When renting out a property, a written tenancy agreement should be constructed in order to set out all rights and obligations of both tenant and landlord.
However, it is a common issue for landlords to find themselves without a tenancy agreement especially for a short-hold tenancy. Whether this be from one party not signing the original contract, or because the copy of the agreement was lost over time.
This can become a problem if it is decided that the tenant needs to be evicted. Not having a written agreement can make this process slightly more difficult but not impossible!
It is important to note that when a tenant moves into a rented property and begins rent payments, a tenancy is created. Without a written document, verbal contracts can be created and can sometimes work in place of a written agreement.
In this post, we will further explain the methods of how a landlord can evict a tenant even without a tenancy agreement.
Reasons to evict a tenant
There are many grounds that you can evict a tenant on, the main ones being:
• They are behind with the rent
• They constantly pay the rent late
• They have breached their tenancy agreement in some way
• They have allowed the property to fall into disrepair or even damaged it
• There is anti-social behaviour and complaints about them
• You discover they gave false information on the tenancy agreement such as a fabricated credit check or fake references
If these apply to your conditions but you no longer have your original tenancy agreement, read the following steps.
Speak with the tenant
Firstly, attempt to talk with the tenant and explain the severity of the matter. Try and give them an ultimatum for leaving voluntarily or you will begin formal eviction process.
In some cases, this is enough to make the tenant realise how serious you are, and they can leave on their own. If, however, the tenant chooses to ignore or avoid you then further legal action should be taken.
The next step is to confirm there is definitely no tenancy agreement. It is common to think that there is no tenancy agreement, especially if the tenant is now on a periodic tenancy. This means that the initial contract has ended but the tenancy rolls on month by month but with no end date. In this case, a periodic tenancy is still a valid tenancy agreement, and the terms of the proceedings still apply.
Secondly, the tenant may be willing to provide a copy of the original tenancy agreement, confirming that there is still a written document confirming the tenancy.
However, if your relationship with the tenant has deteriorated and them providing the tenancy agreement is not an option, it may be worth looking into benefits. If housing benefits were claimed by the tenants of your property, the local authority may have a copy of the tenancy agreement they are able to share with you.
Nevertheless, sometimes these options are not applicable to your situation due to there never being a written tenancy agreement from the get-go. Verbal contracts, although not recommended, can be used. If your tenant went in on a handshake and a promise to pay, this is when the eviction process can become more challenging.
In this situation there are still options to evict your tenant.
Statutory Law in the absence of a written tenancy agreement
If you have established that there is no way of retrieving the tenancy agreement, or there is no document to start with, these next options can be followed.
When it comes to assured shorthold tenancies (ATSs), the eviction process usually is rather straightforward. However, without the correct documents, there are slight changes that have to be made to the eviction process.
The usual protocol of evicting a tenant will mean issuing a Section 21 notice.
According to the government website, you can use a Section 21 notice to evict your tenants either:
• After a fixed term tenancy ends – if there’s a written contract
• During a tenancy with no fixed end date – known as a ‘periodic’ tenancy
Therefore, if there is no written contract you cannot use a Section 21 notice to evict your tenant. Instead, you will need to understand the following procedures.
Firstly, you will need to serve a Section 47 & 48 notice in order to make the terms of the verbal or lost agreement clear to the tenant.
Secondly, the notice of Seeking Possession is covered by Section 8 of The Housing Act 1988. Landlords should issue this notice as part of the final reminder letter, when 2 months or more remains on the tenancy.
If you decide to file a Section 8 notice, this should be a notice seeking possession of a property let on an assured tenancy or an assured agricultural occupancy. You should additionally clearly state the terms of the tenancy that the tenant has broken.
If a Section 8 notice is issued, a landlord will need to apply to the courts for a possession order.
What if the tenant refuses the eviction?
When evicting a tenant, the process can already be an uncomfortable and hostile situation. Therefore, if the tenant further refuses the eviction, it can make the dealings a lot harder.
Once given an eviction notice, its likely tenants will attempt to find reasons to appeal the eviction, such as having local housing authority over to inspect the property to look for any damp, badly fitted boilers, and other potential eviction process blocks.
If this is the case, this then means that legal help is required. You may consider getting a ‘warrant of eviction’ – meaning bailiffs can legally remove the tenant from your property.
Need to take legal action?
Here at Able Investigations, we have a trained team of professional bailiffs to help with the eviction of any tenants and assist in any legal advice required during this process. Get in contact today to speak to an expert.