Whether it’s because you’ve had a better offer or you’ve seen that other rents in the area are on the up, you may want to evict your old tenant and get a new one paying a higher premium. However, this will, as always, depend on the terms of your lease, which may allow you to give notice to the tenant to leave. It may also be subject to the rules on ‘security of tenure’.
For security of tenure to apply, the tenant must have occupied a set of premises for ‘the purposes of a business’ (i.e. a trade or profession, so a shop, warehouse or office would count) for over six months. If this is the case, once the lease comes to an end, the tenant is entitled to continue holding the premises under the same lease, which then carries on indefinitely.
Acting as the landlord wanting to end a tenancy with security of tenure, you must give written notice to the tenant in a particular form, know as a ‘Section 25 notice’. This must state a termination date (the date you want the tenant to actually leave), and must be served between six and twelve months before this date (so if your termination date was 25th December 2011, you would need to serve notice between 25th December 2010 and 25th June 2011). In addition, the termination date cannot be before the lease was due to run out anyway, although it can be the same day. The notice can either be ‘friendly’ (encouraging the tenant to apply for a new lease) or ‘hostile’ (trying to get the tenant to leave). Either way, the next step is to apply to court before the termination date; if the notice was friendly, the application will be for a new lease. If it was a hostile notice, the landlord will apply to bring the lease to an end and the tenant may challenge the application if he wishes to stay in the property. You then need to prove you have a reason to evict the tenant (for example, they haven’t been paying rent, or you want to occupy the building yourself). Depending on the reason, the court may grant the termination or order that you agree a new lease with the tenant. However, losing may not be the worst thing; the court will decide a new ‘suitable’ rent considering the previous rent and the market conditions, so you may get a higher rent anyway!
It is important to note that, if they wish, the landlord and tenant can ‘opt out’ of the rules on security of tenure. This must be done before the lease is agreed and before the tenant has signed anything. The landlord must serve written notice warning of their decision at least 14 days before the lease is due to be agreed and the tenant must respond accepting the notice. The 14-day period can be (and usually is) waived in favour of the tenant signing a legal declaration in front of an independent solicitor.
The articles in this blog are for guidance only and should not be taken as legal advice. If you would like to further discuss a legal issue please call us on 01752 309090.