The most common way of renting a property is under an Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement. This type of agreement usually has a fixed term. But when unexpected circumstances occur and an eviction notice is served- what happens next?
Before indulging in the whole “how to evict a tenant” procedure, there are many things all landlords must be aware of. The most important is to know that even if a notice has been served and the deadline has expired; it does not mean the tenants are no longer tenants.
Under all Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreements the tenants will always stay tenants until the landlord obtains a possession order from the court. This means that tenants who refuse to leave the property after the notice expiry date are theoretically not committing a wrongful act.
So what does this mean for landlords?
In simple terms landlords cannot just overlook their responsibilities under the tenancy agreement. In fact all landlords must still continue to satisfy their legal obligations under the tenancy agreement. So for example a landlord cannot refuse to carry out any repairs, or start to harass the tenants.
Claim for Possession
If the tenants stay in the property after the notice has expired, what can landlords do?
Landlords can start court proceedings to recover possession of their property. To do this there are certain forms which the landlord must fill and send to the court.
Those landlords who have agents may be thinking, “Well my agent can deal with it”. Technically this is correct, but even in circumstances where a landlord provides consent; the agent can never sign the court forms. This will automatically make the forms void.
It is also extremely important that care is taken when filling in these forms. An error, no matter how small may result in a landlord’s case being withdrawn from the court! After months of preparing, paying court fees and in some cases losing out on rent, this is the last thing any landlord would want.
Once court proceedings have been issued, the next stage will be to wait for a hearing date. Depending on what type of notice was served, landlords may find themselves sitting in front of a judge! So its vital landlords know what their case is, especially if the tenants have filed a defence.
If a possession order is granted, it will usually allow tenants between 14- 28 days to move out of the property. Landlords who lost out on rent can also ask the court to grant a money order which will obligate tenants to pay the arrears back.
Possession orders don’t always work
Sometimes even after a possession order is granted, tenants may still refuse to leave! In these circumstances a warrant for possession will be required. Again landlords will have to apply to the court for this. This warrant will allow a court bailiff to visit the property and evict the tenants. Tenants will always be provided with notice prior to the landlord and bailiff attending the property. Once the warrant has been enforced and the tenants have been evicted, it is always advisable that landlords change all the locks to their property.