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The seemingly long drawn out process of evicting a tenant

View profile for Sarah Canning
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Local Authorities have been urging tenants to remain in their rented property until the bailiffs arrive in an attempt to reduce the number of homeless people they have on their lists.

The legal process to removing a tenant

Landlords who want to regain possession of their property must first serve a section 21 Notice providing their tenant with two months to vacate the rental property. However, a landlord does not automatically regain their property after the two months if the tenant fails to vacate. At this point a landlord must go to Court to obtain a Possession Order,  which will provide a date ordered by the Court by which the tenant must vacate the property. The Court must make an order for possession, provided they are satisfied that the section 21 Notice is valid, has been served in the right manner and that proceedings have been issued correctly. The Court do have the discretion as to how much notice they give for the order for possession, being a period of between two and six weeks.

If the tenant fails to vacate the property after the date given on the Possession Order, a Writ of Possession can be obtained so that a bailiff can forcibly regain possession of the property.

The whole process, from the service of the section 21 notice to the bailiffs’ appointments can take up to six months.

The challenge for Landlords..

The problem landlords have been facing is that the local authorities have been advising tenants that if they give up possession of their accommodation before the bailiffs arrive, they will not be eligible for council housing. This means that landlords incur the additional expense of going through the eviction process, whilst also having a long delay in recovering possession of their own property.

Welcome news for landlords came in March 2016…

Housing Minister, Brandon Lewis MP, announced that he had written to all chief executives of local authorities advising them that households should not be put in this position, and clarifying the guidelines about homelessness. In his letter he states “authorities should not routinely be advising tenants to stay until the bailiffs arrive; there is no barrier to them assisting the tenant before this…” Lewis says that he will continue to look at the way local authorities deal with section 21 notices.

For landlords this would mean that they are more likely to regain possession of their properties after the expiry of the section 21 notice rather than having to endure the prolonged process through the Courts and incurring additional costs.

If you have any questions about this landlord / tenant issue then please do comment below, or contact our team in Northampton on 01604 828 282.

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