What to do when tenants won’t leave

7 04 2010

One of the classic nightmares of being a landlord is the tenant who won’t leave after the tenancy has ended. Or worst yet, who won’t pay the rent but still doesn’t leave.

I wanted to talk about this today, because I’m sure it is a fear that puts a lot of people off becoming a landlord. It’s a rational fear, but I want to show you that even if the nightmare does happen there is plenty you can do:

Getting your home back

Legally you may end a tenancy after 6 months without giving any reason. You do however need to give the tenant 2 months notice. If you want to end a tenancy sooner though you will need a reason. This is referred to as grounds for possession which might be one of the following:

Arrears – if the tenant owes you at least 8 weeks or two months rent.
Antisocial behaviour – if you are getting complaints about the tenant being excessively noisy.
Damage – if the tenant is causing damage to the property.

If one of these is the case then you may have grounds to evict, you will however still need to give notice in writing, how much depends on which point they are in breach of.

What if they don’t leave?

99.9% of the time you won’t have any problems at all. Unfortunately there are a few bad tenants out there, and you may come across them at some point. So what do you do if they flatly refuse to leave after you have given them notice?

You are not allowed to evict them yourself, and even if you were this would be inadvisable. You can however go to the county court to have an eviction order served. This is fairly straight forward and you can even start the ball rolling by filling in the forms online.

If the tenancy was a fixed term that has come to an end you can use the accelerated possession procedure. This is the quickest way to get the job done, but you cannot claim for damages or loss of rent. You can at least claim back the court cost though.

If your tenant is not paying the rent then you can use possession claims online (PCOL). This service will allow you to claim for rent owed, plus interest, plus the cost of claiming. You can apply on-line and you will be sent a hearing date.

All in all there is an awful lot of support for landlords who find themselves with difficult tenants, but the best thing to do if you are unsure is to speak to a professional property management company. They will be able to help with any concerns, and if you are using a management service to handle your property they will also be able to support you through the claims process should the worst happen.

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