Good tenant selection can go a long way to reducing the likelihood that you will have to go through the eviction process, but the fact still remains that there is highly unlikely to be a landlord anywhere in the UK who is 100% immune from the possibility of needing to evict a tenant.
In the old days, landlords could simply turn up (with the help of some ‘muscle’) and order a tenant to leave. Those days are long gone and while no reputable landlord is likely to want to see them back, all landlords absolutely must familiarise themselves with new rules relating to evictions.
The basics of evictions
If a landlord wishes to evict tenants they must use either a Section 8 notice (where a tenant has given grounds for eviction) or a Section 21 notice (if the tenant is not at fault in any way).
A section 21 notice essentially informs your tenant that you plan to take possession of your property and that, therefore, they must vacate it.
A Section 8 notice can be served at any time, whereas a Section 21 notice can only be served during a contract if there is an agreed break period, at the end of the contract or if a contract is continuing on a “rolling” basis, rather than having been extended for another fixed term.
Landlords cannot serve a Section 21 notice during the first four months of any tenancy and must give tenants at least two months’ notice of their intention to reclaim their property. In other words, unless a tenant gives cause for eviction, landlords should assume that they will be in the property for at least 6 months.
The 2015 Deregulation Act
Prior to the 2015 Deregulation Act, landlords were able to serve notice to tenants in any written form. Now they must use a designated form available for download on the gov.uk website.
In the case of Section 21 notices, this is form 6A. When the 2015 Deregulation Act was first implemented, this requirement only applied to tenancies commencing on or after 1st October 2015. Now it applies to all tenancies regardless of their start date.
Rules which may come into force in future
There are two other provisions of the 2015 Deregulation Act which are not currently in force for older tenancies.
One of these is that a Section 21 notice cannot be served within six months of the landlord being served with an improvement notice or emergency remedial action notice being served by a local council and the other is that a Section 21 notice can only be held to be valid provided that the tenant has been given an energy performance certificate and gas safety certificate prior to the commencement of the tenancy.
In September 2015, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) has indicated that neither of these requirements will apply to older tenancies, however given the current political climate it seems entirely within the bounds of possibility that the first provision could be applied at some point in the future.
Mark Burns is the managing director of property investment firm Hopwood House.