For every landlord, a bad tenant is the ultimate nightmare. Although it should be straightforward to remove a tenant who is in breach of the tenancy agreement and/or not paying rent it can get pretty complex. However, if you haven’t managed to avoid a bad tenant in the first place then there are some simple steps to take to make it right.
Written requests to rectify
Start by giving your tenant the opportunity to correct a situation themselves by setting down in writing what you think the problem is. This not only makes an unambiguous statement about where the issue has arisen but also provides you with a record of trying to settle matters before action.
If the tenant is clearly not going to respond to reasonable written requests then it’s time to give notice. Notices are often not considered to be particularly important documents but the reality is that if there’s a mistake in a notice it can be invalid. If the notice is invalid then it doesn’t trigger the time period during which the tenant has to prepare to leave. So, for example, at the end of a two-month notice period if the notice turns out to be invalid then the tenant does not have to leave and the entire process must begin again.
Section 21 or Section 8?
- Section 21 cannot be served during the first four months of a tenancy
- If there is no fault on the tenant’s part you must use section 21
- As long as the application for possession is valid then the court must grant it and the tenant will be required to leave
- Section 21 validity depends on the deposit being protected and prescribed information provided at the start of the tenancy. For tenancies after 1st October 2015 a valid EPC, Gas Safety Certificate and the most recent version of How to rent: The checklist for renting in England must also have been provided.
- A court hearing is unlikely to be required so the process is much faster and cheaper
- Section 8 can be used at any time as long as one of the grounds for possession in the Housing Act 1988 is met
- The tenant can defend themselves, delaying the process significantly even if not ultimately successful
- Section 8 carries the risk of incurring legal costs and having the tenant’s legal costs awarded against you
- Section 8 is the better choice for rent arrears, as the court can grant landlords a money order
Achieving a speedy eviction
Even under section 21 what should be a smooth eviction process can become tangled and tricky. Tenants are increasingly taking legal advice and looking for ways to circumvent processes and slow down their removal from a property. For a landlord, the fastest way to avoid problems is often to take legal advice at the start of a tricky eviction. Not only does this ensure that choices are sound and documents are accurate from the start but it also provides support through any court situation to the point where possession is returned.