How Long Does It Take To Evict A Tenant?

Understanding the eviction process is a necessary part of being a landlord. We take a look at how long it takes to evict a tenant and what you need to know

Finding Tenants

One often encounters tales of landlords entangled in protracted eviction battles, coupled with accumulating rent arrears. It would be remiss to deny the occurrence of such scenarios, as they do happen. However, it is important to note that tenant evictions do not always resemble nightmares. In fact, based on my personal experience of handling several evictions over the past decade, I can attest that, when following the appropriate procedures, they can be straightforward and concluded relatively swiftly.

It is crucial to recognise that the term "eviction" encompasses the repossession of a property from tenants who are otherwise deemed acceptable and compliant.

How long does an eviction take?

So, how long does it take to evict a tenant? Unfortunately, there is no short answer. We’ve seen times when it’s taken as little as 14 days after receiving notice for a tenant to vacate, while at other times the tenant has stubbornly remained in situ for months. Generally speaking then, the eviction process can range from 14 days to 6-8 months.

The duration of an eviction is contingent upon individual circumstances, primarily hinging on the cooperation of the tenant. Additionally, external factors, such as the workload of the courts (relevant only if the case progresses to that stage, which, ideally, it should not), can influence the timeframe.

The tenant eviction process typically consists of three steps. While progressing through all the steps may not always be necessary, a failure in one step may require advancement to the next, inevitably elongating the timeframe.

Step 1: Serving legal notice, commonly known as Section 8 or 21 notices.

Step 2: Court Proceedings.

Step 3: Warrant of Possession, involving the involvement of bailiffs.

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What happens after serving notice (Section 8 or 21)

Assuming that your tenant is willing to comply and voluntarily vacate the premises upon receiving adequate notice, they will typically vacate the property on the specified date without any complications. The timeframe for this process can range from 14 days to 2 months.

If you serve a Section 21 notice during the fixed term of the tenancy, you are required to provide a two-month notice period to your tenant.

On the other hand, if you serve a Section 8 notice (due to valid grounds for eviction, such as rent arrears), the notice period can vary from 2 weeks to several months, depending on the specific grounds cited in the notice. For instance, if the reason for eviction is rent arrears, which is the most common ground for eviction when serving a Section 8 notice, the notice period is set at 14 days, meaning the tenant is granted a 14-day period from the day of notice to vacate the premises.

In many instances, the act of serving a notice alone is sufficient to compel tenants to vacate. However, it is important to note that there may be exceptions to this general trend.

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What to do if your eviction/repossession notices are ignored

The likelihood of a tenant voluntarily vacating the premises after being served with a Section 8 notice is statistically pretty low. This is primarily because Section 8 notices are typically issued based on rent arrears, and tenants facing arrears often lack the financial means to secure a deposit for a new rental property, leading them to remain in the current property. Landlords tend to have better success when serving notices based on grounds other than rent arrears.

If your tenant disregards the served notice, whether it is a Section 8 or Section 21 notice, you, as the landlord, will need to initiate legal proceedings by applying to the court for a possession order. The GOV website offers the possession claim online service, which enables you to complete court forms online and track the progress of your claim. The cost for this service is £325.

Typically, it takes around 6-8 weeks for a judge to grant a possession order under either Section 8 or Section 21.

What to do if the possession order is ignored

It's not uncommon for tenants to disregard the possession order issued by the court, typically granting a 14-day period. In such cases, landlords must proceed to the final step, which involves applying for an eviction date through the County Court Bailiff. This stage can take anywhere from 5 to 10 weeks, depending on the resources and efficiency of the specific court involved.

How to speed up eviction proceedings

Unfortunately, in the absence of the tenant's voluntary agreement to vacate the property, there is no formal legal procedure that you can use to speed up the eviction process. This applies even in scenarios such as when illegal activities are being conducted on the premises, when the landlord intends to sell their buy-to-let property, or when accumulated rent arrears lead to mortgage payment defaults.

Some landlords attempt to persuade tenants to vacate by offering financial incentives, either in the form of direct monetary compensation or by forgiving or reducing outstanding rent arrears. These strategies can prove effective, however, as a landlord, it can be challenging to accept these arrangements, particularly if the tenant initiates negotiations.

Following the proper eviction procedures

The duration of tenant evictions can vary significantly, ranging from as short as 14 days to several months. However, there are numerous instances where evictions have been unnecessarily prolonged or become prolonged due to improper adherence to the appropriate procedures.

To ensure the most efficient eviction process, it is crucial for landlords to prioritise legal compliance and carry out all necessary actions in the proper manner. By doing so, landlords can minimise unnecessary delays and ensure a smoother eviction process.

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