How long do bailiffs take to evict a tenant?
How long do bailiffs take to evict a tenant?
Reaching the point of using bailiffs to evict your tenants can be a tricky situation for any landlord. Tenants have a lot of protection against landlords looking to kick them out for no reason, so there are plenty of hoops to jump through to trip up the bad guys. But, if you’re facing troublesome tenants, the system is on your side.
Can bailiffs evict tenants?
The short answer is yes, bailiffs can evict tenants. There are a few conditions though, particularly that they must be sent by a court. It’s also worth noting that bailiffs sent to evict tenants in this way are not debt collectors, they’re just there to evict.
How to apply for bailiffs to evict tenants
There are quite a few steps to go through before bailiffs are called in to evict a tenant. Before you reach this stage, it can be worth simply having a chat with tenants about the situation and asking them to leave.
Sometimes, though, there are situations that are just not easy to deal with. These are the main steps you’ll need to take to apply to actually have bailiffs evict a tenant:
The first thing you need to do as a landlord is give your tenant official notice that you would like them to leave. There are two main types of notice that you’ll need to send, depending on your situation and the problem you’re having with your tenants:
You can send a Section 21 notice if your tenants are under a ‘fixed-term’ tenancy and they don’t want to leave after their tenancy ends - essentially if they’re overstaying. Or, you can send on it your tenants have a ‘periodic’ tenancy and you would simply like them to leave soon.
A Section 8 notice can only be sent if your tenants have broken the terms of their tenancy agreement. You’ll also need to send a N215 form to the court along with proof that you served notice to your tenants.
Go to court
If your tenant has not left the property by the end of the notice period (these can vary, we’ve included more details further down), you can go to court to get a possession order. This is essentially the court backing you up to evict the tenants. There are a couple of options here too:
If you send a Section 8 or 21 notice and you’re owed money, a judge will look at your case and decide on the next steps at a hearing. If they side with you, they’ll issue you with a standard possession order.
If you sent a Section 21 notice and your tenants don’t owe you any money, you can apply for an accelerated possession order. This can be quicker as there’s usually no court hearing, a judge will simply review the documents and come to a decision.
If your application is approved by a judge, your tenant will be sent an order of possession. There are three main types:
- An outright order of possession essentially says that you were right and your tenant needs to leave. Once the order of possession is sent, tenants have 14 days to appeal the decision or leave.
- A suspended order of possession says that tenants can stay, as long as they do certain things, like making their rent payments. If tenants fail to meet the requirements, you can then apply to have your tenants evicted.
- This is similar to a suspended order of possession. Tenants still have to fulfil requirements, but if they don’t do it, you as the landlord have to give them notice and ask them to pay back all the money they owe, describe their rights, and go through the full process again.
Warrant for eviction
If the tenants are still not leaving, you can go back to court and apply for a warrant for eviction. This is essentially when you’re applying for bailiffs to come and evict your tenants.
Once approved by a county court, bailiffs will issue a date for eviction to tenants, giving them at least 14 days notice.
If the tenants have not left by the final eviction day, then bailiffs will be sent to evict them.
When you apply for your warrant for eviction, you’ll do that at a local county court. One thing you can do in particularly serious cases (basically if you’re owed a lot of money) is to take your case to a High Court, which can help to process things faster. You just need to submit another form and a judge can approve to have your case moved up to the High Court.
How long does it take for bailiffs to evict tenants?
Getting to the point that bailiffs actually come to evict tenants can take a while, and there’ll be plenty of chances for the tenants to leave before then. Here’s what your timeline might look like:
- Section 8 notice period: 14 days minimum
- Section 21 notice period: 2 months minimum
- Getting your order of possession approved: 4-6 weeks (might be more in big cities)
- Outright order of possession notice periods to tenants: 14 days minimum
- Getting a warrant of eviction approved by a county court: 4-6 weeks (can be 12 weeks in big cities)
- Getting a warrant of eviction approved by a High Court: 7 days (depending on how serious your case is)
- Notice period before bailiffs arrive: 14 days minimum (but it can be a few weeks, depending if bailiffs are available)
A few things to note:
- After a warrant of eviction is issued, tenants can still appeal the warrant
- These appeals are designed to protect good tenants from bad landlords trying to kick them out
- If you are faced with antisocial tenants in direct breach of their rental agreement, a court is more likely to be on your side
- Due to COVID-19, there were various delays on court orders and a ban on bailiff evictions to enforce social distancing. These are now officially ended, but some county courts are still working through long backlogs.
- Across the UK, the average time to evict a tenant is 44.5 weeks, but half of evictions are completed within 20.3 weeks (from issuing notice to the bailiffs arriving)
How much does it cost for bailiffs to evict tenants?
Trying to get a tenant evicted is not particularly cheap. County court bailiffs are cheaper than High Court bailiffs, but either way, as the landlord, you’re probably going to be footing the bill.
Here are the main costs of applying to have a tenant evicted:
Application for an order of possession: £355
Application for warrant of eviction: £130
Request to transfer to a High Court: £71
County court bailiffs: £350 approx
High Court bailiffs: £1200 approx
You also might want to consider hiring an eviction specialist to take care of the paperwork. They’ll usually charge around £100 for filing your first notice, and add around £550 to the cost of getting your order of possession and warrant for eviction (you’re basically paying to make sure everything’s filed properly and sent at the right time). It can make your life a lot easier, and costs far less than hiring a solicitor.
With an eviction specialist, your total cost would be around £1400 for a county court eviction and around £2250 for an eviction with High Court bailiffs. This may feel pretty expensive, but High Court evictions are actually required if you are owed over £5000. It can really be worth the investment to stop you from losing any more money.
A few final tips…
Getting bailiffs to evict tenants is a long process and can be pretty expensive, but it can ultimately save you a lot of money in the long run. Here are a few key things to remember:
- Bailiffs sent with a warrant for eviction can evict tenants, but they can’t collect debts
- Applying for bailiffs is a complicated process, so you might want to hire an eviction specialist to help you out
- It can take around 10 months in some cases before bailiffs will come to evict tenants
- Getting bailiffs to come to evict tenants can cost between £1400 and £2250, but bailiffs really are the end of the line in the eviction process
Urban Jungle is not a financial advisor and information in this article should not be taken as advice or recommendation.