With an estimated 1.4 million private residential landlords in the UK, the lettings sector continues to row.
Whether you are a landlord with one property or a portfolio of properties, you can encounter problems from time to time through no fault of your own. Some people are simply bad tenants. If you want to take your property back, it is important that you take proper legal advice to avoid unlawfully evicting your tenant which could result in criminal proceedings.
The main routes to get you back on track are Section 8 and Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988. Section 8 allows you to seek possession on a number of grounds. The most common of which are rent arrears and anti-social behaviour, either before or after the fixed term has expired. Section 21 allows you an automatic right of possession without having to give any grounds, but only once the fixed term has expired.
The use of these acts are illustrated in the scenarios below:
- Example problem - John is your problem tenant. He is part way through a fixed-term tenancy and he is supposed to pay his rent on the first of the month. He has never been good at paying on time but now John is two months in arrears. He has stopped taking your calls.
Section 8 Solution - Speak to a good solicitor. A Section 8 notice can be personally served giving John two weeks' notice. If John does not pay, court proceedings can be issued seeking: (1) possession within 14 days; (2) the rent arrears; and (3) fixed legal costs. If John ignores the Court order, bailiffs can be instructed to enforce.
- Example problem - Jane is your problem tenant. When her fixed term expired, her tenancy became a monthly statutory periodic tenancy. Although she is forever paying short and late, Jane never lets her arrears build up to two months' rent. She has stopped taking your calls and you just want the property back.
Section 21 Solution - Seek advice from a good solicitor. A Section 21 Notice can be personally served giving Jane two months' notice. The claim is not based on default (e.g. late or non-payment of rent) and in this accelerated procedure the Court has very little discretion. Section 21 does not include a claim for rent arrears but sometimes the priority is simply to get your property back. If Jane ignores the Court Order bailiffs can be instructed to enforce.
Note: Use of the Section 21 procedure is subject to the landlord having complied with the initial requirements of the tenancy deposit scheme and them having given certain prescribed information to the tenant. Failure to do this may mean the landlord is unable to use the Section 21 procedure unless the deposit is returned to the tenant. These rules do not apply to the Section 8 procedure.
At Emsleys, we offer a fixed-fee possession service. If you would like more information on any of the above, contact us on 0113 201 4900.