How to: Legally evict a tenant

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January 08, 2016

Evicting a tenant is probably one of the most difficult tasks faced by landlords of properties governed by the Rent Restriction Act. A landlord may find himself on the 'wrong side' of the law by engaging in acts such as changing the locks on the doors, taking out windows or disconnecting utilities in order to remove a tenant from his property. Here is how to legally evict a tenant whose stay at your property has become untenable.

1. Before a tenant is served with an eviction notice, the landlord must ensure that they have a valid reason for doing so. A tenant can be evicted if the rent which is lawfully due from him/her has not been paid for at least 30 days after it has became due. Another reason can be that the tenant has broken some obligation of the tenancy or has failed to perform some obligation for at least 30 days. Additionally, the tenant can be evicted if the premises are required by the landlord for his own use and occupation or for occupation by some person wholly dependent on him; or the premises are required for the purposes of being repaired or renovated.

2. Once a landlord can satisfy any of the reasons stated in the Act, he can proceed to serve the tenant with a notice to quit the premises.

3. A notice to quit must specifically state the reason the tenant is required to vacate the premises and the date by which the tenant is to do so.

4. If the tenant remains on premises after the notice expires, the landlord must not attempt to remove the tenant forcibly.

5. Once the notice to quit has expired, the proper procedure is for the landlord to start court proceedings to obtain an order for possession of the premises.

6. Once the complaint has been lodged, the court will then issue a summons which must be served on the tenant within a particular time.

7. The landlord will then have to file and serve on the tenant a formal order stating the date by which the court has ordered the tenant to vacate the premises.

10. The tenant may apply to the court for an extension of time two weeks before the expiry date.

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