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How do I evict a tenant?

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.

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