According to figures from the Ministry of Justice, over 42,000 evictions took place in 2014 – a record high in recent years. And for the second year in a row, the Ministry is increasing the legal fees that landlords will be required to pay if they wish to evict tenants for non-payment of rent. Rising costs mean the prospect of evicting tenants without following the necessary legal guidelines becomes more attractive to landlords. However, the consequences of this can put you in jail.
“The spiralling costs are unfair and are hitting landlords in the pocket yet again,” says Sim Sekhon, Director of Legal 4 Landlords. “However, the law is complex and too many landlords serve invalid notices delaying the process and waste their money… Landlords must follow the correct procedure and expert guidance is paramount. Evicting a tenant is stressful enough but many landlords are concerned about rising court costs so it’s not surprising some are tempted to take the law into their own hands.”
Eviction should really only be considered as a last resort, when other attempts to resolve landlord-tenant issues have failed. “It’s not nice evicting a tenant, but sometimes it can’t be avoided,” says landlord Victoria Whitlock.
Landlords must follow the letter of the law in these situations, in order to avoid being accused of illegally evicting or harassing tenants. Each individual case is different, and so it is crucial that you are clear on how to proceed. However, circumstances usually fall under one of two categories:
1. Standard possession. If you wish to reclaim your property due to unpaid rent, then you need to file a ‘standard possession order’. This costs £250 and you can fill in all court forms and follow proceedings online.
2. Accelerated possession. If you are not seeking overdue rent, and your tenants are on an assured shorthold tenancy, then you can pursue an ‘accelerated possession’. This costs £280 and can also be completed online.
To find out more about your rights and responsibilities when evicting tenants, visit gov.uk/evicting-tenants.