How to avoid a bad tenant

Getting a bad tenant and, more importantly, trying to get rid of them can be a painful and tiring process for landlords. The eviction process can be complicated, but this article outlines what action landlords can take to avoid bad tenants and how to make evicting tenants easier.

What should a landlord do to avoid a bad tenant?

Step #1: Tenant referencing

  • Ask the tenant's bank for at least three months' worth of bank statements.

  • Find out from the tenant's employer how long the tenant has worked there.

  • Do a tenant check – our Tenant Checking Service can help.

Landlords: Read our five essential steps to vetting your tenant.

Find out why landlords should take care when checking tenants' references.

Step#2: Find out more information on the tenant

  • Speak with the tenant's previous landlords.

  • Obtain a copy of the tenant's passport – to prevent identity fraud.

  • Obtain the tenant's National Insurance number.

  • If in doubt, secure a guarantor for the tenant's rent (i.e. a parent).

Landlords: Find out how to use a guarantor to guarantee the rent.

Use our rent guarantee agreement.

How can a landlord find a reputable management agent?

  • Do some research into the company. How long has the firm been running?

  • Find out if the company has a large management department?

  • Obtain references from the managing agent's landlords.

A landlord's three steps to eviction success

Step #1: Serve the eviction notice

There are two notices you can serve, depending on the circumstances.

Section 8 Notice

A Section 8 Notice is served under the Housing Act 1988 for rent arrears. There are two grounds on which landlords can use a Section 8 Notice.

Ground 8 should be used when the tenant is in rent arrears of two months or more. In this case, a mandatory possession order must be used by the judge. Alternatively, grounds 10/11 can be used for eviction. This is when the tenant is persistently delaying rental payment for less than two months and in this circumstance, the judge can make a possession order at their discretion.

Find out more about when to use a Section 8 Notice.

Download a Section 8 Notice now.

Section 21 Notice

A Section 21 Notice ends the tenancy. If the tenant is in rent arrears, you cannot use a Section 21 Notice for evicting tenants.

If the tenancy is a fixed-term tenancy or a periodic tenancy, landlords must give the tenant at least two months' notice to leave the property. With a Section 21 Notice, it can take the judge up to six weeks to grant a possession order.

Do be careful of tenants who want to be re-housed by their local council, as they may be acting antisocially to encourage you to commence eviction proceedings.

Find out more about tenants wanting to be re-housed.

Download a Section 21 Notice now.

Find out more about when to use a Section 21 Notice.

Step #2: Issue eviction proceedings

Once landlords have served the eviction notice, the tenant has 14 days to respond. If they don’t, then it’s time for landlords to issue eviction proceedings.

  • Arrange for a solicitor to issue proceedings for repossession of the property on your behalf.

  • Instruct the solicitor to represent you in court, once the date for the hearing has been set. It usually takes six to eight weeks to get a court hearing and the hearing often lasts just five minutes. Here the tenant will defend their case. They may state that they have paid the rent arrears, or they are awaiting Housing Benefit, or they are being harassed by the landlord.

  • If the court decides in your favour, you will obtain a possession order from the court.

Find out how our Tenant Eviction Service can issue eviction proceedings for you.

Step #3: Arrange for court bailiffs to remove the tenant

It's an obstinate tenant who doesn't leave by a date set by the court. If you have gained a possession order from the court and the tenant doesn't want to go, you can arrange for court bailiffs to remove the bad tenant, but it will usually take four to six weeks for an eviction date. Also be aware that the tenant can apply to suspend the eviction date.

On the day of the eviction, landlords should ensure the following:

  • Arrive early for the eviction.

  • Organise for the locks to be changed on the property.

  • Secure the property once the tenants have been evicted.

Get all the tenant eviction forms and guidance you need with the Tenant Eviction Kit.

Find out how our Tenant Eviction Service can recover property and rent from problem tenants for you.

Find out more about how to deal with antisocial tenants and how to commence eviction proceedings.

Published on: June 2, 2008

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