E is for Eviction
Reclaiming your rental property through the eviction process can be a lengthy, costly and arduous task that has several pitfalls along the way if strict procedures are not followed. This blog aims to provide an overview of the process and offer an alternative speedy solution that may save a Landlord time and money.
There are strict procedures to follow if you want you tenant to leave your property. Dependent on why you want your property back, be it because the tenant owes rent or has broken a clause in the tenancy agreement, determines which procedure to follow.
- Follow the Standard Possession procedure if a tenant owes rent. However, should the tenant be on housing Benefit or Universal Credit be aware that this money can be paid directly to you the Landlord and is classed as “managed payments”
- The accelerated possession process can be used in cases where a Landlord is not claiming unpaid rent.
Procedures are determined by the type of tenancy
The exact procedure to follow will depend of the tenancy agreement and its terms! For the purpose of the article we are discussing Assured Shorthold Tenancies (AST) in England & Wales
There are two types of AST
- Fixed Term Tenancies – These run for a set amount of time.
- Periodic Tenancies – No fixed end date. These can run on a monthly basis, determined by the rent payment date, or week to week.
The processes to follow if the tenant have an AST are:
- If the tenant has broken terms of the tenancy (e.g. keeping pets without permission, smoking in the property) Issue a Section 8 notice to quit specifying which terms they’ve broken. We would recommend using a Solicitor when pursuing the Section 8 route.
- Alternatively, a Section 21 notice to quit can be issued without specifying a reason. Care must be taken when issuing the Section 21 notice as from October 2015 new criteria came into force and unless it is followed precisely the notice will be invalid. The criteria that must be in place is as follows.
- A valid Gas Safety Certificate
- An EPC
- The most recent version of How to rent: A checklist for renting in England at the outset of the tenancy.
- If a deposit has been taken it must have been protected within 30 days of receipt with the prescribed information provided to the tenant.
- If a licence is required then it should be in place before the Section 21 is served.
A Section 21 notice cannot be served in the first four months of a tenancy. The issuing of notices is best served in person, along with a witness, directly to the tenant and a signature on a retained copy of the notice gained. Do not post the notice as failure to prove the tenant has received the notice can result in the claim being overturned on appeal.
Should the tenant not leave the property by the required date on the Section 21 notice then the Landlord can apply to the County Court for either a standard possession order, or if not claiming unpaid rent an accelerated possession order. This is sometimes quicker that following the standard possession order and may not involve a court hearing. However, the cost is £355.00.!!
Should the tenants not leave the property by the required date on the possession order then a warrant for possession order can be applied for to the Court. However, the tenants will be sent an eviction notice giving a date by which the must leave the property or be evicted by County court bailiffs. Most tenants in this situation will vacate a couple of days before the bailiffs arrive!!
As you can see this is a time consuming and costly process. Current times for each part of the process i.e. court to process possession order, County Courts to issue eviction notices along with costs are as follows:
- 6-16 weeks for eviction process dependent upon County Court
- Accelerated possession order cost £355.00
- County Court Bailiff Eviction Fee £121.00
- County Court bailiff lead time 3-4 weeks at least, dependent on court.
All the time this process is ongoing the tenant is still in the Landlords property and as such the Landlord is spending money and losing money. However, there is an alternative solution!
High Court Enforcement Officers (HCEO)
What is an HCEO?
The Mistry of Justice (MoJ) has issued guidance that possession orders can be transferred from the County Court to a HCEO, or more formally known as a Sherriff. It is worth noting though that the cost of using an HCEO is will be more than that of pursuing through the County Court. Charges vary from one HECEO to another but may typically be £500 to £800. However, once a writ for eviction is issued the HCEO is obligated to act and can do so within days as against weeks or months. It therefore boils down to a commercial decision by the Landlord as to transferring to an HCEO or not. More information regarding HCEOs can be found by clicking on the photo below.