Managing and Evicting Problem Tenants: Our Quick Guide for Landlords
There’s no doubt that the UK’s private rented sector has enjoyed a real boom in recent times – indeed, it now accounts for some 4.5 million households in the country, according to a recent Paragon Group report, which is more than double 2001’s figure.
However, that rise in popularity also comes with certain downsides, not least an associated rise in the number of bad tenants. Such a tenant may simply fail to pay their rent, or they may be responsible for antisocial behaviour or even more serious criminality.
Late or non-payment of rent
It’s much better to avoid the problem of late or missing rent altogether than it is to merely manage it, which is why you should ensure you have a written tenancy agreement outlining the amount of rent to be paid and when.
If the tenant only pays their rent inconsistently or simply forgets to do so, you should try to get them to set up a standing order for paying rent into your account, which will provide you with evidence of which payments you do and don’t receive.
In the event of your tenant ceasing to pay rent at all, and if no other solution is likely, it is within your rights to serve your tenant an eviction notice, the process for which is outlined in more detail below.
Property damage and neglect
One of the most pressing problems that landlords face is that of their property being damaged or neglected – whether by the tenant themselves or their visitors, by accident or deliberately.
A lot of the time, landlords will pay for such repairs themselves to avoid hassle, although if it was the tenant who caused the damage, it should be possible to claim back the costs.
The legal process for evicting a tenant
If you would like to evict your tenant, you will need to provide a minimum of two months’ notice under Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988, in what is known as a Section 21 notice.
The court is unable to make a possession order based on a Section 21 notice in the first six months where it is an assured shorthold tenancy and so, an alternative, and sometimes speedier option, is to serve a Section 8 notice. Section 8 will require grounds for eviction, such as arrears of rent or anti-social behaviour, as touched upon above.
The provisions for Section 8 change depending on the ground being relied upon but where there are 2 months arrears of rent for instance, the tenant can be given 14 days to pay the arrears or eviction proceedings can be started.
In some cases, the tenant may not move out even after being served with a Section 21 notice or comply with a Section 8 notice, in which case, you will need to seek a possession order through the courts.
It’s worth remembering that it is possible to exercise an accelerated possession procedure when using Section 21, which enables possession to be granted more quickly due to the absence of a court hearing. Section 8 also requires the holding of a court hearing. Court fees are still payable in all instances however.