By Juliet Phillips-James, Director, Gomer Williams (as featured in the Llanelli Star)
Q: I own a property which I currently rent to tenants. The tenancy agreement has come to the end of the six months fixed term but they have remained there on a month to month basis since.They are in arrears with their rent and I want to evict them. The letting agent has served the correct notice on them which has now passed, however they are refusing to leave the property. My letting agent has informed me that in these circumstances they cannot just remove them from the property, they have to make a court application. Is this correct as it seems unfair that I have to go to the expense of court proceedings whilst they remain in my property not paying the rent due?
A: Unfortunately, your letting agent is correct. It is actually a criminal offence for you to harass or try and force your tenants out of your property without using proper procedures.
You need to apply to the court for what is known as accelerated possession. You can do this if there is an assured shorthold tenancy or statutory periodic tenancy, you have a written tenancy agreement with the tenants, you have given the required notice in the right form and the fixed term of the tenancy has expired.
The court will send a copy of your application to the tenant and they have 14 days from receipt to challenge it.
The judge will either issue a possession order giving you the right to evict the tenants and take possession of the property, or have a court hearing if there is an issue with the paperwork or the tenant wants to challenge the application.
If the order is made, the tenant will normally have 14 or 28 days to leave the property. If they do not leave at this point, you need to apply to the court for a warrant for possession. The tenants again will have an opportunity to file a defence within 14 days. If the court gives a warrant, the tenants will be sent an eviction notice, which will specify the date they need to leave the property.
If the tenants fail to leave the property on this date, you can send bailiffs to the property to evict them. The costs of doing this can be added to the debt of the tenants, which you can seek to recover by a further application to the court for a county court judgment against the tenants.