Landlords warned about DIY evictions

After recovering from the impact of the recession, the buy-to-let sector is currently experiencing a boom period, with demand for properties now exceeding supply and rents at a record level.

However, job losses announced as part of the Government Spending Review could have a significant impact on tenants over the coming months and force many into rent arrears with their landlords, according to the company.

Should landlords fail to receive rent payments for a significant length of time many may be left with no alternative but to evict their tenants. But landlords should think again before undertaking a DIY eviction.

Graham Kinnear, MD at Landlord Assist said: "Although many private landlords provide a good quality service to their tenants, there is a minority who believe that they are above the law and can evict tenants without taking the required steps.

“The only way to bring a tenancy to an end is the voluntary surrender on the part of the tenant or for a landlord to obtain a court order for possession. Any other way is likely to be construed as unlawful eviction, which is a criminal offence.”

Examples of illegal eviction can include the following:

 changing the lock whilst the tenant is out

 using violence or threats to force the tenant to leave

 attempting to evict a tenant before the proper legal procedure has been followed

Stephen Parry, commercial director at Landlord Assist said: “We accept that the eviction process from a landlord’s perspective is slightly protracted, particularly given that the tenant may be withholding payment of rent. However, the law must be adhered to and the punishments for not doing so are fairly punitive.”