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What are the legal grounds for evicting a tenant?

What are the legal grounds for evicting a tenant?
What are the legal grounds for evicting a tenant?

Whilst landlords cannot and should not taking evicting tenants lightly, situations do sometimes arise that make it the best course of action.

To evict a tenant, you will need to have legal grounds for doing so, it is not something that can be done on a whim.

If you have reasonable grounds, then you will need to serve them either a Section 8 or Section 21 notice. The type of notice suitable will depend on the type of tenancy and the grounds for eviction.

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Legal grounds for evicting a tenant

Some of the legal grounds for evicting a tenant from a property include:

  1. The need for major repairs or development to the property: This could involve structural issues such as a leaking roof, problems with plumbing or electrical systems, or the need for significant renovations to bring the property up to a safe and habitable standard.
  2. Landlord needs to live in the property: In certain circumstances, landlords may need to regain possession of their property for personal use, such as if they are relocating for work, downsizing, or have family circumstances requiring them to move into the property themselves.
  3. Property or its contents have been damaged by tenant: This could range from minor damages like stained carpets or broken fixtures to more severe destruction of property, such as holes in walls or extensive vandalism, resulting in the need for repairs or replacements.
  4. Property has been allowed to fall into disrepair: Failure to maintain the property in a reasonable condition as outlined in the tenancy agreement, leading to issues such as overgrown gardens, mould growth, or other health and safety hazards.
  5. Tenancy was offered due to employment by landlord and employment ends: If the tenant was provided accommodation as part of their employment contract with the landlord, the termination of employment may necessitate the termination of the tenancy agreement.
  6. The property is being repossessed from the landlord: This could occur due to financial difficulties faced by the landlord, resulting in the property being repossessed by creditors or the mortgage lender, leading to the termination of the tenancy.
  7. Rent arrears: Failure of the tenant to pay rent as per the agreed terms, leading to accumulating arrears over time.
  8. Consistently late paying rent: While rent arrears refer to the total amount owed, consistently late payment refers to a pattern of tardiness in paying rent, which can still disrupt the landlord’s finances and cause inconvenience.
  9. Anti-social behaviour: This includes any behaviour by the tenant that disturbs the peace and quiet enjoyment of neighbours or other tenants, such as excessive noise, harassment, or criminal activity.
  10. False information given when signing lease agreement: If a tenant provides misleading or false information during the signing of the tenancy agreement, such as misrepresenting their employment status or financial situation, it could lead to grounds for termination of the agreement due to breach of contract.

Even if there are legal grounds for evicting a tenant, it’s important to follow the proper procedures for doing so.

The two types of legal grounds for eviction explained

In the UK, landlords can typically evict tenants using two main legal processes: Section 8 and Section 21 notices. The grounds for eviction under each process differ:

  1. Section 8 Notice: This is used when a tenant has breached the terms of their tenancy agreement. Grounds for eviction under Section 8 include:
    • Rent arrears: If the tenant has fallen behind on rent payments.
    • Breach of tenancy agreement: This could include subletting without permission, causing damage to the property, or engaging in anti-social behaviour.
    • Persistent late payment of rent: Consistently paying rent late can also be grounds for eviction.
    • Landlord’s intention to sell the property or move in: If the landlord needs to sell the property or move in themselves, they can use this ground with proper notice.
    • Some grounds require the landlord to serve a specific notice period, and in some cases, the tenant may have the opportunity to rectify the breach before eviction proceedings continue.
  2. Section 21 Notice: This is a ‘no-fault’ eviction process used when the fixed term of the tenancy has ended, or during a periodic tenancy where the landlord doesn’t need to provide a reason for ending the tenancy. Grounds for eviction under Section 21 include:
      • End of the fixed term: The landlord can give notice if the fixed term of the tenancy is ending.
      • During a periodic tenancy: Landlords can give notice at any time after the fixed term, without giving a reason.
      • The notice period under Section 21 is usually longer than under Section 8, typically two months.

What is the process of evicting a commercial tenant?

We’ve written a full article on commercial eviction here so you can read more about the process for evictions. In summary, you’ll need to:

  1. Review the lease agreement: This initial step is crucial for understanding the parameters of the eviction process. Review the lease terms to grasp the rights and responsibilities of both parties, including provisions related to eviction or termination.
  2. Communicate with the tenant: Engage in discussions with the tenant to address the underlying issue necessitating the eviction, such as rent arrears or lease violations. Attempt to resolve the issue through negotiation or mediation.
  3. Serve a notice: If direct resolution efforts fail, formally serve a notice to the tenant outlining the reasons for eviction. The type of notice required depends on the circumstances, such as a Section 146 Notice for non-payment of rent or a statutory demand.
  4. Consider Peaceable re-entry or Court proceedings: If feasible, you may consider re-entering the property and changing the locks. However, if this isn’t viable and the tenant fails to vacate or address issues outlined in the eviction notice, court intervention may be necessary. Apply to the court for a possession order, which will be granted if justified.
  5. Enforcement: Upon receiving a possession order from the court, seek assistance from bailiffs or enforcement officers to physically remove the tenant from the premises if required. This step ensures compliance with the court’s decision.

If a landlord fails to follow proper procedures, they can be prosecuted. This includes unlawful evictions, if their actions interfere with a tenant’s peace and comfort, or if they stop services required to occupy the property.

If you require legal help or advice with evicting a problem tenant from your property, speak to our team of experts on 0800 002 9049.

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