Two Recent Eviction Cases: Lessons for Landlords in the UK

By 9 min read • August 14, 2023
No Sign and wooden houses on an gray background symbolising eviction.

Now that the House of Commons is in summer recess until 4th September, there will be no updates on outstanding Bills or introductions of new Bills. It’s time to check if any changes or updates to our administration are necessary.

I have previously written about the importance of being prepared to evict a tenant, just in case you experience a change of circumstance and need to take that step. Now would be a good time to read this and make any necessary changes, as the cases below demonstrate the serious consequences of administrative errors:

Importance of Being Prepared for Tenant Evictions

But first, an important consultation which potentially costs all landlords money that we can ill afford to waste at the moment.



Consultation on Exemptions for Council Tax Premiums

“This consultation seeks views on possible categories of dwellings which should be exceptions to the council tax premiums. It covers the empty homes premium, and also the second homes premium, provisions for which are included within the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill.

For the purposes of council tax, a ‘long-term empty home’ is currently defined as a dwelling which has been unoccupied and substantially unfurnished for a continuous period of at least 2 years. The maximum council tax premium that billing authorities can apply is:

up to 100% for properties empty for 2-5 years

up to 200% for properties empty for 5-10 years

up to 300% for properties empty for 10+ years

The Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill contains a provision to amend the definition of ‘long term empty homes’ so that, for financial years from 2024-25 onwards, dwellings unoccupied and substantially unfurnished for a continuous period of at least one year are liable to the council tax premium.

 The Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill (when enacted) will provide powers to billing authorities to charge a discretionary council tax premium of up to 100% for dwellings which are periodically occupied (for the purposes of the consultation, this will be referred to as a “second homes” )

Proposed circumstances in which the empty homes and second homes premiums should not be applied:

  • Properties undergoing probate
  • Properties being actively marketed for sale or let

Empty homes: proposed circumstances in which the long-term empty homes premium should not be applied:

  • Empty properties undergoing major repairs – time limited to 6 months
  • Second homes: proposed circumstances in which the second homes premium should not be applied
  • Annexes forming part of, or being treated as part of, the main dwelling
  • Seasonal homes where year-round or permanent occupation is prohibited or has been specified for use as holiday accommodation or prevents occupancy as a person’s sole or main residence

I have selected the ones which are of most interest to landlords and those developing properties, but the full list is at the link below.

Consultation on proposals to exempt categories of dwellings from the council tax premiums in England – GOV.UK (

The result of this consultation could bring about changes to the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill” and this is important for landlords who are carrying out major works/refurbs because the Bill would give local councils the ability to charge 100% extra council tax during the time when the property is not lettable, an extra cost that we can do without.

Last year I had a fire in a house, and it took 6 months to carry out the repair works and a further 6 months to sell the house; during that year I was charged 100% council tax despite the property being totally uninhabitable for 6 months and unfurnished.  No council services were used but full council tax was charged and in my opinion, this is completely unfair, just as it is when we are improving our properties in order to offer homes for rent.

Sections 76 and 77 here:

Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill – Parliamentary Bills – UK Parliament

EPC for Landlords – Changing Regulations and moving targets

In April this year, I wrote about the government’s plans to increase the time landlords have to raise their properties to a minimum C level energy performance for rented properties here:

5 Years to Reach C – EPCs in Existing Rented Properties and Two More Pieces of Good News – Landlord insider (

At that time, we were still waiting for the results of a consultation, Improving the energy performance of privately rented homes, that had taken place in September 2020.  To date, those results are still to be published but it was reported in the media that Michael Gove said;

“government should ‘relax the pace’ of EPC reforms expected from private landlords

and gave strong hints that the timetable would change;

Mr Gove admitted that in his own department the government was ‘asking too much too quickly’ of landlords, who will be banned from renting out their homes unless they pay for green measures such as insulation and heat pumps to meet a new minimum energy efficiency threshold by 2028.”

It’s now widely anticipated that it will be several years before C becomes the legal minimum for an EPC in a rented property, I look forward to official confirmation as will many landlords with properties that are difficult to get up to that level.

Case 1 – The Reality of Evicting a Tenant

Unfortunately, I recently supported two separate friends going through the eviction process, and it was an unpleasant experience in both cases. One was a landlord, and the other was a tenant. However, these experiences taught me valuable lessons that I want to share to help those who may need to deal with similar situations in the future.

Case 1. The tenant is my friend and she and her family have lived in a privately rented property for over 5 years.

  • The landlord originally served a Section 21 notice out of the blue,
  • When she tried to take the matter to court, she found out that the Notice was not valid because several Gas Safety inspections had been missed and therefore on the Form N5B she could not complete questions:

 17a. Was a copy of a valid gas safety record provided to the Defendant before they went into occupation of the property?

And 17b. Have gas safety records been provided to the Defendant covering all further gas safety inspections carried out during the period of the tenancy?

  • A Section 8 was served on 24th December (nice Christmas present for the family)
  • None of the grounds were Mandatory because the tenants had done nothing wrong, but the landlord wanted the property back so that she could live in it.  At no time did she try discussing this with the tenants who until then thought that they had a good relationship and would have looked for another property had they known before their daughter had begun her GCSE exam year.
  • Many of the grounds used were bogus and untruths were listed on the Section 8 but there are two items which I will mention because they stand out as the most ridiculous among many totally ridiculous accusations.

The tenant breached the tenancy by keeping a pet without the landlord’s consent and that pet had caused £1,500 worth of property damage.

The pet is a rabbit who lives in a cage in what was a covered outdoor walkway.  The landlord decided to turn that walkway into a room and the rabbit allegedly chewed some plaster board, though the tenants were unaware and still cannot find evidence of that.

The tenant had a text from the landlord “I don’t mind you having a bunny but please keep it out of the way of the contractors”. This was used in evidence to prove that the landlord had in fact given permission for the rabbit and had lied on the Section 8.

Long story short this landlord was building extensions, 3 in total, during the tenancy without discussing it with the tenant and would turn up at 8am on Saturday and Sunday and use the tenant’s kitchen, milk, sugar, tea, electricity, etc., and work all day. I had told my friend on several occasions to change the locks and force the landlord to give notice, I didn’t know that she was just taking things from the kitchen – I was shocked.

The tenant had breached the tenancy by upsetting neighbours with serious anti-social behaviour.

The landlord alleged that the tenants had been throwing their lawn cuttings over the back fence and that the farmer had written to her threatening legal action because they can damage the cow’s digestive systems.

As soon as the tenant read that she paid a visit to the farmer to apologise, they are animal lovers and would not harm the cows which her daughter loves to watch.  They had definitely not thrown cutting over the fence but had put them behind the shed as the landlord had instructed because she didn’t want to buy a new green bin all verified with copies of text messages. A small amount may have slipped under the fence at the time but they only put cutting there twice before buying a new green bin themselves (a receipt was produced in evidence).  The farmer was surprised by the visit and said that he had written to all the houses in the road to ask them not to throw garden waste and rubbish into his field because of the damage it could cause the cows, he certainly did not single out any one house and his biggest issue was old toys being thrown over, toys of young children, the tenants youngest child is 16 and had been 11 when they moved in.

At the court before the hearing the tenant’s Barrister approached us and asked the tenant to agree to move out so that we didn’t need to go into the courtroom.  The night before he had sent the tenant a letter informing them that his bill for the day would be £2,500 and he intended to ask the judge for costs including that bill and all the tenant’s other legal costs.  He pointed out that there would probably be a second hearing if we went into court and the result would be further costs that would be claimed.  He left to give us time to discuss it.  I was so confident that the landlord would not get possession that I advised my friend to refuse to agree.  As well as claiming for possession the landlord had claimed £8,000 in damages to the property.  All of the damages listed were due to the works which had been carried out by the landlord’s contractors during the tenancy.  An example is that the roof on a loft conversion leaked – the landlord’s claim was that the leak was caused because the tenant did not clean the guttering!!  As we all know cleaning guttering is not the tenant’s responsibility but the fact is that the roof was leaking around the dormer, not the guttering and there was clear photographic evidence. The barrister did not offer to withdraw that claim nor the claim for costs he just wanted a win without a hearing.  When we went into the courtroom he asked for more time to discuss things so that an agreement could be made.  The judge gave more time but all the Barrister offered was the tenant’s deposit back if she moved out within a month!

The rest of the details aren’t helpful and the landlord lost the case a month later at the second hearing, she got no costs or damages and the judge said that she would regain possession when the tenant moved out.

This was a fair judgment against a landlord who lied, treated her tenants with no respect, and thought that her word would stand alone without evidence.  Now that GCSEs are over they are actively looking for a new home and can’t wait to leave.

Case 1 – Lessons Learned

  • Talk to your tenant if you need your property back and try to agree something which works for all of you, including offering an excellent reference to help them to find another home.
  • Make sure that you are in a position to serve a valid section 21 if you need to remove a good tenant.
  • Don’t believe that by serving the latest Gas Safety Certificate before you serve a Section 21 that the notice will be valid.
  • If you have no option but section 8, tell the truth and back it up with documents, even if you only have discretionary grounds, you may get possession if you have a good reason 
  • Don’t ever use legal costs as a “threat” to tenants because there is no guarantee that you will be awarded those costs and it’s just poor business practice to say the least.

Case 2: Evicting a Tenant on Relevant Grounds

The landlord is my friend and the tenant who is the subject of the eviction has lived in her HMO for 18 months.

The tenant was in serious rent arrears, well in excess of 8 weeks (rent is paid weekly) but the landlord waited until after Christmas and had hoped to use Section 21.  Unfortunately, he had missed the last Gas Safety Inspection by a month and therefore could not meet the requirements of question 17b on the N5B (see above).

Left with no other option the landlord served a section 8 on ground 8 (a mandatory ground).  I have no idea why landlords believe that section 21 with 2 months notice before action is better than section 8 with 2 weeks notice before action when they have mandatory grounds, nor why they allow the arrears to climb into thousands of pounds before going for possession, this is the case here. 

I had told the landlord to stick to a simple mandatory ground 8 because the rent arrears were so high that the tenant would need to win the lottery to pay before they got to court.  Unfortunately, the landlord decided to add the Anti-social behaviour discretionary ground to improve his case, which was valid but guaranteed that the tenant would defend himself.  He did, and the judge told him to pay his rent in full the following day and £20 extra towards the arrears and scheduled a second hearing to hear the tenant’s defence. Despite there being a mandatory ground, the court-appointed solicitor managed to distract the judge because of the accusations of anti-social behaviour.  There will now be another hearing AND the tenant hasn’t paid another penny in rent since, 5 weeks more so far.

Case 2: Lessons learned:

  • If you’ve got evidence of a mandatory ground like rent arrears use only that ground.  Mandatory means that the judge must grant you possession, don’t give the tenant anything to fight.
  • Do not allow rent arrears to keep mounting up, it’s not good for the tenant and it’s not good for your business.  Also in an HMO, as in this case, other tenants may be tempted and now a second tenant has paid less rent than was due the first time in her tenancy.

“I would like to leave you with a happy thought because, as we know, most tenants are nice and do the right thing. Occasionally, you get that tenant who is just a little bit more than nice. This is a message I received a couple of weeks ago, and it really reminded me why I love being a landlord.

“We are just about in and settled….we keep finding things around the house which reflect your thoughtfulness and kindness….we feel we have really landed on our feet here….thank you….”

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