Landlords – what you need to know about evictions

30th April 2019

Please note: Eviction rules are temporarily different due to government measures for Covid-19. Please consult our landlord FAQs for more details.

Covid-19 Landlord FAQs

How do I evict a tenant who is behind in their rent?

A landlord is required to serve a notice to quit on the tenants. If the tenants are behind on rent you can serve a section 8 notice requiring that the tenant leaves the property within 14 days.

However, if the tenancy is still within the fixed term you should check the tenancy agreement to ensure that there is a provision in the agreement allowing you to ask for the property back, pursuant to serving a section 8 notice.

If a tenant refuses to leave – what are my next steps?

If the tenant does not leave the property you will need to apply for a possession order from the court. Should the tenant remain in the property following the grant of the order, an application for warrant for possession of land will need to be made and, ultimately, bailiffs may need to be appointed to remove the tenants should they still refuse to leave.

In certain circumstances, it may be more appropriate to serve a section 21 notice. You should seek legal advice before issuing a notice as failure to comply with the strict statutory requirements will likely result in possession not being granted.

Can I evict a tenant on the basis of behaviour problem?

If the tenant – or anyone living with or visiting the tenant – is guilty of conduct which has caused a nuisance or annoyance to neighbours the landlord may be able to seek possession pursuant to section 8. However, possession is not guaranteed.

If it is a periodic tenancy, the landlord could serve a section 21 notice instead. Unlike section 8, section 21 does not require any grounds for possession and the landlord is usually guaranteed to gain possession of the property.

I wish to sell or use the property but the tenant is still within their lease period – can I evict them before the end of the term?

You will have to wait until the fixed term ends. You may be able to serve a section 21 notice but it cannot expire before the end of the fixed term of the tenancy.

The tenant has made improvements to the property – do I need to compensate them for the costs if I plan to evict them?

This will depend on the term so the tenancy agreement. Generally, there is no obligation to compensate the tenants for unauthorised work.

My tenant is insisting on me taking them to court to evict them as this will help them being re-housed by the local authority – is this true and is there anything I can do to avoid going to court?

Some councils do advise the tenants to stay in the property. Unless the tenant moves out voluntarily the only lawful way to secure possession of the property is to take the tenants to court.

I have legal expenses insurance with my landlord policy – can I use this to help me evict a tenant?

The insurance may cover possession proceedings; it is certainly worth checking with the insurer directly.

How much do I have to spend on legal fees?

The current court fees are:

  • County Court possessions – £355
  • Possession Claims Online (PCOL) – £325 (PCOL can only be used for possessions concerning rent or mortgage arrears).
  • To issue a warrant of possession (recovery of a property or land) – £121

Solicitor’s fees vary, so you would need to seek a quote from a solicitor, or seek the support of any legal expenses insurer in relation to legal fees.

Disclaimer: This information is for general guidance regarding rights and responsibilities and is not formal legal advice as no lawyer-client relationship has been created. Note that the information was accurate at the time of publication but laws may have since changed.

Simon Roberts

Senior Associate, Solicitor

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