Tenant Needs to Go? Everything Landlords Need To Know About Eviction
Evicting a tenant can be a last resort after numerous attempts at mediation have failed. In some cases it’s the last thing any landlord wants, but sometimes it is necessary, in other cases landlords move quickly to protect their investment.
When your tenant has skipped out on paying rent for months on end, bashed in the windows, and broken every clause and subclause in their lease agreement, you may find it’s time to issue an eviction notice. But this process isn’t easy or simple – there are certain procedures to follow, timetables to respect, and claims to file before you can get a tenant out of your property. To help, here’s what every landlord needs to know about eviction.
Get Legal Help
A solicitor experienced in commercial or residential property law will be able to answer all of your questions about eviction, from explaining other possible options to advising on how to proceed in the case of a tenant retaliation, including a counterclaim.
Even if the situation seems clear and simple, it’s best to have a knowledgeable lawyer on your side. Property law is fraught with complexities and regulations. A missed step can hurt your case or invalidate it entirely.
You have rights when it comes to evictions; so do your tenants. A good lawyer will explain those rights to you and help you avoid significant financial losses to rental arrears and legal fees.
Get It in Writing
Do you have written evidence detailing all the remediation steps you’ve gone through? Physical documentation proving the tenant skipped out on rent or violated the lease agreement?
Some tenants will go quietly when handed a Section 8 or a Section 21 notice. Others will fight back and escalate the issue to the courts. Having documentation on all communications, agreements, and evidence of wrongdoing or contract breaches will help your case.
Take photographs, print out emails, and have third-party companies conduct surveys of damaged rooms or defaced property. A good lawyer will help you outline what evidence will help your case. The more you have to hand to a judge, the better.
Follow the Right Procedures
You should be well aware there’s no use in pasting a “get out” notice to someone’s door and shutting off their utilities. There is a strict process to eviction, and failing to adhere to the law can put you in serious legal hot water – with fines and even criminal charges.
First, understand what type of tenancy is in play. Assured and regulated tenancies have increased protections from eviction than the typical assured shorthold tenancy agreements.
Second, issue a Section 8 or Section 21 notice. Which you issue depends on the type of tenancy, what the problem is, and a whole host of other factors.
If tenants do not leave after the date specified on the notice, you can apply for an order for possession and then a warrant of possession. This will also allow a bailiff to enter the property and remove their belongings at the same time as evicting them. Your tenant has legal options available at this point, including petitioning a judge for extra time to pay rent. Having a lawyer at your back will help you navigate this process.
Be Prepared for the Future
After the entire debacle is done and over with, it’s time to reflect.
What precisely went awry? Could anything have prevented the problem? Were there warning signs, and if so, what were they? How will you screen for problems in future tenants? How will you handle it again? What evidence did you fail to record? Really think about these questions before you think about signing a new lease.
There’s a certain amount of risk in being a landlord. Even a tenant with a spotless background check and credit record can turn into trouble under the right circumstances, many of which are simply unforeseeable.
The initial lease agreement can help you avoid most problems in the future. Most of us shudder at the prospect of more paperwork and fine print. But having a clear and thorough agreement that carefully outlines yours and the tenant’s respective responsibilities can help avoid problems in the future. There is also more bureaucracy than ever before. Evidence of deposit protection and prescribed information having been provided in a timely fashion is vital, but there is also case law that shows the importance of documents such as providing a gas safety certificate at the outset, as well as an EPC and How to Rent booklet. Even if you are doing all this already- do you have sufficient evidence on file if something were to happy? Ensure your systems and processes are sufficiently robust so that if the worst were to occur you are well placed to handle the problem quickly and efficiently.