Landlords’ Surefire Methods of Getting Rid of Bad Tenants, Legally
We outline the various ways in which a landlord can convince a bad tenant to leave, while avoiding illegal self-help eviction.
Most of the times, tenants are decent human beings. But there are times a landlord might get stuck with a tenant from hell who may make them question their own existence. Damaged property, nuisance, rent arrears can make your once-peaceful life a living nightmare.
Hopefully, there’s always a way out. Depending on how desperate your situation is, you can try one or several of our ways to make a bad tenant leave.
The lengthiest and costliest method to get rid of an unwanted tenant is eviction. It may take between 4 to 8 months to force a tenant out. It involves hefty legal fees, headaches, and complications. There’s also the permanent stress of being around an uncooperative tenant. He or she might, at some point, consider denting your praised possessions just out of spite. Just like divorce, eviction might get ugly.
That’s why most landlords avoid the procedure like the plague. Eviction, though, comes into play only when the tenant refuses to leave the rented premises. And he or she no longer has a legal right to stay there. Some bold landlords may resort to the so-called self-help eviction. This means that they physically throw the tenant or their stuff out of the rental without assistance from a bailiff.
Self-help eviction, with a few exceptions, is a criminal offence and landlords face potential prison time. Bear in mind that veiled forms of self-help include:
- Setting a physical obstacle on your property so the tenant can no longer get in
- Changing the locks behind the tenant’s back
- Harassing or threatening the tenant to leave
- Hiding, removing, or throwing away the tenant’s possessions
So, these are the illegal actions you could take to get rid of a bad tenant. Hopefully, there are legal ways to make sure they leave without eviction.
Self-help eviction, with a few exceptions, is a criminal offence and landlords face potential prison time.
1. Raise the Rent
Under a tenancy agreement, a landlord cannot raise the rent on a whim. Only if there’s a periodic tenancy, you can do it. This means that the tenancy agreement gets renewed automatically on a weekly or monthly basis. So, you can raise the rent from one month to another and make the bad tenant leave.
Under a fixed-term tenancy, aka assured shorthold tenancy (pdf), you can raise the rent when the agreement expires. So, if the tenancy expires after 10 months, waiting to raise the rent not that great. Plus, some tenants may not be disturbed at all by a rent hike.
Also, a tenant might have dutifully paid rent in the past, but their financial situation worsened and they can no longer pay on time. Try to negotiate. Your tenant might already be under a lot of pressure because of not being able to pay rent. You can help relieve that pressure through a payment plan you both agree on.
For instance, you could allow the tenant to pay what is due in smaller fractions over a month. This way you help them buy some time until they manage to get their finances back on track. Don’t forget to mention “eviction” during the negotiation phase. You’ll instill a sense of urgency in the misbehaving tenant.
You’ll be surprised by what a simple eviction reminder can do to a tenant’s mind. He or she might find the money literally overnight to erase the prospect of ending up on the streets. That scenario is all the more possible as there are countless alternative online direct lenders which can loan them up to £1,000 in as little as 24 hours if they’re willing to do their research right. Poor credit is not an obstacle either.
3. Ask Them to Leave
Surprisingly, many bad tenants will pack their things and leave if you ask them nicely but firmly to do so. Horror stories about horrendously uncooperative tenants are rare. Around 80% of tenants quit after getting a possession notice.
Possession notices are notices given by landlords to their tenants to leave. There are two types of possession notices: Section 21 Notice of Possession and Section 8 Notice to Quit. Section 21 notice must be served two months prior to the expiry date of the tenancy. The landlord doesn’t have to bring any reasons for why he would like his property back.
You can serve a section 8 notice when the tenant breaches the tenancy agreement terms. He or she might be constant nuisance to the neighbors or fail to pay rent on time.
4. Be Kind & Proactive
Many veteran landlords recommend “killing them with kindness”. Even if rent has fallen into arrears, do not threaten or embarrass the tenant. Maintaining your composure is critical even if the tenant is uncooperative. If you are kind to them, they’ll feel obliged to change their tone too. You don’t have to be rude or aggressive when asking for what’s yours. But you’ll have to be firm and stand your ground.
Plus, make sure that you notify the tenant that he or she is late with payments as soon as the due date runs out. If you let the due date slide, your tenant might assume that he or she can get away with it as you don’t seem to mind.
5. Offer Them Cash to Leave
If everything else fails, and the bad tenant refuses to quit, you could try enticing them to leave with free cash. Some tenants will cut ties with you for as little as a few hundred pounds. Others might want a bit more. Ponder your situation. See whether you would be better off giving them cash for the keys than starting the evacuation proceedings. You don’t want to be stuck with a nightmarish tenant for several more months, either.
This method makes many landlords’ blood boil. No one in their right mind would reward awful behavior. But in the long run, it is the most effective (and less costly) way to get rid of a bad tenant.