Landlords: Dealing with problem tenants

Landlord and tenant disputes

Stephen McArdle considers the legal options available for landlords when dealing with problem tenants, and the pitfalls to avoid.

The law governing Landlord and Tenant relationships is technical and complicated.  Often, the small print can easily be missed which can cause problems in the future.

When it comes to Residential property situations, Landlords are within their rights to regain possession of their property when a tenancy agreement comes to an end or if certain terms of the tenancy agreement have been breached, such as non-payment of rent.  However, Landlords must be careful to comply with their obligations otherwise a claim for possession could fail.

Landlords should be particularly careful to ensure they have properly registered any deposits and provided the required prescribed information at the outset of tenancies.  Other issues such as ensuring that no disrepair claims have been ignored and that correct notices requiring possession are being used are equally important.

Landlords who do not follow the law during evictions, can have their cases thrown out of Court.

As far as Commercial Landlords are concerned, they must always ensure that they carefully check the terms of their lease before deciding on what course of action to take.   For example, if a commercial Landlord wishes to exercise a right of re-entry and forfeit a lease, the right must exist in the lease and the Landlord must not take any steps which may waive the right to forfeit.  It is particularly important for Landlords to follow the correct process, especially if the building is of mixed commercial and residential use.  Specific legal advice should always be taken before exercising a forfeiture clause.

“We understand how frustrating it can be to have a problem tenant; both in a residential and commercial context.  We have many years’ experience and a successful track record of advising Landlords in situations such as recovery of rent arrears, possession claims and eviction, forfeiture and guarantee claims. It’s advantageous to take action immediately to avoid delay and imperative that the correct procedure is followed.  We offer court representation, quick turnarounds and a solicitor led team.”

Stephen McArdle, Associate Solicitor, KBL Solicitors


How much will it cost to obtain possession of my property?

To commence a court claim for possession of your residential property from a tenant, we operate a fixed fee service for un-defended / non-disputed claims. We are always happy to have a no-obligation chat at the outset to discuss your case.

What preliminary issues should a Landlord be aware of?

Landlords always need to ensure that any rent deposits have been properly registered with an authorised scheme within 30 days of it being take and that prescribed information was also give within the same time frame.   Similarly, Landlords should also consider whether there have been any complaints by the tenant about the condition of the property and, if so, whether or not the landlord had responded to those complaints.  Landlords should also ensure that up to date gas safety certificates are in place.

What happens if my tenant refuses to leave?

Before Court proceedings begin, a valid notice requiring possession will need to be served on the tenant.  There are several different types of notice dependant on which possession route you are taking; s.21 notices generally give a longer notice period than s.8 notices.

If the tenant refuses to vacate the property after the notice has been given, you will have to issue possession proceedings at court to seek an order for possession.  This process begins with the commencement of court proceedings and then requesting the Court makes a possession Order.

How long will the tenant be given to vacate by the court?

Usually within 14 days of the date of the Possession Order. Although in cases of exceptional hardship, a court may afford the tenant up to 42 days.

How long will the process take?

No two cases are identical. The process of obtaining possession will depend on a number of issues. Firstly, the type of procedure used (e.g. s.21 or s.8); secondly, whether the tenant leaves voluntarily; and thirdly, how quickly the court processes the claim. Most of these factors will not be within our control. However, we aim to issue proceedings promptly so as to minimise any delay.

In s.21 claims, after the appropriate notice has expired, the period from the point of issuing the claim to the date of the Possession Order will approximately be 6 to 8 weeks. In s.8 claims the period from the point of issuing the claim to the date of the Possession Order is approximately 8-10 weeks. However, if the tenant fails to vacate and a court bailiff needs to be appointed, the process of actually obtaining possession will take longer.

Will I have to attend court?

We will represent you at court. However for s.8 claims, the landlord should attend if possible.