Q. I made the rather silly decision of renting my property out privately rather than using an estate agent to do the job properly. Sadly I now find myself in a rather hot mess. The tenant has stopped paying the rent and now refuses to leave my property. With no professional back up I really have no idea what I need to do to get them out of my property as soon as possible. As you can imagine I am now in considerable financial difficulty given I have to cover both the mortgage and the service charges myself. Can you advise, I really have no idea what I need to do next and need swift action?
A. Sadly, and although it seems rather tempting at the time to avoid hefty lettings fees when it comes to letting your property which by the way is likely to be one of the most expensive assets you own, cutting corners is really not the smartest of ideas. You must give at least two months’ notice under section 21 of the Housing act 1988 if you want to evict your tenant. This is known as a Section 21 notice. It can only be served by a landlord earlier than any fixed term if the tenancy agreement makes provision for it. The precise form of this notice can vary, but it must be in writing, and must specify the date of required possession. This date must not be sooner than two months after the notice has been served. It also mustn’t be earlier than the end of the fixed term. If the fixed term has expired, or the tenancy was periodic, the date specified must be the last day of the rental period. It’s very easy to get the date wrong in this situation, so be careful because if the date is wrong, then you won’t succeed in possession. If the tenant doesn’t move out as a result of the Section 21 notice, you’ll have to go to court to seek a possession order; however the court can’t make a possession order in the first six months of the tenancy. You can also opt for an accelerated possession procedure. The accelerated possession proceeding is a quicker way to gain possession as there is no court hearing, but you will need to pay a fee before the action can commence. For accelerated possession you need to find the County Court for the area where the property is situated, then fill in a Form N5B claim for possession (accelerate procedure), obtainable from HM Courts service. Personally given your situation I would advise bringing in a professional that specialises in eviction. There are numerous companies that provide this service for a fixed fee and they will cover everything from serving notice to the actual eviction if need be.