Evicting a tenant using the Section 21 procedure: Traps for the unwary landlord

Rent arrears recovery is not the only issue buy-to-let property owners encounter during their normal activity. Most often than not, rent arrears come associated with property issues where tenants disrespect the property they are in and therefore, in order to save time and money in the long run, landlords have to repossess the property.
Obtaining repossession of the property can happen by terminating an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) or a periodic tenancy.
This article will highlight the practical conditions a landlord should meet when using the section 21 procedure.

When faced with the prospect of terminating an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST), either in anticipation of the expiry of the fixed term, or after the fixed term has expired, most landlords will choose to use the section 21 procedure simply because no element of tenant default is required.
If used correctly the section 21 procedure will help avoid unnecessary issues or delays when regaining possession of a property.
Obtaining Possession

The accelerated possession procedure is generally a cost effective and efficient way of regaining possession of a property and can be used by a landlord where:
The only purpose of the claim is to recover possession (the accelerated possession procedure is not suitable for use when a landlord is claiming rent arrears from a tenant);
The landlord and tenant have entered into a written tenancy agreement;
The requisite 2 months’ notice has been given correctly; and
All the required practical steps, including those discussed in this article have been complied with, such as protecting the tenant’s deposit if one has been provided.
The advantage of using the accelerated possession procedure is that a court hearing is not usually required and the court can order possession to be given within 14 days, unless this would cause exceptional hardship, which can increase the 14 day period up to 42 days.
A court will make an order for possession of a property either on or after the end of a fixed term AST, where a landlord has given a tenant at least two months’ notice in writing and the AST has ended, this means no tenancy other than a periodic tenancy must exist.

The following steps must also have been taken by the landlord:
If a deposit is paid by the tenant to the landlord then that deposit must be protected by a Tenancy Deposit Scheme. There are a number of Tenancy Deposit Schemes available, meaning that a landlord can choose the one that is most suitable for his or her interests The landlord is not entitled to serve a section 21 notice where the landlord has not protected the deposit correctly; and
The landlord may not serve a notice on a tenant living in a multiple occupation property which must be licenced by the local housing authority, unless the property has been licenced correctly.

While property repossession can be carried out by individual landlords and agents, the slightest error or missed step in the process can add significant delay, leading to landlord losing time and money on his property investment.

At TDR we aim to:
1. Provide up to date information to help landlords when things are not going as they should in their property to let; and
2. Effectively help landlords recover tenant rent arrears and repossess the property if needed, in a very transparent and clear way. Please visit the other sections of the website for more details on how we can help or contact us via our email at info@tdra.co.uk.

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