How to Evict a Tenant Without Going to Court
Evicting a tenant can be a daunting and complex process for landlords. Fortunately, there are options that can ensure that the process runs as smoothly as possible, often without the need to go to court. Here, the landlord law experts at Percy Hughes & Roberts Solicitors explain all of the options that will allow you to evict a tenant here.
As a landlord, you may encounter situations where you need to regain possession of your property. While eviction is often associated with a lengthy and costly court process, there are legal avenues available that can help you regain possession of your property without going to court.
In this short guide, we explore the key methods for evicting a tenant without resorting to a court battle. If you have any questions we have not covered, our specialist landlord solicitors are able to answer your landlord query, or support you to carry out an eviction successfully in a legally compliant way. You can contact us by completing the enquiry form below or by calling 0151 666 9090.
How to evict a tenant without going to court
As a landlord, it is crucial to familiarise yourself with the various options at your disposal when it comes to eviction. Understanding the proper procedures and legal requirements can save you valuable time and money, and avoid unnecessary stress.
Firstly, landlords must check what type of tenancy agreement they are letting under. The types of notices that we will be describing only apply to Assured Shorthold Tenancies (AST), which are the most common type of tenancy in the UK. You are likely to be letting under an Assured Shorthold Tenancy if:
- You are a private landlord;
- The tenancy began on or after 28 February 1997; and
- The house or flat is let as separate accommodation and is the tenant’s main home.
After determining the type of tenancy, landlords will need to determine which type of possession order they need:
- Standard Possession Order: Used when the tenant is in rent arrears
- Accelerated Possession Order: Used for all other evictions, where rent is not being claimed back
Which order you need will also determine which notice you serve. There are two types of eviction notices in the UK - Section 21 and Section 8 notices.
Section 21 Notice
Under Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988, landlords have the ability to evict a tenant without a reason or ground for possession. Using this notice informs the tenant that the landlord wishes to regain possession of the property at the end of an agreed fixed-term or an agreed break clause.
A Section 21 notice, also known as a “no-fault eviction notice”, can only be used at the end of an AST, or at any time during a periodic tenancy. You must give the tenant at least two months’ notice to vacate the property.
Landlords need to be aware of the criteria for issuing a correct Section 21 notice. A Section 21 notice may be invalid if you:
- Did not serve the notice correctly;
- Did not protect the tenancy deposit;
- Failed to provide an energy performance certificate (EPC) or gas safety certificate;
- Failed to provide the government’s How to Rent guide;
- Do not have a licence for the property where required; or
- Served the notice after a complaint from the tenant about the property (retaliatory eviction).
Crucially, Section 21 notices allow landlords to apply for an Accelerated Possession Order, which sometimes allows the landlord to take back possession of the property without the need to go to court. We will explain this below.
Section 8 Notice
A Section 8 notice is served in cases where landlords wish to regain possession of the property during the course of the tenancy. Section 8 notices can only be served in certain cases, including where the tenant:
- Owes rent arrears;
- Has damaged the property;
- Gained the tenancy by providing false information ;
- Is being a nuisance to neighbours;
- Has used the property for criminal activities; or
- Has breached any other terms of the tenancy agreement.
These legal reasons for eviction are called “grounds for possession”. You must be able to prove the grounds for possession in court.
The most common grounds for seeking this type of possession is to recover unpaid rent. In this scenario, landlords must seek a standard possession. Under this procedure, there must always be a court hearing.
Accelerated Possession Order – Eviction Without Going to Court
If you are evicting your tenant and not seeking unpaid rent, you may be able to use an accelerated possession order. If the tenants have failed to leave the property and the period of the Section 21 notice has expired, you can make an application for an accelerated possession.
Once the court receives your application, they will send a Notice of Issue to both you and the tenant. This will give the tenant 14 days to file a defence. If the tenant does not file a defence, you can apply to the Court for Possession Order.
This procedure acts as a “fast track” through the courts, and is much quicker than the standard possession procedure, taking anywhere between six to 10 weeks if the case goes undefended. This is due to the fact that, with a Section 21 notice, the landlord is not required to provide evidence of any breaches of the tenancy agreement in order to regain possession.
In addition to it being a much quicker process, it does not usually require a court hearing.
If landlords are seeking unpaid rent and originally served a Section 8 notice to their tenant, a standard possession procedure must be used. This process can take anywhere up to six months to complete, and the case must be heard in court.
Landlords will need to file a claim for possession with the courts. The court will then set a date for a hearing, where both the landlord and the tenant will explain their case. If the court grants the order, it will set a date by which the tenant must vacate the property.
Under a standard possession order, landlords must attend a court hearing.
Proposed Changes To Section 21 and Accelerated Possession
Plans to abolish Section 21 notices were first set out in the Queen’s Speech in 2019. The Renters’ Reform Bill will set out to simplify tenancy structures and also bring an end to Section 21 “no-fault evictions”.
When the reform comes into effect, landlords will only be able to evict their tenants if they have a valid reason to do so, such as a breach of contract by the tenant or the landlord wanting to sell the property.
The bill has been delayed due to disruptions caused by changes in government. No official date has been set for the bill to become law, though industry experts believe it will be sometime in Autumn 2024. We will provide regular updates to keep landlords informed in relation to the changes.
This is one reason why it is often best to work with expert landlord solicitors to manage evictions, tenancy disputes and other issues. The team at Percy Hughes & Roberts Solicitors stays fully up-to-date with current legislation and can ensure that your operations always remain legally compliant, even when there are changes to the law.
How Can Percy Hughes & Roberts Help?
At Percy Hughes & Roberts Solicitors, we understand the intricacies of landlord-tenant relationships and the importance of a smooth eviction process.
Evicting a tenant can be a complex and often overwhelming task for landlords. Avoiding lengthy, costly court hearings is every landlord’s wish, and it can be achieved if you understand the correct procedures and options available to you.
We hope this short guide has provided some insight into the measures you can use to potentially avoid going to court to evict your tenant. However, in cases where this is not possible, guidance from an expert solicitor can be the key to ensuring the process is as smooth and free of conflict as possible. If you have any further questions or require specific legal advice regarding your landlord-related concerns, our team of specialist landlord solicitors is here to assist you.