Now, I’m not all that great with technology – my website needs updating, my social media presence is non existent and Facebook flabbergasts me. However, I have just discovered a fantastic link to complete eviction forms which I believe must have been developed just for me.
Ten years’ ago I unknowingly evicted a tenant illegally which brought forth the wrath of the council, their solicitors, Citizens Advice and some bloke working for a homeless charity who threatened in no uncertain terms to “sort me out”. It wasn’t a great experience especially as the tenant was found half dead and naked, I’d had to give him the kiss of life which turned out to be more of a peck of derision, AND visited him in hospital with grapes.
From then on, evictions were dealt with by serving a Section 21 and offering a cash reward for leaving before the expiry date PROVIDING rent was up to date. I work local, live local and often meet ex-tenants in the street so there’s no point in falling out with them or giving them cause to hate me (even if they can’t remember what it was for). These days, everywhere I turn I seem to be bumping into evicted tenants ever closer to home.
In the last year the cash buy-off hasn’t been working. Tenants are becoming more educated about their rights and those on housing benefit now know that making themselves voluntarily homeless by handing back the keys is a sure fire way to send them to the back of the Council’s homelessness queue. Perhaps this is due to programmes such as “Can’t Pay, We’ll Take It Away” or “How To Get A Council House” with real life scenarios of tenants being advised to await the Order for Possession or the bailiffs. Alternatively, it’s because other landlords won’t accept housing benefit tenants out of principle so there are limited options to move on.
So, the tenant is staying longer and “seeking professional advice” which happens to be overworked council or charity homeless caseworkers who see similar cases every day. I do try to talk to tenants about their rights but by the time the paperwork is served they don’t want to talk to me for some reason.
The rules for gaining possession changed for tenants being given a tenancy from 1st October 2015. The landlord can only serve a Section 21 notice AFTER four months’ of the tenancy has been completed and must prove the tenant has been given:
- How To Rent Guide issued by www.gov.uk
- All paperwork relating to their deposit protection
- A valid EPC and Gas Safety Certificate
- A current Section 21 notice and proof of service
- Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement
For those tenancies started prior to 1st October 2015, the landlord only needs to show a copy of Section 21, proof of service and deposit protection information as well as the valid tenancy agreement. If the tenant hasn’t left by the expiry date on the Section 21, the landlord can apply for possession and costs by completing a HMCTS N5B form. In the past one would need to go to the court, ask for the correct form, complete it with black ink, submit it with a cheque and, in my case, wait for everything to be returned a few days later with all the mistakes highlighted.
Much to my delight, I have now discovered that this form is not only available online BUT it will create the whole thing for you, crossing off the bits you don’t need, inserting the correct information in the correct boxes AND even provides an address label to cut out and stick on the envelope for your local court. OK, so the court fee has risen from £240 last year to £355 but at least I know where my extra £115 has been spent. The N5B form I completed last week was the first one which hasn’t been returned due to mistakes.
The tenant now has a copy to see if he wants to file a defence and, in roughly a month’s time, we’ll find out if the Council will accept him clutching his Possession Order or if they’ll hold out until the bailiffs turn up. As we’ve asked to be awarded all costs too, taking the eviction to the bitter end will cost the tenant around £1,000 and, as he’s in receipt of housing benefit, doesn’t have this money. The result will be a CCJ, a black mark against his renting history and, if he’s lucky, a room in another town 30 miles away, or the beach if he rejects the room.
He should’ve taken the £500 cash we offered him 8 weeks’ ago.
NB: This tenant is NOT vulnerable, has been a rude and uncooperative housemate and calls weed “medicinal”. He is also the chief suspect of wilful damages throughout the property.