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What if a tenant refuses to move out?

View profile for Sophie Chilstone
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What if a tenant refuses to move out?

The usual routes for landlords to seek possession

Section 21 process

Landlords are often left in situations when the fixed term of a tenancy agreement comes to an end and the tenant fails to vacate. For some landlords, they are happy to let the tenant remain in the property on either a contractual or statutory periodic tenancy once the fixed term expires. However, should you wish to evict the tenant, the first step in the process will be to serve a section 21 notice. A section 21 notice is a ‘no fault’ notice seeking possession.

The section 21 process requires that various documents are in place and/or have been served on the tenant prior to the notice being served. For further information regarding the section 21 notice requirements and common pitfalls, please refer to our blog ‘What are the common pitfalls that landlords face when serving a section 21 notice?’ for further information.

Once the section 21 notice has expired and should the tenant still be occupying the property, the next step will be to issue section 21 court possession proceedings. Once the court papers have been drafted and sent to court with the required documents, the relevant court will then issue the claim and send a copy of the claim form and documents to the tenant. From the date of service, the tenant then has 14 days in which to submit a defence.

If no defence is received by the 14-day deadline, landlords can then request that the court grant the order for possession. Once the order for possession is granted, the court will give the tenant a date by which they need to vacate (typically 14 days from the date of the order).

Should the tenant fail to vacate by the date ordered by the court, the next step will be to issue a warrant for possession. The warrant for possession will be issued by the court and then passed to their bailiff department to list the matter for a bailiff appointment date.

Once the bailiff appointment is listed by the court, a copy of the date and time of the eviction will be served on the tenant. During the bailiff appointment, the bailiffs will visit the property and remove the occupiers. The landlord will then be in a position to change the locks (if necessary) and take back possession of their property.

Section 8 process

The other route to possession is the section 8 route however, this route requires a section 8 notice to be served relying on a relevant ground. The most common reason that landlords will use this route is when the tenant is in rent arrears as there are 3 relevant grounds that apply to this.

The benefit of the section 8 route is that is can be served even if the tenant is still within the fixed term of the tenancy and the notice period is usually shorter than the section 21 notice period. Once the notice has expired, you can then issue court proceedings.

The section 8 process differs slightly to the section 21 process as this will require a hearing. Once the claim has been issued, the court will list this for a hearing and inform all parties of the hearing date. At the hearing, you will need to evidence to the court that the grounds you have relied upon in the notice are satisfied and remain valid in order for the court to grant you an order for possession.

If the court is satisfied that you have met the requirements of the grounds relied upon in the notice, the order for possession will be granted. Should the tenant fail to vacate by the date ordered by the court, the next step will mirror the section 21 process and you will need a bailiff appointment to take back possession of the property.

Should you require more detailed advice on the process our specialist landlord and tenant solicitors can assist contact us today on 0161 696 6170 or complete our online enquiry form and we will contact you directly.