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  • Eviction is the legal process required to end a tenancy.  A Sec. 21 Notice to Quit pre-empts the end of an AST tenancy and provides immediate enforcement should the tenant not leave on time - no fault is required.   This is not what is normally thought of as the start of eviction.  Usually, where the tenant defaults in some way with regard to tenancy obligations a section 8 NTQ will be served on the tenant.  This is followed by an application to the county court for an order for possession.  A court order is always required to end most tenancies.  Should the tenant remain after the court order is granted then the landlord must return to court for a bailiffs order.  All order incur hefty fees.  Only bailiffs with a court order can escort a tenant out of their home.  This said, because a S.8 NTQ is slower, it is often simpler and quicker to issue a section 21 NTQ, particularly if the end of the tenancy is approaching anyway.  So in reality many S.21 notices are used instead of S.8 notices, distorting the statistics.  The Government is planning to end the use of S.21 notices.  This will likely clog up the courts with slower moving cases.  Meantime landlords will wait longer to gain possession of their properties occupied by non paying tenants.
However, prevention is better than cure. When a tenant cannot provide a guarantor or references, there is often a reason – they are known to be untrustworthy and others who know the tenant will not vouch for them.
  1. So, tenants may know e.g., from a website's criteria, or from landlord and agent explanations, that prospective tenants will not accepted without adequate evidence of their suitability.  However [again],… normally an additional quarter’s rent will secure the tenancy regardless.  This offers adequate security for a six-month tenancy but, crucially, not for say... a year’s tenancy.  Just occasionally, the last six months’ rent may not to be paid.  It would be interesting to know how often we accept such increased payments (in the absence of adequate references and guarantors) and the percentage of times this scenario happens.  In the letting industry it appears to be a common occurrence, but I think I have only experienced it once in 35 years.
  2. Knowing such criteria any con artists may well manage to procure the first six months advanced rent in the knowledge this is the only rent they will ever pay.
  3. When such a prospective tenant presents themselves with the offer of say... 6 months’ rent upfront, however tempting, it should immediately be viewed suspiciously.
  4. Should the tenant refuse to leave at the end of the tenancy then the lengthy legal eviction process can enable the tenant to remain, rent free, for many more months or even in some cases years, particularly if the landlord has in some way even technically neglected their duties or cannot prove they have complied, or the tenant alleges impropriety.
  5. If a tenant is not paying the rent and in this case the landlord was not responding to our emails after the tenancy had ended this left us in an awkward position.  The tenancy had ended, and our agency terms of business provided only for the duration of a fixed tenancy term after which we were no longer obliged to act, notwithstanding we assisted the landlord.
  6. But what if the landlord neglects to renew a gas safety certificate?  What if the tenant refuses to respond to maintenance to enable landlord compliance?  Ultimately, in law, the landlord is responsible, but the landlord will often look for the easiest or softest default option, and that is normally to point to the agent as being vicariously responsible.  “I left all that to my agent your honour!”  Remember that any original fixed term tenancy automatically defaults to a periodic or monthly tenancy after the end of any initial fixed term has expired.
  7. So, although the tenancy had ended an ongoing 'periodic' tenancy nevertheless remained.
  8. Simply because the tenant refuses to leave or pay rent does not exonerate the landlord’s duty to ensure the property is properly maintained.  E.g., the utilities must not be turned off by the landlord or agent as this would constitute harassment (an offence).  Safety must not be compromised nor neglected, simply because the tenant is not paying the rent and the landlord might no longer afford the maintenance.
  9. It is prudent to remind the landlord that following the end of the tenancy and the client/ agency relationship, whilst we have offered limited assistance as a goodwill gesture (providing post tenancy documents and issuing notice to quit), we no longer have a formal client relationship following the end of the fixed term tenancy and that it is the landlord's duty to ensure compliance including gas safe certification.  This duty continues despite the continuing presence of the original non-rent paying tenant.
  10. Has the landlord maintained the duty to provide certification, esp. gas? Can the Landlord inform us the last time the gas certificate was renewed? Is the gas certificate still current (unexpired)? Without a current gas certificate, a s.21 NTQ might be rejected at court.  A tenant intent on contriving to avoid eviction could make certificate renewal impossible by refusing entry or cooperation precisely as a rouse to claim such a fault.  In such instances we have a duty to document regular attempts to ensure compliance.  It is insufficient to claim, “we tried once or twice”.  In court it is a valid defence against negligence to prove that we did all that could reasonably be expected (by furnishing such documentation) despite the tenant’s attempts to thwart our efforts.  This tenant offered very imaginative spurious defences causing our team to think outside the norm by bending our minds to think like him to pre-empt his next move.  The tenant denied receiving NTQ despite geo photographic evidence to the contrary.  So he changed his defence to us entering his flat unlawfully (again spurious - I rang the common area bell and he pressed the buzzer to allow me in).  I entered the common stair only, and knocked on his flat door which he refused to answer or open.  He was clearly unashamed and played the legal system to delay eviction.  He also attempted to extort money by suggesting we reach a settlement based on the lost rent were he to remain.

See also

Published: 5 November 2013 Last Updated: 20 March 2022