As a lettings specialist, offering support to both tenants and landlords, we’re often asked about lawful evictions. There are so many nuances and factors affecting eviction, that we decided it would be helpful to answer some of the most common eviction related questions.
Can I be evicted for having a cat or dog in the UK?
We are regularly asked if tenants can be evicted for having a cat, dog or other pet. There’s a reason why this question is asked so commonly, and that’s because the answer, frustratingly, is “it depends.”
Before we get into the heart of this question, it’s important to caveat this article. Current proposals to legislative changes suggest that it is discriminatory against pet owners to choose tenants based on whether they have pets or not.
If the pet is ‘appropriate’ for the property – for example, three large dogs in a studio flat would be inappropriate for the health and wellbeing of the dogs – then this might provide a landlord with reasons to refuse the tenancy. Some flats have headleases that don’t allow pets, but this might also become discriminatory under the Rental Reform Bill.
Currently, a landlord has to have ‘good reason’ to refuse a pet – regardless of whether there is a pet clause in the Tenancy Agreement, as that is now considered an unfair term. Landlords must provide this reason within 28 days of a tenant request, and they cannot unreasonably refuse a tenant’s request.
On top of this, if the pet’s behaviour is ‘anti-social’ then an eviction could come about through a separate contract term.
Keeping pets in rented accommodation is all about the individual agreement between tenant and landlord, usually in advance of the original tenancy. It all centres on permission. If tenants have cats, dogs or other pets without permission, they can be evicted using a Section 8 notice.
Pets may cause damage and this means many landlords include ‘no pet’ clauses in the tenancy agreement. Therefore, tenants need to check the agreement in the first instance. Additionally, just because you’ve been allowed a pet to date, doesn’t mean that the landlord can’t change their mind – for example, if your landlord receives complaints about your dog barking, they may change their mind. Many landlords who allow pets will have something in the tenancy about revoking this permission if deemed necessary.
Many rental properties, especially apartments and flats, are leasehold. These also often have additional stipulations on pet ownership. As such, to understand if you can be evicted for having a cat or dog in the UK, it’s important to get individual advice from your letting agent.
Can I be evicted for anti-social behaviour?
Landlords unfortunately face the issue of anti-social behaviour with some tenants. Anti-social behaviour is broad, but is defined as “… behaviour by a person which causes, or is likely to cause, harassment, alarm or distress to persons not of the same household as the person.” Things such as excessive noise or vandalism can be classed as anti-social behaviour.
Private tenants can be evicted for anti-social behaviour, especially where the tenancy agreement specifies this. The landlord can use a Section 8 notice. They will need to follow a process which typically includes a four week notice period.
Eviction for anti-social behaviour is not always straightforward and we strongly recommend landlords use lettings agents to carry out pre-tenancy checks to reduce the risk of anti-social tenants to prevent the need for eviction down the line.
Bear in mind that this question is quite distinct from ‘can a homeowner be evicted for anti-social behaviour’. Anti-social homeowners, rather than tenants, can be reported to the police and environmental health, but court proceedings are rare.
Can I get evicted for noise complaints?
Noise complaints come under anti-social behaviour. The landlord will need evidence, but yes, you can be evicted for upheld noise complaints which are deemed to be anti-social behaviour.
Can you be evicted for not paying council tax?
Housing association tenants can, ultimately, be evicted for failure to pay council tax. This isn’t the case with private tenants. As long as landlords notify the council of a new occupier then they aren’t responsible for the council tax.
If I go to jail, can my landlord evict me?
As long as your lease is still active and you remain up to date on your rent, then no a landlord cannot evict you simply for being in jail. However, if the tenant falls behind on rent, or fails to notify the landlord of their situation, leading to them thinking the property is abandoned, then the landlord may be able to commence the eviction process.
Can a landlord evict you for being messy?
The short answer to this is yes – but that comes with caveats, not least giving the tenants the opportunity to rectify the situation. However, rental agreements usually stipulate that tenants must keep the property clean and tidy, to prevent health and safety concerns and to look after the property.
So, not keeping the property clean and tidy can be seen as a breach of the agreement and eviction proceedings can begin. The onus is on the mess or uncleanliness causing a problem, such as vermin or odours, rather than a tenant being somewhat tardy with their household cleaning schedule!
Can I be evicted for complaining too much?
As long as you complain legally, you cannot be evicted on these grounds.
Can I be evicted for having someone live with me?
Most tenancy agreements require that any adult living in the property is on the tenancy agreement. Again, this is a case of looking at the tenancy agreement to see what it says, such as whether it is single occupancy. Most will prevent subletting, for example.
The question comes as to when someone is deemed to be living in the property, rather than a guest. Typically, any person staying at the property for more than three nights a week is no longer a guest, such as significant others, and therefore should be included on the Tenancy Agreement.
Can I be evicted for rent arrears?
Yes, landlords need tenants to pay their rent and as such, failure to pay for two or more months can result in eviction. They will need to follow due process to seek possession which involves providing you with written notice. They will then go to court to get a possession order.
Can my landlord evict me to sell the house?
A landlord can sell the property, but for the duration of the lease agreement, tenants cannot be required to move out. However, selling the property is often a reason to serve two months’ notice before your tenancy is due to end.
Can a landlord evict you for smoking?
Landlords can put a clause in the tenancy agreement to prevent tenants smoking in a property. In this case, it would therefore be a breach of the agreement if the tenant smokes. In reality, it is actually very difficult to evict a tenant just for smoking.
Get support by choosing the best lettings agency
At Stanfords, we ensure harmonious relationships between landlords and tenants by supporting the relationship and offering clear management. There are many more questions about evictions which come up and we are here to help. But the best situation is to prevent the likelihood of these issues arising, by using a good lettings agency.