TENANT EVICTION ADVICE
EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT TENANT EVICTION IN 2020
DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME!
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Residential evictions is a complex area. To get through an eviction successfully can be a complicated process and mistakes can be expensive.
With this in mind a lot of our landlords ask us the following question:
What can be done to avoid mistakes and get tenant eviction right first time?
To answer this question we created this guide.
RESIDENTIAL TENANCY EVICTION ADVICE
SERVING A VALID NOTICE
SECTION 21 EVICTION EXPLAINED
The landlord does not need to give a reason for possession via Section 21. The process is often called “no fault possession”.
For a Section 21 Notice to be valid the landlord must be able to provide evidence that they provided the tenant copies of following at the outset of the tenancy:
- the government booklet, the ‘How to Rent’ guide;
- a copy of a valid EPC for the property;
- a copy of a valid Gas Safety Certificate for the property, if there is gas;
- and, dealt with the deposit properly (protected the deposit within 30 days and provided prescribed information).
If after being served a valid Notice the tenant fails to provide the landlord vacant possession (leave the property) by the Notice Date stated within the Notice the landlord can apply to court for a possession order. The landlord has 4 MONTHS from the Notice Date in the Notice to apply to for a possession order.
The Section 21 court process is also known as Accelerated Possession.
The processes involved in Accelerated Possession often mean the landlord does not have to go to court to obtain a possession order – IF – everything has been done correctly a possession order is usually granted with no Court hearing.
However, if there are issues or the tenant defends the case, a court hearing may be set.
Tenants cannot counterclaim via Section 21/Accelerated Possession.
You cannot obtain a money judgement via Section 21/Accelerated Possession – the landlord cannot use Section 21 to recover any rent arrears owed.
A Section 21 Notice cannot be served in the following circumstances:Where any of the above legislation has not been adhered to.
Within the first 4 months of the tenancy.
Where an Improvement Notice (for repairs, Section 11 and/or Section 12 Notice) have been served on the property by the local authority within the last 6 months.
For help with any of above please call 0800 118 4 118
SECTION 8 EVICTION EXPLAINED
To obtain possession via Section 8 you must satisfy at least one of 17 Grounds for Possession within the Notice and at County Court. A Section 8 Notice can be served whenever a Ground for Possession is met. You must always give a reason (Ground for Possession) via Section 8.
A Section 8 Notice can be used where a Section 21 Notice cannot, such as during the fixed term of an AST. There will be always be a court hearing via Section 8.
More than 8 weeks/2 months owedLandlords most commonly want to use Section 8 when there are rent arrears. If rent is paid weekly, arrears must be 8 weeks or more; if rent is paid monthly, arrears must be two months or more – BOTH when the Notice was served and at court at the hearing. If the tenant reduces the rent arrears balance owed below the 8 weeks/2 months threshold before the hearing – it may nullify the rent arrears Grounds for Possession contained within the Notice, which may mean starting again or severely delaying the process.
Non-Rent Grounds – Evidence and Convincing the CourtWhen relying on any other Ground for Possession (fraud, crime, disorder, damage), you must be able to prove by evidence that the criteria for obtaining a possession order have been met. You must provide enough evidence – by independent witness, police, local authority, agent and/or other(s) reports/statements, pictures, video, etc. – to deal with any tenant defence and convince the Court(s).
CounterclaimsSection 8 proceedings allow the tenant to make a counterclaim and defend the case. The landlord is left open to counterclaims and spurious defences by the tenant, which could lead to months/years of legal wrangles. A possible outcome of a counterclaim is the landlord leaving court owing the tenant a substantial amount of money, with the tenant still being allowed to remain in the property. The tenant may not be bound by pre-court protocols in counterclaim situations and may meet criteria for public funding because they are at threat of losing their home.
DepositThe potential penalty at a Section 8 court hearing for not protecting the deposit within 30 days of it being paid is – up to three times the amount of the deposit. If a penalty is awarded it will be credited to the tenant, usually to the tenant rent account. This penalty could bring the tenant rent account out of arrears, nullifying the rent arrears Ground for Possession within the Notice, which could mean starting again or severely delaying the process. The tenant may not be bound by pre-court protocols in deposit counterclaim situations and may meet criteria for public funding.
DisrepairAt a Section 8 court hearing the tenant may claim the landlord has failed to carry out repairs. A tenant can claim disrepair and seek an injunction for repair works and compensation for the inconvenience caused by the disrepair. The tenant may not be bound by pre-court protocols in disrepair counterclaim situations and may meet criteria for public funding.
DelaysThe first Section 8 court hearing is only ever set for between 5 and 15 minutes. If there is any dispute at the first hearing the matter is adjourned as there is not enough time for it to be dealt with. It is then re-listed, usually the first available date after 4 weeks, with more time allocated for the matter to be properly heard. Each time the case is adjourned the tenant remains in the property.
Money JudgementThe landlord can obtain a money judgement for rent arrears owed via Section 8.
For help with any of above please call 0800 118 4 118
SECTION 8 OR SECTION 21?
Section 8 is however a very good tool in certain circumstances and on occasion is the only eviction option available. In most cases gaining possession via Section 21 is simpler, quicker, much less risky and more cost effective, Section 8 is best used within the first 4 months, where there are high rent arrears and there are no issues with the deposit or repairs.
DO’S AND DON’TS
Avoid Being Prosecuted and Allegations of Harassment
Landlords can be prosecuted under the Protection from Eviction Act 1977.
A landlord cannot interfere with the peace and comfort of a tenant or stop services needed to occupy the property.
Any illegal action by the landlord can lead to a large fine and even imprisonment.
For further information on harassment click here
For the Protection from Eviction Act 1977 click here
- Turn up unannounced
- Send lots messages
- Turn off utilities
- Change the locks
- Remove tenant belongings
- Get involved in any verbal/physical altercation
- Call us and let us deal with it
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We cannot help you. You should contact a solicitor or local advice centre.
We only speak to tenants when instructed by their landlord(s).
Evictions usually take 2 to 6 months. Notices and court applications must run their course.
We do not deal with commercial property.
For an update on your case please email us. Emails are responded to within 4 hours, 9am-5pm.
Local Authority/Solicitor or Adviser Enquiries
All communication in writing. Please email any enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please include the tenants name, the rental property address and evidence of your authority to act.