What is the cost of evicting a tenant in Northern Ireland?

Posted: 25/10/2016


Having to evict a tenant is pretty rare. There are many other ligitimate means of gaining repossession from a tenant who won't leave, before it gets to that stage. But it does happen, so what are the costs involved? Well, for a start, the application fee for repossession is £185. That is without any solicitor's fees. After that, it is how long is a peice of string? Many tenants leave once an order is granted, or even before, some decide to wait until they are literally thrown out by court officers and the police. But if it gets to that latter stage, it could cost thousands. The system is not user friendly in Northern Ireland, unlike England where you can make a possession claim on line without the need for a solicitor. Perhaps we will catch up soon. In the meantime, we are stuck with a system that is not fit for purpose, and places the rights of someone who effectively steals (an un-paying tenant) over the rights of the person who has bought and paid for the property (the landlord). Or worse, they may be paying a mortgage and the banks won't be interested in their excuse for not being able to make re-payments. We hear a lot about human rights these days, but despite a landlord's right to their property being written into the Human Rights Act - Article One of the First Protocol, Northern Ireland law ensures that this right always takes back seat to tenants who steal from landlords - isn't that what it's called when you take something that isn't yours without paying for it? Whilst we at Key One make every effort to vet and select good tenants, there is always the possibility of this situation arising and it may not necessarily be restricted to low income tenants. So how can landlords protect against this? Firstly, a tenant will usually be liable to pay your legal costs plus lost rent, as well as any other damages arising from a breach of tenancy agreement. For some, such a hefty potential bill can encourage them to leave. Of course, aside from the deposit, this sum may never be recovered from a tenant who has nothing (blood from a stone). Despite the probability of receiving nothing however, some landlords do feel that obtaining a court order that marks that person as a high risk, brings some level of satisfaction; and of course it also helps protect future would-be landlords from the same fate. We ask for a gaurantor with every tenancy, and this will be a person who owns their own home, i.e. someone that a landlord can succesfully sue. In our experience, guarantors rarely go to court, and a resolution is quickly reached. Guarantors, fearing court action against them, can aslo exert pressure on the tenant to leave. But it is not possible in every case to obtian an ideal guarantor. To be comprehensively protected against this issue, you can purchase RENT GUARANTEE & LEGAL EXPENSES INSURANCE. This does what it says on the tin so to speak. If your tenant won't leave, the insurer will pay your rent until they do, and pay for your eviction legal costs (subject to the limits and conditions of the insurance). This insurance generally will cost a landlord about £10 a month, and while many are not keen on paying another expense, the cost of a 1 year premium is less than the statutory repossession fee. Yes, the risk is low and it is an extra cost, but IF you had an eviction, is it not worth it?

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