The Top 6 Mistakes Landlords Make Evicting Tenants

Posted by Stephen on 11th September 2017

Making mistakes when it comes to tenant eviction can be costly and very stressful for a landlord.

We look at the top six mistakes we see landlords making in the hope that you won’t make them too.

6 Mistakes Landlords Make Evicting Tenants

 

Evicting tenants can be a time consuming and potentially costly exercise for any landlord. We are often contacted by landlords looking for support in evicting tenants where they have tried to do so themselves (without having taken advice first, or read up on the topic – we have a great guide to evicting tenants!).

What stands out from the discussions that we have had with landlords is the number of simple mistakes that are often made which can then make it much harder to successfully evict the tenants.

We’ve brought together the top 6 of the most common mistakes that we come across when landlords seek to evict tenants themselves, in the hope that you can avoid making these mistakes yourself:

1. Failing to Join a Tenancy Deposit Scheme

2. Failing to provide the Prescribed Information

3. Serving the Wrong Notice

4. Inability to Prove Service of Notice

5. Failing to Put A Tenancy Agreement In Place

6. Getting Emotional

1. Failing to Join a Tenancy Deposit Scheme

All landlords letting residential property under an assured shorthold tenancy (which is most residential landlords!) are legally required to join  tenancy deposit protection scheme and to deposit tenant’s deposit with the cheme.

Not Joining Tenancy Deposit Scheme

Or alternatively have their letting agent do this on their behalf. 

If as a landlord you fail to place your tenant’s deposit within such a scheme you will be unable to enforce your rights in relation to the tenant.

As a result if you seek to evict a tenant by using either the section 21 or section 8 procedures the court will reject your application if the tenant notifies the court that you have failed to protect their deposit.

2. Failing To Serve The Prescribed Information

Most landlords do place their tenants deposit money within an approved deposit protection scheme. However many thyen overlook the fact that they are also required to provide the tenant with the ‘prescribed information’ relating to the scheme.

If you have arranged for the deposit to be held within an approved tenancy deposit scheme but you then fail to provide the tenant with the prescribed information relating to eh scheme you may also find that the court refuses to grant your application for possession of the property.

3. Serving the Wrong Notice

Issue the wrong notice and you have a frustrating time ahead.

Landlord Frustration Image

Eviction proceedings can be commenced by serving either a section 8 or a section 21 notice under the Housing Act 1988. The notices are intended to cover different situations which give rise to the landlord’s need to take back possession of the property.

We often see that a landlord has filed a section 8 notice instead of the section 21 notice because they realise that under the section 8 notice procedure a shorter notice period is required to be given to the tenant.

However a section 8 notice can only be validly served if the landlord can demonstrate that either one of the ‘mandatory’ or ‘discretionary’ grounds for possession applies.

If you can’t prove that you meet the requirements for these grounds then the court will reject your application on the basis that the notice was inappropriately served and you will have to start the process again by serving the section 21 notice.

4. Inability to Prove Service of Notice

In possession proceedings a common defence put forward by the tenant is that they never received the section 8 or section 21 notice. The burden is on you the landlord to prove that the notice was actually served.No Proof of Delivery Image

Notice can be served in person or by post. If you serve the notice in person by delivering the notice and posting it through the property’s letterbox then fill in form N215 which is a statement confirming that you served the notice.

If you use the post then take a photo of the correctly addressed envelope and post it in the presence of a witness who can then verify that you did indeed post the letter if needed.

You can also use a recorded delivery or special delivery service from the post office. However the risk here is that the tenant refuses to sign for the post when the postman tries to deliver it.

5. Failing to Put A Tenancy Agreement In Place

Whilst it is possible to take on a tenant without putting in place written tenancy agreement this will prevent you from using the ‘accelerated’ possession procedure under Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988.

6. Getting Emotional

When a tenant does not pay rent many landlords see red. After all they have held up their side of the relationship, so why should a tenant get away with living at the property without paying rent.

Landlord Getting Emotional Image

In frustration at the time it takes lawfully to evict a tenant, some landlords may consider alternative action. Turning off the utilities, for example, is not unheard of.

However this constitutes harassment and not only is it unlikely to have the desired effect, it could land you in serious trouble – potentially of criminal proceedings being brought against you.

The same goes for trying to gain entry and change the locks. Again not unheard of but you could be in trouble here for breaking and entering!

So the point to bear in mind is that, done correctly, recovery proceedings are relatively straight-forward and the process not overly lengthy. The key is to follow the appropriate steps.

Our guide on evicting tenants is a great place to read up on what steps to take should you find yourself in the position of having to evict tenants.