How to Deal with Problem Tenants

With government taxes currently on the rise, it isn’t uncommon for landlords to decide that enough is enough and consider selling their property. This is particularly true if they also have problem tenants.

What Constitutes a ‘Problem Tenant’?

There are several ways a tenant could be considered a problem. The main one is that they are behind on their rent by two months or more. Landlords generally wish to evict tenants if they have damaged the property or are aggressive and/or causing problems for surrounding neighbours. This is considered ‘anti-social behaviour’ and there should be a section about this is your tenancy agreement explaining that if they contravene these rules then they will face eviction.

The Process

Whether you have a tenancy agreement in place, or not, you must give your tenants two months’ notice if you wish them to vacate the property. If they refuse to leave by the end of the two months’ notice period then you will have to escalate things legally.

Section 8

If you’re evicting your tenants because they are in rental arrears then you can push to have them evicted in less than the required two months’ notice period. Either way, if they’re reluctant to leave and you’re currently losing out on money because of them, you must apply for a Section 8 notice. This is also known as a possession notice and operates under section 8 of the Housing Act 1988.

Landlords cannot evict a tenant without obtaining an order for possession from a court first. Before applying to the court for this order, the landlord must serve a Section 8 ‘notice to quit’ to the tenant. This states that the landlord intends to seek possession of the property and explains why. This needs to be carefully written, as any errors made when issuing the section 8 notice could delay a landlord from gaining possession.

Section 21

If your tenants have an assured shorthold tenancy and you want them to leave because you no longer wish to be a landlord or, more commonly, because they are proving to be a nuisance, then you must apply for a Section 21 notice.

To be able to serve a Section 21 notice you must have previously provided your tenants with the following documents:

• How to rent guide booklet
• Up to date gas certificate (this needs to be issued when they move into the property)
• Energy Performance Certificate

Your tenant must sign to say they are in receipt of these documents in case the issue is escalated to court.

What Happens Next?

When a Section 8 and/or a Section 21 notice have been issued a landlord must complete an N5B accelerated possession form which includes:

• What type of property the claim relates to
• On what grounds the landlord has decided to take back possession of the property
• Full details of any tenancy agreement
• Details of the tenants
• If the claim is relating to the conduct of the tenant then this needs to be outlined.

This form must be accompanied by a statement of truth signed by the landlord and their legal representative. It’s important all of this is done correctly otherwise it will stall any court proceedings.


If the tenants are not out by the date specified on the section notices then the landlord must apply to court. This will cost around £350, last about 20 minutes and a landlord should be armed with all necessary evidence when they attend this. The tenant should also be in attendance. Unless there are extenuating circumstances, such as mental illness, then the court should be in favour of the landlord and will issue a possession order with a date that the tenant must leave the property by. This is usually 2-3 weeks after the court appearance.

If the tenant is not out by the court date specified then bailiffs must be instructed to remove the tenant from the property that day, along with any of their possessions.

If you’re a landlord looking to sell your house fast then The Property Buying Company can help. They will try to reason with the tenant first and offer them a reference and removal support as an incentive to get them out of the property quickly, without having to go down a legal route. If that doesn’t work, they will complete all of the necessary paperwork, attend court and book bailiffs, in order to legally take back possession of the property. All these legal fees are included in the service they provide so there are no hidden costs. Get in touch for a chat with no obligation.