You can only lawfully evict a tenant by obtaining an Order for Possession Court Order and it is a criminal offence to do so without one under the Protection From Eviction Act 1979.
In order to obtain an Order for Possession, depending on the type of tenancy, landlords are required to serve tenants with the correct Notice giving them the correct amount of time in which to leave.
It is crucial any necessary notice is properly drafted and any relevant ground for possession cited along with supporting evidence where required. Failure to serve a correct notice renders it invalid and your case will be thrown out in the event you apply to Court for an Order for Possession potentially wasting several months and a substantial further loss of rent.
Even if landlords obtain an Order for Possession, if the tenant fails to vacate the property, landlords are not entitled to simply change the locks. Landlords must arrange for Court Bailiffs to evict them or landlords may be liable for an illegal eviction and be ordered to pay damages to the tenant.
It can several months from serving the correct Notice and obtaining an Order for Possession. Landlords could consider agreeing a repayment plan with tenants and/or the tenants may be entitled to help with housing costs from the Local Authority. If the property is subject to a mortgage or landlords rely on the rent for other purposes, it is very important to calculate how long you can afford not to receive rent from a non-paying tenant.
Act quickly. If landlords are owed more than two months / eight weeks rent serve Notice immediately. You want to keep your losses to a minimum.
Consider how long is left to run on the tenancy agreement. It may be easier (and quicker) to evict your tenant under the accelerated procedure and take steps to recover outstanding rent later.
Refrain from seeking possession purely on discretionary grounds. Your tenant can defend the claim which may result in the case being adjourned and more lost rent and time.
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