Eviction Time Frames. How long should you plan for?

tenant eviction

If you are a property landlord then one of the most difficult tasks you are likely to face is the prospect of having to evict someone. In particular, you may be concerned about the length of time the process takes. Here we set out the process and time-scales for evicting a tenant.

Why do you need to evict your tenant?

There are many reasons why landlords may need to remove tenants from their property. The reason for wanting the tenant removed and the type of tenancy your tenant has may affect the process you need to use and therefore the length of time an eviction may take. Common reasons for landlords seeking to evict tenants from property include anti-social behaviour, damage to the property, breach of the tenancy agreement and non-payment of rent. Sometimes it’s simply because the tenancy has come to an end and the landlord wants the property back either for themselves or for another tenant at a higher rent.

The process of evicting a tenant

Depending on the type of tenancy in place, the first step of the process involves notifying the tenant of your intention to reclaim possession of the property. According to the Housing Act 1988, two types of notice can be used. If your tenant has a periodic tenancy – that is, one which runs from one period to another (usually every week or month) without a fixed date of expiry – or if he is at the end of an assured shorthold tenancy, which typically expires after six or twelve months (after which time it may become a periodic tenancy), then it is possible to give him notice to leave without reason. Often referred to as a Section 21 notice, the process requires that landlords give their tenants at least two months’ notice. If the notice period expires and the property has not been vacated, the landlord can apply for an accelerated possession order.

If your tenant has an assured shorthold tenancy that still has time to run, you would need specific grounds for wanting possession of the property. Permissible grounds include breach of the tenancy agreement and non-payment of rent. To regain possession in these circumstances you will need to issue the tenant with a Section 8 notice, which gives tenants a certain amount of time to vacate the property. This can range from two weeks to two months depending on the grounds for wanting possession. If the time for vacating the property expires, you can apply to the court for a possession order.

The next steps

Regardless of which type of notice is used, the landlord’s next step will be to apply for a possession order from the court. The landlord can only do this after the notice, which needs to have been served correctly, has expired.

Typically, if the landlord is able to use the accelerated procedure the court will consider the claim without the need for a hearing within 3-6 weeks.

If the landlord has to use the standard procedure the hearing should be not less than 4 weeks after the claim is issued and not more than 8.

If the court is satisfied that the landlord is entitled to possession the tenant will be given 14 days if the accelerated procedure is used (i.e. based on a s.21 notice) or between 14-28 days if the standard procedure is used (based on a S.8 notice).

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