they will try to complete that work wherever possible,
Please be aware that contractors also have other appointments with tenants that they must keep and do not always have the necessary equipment and materials to do other work.
For safety reasons some work can only be carried out by certain contractors, such as gas repairs that can only be done by Gas Safe registered plumbers.
No. You can only insure your own contents on your landlord insurance policy. Your tenants must take out their own insurance should they wish to protect their contents.
The reason for this goes back to one of the principal rules of insurance, which is that the entity that is being insured must be owned or directly effect the person who is taking out the insurance contract.
If this rule is not strictly adhered to, the insurance contract can develop a moral hazard and end up more like speculation/gambling.
Most mortgagees insist as a term of the mortgage that you inform them of your intention to let the property.
It is quite likely that they will agree to this if your lender is one that accepts 'buy-to-let' mortgages, it may well be on different terms and at a different interest rate than your current deal and they may charge an arrangement fee.
It is recommended that you take advice from your mortgage provider or your independent financial advisor.
The inventory is vital and probably your greatest piece of protection. Should you need to make a claim from the bond it is vital that the property is inspected before the tenancy begins & that both the landlord (or their agent) and the tenant have signed it.
It is this document that will form the benchmark should a dispute arise.
Ideally a similar exit survey should be conducted and if possible should also be signed by the tenant. This will leave only the costs of the remedial action to be decided & agreed.
This will depend upon the kind of repair. As a rule of thumb, 28 days is often considered reasonable for repairs that are not urgent, and for urgent repairs it's often one to two days.
The vast majority of property these days are let on what is known as 'Assured Shorthold Tenancies'.
Though there are other types of tenancy or license we will concentrate on shortholds.
Normally a shorthold tenancy will run for six or 12 months. This gives you a fixed period for which you will have the right to occupy the property. Equally you will have the duty to pay the rent for that property.
At the end of the fixed period there are choices:
- You can leave the property and claim back your deposit
- The landlord may offer you another fixed term period
- The landlord may allow the tenancy to roll over.
If the landlord chooses to allow the tenancy to 'roll over' it can only be brought to an end by either party giving sufficient notice. Normally this would be two months for the landlord or one month for the tenant.
We have guidelines on how long different repairs should take. The main types of repairs are:
Emergency work: within 24 Hours
These are repairs which if not dealt with very quickly could cause injuries or further damage. This includes things like burst pipes, blocked drains,securing windows or doors, and loss of electricity.
In the event of an emergency you should contact the Housing Response Team on 01530 454635 for advice on what actions can make the property safe.
If you can't carry out the advice yourself and a neighbour, family member or friend can't help, the a worker will call that day.
If you call between 5pm and 8.45am Monday to Friday, or on a weekend or Bank Holiday on 01530 833373 a contractor will call and make the property safe.
Where the contractor makes the property safe, a return visit will be arranged to finish the repair the next working day.This will happen unless parts are not available or it is not an emergency, then it will be done within the relevant category and timescale.
If that happens the repair will be completed at the earliest opportunity. We will advise you of progress until the repair is complete.
If you are vulnerable or have special needs, we will take appropriate measures in addition to the make-safe policy. For example, temporary heating may be provided in certain circumstances.
Vulnerable tenants will receive a quicker response to emergency work such as heating and hot water repairs, all year round.
Urgent work: within seven days
These are repairs which need quick attention and don't require an inspection first.
These include re-fixing toilet seats and repairing minor leaks.
Routine work: within 28 days
These are less urgent repairs such as leaks to a gutter, repairing a noisy heating system or fitting a light switch.
Some of these repairs may need to be inspected before the repair can be done.
The vast majority of repairs are paid for out of the money we collect in rent.
You will be asked to pay for any repairs that have been caused by damage to, or misuse of your home caused by you, your family or friends.
However, the contractor will not ask you for any money when they call.
Your housing officer will be able to tell you more about what repairs you may be asked to pay for and how to pay.
You have the right to appeal if you don't agree with a decision to charge you for repairs.
By law, a landlord has to provide a rent book to somebody who pays rent weekly, unless the rent includes a substantial payment for meals. The rent book must contain:
- The name and address of the landlord and the landlord's agent if there is one
- The amount of rent to be paid
- Description of the property the rent is for.
The inventory can be very useful in the event of a dispute. Even in unfurnished accommodation it is worth insisting on an inventory as this will clearly state the condition of the property including decoration, floor coverings and curtains.
State of repair and cleanliness are the two most likely reasons why landlords withhold all or part of the deposit. An inventory signed and agreed by landlord and tenant gives you hard evidence of what you accepted at the beginning of the tenancy.
On receipt of the inventory, don't just accept it. Examine the property carefully and note any faults, dirt or marks. Only sign it when the items you have noticed have been added.
The general rule is that you should never stop paying the rent to try and force your landlord to do repairs. If you do, your landlord may go to court to make you leave your home because you are behind with the rent.
When a repair is needed you should tell the landlord as soon as possible. It's always a good idea to put your request in writing and to keep a copy of the letter. You should give the landlord a 'reasonable' period of time within which to carry out the repair.
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