Landlords seeking to evict their tenants will be aware of the various procedures that need to be followed to ensure that possession can be obtained in a lawful manner.
This page focuses only on residential possessions, it does not deal with commercial repossessions.
Stage 1 – Notice
The first stage is to give notice of possession.
The most common way of doing so is by either giving a Section 8 Notice, for a fault based eviction, or a Section 21 Notice, for no fault based evictions.
These notices must be given on prescribed form and served on the tenant.
Section 8 Notices require the Landlord to give a ground under Schedule 2 Housing Act, these range from unpaid rent, which is the most well-known ground, to less well-known ones, such as the house being required for use by a minister of religion (if notice was previously given this was a possibility).
The Notice period for a Section 8 also varies considerably, ranging from 2 weeks for unpaid rent, to 2 months for some of the other grounds. This is the minimum period that must be allowed before an application to the Court. However, the Landlord does not have to apply immediately and can delay issuing proceedings for up to a further 6 months.
A Section 21 Notice does not require a reason but does require the Landlord to comply with some other formalities, such as the need to serve information about the deposit, serving an EPC and other information. A Section 21 has a uniform notice period of 2 months.
It is unlawful for the Landlord to remove the tenant without a Court order and may also be a criminal offence. Therefore, if the Tenant does not leave at their own accord, the Landlord must issue Court proceedings.
Stage 2 – Court Proceedings
Court proceedings are issued by filling in a Claim Form and Particulars of Claim with the Court nearest to the Property. In certain circumstances, it may be possible to issue online and avoid a hearing if certain criteria are met.
The Court will then fix a date for the hearing and the parties will receive notice.
It is then advised that both parties file witness statements setting out their respective positions and include any available evidence to assist the judge in understanding their case.
At the hearing the Judge will consider the evidence. Certain grounds, such as unpaid rent, are mandatory which means that, if satisfied, the Judge must make a possession order.
Other grounds are discretionary, which means that the Judge can make his mind up on the strength of the evidence whether to make the order. It is therefore better for a Landlord to issue under a mandatory ground under Section 8 if at all possible.
If the Judge decides he cannot make a decision at the first hearing, he can give directions for further evidence and the matter be suspended. He can also make an order but delay its implementation for a period of time.
Stage 3 – Enforcement
If the deadline on the order expires, and the tenant still does not leave, the final step is to enforce the order, along with any money judgment that is made in favour of the Landlord.
An application is made to Court and bailiffs will be instructed to attend. Unlike Landlords bailiffs can use force and call the Police if necessary.
How can we help?
At Barrett & Co, our solicitors can carefully guide you through the process, and will ensure that all the requirements are met. This includes advising you on the best way to ensure the best outcome for you and assisting with the preparation of the necessary documents. We will also be able to assist you in ensuring you are in the best possible position, to present your case to the Court, which may include recommending the instruction of specialist Counsel.
For more information or to book an initial fixed fee meeting for £95 including VAT, please call 01189589711, or e-mail our Property Litigation Solicitor, Chris Miller, via [email protected].