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How can I legally evict my tenant now the eviction restrictions have been removed?


What are my rights as a landlord?

 

Landlords have been dealing with various legal battles since The Coronavirus Act 2020, where tenants in commercial and residential properties were protected by the emergency legislation, which included a temporary ban (moratorium) on eviction proceedings and prevented landlords from enforcing evictions with bailiffs.

Even though the restrictions on Landlords of residential properties have come to an end in England, and the notice they must serve to tenants has returned to pre-pandemic timescales (two months for Section 21 and two weeks for Section 8), many will likely face long delays for evictions to be processed as the government’s review hearings rules and the existing backlog holds up proceedings.

 

Regaining possession of your property

To repossess your residential property, there are strict legal procedures you must follow. You will need to issue a written notice that is according to the required legal format. A possession claim will either follow a standard procedure or an accelerated procedure.

Under the Protection from Eviction Act 1977, it is an offence to evict a tenant unlawfully. To ensure you evict the tenant lawfully, you can opt for a possession proceeding case in various instances, which include:

 

  • The tenant owes a significant amount of dues in rent
  • The tenant has violated the tenancy agreement or
  • The Landlord wishes to sell his property

 

Before proceeding with possession claims

In connection with the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA), the government has produced a guide to managing arrears and avoiding possession claims in the context of the coronavirus pandemic.

 

The NRLA says:

Steps to take before notice is issued (including under Section 21 and Section 8, ground 8)

 

  • The Landlord should write to the tenants outlining the reasons possession is being sought. If possession is for arrears, then the rent arrears pre-action plan should be followed. A failure to do so could result in your case being adjourned, which could delay it.
  • Landlords must declare if they know of any matters that should be considered, including if tenants, their dependants, or other occupiers have been affected by Coronavirus and, if so, how this has impacted their ability to pay rent.
  • Both parties should consider whether it is possible to resolve issues between them through discussion and negotiation, rather than formal legal proceedings (alternative dispute resolution).
  • The Landlord should consider any representations received. If proceeding with a claim, include any information provided relating to the impact of Coronavirus on the tenant’s ability to pay rent.
  • Landlords must keep copies of all documentation and a record of all correspondence or contact with the tenant, throughout the pre-action process, and provide the information to the court should proceedings be necessary.

 

It is essential to correctly follow the procedure involved when you are looking to evict your tenant. Therefore, seeking legal advice on how to do this is paramount to prevent your notice being invalid or void. The courts will always encourage, where possible, landlords and tenants to consider mediation if disputes or other matters persist. Mediation allows an independent third party to assist those involved to try to reach a mutually acceptable agreement to resolve their dispute.

 

What is alternative dispute resolution (ADR)?

ADR is a way of resolving a dispute between parties which doesn’t involve going to court. Our commercial litigation team are experts in ADR and are able to conclude dispute claims quickly and efficiently.

The four common forms of ADR are:

  • Mediation
  • Arbitration
  • Conciliation
  • Adjudication

 

Specialist Legal Advice for Landlords

Regaining possession of a property can be a complex area of law. With the recent updates to legislation, and current court delays, seeking specialist legal advice will ensure you fully comply with the relevant regulations and obligations that will safeguard you from possible problems. If you involve a lawyer early on you could avoid lengthy court proceedings.

Our specialist Landlord and tenant team at Eric Robinson have many years’ experience advising commercial and residential landlords on disputes with their tenants. We will advise you on the options available to you, aiming to resolve issues through negotiation or alternative dispute resolution. However, our guidance will be based on a solution that is in your best interest. If you have a query regarding any of the above, please do not hesitate to contact us.