Keeping up with the rules and regulations surrounding buy-to-let properties has never been more important. One lapse could mean a costly court fine or conviction. One area where it is particularly important to comply with these rulings is when a landlord wishes to evict tenants, particularly anti-social or problem tenants. The courts will want to see that everything has been done legally and above board. It’s a criminal offence to evict someone without the correct legal procedures in place, which is another reason why it’s so important to have all the paperwork to hand. There are several routes to terminating an assured shorthold tenancy.
The most straightforward way is under the ‘no fault’ Section 21 notice, as the landlord doesn’t have to give a reason for the eviction. One reason to issue a Section 21 notice is so the tenant can be rehoused by the local council. Another reason is that the landlord simply wants the property back to sell it, move back in or renovate it. The Section 21 notice to quit needs to be served two months before the tenancy agreement ends or with two months’ notice if there is a rolling agreement.
A landlord can also use a Section 8 notice but there needs to be a valid reason for eviction, either for mandatory grounds or discretionary. The most common reason why landlords want to evict tenants under mandatory grounds is because of rent arrears. The tenant needs to be at least two months behind with the rent before the Section 8 notice can be served. If the court finds in the landlord’s favour, then the tenant must be evicted.
Discretionary grounds for eviction could be because of a breach of the tenancy agreement, damage to the property, sub-letting the property or anti-social behaviour. The landlord needs to submit written witness statements to back up the claims. However, even if the court finds the grounds are sufficiently proved, it is still up to the court’s discretion as to whether the tenant will be evicted.
It is important to always keep a record between every line of communication between yourself and the tenant. If you have a phone call or conversation about a particular issue, make sure this is backed up in writing or through an email, so this can be used as evidence in court.