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As a landlord, nothing is more stressful than a difficult tenant. A property is your asset and investment and by renting it out you are putting faith in (what is usually) a complete stranger, hoping they will abide by the obligations and responsibilities set out in the tenancy agreement.

If your tenant is in violation of their tenancy agreement and they are refusing to cooperate, you may be forced to start a legal eviction process.

Legal is key word here, whilst a tenant dispute can be very frustrating, you must follow the strict eviction process and abide by all the legalities, if not you could find yourself in court contesting an illegal eviction.

A good example of what not to do in these situations can be found in a recent case at Cambridge Crown Court between a Mr laird (landlord) and Mr Girdlestone (tenant).

Mr Girdlestone was served a notice to vacate by Mr Laird after he had fallen behind on rent, however, the notice served was invalid as Mr Girdlestone had not been given the full legal period of time to vacate the flat.

After a heated argument between the two, Mr Laird took matters into his own hands, changing the locks and removing Mr Girdlestone’s possessions from the flat.

Mr Laird then had this case brought against him by the North Hertfordshire District Council (NHDC) and was subsequently found guilty of illegally evicting Mr Girdlestone. He was ordered to pay £3,000 compensation to Mr Girdlestone, as well as £5,000 towards NHDC’s prosecution costs.

So what can we learn from Mr Laird’s actions?

Always Give Proper Notice

You must give your tenant at least 2 months’ notice under section 21 of the Housing act 1988. This is known as a section 21 notice and must be served to the tenant in writing, specifying the date you require the tenant to vacate by (this date mustn’t be sooner than two months after the notice has been served. It also cannot be earlier than the end of the fixed term). Failure to give proper notice will mean any notice to vacate served will be invalid.

Be Patient

Evicting a tenant can take a long time and keeping your patience can be difficult, especially if they are refusing to pay rent during the process.

However taking matters into your own hands will only create more problems, any attempts to evict outside of the legal procedure will be a violation of the Protection from Eviction Act 1977 and may result in charges being brought against you.

Avoid Conflict

In cases like this one, where there is clear animosity between landlord and tenant, it’s recommended you avoid face to face confrontation. Whilst a notice to vacate needs to be served directly, you can hire professional notice servers to avoid any potential conflict.

If You Don’t Know the Legal Eviction Procedure, Seek Help

Given the invalid notice to vacate led to Mr Laird and Mr Girdlestone having a heated exchange, one would argue the situation could have been avoided entirely if Mr Laird had been aware that he needed to give at least 2 months’ notice.

If you are in anyway unsure about the legal steps to take when evicting a tenant, always consult a solicitor to make sure you don’t make any errors which may hinder or delay the eviction process.

At Gorvins, we know that, as a landlord, you will want a solicitor who can provide swift action and resolve any dispute which may arise from your tenants.

If you are currently involved in a dispute with your tenant, or you simply wish to find out more information on how to resolve an ongoing dispute, then contact the Gorvins Dispute Resolution team today on 0161 930 5101 or e-mail disputeresolutionteam@gorvins.com for a free, no-obligation, confidential discussion.

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