Evicting a Nuisance Tenant – The Legal Process

Any business venture you enter into will carry with it varying degrees of risk, and the landlord business is no exception.  One of the main risks associated with the property rental business is the potential to get a nuisance tenant. ‘Nuisance tenant’ is a generic term which can cover a range of circumstances in which the tenant is failing to carry out their responsibilities, with regard to the property, and can include:

  • Damage to property
  • Anti-social behaviour
  • Noisy dogs
  • Neighbour disputes

As a landlord, the first step to take in order to resolve issues with a nuisance tenant might be to try diplomacy – perhaps get them to alter their behaviour by way of issuing a warning. If this doesn’t work you may not be left with any choice other than to evict the tenant. The process of eviction is dependent on whether the tenancy is an Assured Tenancy or an Assured Shorthold Tenancy. The procedure outlined in this article is for Assured Shorthold Tenancies only.

Be Prepared For A Long Fight

It can be argued that the correct legal proceedings which need to be followed in order to evict a nuisance tenant are stacked in favour of the tenant. The law regards depriving somebody of their home as a serious matter.  To ensure you recover possession of the property as quickly as possible, it is essential that you follow the correct legal procedure else you will be liable for criminal prosecution, which can lead to a fine and/or up to two years in prison.

The Correct Legal Procedure

  1. Serve possession notice –  Before you can legally obtain a court order for possession in order to evict a nuisance tenant, you must serve a Section 8 Notice citing valid reasons  ie anti-social behaviour, listed in Schedule II of the Act . It is imperative that you give the tenant at least 2 months written notice, in most cases, of your wish to regain possession of the property.
  2. Court order possession – If the tenant fails to vacate the property on the date specified in the possession notice, you can then apply to the courts for a possession order.  It can take ages for you to get a court hearing, and even when you finally get one, there may be a chance that the tenant tries to appeal.
  3. Send in the bailiffs – Once you have the repossession order from the courts, most tenants will often vacate the property. However, if they still refuse to leave, you can arrange for County Court Bailiffs to remove the tenant.

Get Your Paperwork Right

It is strongly recommended that you first seek legal advice before attempting to evict a nuisance tenant.  Although you may have solid legal grounds for repossession, if you don’t follow the procedure to the exact letter of the law, or your paperwork hasn’t been completed correctly, your case may get thrown out of court, resulting in loss of time and money.

Nuisance tenants can be the bane of a landlord’s life, causing a great deal of stress, damage to property and financial loss. Ensuring that you thoroughly vet potential tenants before renting out your property, is a worthwhile task to ensure you minimise this risk to your property business.

 About The Author

Wayne Green is a landlord who has battled a couple of nuisance tenants in his time – and lived to tell the tale! He owns Brighton removals firm Love Removals  which offers a full removals service including piano removals.

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