Q&A - Can I give my problem tenants seven days' notice and change the locks?

Q: I own a property that has been converted into flats which I have been letting out to various tenants for many years without any problems. Since February, however, I have had new tenants in one of the flats who haven't paid any rent since April. They have also been causing problems with tenants of the other flats because of their late night parties and general antisocial attitude. Recently they broke a window to gain entry to the property because they had lost their keys. I have given them several warnings to no avail. Can I give them a seven day notice and change the locks?

A: No, there is a prescribed set of procedures which must be followed to evict tenants from a residential property.  You should instruct a solicitor to issue a formal notice to the tenants giving the specified notice period required and providing full details of the allegations made against them.  If the tenants have failed to vacate by the date of expiry of the notice, Court proceedings may then be issued for possession of the property.  The claim will be listed for hearing before a District Judge, and provided that certain criteria are met, the Judge will make an order for possession.  The tenants will usually be given time to vacate the property. If they fail to do so within that time, then a Warrant for Possession must be obtained, after which a County Court Bailiff will attend at the property and the tenants will be forcibly removed from it.  It is very important to observe the legal requirements for recovering possession, as failure to do so may result in prosecution for unlawful eviction and a claim for compensation against you. It is recommended that you consult a solicitor to guide you through this tricky process.