What are a tenant's rights when it comes to eviction?

Wednesday, 23 May 2012 7:58 AM

Many tenants are unaware of the eviction process, their rights and what their landlord can do.
It is important to know where you stand and how to avoid being evicted illegally.

Firstly, there are 17 different grounds for eviction, which is known as possession under the Housing Act (1988).
Generally speaking there are four main grounds used most commonly by a landlord to evict a tenant.
These include rent arrears, where a tenant has not paid the rent on time and owes money to the landlord.
You can be evicted if the terms of the tenancy are broken, for example if you sublet your home out without permission, or you leave the property empty for a long period of time.
If the condition of the property or furniture has worn more than regular wear and tear this can be a ground for eviction.
This most often happens to tenants if they have pets in the home which were not permitted to be there or if the property has undergone damage.
The fourth common ground used for eviction is if the tenant has regularly caused nuisance or annoyance such as anti-social behaviour like loud music or again regular parties.
The best way to avoid being evicted is to be aware of your tenancy agreement and not break any of the rules of the agreement. Most landlords will issue a notice for activities such as anti-social behaviour before going down the eviction path. If you receive a notice, stop the behaviour immediately and do what you can to mend the trust between you and your landlord.

Can a landlord evict me without notice?

No a landlord cannot evict you without notice. The first step of the eviction process is the serving of a notice.
No matter what grounds are used for eviction the tenant must first be served a legal notice. The two main notices used are a Section Eight and Section 21. The main difference is that a section 21 route cannot proceed until both the notice period and the fixed-term have expired, the Section Eight route can commence at any time.
The Section eight is used for forced eviction during the term of a contract, such as when the tenant is in rent arrears.
But a section 21 notice is issued in the case that the landlord has an Assured Shorthold Tenancy or a break-clause.
Your tenancy agreement will have these details in it. If you reach this stage the best thing to do is vacate the property in the allocated time limit. But if you feel the landlord does not have grounds to evict you the next option is court.

Eviction cases in the courts

If a tenant refuses to leave, the landlord will bring the case to court. A solicitor will file the case with the courts and it can take up to 12 weeks to assign a hearing date. A tenant has the option to be represented or present a defense in either writing or in person. This is the point in the case that you will highlight the lack of grounds for eviction. If a tenant lodges a defense the case may be adjourned by the judge for a later date which can take up to another six weeks.
For those who were served a Section Eight notice you have until the hearing date to pay all outstanding rent. If you pay this sum before the case is heard in court the landlord will not be able to evict you.
In other cases if the court rules to evict you, it is time to leave the property.

What happens if I refuse to leave the property?

If a court has ruled for eviction a Bailiff will be appointed to regain possession of the property. Basically the Bailiff will force the tenant to leave the property and a lock-smith will be on-hand to change the locks.
This is not an ideal situation and we suggest avoiding forced removal.


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