Q&A - Which is the best way to evict tenant for non-payment of rent?

Q: I have a cottage which I have rented out on an Assured Shorthold Tenancy for the last 12 months. No deposit was taken. In October 2013 the tenant lost his job and was without income for several weeks. Because he got another job quickly I agreed to accept October's rent by instalments made up by paying extra in November and December. However, he has paid nothing since September and seems to have spiralled out of control. Which is the best way to evict him?

A:  Under the Housing Act 1988, tenants on an Assured Shorthold Tenancy have security of tenure. This means you need to obtain a court order to evict them if they refuse to leave voluntarily.

Before starting court proceedings you must serve a notice giving them 14 days to pay the arrears. If they fail to pay, under Section 8 of the Act you can apply to the court for a hearing to gain a possession order for the property and a judgment against the tenants for the rent arrears they owe. Provided they owe at least 2 months' rent arrears, both when the Section 8 Notice is served and at the hearing date, the Court must make a mandatory order for possession. However, should the tenants pay the rent arrears, or reduce them to less than 2 months', they will be able to remain in the property.

Alternatively you could apply under the accelerated possession procedure, but you cannot include a claim for rent arrears owed. You would firstly need to serve notice under Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988, requiring your tenants to leave. Proceedings could then be issued after two months have expired from the date the notice was served. The Court must grant you possession if notice has been served in accordance with Section 21 and you can produce the written tenancy agreement.