The next big question we are answering in our legal FAQ is where a landlord legally stands when their tenants refuse to move out. The question that was put to us was:
Q: I am selling my property which is tenanted and I have given notice of eviction to tenants within the legally required time, but they are still refusing to leave the property.
I have recently learnt that the tenants have applied to be re-housed by the Local Authority and have been advised to stay put until new accommodation is found.
This is holding up my sale and is extremely frustrating for everyone involved. Can I simply go in and change the locks?
A: As frustrating as this situation is, your tenants are legally entitled to remain in the property until they are evicted through the courts. If you enter the property to change the locks this will be deemed to be a criminal offence of harassment and can result in a hefty fine.
Your tenants will lose their right to be re-housed by the Local Authority if they leave your property, hence why they are staying put. Giving tenants notice is only the first step in legal action that needs to be taken to get them out of the property.
You must follow the correct procedures and speak to a solicitor about issuing your tenants with a ‘notice of intention to seek possession’. This is a warning that states that you will make an application to the courts if they do not vacate. You can then apply to the courts for a possession order, which will give you the right to evict your tenants. However, if they still refuse to leave, you must then apply for a warrant for eviction that means bailiffs will enter the property to remove your tenants.
If your buyer is becoming anxious the best thing you can do is make sure they are made aware that you are taking all necessary steps to evict your tenants and get the transaction progressing.
How Howells can help
Talk to us today for more information on legal issues with house purchasing and selling. Call us on 0808 178 2773 or fill out the online enquiry form.
by Tristan Lewis