News and articles
May 22nd, 2013 by Adam Wonnacott
Need advice on how to evict a tenant?
We deal with requests for residential eviction on a daily basis. The eviction process can be quite complex, and it can pay dividends to understand all of the stages involved in how to evict a tenant before embarking on the process.
Evicting tenants is a frustrating process for landlords, and it often comes as a shock to our clients how long the eviction process can take.
There are several routes involved in the tenant eviction process, dependent on the particular circumstances of each case. The outline below should help to explain the eviction process.
Stage One – Default and Providing Notice
Section 8 notices and Section 21 notices
Section 8 Notice
Where a landlord under an assured tenancy wants to take back possession of a property before the expiry of the tenancy and by reason of a default, he needs to ensure that notice of an intention to start possession proceedings is given under section 8 of the Housing Act (1988). Care must be taken when drafting the section 8 notice and, in particular, it should cite grounds for seeking a possession order and should be personally served on the tenant.
For helpful information, see this Section 8 Notice Guidance Note.
Section 21 notice
Section 21 notices can be used when a periodic tenancy has come to an end or is coming to an end. Again, the notice needs to be correctly served.
For helpful information, see this Section 21 Notice Guidance Note.
Stage Two – Applying for a County Court Order for Possession
County Court Possession Orders
The court process will differ, dependent on the route taken.
Where a section 8 notice is served (because the tenant is within the lifetime of the tenancy but has defaulted on its terms), a possession order hearing will need to take place at the county court. Under the Section 8 ‘route’ the County Court may award a sum of arrears as well as possession of the property.
Where a section 21 notice is used, there is no need for a possession hearing and an order will generally be granted under what is called the ‘accelerated possession’ procedure. Landlords using the section 21 route should be aware that they may only be able to apply for possession and may not be awarded rent arrears (a separate county court claim may be possible).
Stage Three – Enforcing the Possession Order
Enforcing County Court Possession Orders
If the tenant does not vacate the property in accordance with the possession order, the landlord will need to enforce the order.
The usual method of enforcement is to seek a County Court warrant of possession. County Court warrants of possession cost £110 and are enforced by a County Court employed bailiff. The workload of the County Court bailiff service can sometimes result in delays in enforcement and a lead-time of four to six weeks is not uncommon. If the lead-time is much longer than this, it may be possible to ask the court to make an order to transfer the enforcement of possession to the High Court so that High Court Enforcement Officers (like Burlington) can assist.
How to avoid delays in the possession process
It is generally best to check County Court warrant lead times before making an application for a possession order. That way, if the County Court bailiff cannot act quickly enough, the landlord can ask the court to make an order to transfer enforcement of the order under section 42 of the County Courts Act 1984 in the original possession order application. The court is not obliged to allow a transfer to the High Court and may only do so if it considers that there are extenuating circumstances – one possible example might be where the delays associated with the warrant of possession process are such that the landlord is at significant risk of losing a buyer or new tenant for a property.
It is worth bearing in mind that using a High Court Enforcement Officer to enforce possession under a High Court writ will be more expensive than using a county court bailiff and is subject to the High Court processes involved in issuing the writ.
We are used to helping our clients navigate this process; so if you have any questions, please feel free to give us a call on 0845 520 2000.