When you need to regain possession of a property let on a residential basis you need to comply with the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 and related legislation which is essentially there to protect residential occupiers.
What is the nature of the occupation?
Most residential occupiers are tenants but some are mere licensees, e.g. where their occupation is employment related or they are negotiating to buy. In some cases the occupier is there without permission, ie is a squatter or trespasser. The nature of the occupation determines the steps you need to take to repossess.
Court order necessary
A residential occupier cannot be evicted without a court order and to attempt to do so is a criminal offence as is any attempt to pressurise the occupier to leave. This applies even where the premises are partly or even mainly let for business purposes.
First you need to serve notice in the correct form and give the right notice period. Only after that can you apply to the court if the tenant does not leave.
If you have a Tenancy Agreement and have served a valid Notice Requiring Possession and you are seeking possession only – not rent arrears – you can begin this procedure. It involves submitting a claim form, the tenancy agreement, a copy of the notice and proof of service. The tenant has an opportunity to defend the claim (albeit on limited grounds) or ask for extra time to leave.
This procedure would commonly be used where you have served a Notice of Seeking Possession or where the accelerated procedure cannot be used because you wish to claim rent arrears or cannot produce a Tenancy Agreement. This procedure requires detailed particulars of claim and a witness statement and so is a more costly exercise. There will be a hearing and if the tenant defends the claim (and/or brings a counter claim) the court is likely to adjourn and give directions for disclosure of documents and further witness statements followed by a full hearing at a later date.
Possession orders and warrants
Usually, the court will make an order for possession to take effect after 28 days or 56 days where the judge is satisfied that the tenant will experience exceptional hardship. Once the date for possession has passed, if the tenant has not left, the court can grant a warrant for bailiffs to attend the property to physically evict the tenant.
We can help with:
- Analysing the nature of the occupier’s interest – tenant, licensee or trespasser
- The form and length of notice needed to terminate the tenancy
- Which procedure applies
- The likelihood of a defence or counterclaimn
- What the court process would involve
Dealing with residential tenants can involve sensitive issues but can often be resolved by agreement. We prefer to aim for an amicable solution but failing that we apply the law expertly and efficiently to get early results. Contact us today.