Evicting a tenant is never easy. In fact, you can find yourself mixed up in harassment or illegal eviction claims if you don’t follow the appropriate procedures regarding tenant eviction. So it’s really important to get every step right from the outset.
If you need to know how to evict a tenant, this guide is here to help. Based on the stages and advice set out by the UK government, this article will take you through all you should know about evicting a tenant.
As of December 2022, the UK Government is consulting with stakeholders to change the process of evictions and these may come into force in 2023 or 2024.
If you’re wondering how to evict bad tenants in Scotland or Northern Ireland, do note that different guidelines apply. For more information about tenant eviction in Scotland or Northern Ireland, check the government websites for the latest guidelines. You can also access links to the forms you may require for evicting bad tenants in England and Wales via the Evicting Tenants page.
How to evict according to the tenancy agreement
The type of tenancy agreement you have determines the path to follow when evicting bad tenants.
Assured shorthold tenancy
Most tenancy agreements will be the assured shorthold type. This may be a fixed term agreement – usually for a set number of months or a year – or a periodic tenancy. The latter runs weekly or monthly, with no predetermined end date.
A contractual periodic tenancy may also apply when a fixed term tenancy has ended, but a contractual clause allows this to run on as a periodic tenancy.
Section 8 notice
If the agreement is an assured shorthold tenancy, then the next step depends on why you want to evict your tenant. A section 8 notice applies when the tenant has broken the terms of the tenancy agreement, such as by keeping a pet when this was not permitted, or failing to pay the rent.
A form 3 is required for a section 8 eviction. On this, you must state where the terms of the agreement have been breached. The notice period depends on what terms of the tenancy have been broken, but could be between two weeks and two months depending on what breaches have been made.
So can you evict a tenant for bad behaviour? If they have broken the terms of the tenancy agreement, then yes. In the case of leasehold properties such as flats, it may also be a yes if they’ve breached the terms of the headlease – and they were aware of these terms.
How to deal with a tenant who doesn’t move out after notice is served is covered below.
Section 21 notice
It may be that you want to take possession of the property after the tenancy term ends. For example if you want to sell it, move into it yourself or have building work done while no one is living there. Or if you simply want to use this as a means of starting afresh with new tenants.
If this is the case, you need a section 21 notice. A section 21 notice can be issued whether a periodic tenancy is in place, or if there’s a set end date. There are exclusions regarding the use of a section 21 notice, however.
Many of these relate to the proper procedures being followed when the agreement began, such as giving the tenant a copy of the EPC, deposit certificates, current gas safety certificate and the ‘How to Rent’ government guide. In most cases, you cannot evict a tenant in England or Wales via a section 21 notice if they have inhabited the property for under four months, unless a special clause permits this. Note that if a Landlord has omitted or forgotten to ensure the necessary paperwork and procedures are correctly followed, an eviction will be unenforceable.
To give notice in England, you can either write your own notice, or use a 6a form. This can be used if the tenancy agreement commenced or renewed after 30th September 2015. In Wales, notice must be given in writing, referencing Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988.
You must give a minimum of two months’ notice when using a section 21 notice in England – or longer in the case of a contractual periodic tenancy. In this case, the notice period is the same as the rental period. In Wales, tenants with a periodic tenancy can remain for at least the notice period, plus any extra time their final rent payment covers.
Possession orders and warrants
If your tenants fail to move out by the specified date, you can apply for a court order. When they owe no rent, you can request an accelerated possession order. Using this type of order often means there’s no need for a court hearing. There are separate forms for this in England and Wales.
If you want to know how to evict a tenant without going to court, an accelerated possession order is the best solution – assuming they don’t move out after being given notice. If the tenants do owe rent and you want to claim this, though, you’ll need a standard possession order. This can take longer than the accelerated version.
If the possession order doesn’t have the desired effect in either case, the next step is to apply to the court for a warrant for possession. This means a bailiff can evict the tenants. There are fees payable for all of these orders and warrants.
It’s important to recognise the law favours the occupant, and making someone ‘homeless’ can be a drawn out process and should be avoided wherever possible with tactful diplomacy.
Assured or regulated tenancy
If a tenancy began before 27th February 1997, a regulated or assured tenancy may be in place. In this case, the government website gives links to information for each type provided by Shelter in England or Shelter Cymru in Wales.
Some types of tenancy mean you only need to give ‘reasonable notice’ for a tenant to move out. This is typically equal to the rental period. A lodger who lives with you will often be classed as having this kind of excluded tenancy.
If the lodger’s rental period is one week, for example, then you can give a week’s notice. This doesn’t have to be in writing, and if they don’t move out you may change the lock on a room they occupy – even if their possessions are still inside.
Housing benefit tenants
You can apply for what’s known as ‘managed payments’ if your tenant claims Universal Credit or Housing Benefit. This means their rent will be paid directly to you, the landlord; thus, you may not need to evict them. You can apply via the Department for Work and Pensions or the local council respectively.
To make your life easier, consider using landlord services to ensure that you are supported throughout the tenancy. Or read our guide on how to find good tenants to avoid having to deal with bad tenants in the first place.