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What are the Stages of Tenant Eviction?

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From our heritage as Sheriffs we have developed our property services for the benefit of our community so they have a one-stop shop of protection.

No landlord wants to evict a tenant, but sometimes it is inevitable. One of the major concerns is that there are some key steps to take that cannot be completed any quicker than the legal framework. If you are looking to evict a tenant and unsure how to do so? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Whatever the reason for eviction – whether the tenancy isn’t working out, your tenants are behind on their rent, or your circumstances as a landlord have changed or you need the property back as your primary residence – our eviction guide covers the legal requirements as well as some helpful tips to make the process go as smoothly as possible.

The law and the Type of Tenancy |

In most cases, the contract between a tenant and the landlord takes the form of a tenancy agreement. The most common tenancy agreements in England and Wales are for Assured Shorthold Tenancies (AST). ASTs can be terminated primarily by relying on fairgrounds for eviction outlined in a Section 21 notice or a Section 8 notice issued under the Housing Act 1988, either mandatory or discretionary. Both Section 21 and Section 8 notices are used to serve notice on a tenant, but they are significantly different, and it is important to serve the correct notice to minimise delays and costs. As a result, as a landlord, you must be aware of Sections 21 and 8, as well as tenancy agreements and how to terminate a tenancy arrangement.

Tenancy agreements and how to end them

A formal tenancy agreement guarantees that all rights and duties are expressly agreed upon beyond what is required by law and that any conflicts are more readily handled. If you want to utilise a Section 21 notice, you’ll also need to establish that an AST was in place. An AST can be |

Fixed term | the agreement lasts for a fixed length of time

Periodic | the agreement rolls on indefinitely with rent paid at fixed intervals throughout

When it comes to the eviction process, whether your tenant is on a fixed term, or a periodic AST is essential:

If a fixed-term AST is coming to an end, a landlord can evict the tenant quickly and without giving a reason.

However, a landlord cannot just let the tenancy ‘run out’: if he or she does nothing, the tenant is legally allowed to stay on under a statutory periodic tenancy. The landlord must provide two months’ written notice to end the tenancy. This is the Section 21 notice. If the landlord has complied with these rules and the tenant refuses to leave, the landlord may start the process of eviction. A court order is required to forcibly remove a tenant.

If the landlord wishes to end a periodic AST 

  • If the AST is a contractual periodic AST, the landlord must follow the terms outlined in the contract. If in any doubt, take legal advice before proceeding
  • If it is a statutory periodic AST, the landlord must give at least two months’ written notice, which expires on the last day of a rental payment period. For example, if a rent period runs from 2nd August to 1st September, the end of tenancy date stated in the notice must be 1st September

If a landlord wishes to end a fixed-term AST before the end of the term |

  • If the tenancy agreement has a provision for this, the landlord should be able to seek possession
  • Alternatively, they could activate the break clause in the agreement, provided there is one, and then use a Section 21 notice (landlords cannot otherwise use the Section 21 notice if trying to end a tenancy during a fixed term)
  • If a landlord can show they have grounds for possession (such as rent arrears), they can seek possession using a Section 8 notice

Reasons to evict a tenant

There are a variety of reasons to evict a tenant, and the cause for the action influences how the eviction is carried out.

The explanation could be as simple as the tenancy coming to an end and you no longer desire to rent the property. This will guide you along one path that is generally faster.

The other is where there has been some kind of issue, but the tenancy agreement isn’t due to end. Common reasons for evicting a tenant include |

  • Rent arrears
  • Constant late payment of rent
  • Breach of contract
  • Allowing the property to fall into disrepair or cause damage
  • Anti-social behaviour
  • Providing false information such as a fabricated credit check to get the tenancy

How long does a tenant eviction take?

The duration of eviction is a difficult question to answer. As you can see from the list above, there are a variety of reasons to evict someone, each with its own set of standards and legal requirements.

However, based on our experience, the typical time from the date of the eviction order is roughly 6 weeks. It may be faster in certain circumstances, and it may take longer in others. If there is a lot of disagreement between the parties or other issues, some cases can take up to 6 months to resolve. Understanding the procedure – and how long each stage takes – is crucial to determining how long the eviction will take.

Tenant eviction process

Let’s look at the general processes in place around an eviction

Serving legal notice

A landlord can start an eviction process in the UK by serving a legal notice. Two notices are used in the eviction process – Section 8 or Section 21. The amount of notice you should give your tenant will vary depending on the specifics of your leasing agreement.

Section 21 Notice |

A Section 21 notice of possession means you want to take back possession of your property at the end of a fixed-term tenancy agreement or trigger an agreed break clause. Importantly, you don’t have to provide any reason to claim possession when you serve a valid Section 21 notice.

Section 8 Notice |

A Section 8 eviction notice is served when there is a clear ground for eviction. Examples of those include the ones listed above such as non-payment of rent, damage of property, or anti-social behaviour. In such cases, you can terminate the tenancy during its fixed term if the tenant has breached the tenancy agreement. But your tenant may dispute it, and it could go to the court where you’ll need to evidence the reason for the eviction.

Court Proceedings

If the date on the notice passes and the tenant has not left the property, you will need to start with court proceedings.

The standard possession claim process would involve completing a Form N5 claim for possession and N119 particulars of claim for possession. If you want to claim back rent arrears at the same time, you can use this order under either Section.

A hearing will take place when you have completed the documentation for court proceedings.

There are a number of possible outcomes to the case including |

  • Dismiss the case and no order will be made
  • Adjourn the heating to move to a later date if a decision can’t be made then
  • Make an ‘order’ or official legal decision on what should happen

Depending on the situation, the court can then give a few orders. The major one is an ‘order for possession’ which implies the tenant must depart by the date indicated, usually 14 or 28 days after the court hearing.

If they don’t leave by this date, you can approach the court to evict them with an “order for possession.”

Apply for a warrant of possession

A landlord has no choice but to seek a warrant of possession if tenants refuse to vacate the property after filing a possession claim. If a warrant of possession is issued, bailiffs will have the authority to remove tenants from a property.

Tenants will receive an eviction notice specifying the date they must vacate the property whenever the court issues a warrant. If your tenants do not leave by this date, a bailiff can evict them.

To expedite the process, you can request that the matter be transferred from the County Court to the High Court, where the eviction would be carried out by a High Court enforcement officer. This is only possible if your claim is worth more than £600, including court fees.

What if your legal notice is ignored?

You should fill out a certificate of service form N215 and include the details of who served the notice and when on the papers when the legal notice is provided to the tenant. If the tenant fails to vacate by the deadline, you can use the form to seek a possession order after the date has passed.

What if your possession order is ignored?

If the tenants ignore a possession order, the landlord might hire a bailiff to evict them. This normally involves having a County Court Bailiff enforce it, which can take anywhere between 4 and 7 weeks.

Is there a quicker way to evict a tenant?

To expedite the process, you can use the accelerated possession order described below. You can also request to have the matter transferred to the High Court to avoid having to wait for a County Court Bailiff. The eviction will thereafter be handled by a High Court Enforcement Officer.

Accelerated Possessions

Accelerated possession is one way to shorten the time it takes to evict a tenant, but it’s not applicable in every situation.

You can use the accelerated method if you have a Section 21 notice with a documented tenancy agreement and no rent arrears to deal with. Although a court hearing is not required, there is still a court charge to pay. For this, you’ll need to fill out form N5B claim for possession (expedited procedure).

Is it legal to evict a tenant without a court order?

You do need to follow the legal processes to evict a tenant or you could be found to be guilty of illegal eviction. This is where you evict the tenant without a court order, don’t give them the right amount of notice or do something like changing the locks.

Can I evict my tenant myself?

The answer is ‘No – you can’t evict your tenant yourself, as a landlord’. While you can manage some aspects of the procedure on your own, you will most likely need professional assistance in others. You can, for example, issue a Section 8 or 21 notice on your own.

However, once the court order is in place, the eviction must be carried out by a Bailiff or a High Court Enforcement Officer to ensure that it is legitimate and done correctly. Otherwise, you may find yourself in hot water for conducting an illegal eviction.

You should also avoid any activities that could be construed as harassing a tenant or attempting to physically remove them. That is why it is best to leave the eviction to the specialists.


Tenant evictions can be a complicated process, especially if the eviction is contested. Therefore, instructing an eviction specialist will ensure you draft and serve the correct eviction notice to your tenant, and ensure the possession claim and warrant for possession are handled correctly.

Shergroup is an expert in tenant evictions, and we’ve worked with clients all across the country on a variety of instances. We can act as bailiffs and have High Court Enforcement Officers on the team if a high court order needs to be enforced. As a result, you may rest assured that the eviction will be done lawfully and correctly. We also make certain that all essential paperwork is completed so that you have a paper trail to prove that all processes have been completed.

If you need us to do a Free review for you or help you with commercial or residential tenant eviction services, please contact us today for more information.

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Last updated | 19 July 2023

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